Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 5th 2014

National Chocolate Fondue Day


It’s National Chocolate Fondue Day! The word "fondue" is derived from the French word "fondre," which means to melt. The dish originated in 19th century Switzerland as a way to use up hardened cheese. It became popular for dinner parties in the 1950's, but the chocolate dessert version did not emerge until the 1960's.

Chocolate fondue is a wonderful centerpiece for a party. Traditional dippers include fresh fruits such as bananas, strawberries, and tangerines; small pieces of cookie or cake; and miscellaneous goodies like marshmallows and pretzels.

Celebrate National Chocolate Fondue Day by inviting some friends over to dip your favorite fruits and snacks into a delicious chocolate fondue!

National Weatherman's Day


February 5 is National Weatherperson's Day, commemorating the birth of John Jeffries in 1744. Jeffries, one of America's first weather observers, began taking daily weather observations in Boston in 1774 and he took the first balloon observation in 1784. This is a day to recognize the men and women who collectively provide Americans with the best weather, water, and climate forecasts and warning services of any nation.

Many of us take weather information for granted. Turn on a light switch, you get light. Turn on your television or radio, or check a web site and you get the weather forecast. It’s easy to forget that around the clock, dedicated meteorologists and weather-casters are vigilantly creating forecasts to help you plan your day, and issuing warnings to help keep you safe.

National Weather Service
The men and women at your local National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office gather the raw weather data, analyze the data, and study numerical computer models in order to issue the weather and river forecasts and warnings to protect life and property. Specialized marine and aviation forecasts help enhance the Nation’s economy. Spot forecasts help firefighters control wildfires and emergency management officials contain hazardous chemical spills. Extensive climate records help engineers, architects, researchers, insurance companies and utilities.

The primary mission of the NWS is to provide the American public with the best possible warning service to save lives. Recent severe weather statistics show that we continue to improve our capability to warn the public of impending hazardous weather. Nationally, lead time for flash flood warnings improved from 22 minutes in 1993 to 78 minutes in 2008. Accuracy over the same time period increased from 71 percent to 91 percent. Lead time for tornado warnings has increased from 6 minutes in 1993 to 13 minutes today. Tornado warning accuracy increased from 43 percent to 72 percent. Winter storm accuracy in 2008 was 89 percent with an average lead time of 17 hours. Since 1990, the Tropical Prediction Center’s 24 to 72 hour tropical storm forecast track errors have been reduced by more than 50%. These more accurate and longer lead time warnings help communities stay safe.

The St. Louis, Missouri NWS forecast office, which serves 46 counties from central Missouri to central Illinois, had an accuracy of 82 percent for severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings in 2008 with an average lead time of 17 minutes. 

Western Monarch Day


February 5 is Western Monarch Day.  No, it is not a day to celebrate the King or Queen of any Western European nation, but to celebrate the monarch butterflies that grace much of North America.  These flying insects are quite prolific in my neck of the woods and are clearly the most common butterfly around.  They are certainly amazing in that they travel to just a few places where they winter.  This makes them worthy of a day to celebrate this wonderful animal.

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae) in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871, where it is called the wanderer. It is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe and a rare migrant in the United Kingdom. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3½–4 in). (The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller, and has an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the androconium in the center of each hind wing. Males are also slightly larger than female monarchs. The Queen is a close relative.

The monarch is famous for its southward late summer/autumn migration from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico and coastal California, and northward return in spring, which occurs over the lifespans of three to four generations of the butterfly. The migration route was fully determined by Canadian entomologists Fred and Norah Urquhart after a 38-year search, aided by naturalists Kenneth C. Brugger and Catalina Trail who solved the final piece of the puzzle by identifying the butterflies' overwintering sites in Mexico. The discovery has been called the "entomological discovery of the 20th century". An IMAX film, Flight of the Butterflies, tells the story of the long search by the Urquharts, Brugger and Trail to unlock the secret of the butterflies' migration. There is evidence that eastern North American populations of the monarch butterfly migrate to south Florida and Cuba.

World Nutella Day


Chocoholics know that there is chocolate and then there is Nutella. The creamy and delicious chocolate and hazelnut spread has been around since the 1940's, and despite the many imitations that have appeared in the market, Nutella continues to be the favorite guilty pleasure of chocoholics around the world. It is not surprising that die-hard Nutella fans decided to start the Nutella Day tradition back in 2007. This sweet celebration was launched through social networks by a blogger and Nutella fan, and soon tens of thousands of like-minded Nutella devotees showed their appreciation for the chocolaty delight online.

So, Nutella fans of the world unite! Celebrate the existence of this delicious chocolate spread by grabbing a spoon and getting creative with hundreds of Nutella recipes. Start your Nutella Day with a classic Nutella-on-pancakes breakfast and follow with a shaken espresso with a dash of Nutella. On this day, add Nutella to your cupcakes, ice cream, mousse, or even to savory dishes. Your imagination is the limit!

Digital Learning Day


Digital Learning Day is a nationwide celebration of innovative teachers and common-sense, effective applications of digital learning in America’s schools that support teachers, improve learning, and provide options for students to achieve at their highest potential. Digital Learning Day materials and resources support educators at all levels as they navigate the shift to more robust digital learning environments to achieve higher standards for students.

Disaster Day


Today is "Disaster Day," and rather than a day to celebrate, it's a day to prepare. Disasters can come in all shapes and sizes, from a flooded basement to a deadly hurricane. What types of disasters are you and your family at risk of encountering?

Regardless of the types of disasters common in your area, there are several things you and your family can do to prepare. Here are some tips from Ready.gov:
  • Take photos or videos of all personal possessions for insurance purposes.
  • Have at least $200 in cash in the house for emergencies.
  • Store several gallons of water.
  • Place emergency items in car trunk.
  • Store enough food and water to sustain each person and animal for three days in your home.
  • Have two flashlights with extra batteries strategically located in your home.