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On Flight Delays, Rain Gauges And the Rio Grande Roundabout

On Flight Delays, Rain Gauges And the Rio Grande Roundabout

Hi-diddly-ho there! This is not Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons” but The Sassy Lass, your friendly neighborhood brainiac. Questions about flying planes, falling rains and roundabout lanes round out this week’s column, so let’s dive right in!


Dear Sassy Lass: When bad weather cancels flights and leaves people stranded at airports, they talk about the number of canceled flights at airports across the country. To put that in perspective, we’re never told how many flights there are in a day in the U.S.

That’s a good question, Frequent Flyer, and one with more than one answer. During the business week, there are about 22,000 scheduled commercial passenger airline flights a day. Over the weekends, though, that number can drop to 18,000 flights a day during low flight seasons and dead zones. These times include immediately before or after peak holiday periods (Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) and most of January, among others.

Conversely, some heavy days during high flight seasons may have as many as 25,000 flights. On Monday, June 20, there were 24,489 flights as reported by FlightStats.com.

Thanks to Joe Brancatelli, former executive editor of Frequent Flyer magazine, for his gracious assistance with this question.

Dear Sassy Lass: Now that Albuquerque is headed into Monsoon season, meteorologists will talk about inches of rain, or even hundredths of inches of rain. How can you measure such a small amount? If I wanted to measure rainfall in my neighborhood, what kind of container would I need?

Perfect timing for this query, Rain Ranger! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that we’re in the early days of our annual Monsoon season, which starts every summer around this time and runs through Sept. 30. There’s more rain in New Mexico than what we’re used to in other months; in fact we get half of our annual precipitation during this time.

With all that downpour, some folks might want to keep track of how many inches of rain we’re getting. That’s where a rain gauge comes in handy. Also known as an udometer, pluviometer or ombrometer, a rain gauge is used to gather and measure the amount of liquid precipitation over a period of time. It’s composed of three parts: a funnel, a measuring tube, and a 4-inch diameter overflow tube, and a mounting bracket.

Here’s how a rain gauge works. The funnel directs rain into the tube then magnifies it by a factor of 10. The circular collection area is exactly ten times that of the accumulation tube into which it drains, so each one-hundredth inch of rainfall stands one-tenth inch deep in the accumulation tube. This means that citizen scientists can report rainfall to the nearest 0.01 of an inch. If some rain fell, but there is nothing, or less than 0.01 inch, in your gauge, report it as T for a trace amount.

Dear Sassy Lass: There’s been talk of putting a roundabout at the intersection of Rio Grande and Candelaria. When does it go in?

No matter what you call it, Traffic Tracker — a roundabout, traffic circle, road circle or rotary — these circular junctions are proven to reduce speeders and the number of accidents in high-traffic areas.

Quick Driver’s Ed Refresher: Roundabouts make traffic slow down and flow in one direction around an island. Several exits splinter off to various intersecting roads. A 2000 analysis of roundabout crash data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Federal High-way Administration found that round-abouts typically achieve a 37 percent reduction in overall crashes.

From 2004 to 2014, a total of 64 accidents were reported at the intersection of Candelaria and Rio Grande. Some neighbors have been seeking improvements to the intersection of Rio Grande and Candelaria since August 2006. In 2015, a roundabout — estimated to cost about $1.8 million — was approved for the intersection. The problem is that construction has yet to begin.

City Councilor Isaac Benton represents District 2, where the roundabout is slated to be built. In a recent phone interview Councilor Benton said that, because funding for the Rio Grande roundabout came from the Federal Highway Administration, the project is being handled on a state level by the New Mexico Department of Transportation, which moved the project back from this year to 2017. “It’s been a drawn-out process,” Benton said. Burqueños should be on the lookout for construction to begin next spring.

Got Qs? The Sassy Lass might have some As! Send your questions to thesassylass@freeabq.com today. Your question could be next!

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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