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The plane in the rain

Record precipitation isn’t the only unusual thing to be found in the sky of late

by Bob Berman
September 01, 2011 08:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 814 814 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the torrential rains of has-been Hurricane Irene over our region, we broke the all-time record for August rainfall. We had already been about three inches above normal for the month, even before the storm hit. All we needed was five inches to gain the trophy, and I think that nearly everyone got that. So, a super-wet August to match our extremely wet spring.

A sign of climate change? Hardly. The previous five wettest-ever Augusts, according to Albany records dating back nearly two centuries, all happened in the 1800s! If you’re a fellow geek and want the numbers, here they are – the wettest Augusts ever:

1. 10.59” inches 1871

2. 10.14” inches 1856

3. 8.47” inches 1870

4. 7.58” inches 1885

5. 7.51” inches 1832

Two weeks ago I wrote about Earth and the Milky Way getting continually heavier, and mentioned that I was in that category too. I said that health coach and chiropractor David Rosenblum has a product that (for me) produced a five-pound-per-week loss. I gave his phone number, (914) 389-1000, thinking that, hey, many of us are too fat and David will get swamped with calls and he deserves it. But no one phoned him – not one. Well, all our sources say that this newspaper and this column are widely read, so…what’s the reason? Maybe not many people are currently interested in beginning a new diet. Other than that, it’s a puzzle. Anyway, there’s that number again, so we’ll see.

Last week, this newspaper ran a story about the super-weird military aircraft flying low over our region at night. Well, I just saw it firsthand. I was out with a scientist friend who had just come here to visit me and this region for the first time. He had driven out from Arizona in his Roush 650-horsepower racecar, stayed two days, then headed back. He’s also a serious amateur astronomer, and has just built a giant domed observatory with a $50,000, 24-inch telescope in Arizona. So I took him to the blackness of Sickler Road here in Willow, where there are great unobstructed views of the heavens.

It was an inky-black moonless night. Suddenly we heard a deep roar from the west, and saw a strange pair of objects making a turn from over Route 28 in the distance, at low altitude. In the lead was a small, very fast, dark aircraft with no position (navigation) lights – just a single green trailing light. I think it was a pilotless drone. Following it closely, like an idiot tailgating on the Thruway, was a large jet aircraft with a strange configuration, and lights in its fuselage.

You know I’m an airplane-owner, but I had never seen anything like this before. I don’t think it’s appropriate or safe to fly so low and fast over mountainous residential areas at night. I totally support the many people, and our sheriff, who are trying to investigate and bring this to a stop. Man, it was weird. It was the closest thing to a UFO that I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of clear nights, which do you think is the statistically clearest month around here? That’s right: It’s this one – September. Typically, we get 65 percent clear skies from now through late October. Then, on or about November 1, overcast rushes in to give us our gloomy wintertime clarity of just 35 percent. November through March displays a 65 percent average cloud cover here: a total turnaround. Let’s take advantage and drink in the heavens while we can, and keep enjoying the sky. Maybe we’ll even see those spooky planes.

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