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3 years ago today was costly ‘derecho’ weather event

Published: Monday, June 29, 2015 @ 12:20 PM
Updated: Monday, June 29, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

            Severe storms moved through the area Friday, June 29, causing major damage and power outages. A tree and light pole were blown over near Patterson Blvd.
            Lisa Powell
Severe storms moved through the area Friday, June 29, causing major damage and power outages. A tree and light pole were blown over near Patterson Blvd.(Lisa Powell)

Today is the third anniversary of a massive wind storm, known as a derecho, that hit the Miami Valley and Southwest Ohio.

According to the National Weather Service, a derecho is a widespread and fast-moving storm that produces damaging straight-line winds that span over a hundred miles.

The 2012 derecho was the third most expensive natural disaster in Ohio in decades.

The tornado outbreak that produced the Xenia tornado in 1974 and the 2008 winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ike are the only two events that created costlier damage statewide.

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Husband cuts off wife’s arm with steak knife in Brooklyn, flees, police say

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 12:34 PM

Husband Flees After Cutting Off Wife's Arm With Steak Knife In Brooklyn

A man who cut off his wife’s arm with a steak knife in Brooklyn on Thursday is still at large, New York police say.

The woman’s arm was severed just above the elbow, investigators told WNYW. Police said she also lost two fingers in the attack. 

Yong Lu, 35, is wanted by New York police after he fled the scene, New York police tweeted

>> Read more trending news 

The 35-year-old victim is pregnant, WCBS reports. She is hospitalized in stable but critical condition. 

The couple has a 7-year-old son, WNYW reports.

Hospital officials said she is expected to survive. 

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Flash Flood Watch issued for some, isolated storms possible today 

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 3:34 AM
Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 4:23 PM

Damaging winds and flooding the main threat.

A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for some counties in the area until midnight. 

The watch is in effect for Auglaize, Clark, Champaign, Darke, Logan, Mercer, Miami, and Shelby counties until midnight. 

McCall Vrydaghs/Staff

>> LISTEN: Cloudy with a Chance of Podcast: A podcast for weather fans 


  • Mild for the weekend 
  • Isolated flooding and damaging winds possible
  • Few showers and storms into the evening

>> 5-Day Forecast


THIS EVENING:Partly sunny with a few passing showers or storms into the early evening. Some isolated storms may become intense with locally heavy rain and strong wind gusts. Severe threat is low, but the potential exists that a couple of storms may produce damaging winds. Storms will weaken and taper of into the night. Clouds linger with temperatures falling into the middle 60s late.

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs

>> LIVE Doppler 7 Interactive HD Radar

TOMORROW:  Mostly cloudy, mild and still a little muggy with the chance of a few passing showers or isolated storm. A little bit of a breezy afternoon with temperatures in the upper 70s. Some breaks in the clouds Saturday night with temperatures dropping into the lower 60s.

SUNDAY: Partly sunny and warm with the slight chance of a passing shower. Most of the area will remain dry with highs in the lower 80s.

>> County-by-County Weather 

MONDAY: Mostly sunny and comfortably warm for Monday. Temperatures rise into the lower 80s.

TUESDAY: Partly cloudy and warmer for Tuesday. Highs in the middle 80s.

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny skies with showers and a few storms developing. A very warm and muggy day with temperatures climbing into the upper 80s.


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AFRL erosion testing is out of this world

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 3:14 PM

            The AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate Erosion Team conducted a series of coatings durability tests for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, pictured here in an artist’s rendition. (Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)
The AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate Erosion Team conducted a series of coatings durability tests for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, pictured here in an artist’s rendition. (Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory are doing their part to make the next Mars rover mission an astronomical success.

At the request of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and project partners, AFRL recently concluded a series of tests in the Particle Erosion Test Facility, located in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate’s Coatings, Corrosion and Erosion Laboratory. For this effort, AFRL experts evaluated the effects of dust, particulates, and small rocks on the protective surface coatings of the Mars 2020 rover vehicle.

