Tagged : weather

Tornado Alley

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something. Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today, it’s time for part ten; “Tornado Alley”.

From Bourbon Missouri we drove right into Tornado Alley, an area hit by tornado’s every year. One of the cities we passed by was Joplin. About a year earlier, this city was hit by a massive tornado. About 8000 houses were destroyed, a whopping 25% of the city was wiped off the earth.

Because of past year’s events, I wanted to see Joplin for myself. How does a city look after such disaster? The answer: Not good.

Tornado Joplin 1Above you see one of the neighborhoods. There’re almost no houses left and look at that tree…

Tornado Joplin 2

I’ve never been in Pompeii, but I guess both cities are remarkably the same these days. For example, this is what’s used to be a house. The devastation of this house en the entire neighborhood was so complete, it hard to imagine how Joplin looked before the disaster happened.

Speaking of disaster, the next (and final) stop of our USA trip was Norman Oklahoma. Since I’m a huge IMAX fan, I watched a movie in the brand-new Moore IMAX theater. This building is amazing, the screen is huge and the sound system is massive. However, less than a year after I visited this IMAX theater, a tornado hit this building and the surrounding neighborhood. Oklahoma truly is Tornado Alley.

Moore IMAX before and after tornado

My final stop: Oklahoma

Previous posts

Part 1: Exceeded expectations
Part 2: Google vs. Apple
Part 3: Look left! … No, look right!
Part 4: Johnny Depp
Part 5: Big, bigger, biggest
Part 6: The most beautiful road of the world
Part 7: The color of luck
Part 8: Willow Creek Church
Part 9: Bald Eagle

Crazy weather records

The Dutch are experiencing the coldest spring since 1984. In fact, this years spring might be one of the coldest since 1901. This weather fact is reported as hard news by De Telegraaf, the largest newspaper of the Netherlands. Although this news fact might be true, it’s not news. At least, not to me.

It’s not the coldest spring ever. It’s just the coldest since 1984, which feels like a random number to me. It’s not 1983 nor 1985. Nope, it’s exactly 1984? What if temperatures would be a bit higher, would this change the headline to “coldest spring since 1985”?

Who cares?!

Okay, why bother, you might think. Who cares?! Well, I don’t actually. But I think it shows the craziness of our 24-hour news cycle. News organizations seem to do anything to fill their websites with nice big headlines and since we like to talk about the weather…

Back in March, I started to collect some of these crazy weather records. Most of them were served as big news, including large images and big headlines on the homepage.

March 5: “Hottest March 5th ever”

Temperatures in De Bilt (a Dutch town) rose to 15,9 degrees Celsius, which make it the hottest March 5th ever. My question is simple… what makes March 5 so significant? Why not talk about March 4? Or February 23? Or January 12? Is this just a random day and random record which allows De Telegraaf to make a nice headline?

Luckily the Netherlands has De Volkskrant, arguably thé best Dutch newspaper. They brought us the following record…

March 10: “Incessant rain in De Bilt allows for new weather record”

First of all, this is not a national weather record. After all, it’s De Bilt, the same town which also experienced the hottest March 5 ever. So, why are the Dutch so focussed on De Bilt? Well, it’s not just any town. It’s a small town (10.500 people) which happens to house the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, which makes it important for weather facts. But… why should we be interested in their rain-record? And why read about it in a Dutch quality newspaper?

March 12: “It’s the coldest March 11 since 1928”

Nice, another random day and year. Why March 11? Why ‘1928’? But this random fact allows De Telegraaf to give this ‘news article’ the biggest headline and most prominent spot on their website for almost a full day.

Let’s see what happens the day after. This time, we’ll check Dutch news organization NOS.

March 13: “It’s never been so cold in this period of March”

In March 2005, temperatures were down to -14,5 degrees Celsius. This March, temperatures ‘only’ dropped to -13,3. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to make it a weather record. But journalists at NOS are creative. The record in 2005 happened in early March. So, forget 2005… it’s never been so cold in this period of March, which means -13,3 degrees counts as a record as well. It’s a job well done.

March 21: “Coldest March in 25 years”

Again, NOS knows no weather records are broken. Still, they wrote quite a big news article about the extreme cold temperatures. “This weekend promises to be one of the coldest weekends in this time of the year”, according to NOS. This ain’t news. “This weekend promises to be…”? Come on, this is more like a weather preview, similar to how pundits talk about major sports events or politics.

Luckily, there’s De Telegraaf. Their headline reads “Coldest March in 25 years”. Great! They obviously found some hard facts, something the NOS article lacked. Let’s read on. “This month will probably be one of the coldest months of the past 25 years…”. Wait! Probably? … One of the? … This doesn’t match with their headline at all!

