Monday, March 31, 2008

March Madness

By Dustin Williams
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March Madness is unbelievable.  In my opinion, it's the best time of the year for sports, with college football bowl season a close second.  Unfortunately, my bracket was royally screwed during the first weekend of the tournament when both UConn and Duke laid eggs, but oh well.  As a big Duke fan (I was born and raised in North Carolina and taught to appreciate the right shade of blue), my only prayer is that someone beats UNC.  Fat chance, I know.  I'm getting pretty tired of hearing about Tyler Hansborough (or Cryler Mansblower, whichever you prefer).

March is also pretty nuts when it comes to weather.  While Milwaukee was slammed with 12-17" of snow last weekend, it was in the 70s here in Oklahoma.  Last week, in the span of about 3 days, Oklahoma went from a lifeless prairie to an ecosystem in full bloom.  It really was one of the more remarkable seasonal transitions I've ever seen.  With a nice dose of rain and a few days of warm sunshine and mild overnight temperatures, the grass turned green and the trees started blooming rather quickly.  It's nice to finally see spring, though I don't pretend the winters in Oklahoma are tough.

One of the neatest things about winter and early spring are the incredible cold fronts that move down the Great Plains.  It's a struggle between very cold air that has resided up in Canada for months and the increasing amount of sunlight that's absorbed in lower latitudes as the Northern Hemisphere tilts back toward the Sun.  There was a pretty good front here on Thursday.  While Milwaukee was again getting snow (you poor souls), a strong cold front moved through Oklahoma.  Ahead of the front, with very strong southwest winds, there was quite a bit of heating at the surface.  Oklahoma is basically a pancake, but the west side of the pancake is at about 4500 feet above sea level while the east side is at about 500 feet above sea level.  Surface air that moves in from the west is usually quite dry and warms as it descends.  Anyway, ahead of this front, the temperature hit 90 degrees in some parts of the state.  In Norman, where the University of Oklahoma is located, the temperature was 88 degrees at 3:30 p.m., but had dropped to 57 degrees by 7:30 p.m. in the wake of the front.  Good stuff.  What's ridiculous is that this front was fairly tame.  A few years ago, on an afternoon in February, the temperature was in the upper 70s.  I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and went into a store just before a cold front passed.  I came out 20 minutes later and the temperature was in the lower 30s with a stiff north wind.  Damn that sucked.

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