Mars rovers are sophisticated, multi-instrumented pieces of equipment that travel over the surface of the red planet recording data, performing mechanical tasks and essentially serving as moving laboratories. It stands to reason, therefore, that project engineers need to ensure the rover is well-protected for entry into the planet’s often inhospitable environment.

When a rover is deployed onto the Martian surface, it is released from an atmospheric entry vehicle, where it parachutes down onto the planet surface. This entry is particularly hazardous, as blowing sand and gravel pose tremendous risks. This debris can strike the surface of the rover, potentially damaging the critical protective surface coatings of the vehicle.

In the Particle Erosion Test Facility, or the “sand-rig,” as it is informally called, AFRL researchers took coated test specimens and blasted them with particulate matter that ideally would match conditions experienced during the exploratory mission.

For this particular effort, researchers performed two distinct tests events. In one set of tests, the team used a finer-grain media to batter specimens at speeds of up to 500 mph. In the other set, an instrument called a gravelometer was utilized to propel larger gravel-sized rocks toward the candidate materials. Throughout the test event, the team was replicating potentially the most extreme conditions that the rover would experience during the entry process.

“The entry into the atmosphere is the most destructive aspect of the journey,” said AFRL Erosion Team Lead Joseph Shumaker, “so that’s what we were tasked to look at.”

He explained that JPL provided the team with test parameters and specifications, and the erosion team was able to design, plan and successfully implement the testing that the customer requested.

“Ideally, we tried to mimic the damage that would be observed on Mars,” he said. “It’s fun trying to think about how we are going to imitate the damage of Mars rocks.”

Shumaker said the tests generated valuable data they then provided to their customer. The information gathered from these tests will help project designers understand the durability of the materials and make the necessary adjustments, if any.

This is not the first time AFRL has conducted such tests for the Mars rover design team. Shumaker said similar tests were conducted for the rover Curiosity, which was launched in 2011 and is continuing to perform tasks on the planet’s surface.

“When I hear and see stories on the rover, I can look at it and say, ‘The AFRL Erosion Team had a hand in that,’” he said.

Shumaker said that over the years, the team has successfully provided critical data to many customers throughout the government, military and commercial sectors, as a non-biased, rapid-response test facility.

“We work with customers to make sure we provide good, usable, reliable data. No matter what rig we use, we want to make sure we address the concerns and questions the customer has.”

The Particle Erosion Test Facility is one of many testing capabilities housed within the AFRL Coatings, Corrosion and Erosion Lab. Other specialized tools include the Supersonic Rain Erosion Test Rig, the Hot Erosion Rig and Whirling Arm Rain Erosion Test Facility.

The AFRL Erosion Lab is also home to advanced laboratory capabilities for in-depth environmental particulate analysis. According to Shumaker, this combination of test equipment along with the group’s expertise and characterization capabilities enable the AFRL erosion team to be a world leader. He said the erosion team is also involved within the NATO science and technology community, providing information on the impact and degradation effects of environmental particulates on platforms.

“When you look at the erosion team and what we have, it’s really unique because there is no other facility in the world that has our test capabilities under one roof,” he said. “That’s really what separates us, and we plan on continuing to grow our capabilities.”

Shumaker said he especially anticipates capability growth in the area of environmental materials characterization, or in other words, the analysis of different types of sands, volcanic ash and other similar materials.

He said the group is already expanding their capabilities in this area, noting that this capability is vital in understanding how different types of particulates interact and impact coatings durability throughout military platforms and engine technologies.

“We are growing our capabilities by leaps and bounds to become a one-stop shop for accelerated materials durability testing and analysis,” he said.

Shumaker said that knowing the work the AFRL team does and the benefit it brings to platforms such as the Mars rover makes the job especially rewarding.

“The testing we’ve done here will have an impact on the mission, and that’s what it’s all about.”