This wakes up AD, another newspaper. They finally realize news doesn’t have to be news these days. Instead, just bring it big, use quotation marks in combination with the words “possibly” and “one of the” and you’re done.

March 24: “Sunday possibly coldest March 24 ever”

Ah, AD used both quotation marks and the word “possibly” for the article above. Need I say more? However, it makes me wonder… is it true? Did we in fact experience the coldest March 24 ever? Let’s check Dutch weather website Weeronline.

March 24: “A tenth of a degree too warm for a cold record”

Yep, AD was wrong. On March 24 1916, temperatures dropped to 2,9 degrees. This year, we briefly tipped 3,0 degrees which is not enough to justify a new weather record. But who cares. AD smartly filled their newspaper and many people, including me, had something to talk about.

Oh, before I forget, Weeronline did point out it’s the coldest March 24 since 1916. Let’s just assume 1916 is a very significant year for Dutch weather…

March 29: “Coldest Easter since 1964”

Ah, again a random year. This time it’s used by NOS. Why 1964? And more importantly, Easter is still two days away (March 31). So, how do they know it’s the coldest Easter since 1964? As it turns out, the answer lies in the first paragraph. “Probably, it’s…”, do I need to say more? But is it true? AD was wrong about March 24, so how did NOS do?

March 31: “Coldest Easter since 1964”

Yep, it’s true. On Easter morning, NOS proudly reports their predictions were correct… For which they used another big headline… smart…

This all happened in the past. Let’s focus on what matters most… which seems to be the future nowadays (why live in the present when you can also predict the future?).

May 28: “Coldest summer in 200 years”

According to De Telegraaf, this summer could be the coldest in 200 years. Could be? … 200 years? … Yep, we’ve seen this before. This ain’t news, instead it’s speculation. Something to fill the newspaper with. According to the article, June and July won’t be that sunny. And August… well, prepare for some heavy storms. Hmmm, I guess this is thé moment to book a summer holiday to Spain, Italy or somewhere else sunny. Or… no, wait. The second paragraph mentions the cold summer applies to southern European countries only. Which means…

… I wasted another minute of my life by reading speculation about the weather, which was presented as hard news, but instead doesn’t even apply to my own country… Poor me.

The most beautiful road of the world

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today, it’s time for part six; “The most beautiful road of the world”.

Highway nr. 1 in California is a beautiful road… In fact, it’s a very beautiful road. But it’s not the most beautiful road. Based on my ‘experience’, that honor goes to a road which runs through Death Valley“Which road exactly?”, you might ask? Well, pick any small road which runs from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, as long as you avoid taking the highway, the I-15.

The next question probably will be: “Benjamin, why is this road so beautiful?” I’m glad you ask. I guess it has something to do with the expectations game. I didn’t know what to expect (how beautiful is a desert?), which made it easy to meet and even exceed this expectation. In addition, the scenery was incredible and completely different from anything I’ve ever seen before. The views were simply breathtaking.

“So, what about the road itself? After all, it’s the most beautiful road of the world.” Well, that’s easy to answer. The roads are the best I ever drove on. This is something car companies figured out a long time ago. They use the exact same road for car tests. I know this because we saw some super-secret-test-cars ourselves.

“And… what about the X-factor?” Ah, I see where you’re going. Everything that’s ‘the most’, has something special. An X-factor. This is also true for Death Valley. Besides incredible scenery, breathtaking views, magnificent rock formations, awesome roads and even a ghost town (see photo below), Death Valley has something else. It’s the hottest place on earth. Several times, we left our car to experience the heat ourselves. One time, it was 49 degrees celsius (120 degrees fahrenheit)… that’s what I call an X-factor.

But even without an X-factor, Death Valley is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen.

My next stop: Las Vegas

Previous posts

Part 1: Exceeded expectations
Part 2: Google vs. Apple
Part 3: Look left! … No, look right!
Part 4: Johnny Depp
Part 5: Big, bigger, biggest

Horse in the Netherlands - Kruiskerk Burgum - Benjamin Feenstra


I don’t go for a walk that often. But when I do, I try to bring my camera with me. Most often, the camera stays in the bag without being used. But not today.

Next to our ‘Kruiskerk’, a 12th century church, there was this great horse. He (or she?) promted me to stage a photoshoot (Hey! That’s why I brought my camera anyway). Halfway the shoot, the horse walked towards me so we could ‘chat’ a bit. Also, this resulted in the photo above. As you can see, the medieval church stands in the background.


This past weekend, winter said goodbye. For the last time, thousands of people enjoyed the frozen canals and lakes. Including me. I went ice skating near the famous Bartlehiem tile bridge (Dutch). And I crossed the official Bonkefeart finish line of the Elfstedentocht.