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Aircraft ‘milk stool’ revamp on the way to save money, prevent injuries

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 3:17 PM

            The Junior Force Warfighters Operations in the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate hope to patent the new and improved milk stool for the C-130 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/J.D. Bales)
The Junior Force Warfighters Operations in the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate hope to patent the new and improved milk stool for the C-130 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/J.D. Bales)

Amidst its latest efforts to cut costs and prevent injuries to Airmen around the globe, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Junior Force Warfighter Operations team has a new project.

Their target? A piece of aircraft support equipment known around the force as the “milk stool.”

The team, known collectively as JFWORX, is a group of volunteer scientists and engineers from various disciplines around the lab working together to create rapid solutions for near-term warfighter needs.

The milk stool is a wooden support placed under the rear loading ramp of a C-130 aircraft for stability during heavy loading operations. Without it, a heavy load on the loading ramp can cause the front of the plane to lift off the ground, like a see-saw.

The stool must support up to 72,000 pounds and act as a structural support point under the ramp to keep the aircraft safe and stable during loading.

Senior Master Sgt. Duane Meske of the Air Force Special Operations Command is a loadmaster at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Meske contacted the Air Force Research Laboratory for assistance in developing a lightweight milk stool and was directed toward JFWORX, due to their experience solving similar problems for the warfighter.

“Having access to an organization that can rapidly research, develop and test a new product that will assist the warfighter is indispensable,” Meske said.

The current milk stool weighs about 85 pounds and requires two people to move and position under the loading ramp. C-130s only have one loadmaster onboard, so finding another person to safely transport the milk stool causes time delays or forces the loadmaster to move the milk stool alone, at great risk.

Due to the large and awkward size, the stool is very cumbersome and difficult to move around items that have already been loaded onto the plane.

In 2011, a group of Air Force Academy cadets attempted to design a lightweight stool. Due to unmet requirements, however, the design didn’t successfully make the transition from prototype to product, but the cadets’ work has been extremely useful to the JFWORX team.

The JFWORX team chose aluminum tubing and plates as the main structural members of the new stool because of its many benefits including, strength, low cost and corrosion resistance.

Aluminum’s widespread availability also contributed to the decision for material use since the team’s goal is to have any well-equipped base backshops in the world able to repair or replace the new design. This is in use for the current wooden milk stool.

The materials for the new milk stool cost about $125, which is a slight increase over approximately $75 for the legacy design. Since the new milk stool weighs about 30 pounds, this cost will easily be offset by the fuel savings from the decrease in weight.

Those annual savings equate to approximately $375,000 for the Air Force and up to $1.7 million if the new milk stool is adopted across the entire C-130 fleet.

Several partners assisted in the stool redesign, construction and testing, including AFRL’s Systems Support Division, Center for Rapid Innovation and the Wright Brothers Institute.

Design, welding, stress relieving, weld inspection, load testing, and modeling and simulation were all accomplished through various team members in the laboratory.

Five prototypes have been constructed thus far, each one iteratively building on the advances in design and construction from the previous one. This has allowed the team to rapidly improve the design and quickly surpass customer requirements, taking three months to build and test five prototypes.

“Increasing my knowledge in other areas like welding and weld inspection, as well as providing a solution to a long-standing Air Force problem is very satisfying,” said J.D. Bales, mechanical engineer and member of the JFWORX team. “Working with all the disparate team members and utilizing their expertise has been a rewarding experience.”

Christopher Falkowski, facilities engineer and JFWORX member, said the group is creating a patent application for their stool design.

“It’s gratifying to know that you are saving the Defense Department money and preventing injury to warfighters,” he said.

JFWORX projects are managed entirely by its members, who are military and civilian employees of the lab. Their projects are geared toward solving problems that directly affect the warfighter.

The current design will be delivered to Hurlburt Field after load testing is completed within the next month. Meske and his crew will coordinate further testing in the field and continue to work with JFWORX on any modifications that are needed.

Production for the new milk stool could be in place as early as 2019.

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