The ingredients for a storm

Hurricanes can only form in tropical areas because the storms require moist air from waters with temperatures greater than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The moist air produces water vapor that condenses to form rain droplets and storm clouds. The initial catalyst for a hurricane is the heat released from condensation because it warms the surrounding air and causes it to move faster into the upper atmosphere. The cycle causes a difference in air pressure, known as a pressure gradient, which creates a powerful vacuum that forces winds to circulate around a focused center, similar to how water flows down a drain.

She changed that

Birdie Owens sits in her rocking chair and watches the television coverage of Hurricane Rita — loudly. “Close the door before you let the flies inside,” she says to her grandchildren.

Judgment passed on state agencies

On Thursday, a state panel appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt modified, approved and rejected dozens of proposals that could rearrange state government departments and what they regulate. The State Review Commission approved a proposal that would take away the Secretary of State’s securities division and take away that office’s ability to regulate investments.


An article on page 5A Tuesday incorrectly accounted for the number of graduates from the Mid-Missouri Alternatives to Violence Project workshops. In the past five years about 150 workshops have been held.

Red Cross takes top role in relief services

The Disaster Relief Center and all member agencies of the Community Organizations Assisting in Disasters have resumed normal hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center, which is located at the Columbia/Boone County Community Partnership at Parkade Center, will refer hurricane evacuees to the Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross will take over as the primary coordinator for hurricane relief efforts and will continue assisting affected individuals in after-hours emergency services.

Tourism Council aids relocation efforts

The Mid-Missouri Tourism Council has donated $2,000 to Columbia’s Disaster Relocation Center. The money will go toward purchasing $100 gift cards to Target and Wal-Mart stores.

Mill Creek school deposits donations

Mill Creek Elementary ended its collection of cash and coins and deposited the money into an account for victims of Hurricane Katrina. School counselors are also accepting gift cards to various retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart to assist evacuated families that have children at the school.

New Haven school collecting gift cards

To help hurricane victims, New Haven Elementary school is collecting gift cards to various retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot until the end of this month. It is also accepting cash donations that children can place in the school’s communal pot.

Hurricane effects felt as far as Missouri

Hurricanes have historical context even in the landlocked Show-Me State. Remnants of two hurricanes have already affected parts of Missouri this year, with the possibity of a third on the way. Jim Kramper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said Hurricane Rita could bring rain to parts of Missouri.

Festival of the Arts emphasizes musical, literary, artistic diversity

For at least four years, the Columbia Festival of the Arts has been a staple for the African folklore group Afi Ama. Kunama Mtendaji, a member of Afi Ama, says the five-person group’s program of music and dance is comprised of a number of interrelated acts, each of which is influenced by a different element of the African diaspora. Afi Ama translates to “spirits most ancient,” and the show as a whole symbolizes the quest for harmony, balance and peace, said Mtendaji. For example, the stilt dancer reminds audiences to stay in balance with their lives and remember the great things their ancestors have done.

Proposition 6 asks builders to fund roads

Columbia voters will decide Nov. 8 whether developers should be charged more to pay for new roads. Proposition 6, one of six proposals on the November ballot, would give the city five years to raise the development charge from 10 cents to 50 cents per square foot to pay for larger streets and thoroughfares to handle increased traffic.

1,000-acre development advances

A plan for what could be the largest single development in Columbia’s history generated little public interest during a hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night. In the end, the commission recommended the City Council approve the plan for a 631-acre subdivision known as Old Hawthorne, which would be built on a large tract developer Billy Sapp had annexed and zoned over the summer.

Wal-Mart plans get specific for new location

The new Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for Broadway and Fairview Road will feature red-brick construction, extensive landscaping, extra parking for a nearby school and an earthen berm to separate the development from its neighbors if it is ultimately approved by the City Council. At a meeting of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night, some Columbia residents came forward to express their approval of the site plans. Others thought certain aspects just weren’t good enough.

Winds create surges

As Hurricane Rita closes in on the Gulf Coast and causes gridlock on the northbound highways of Houston, the real chaos will not hit until the storm makes landfall. Along with heavy rainfall and flooding, residents can expect domes of water 50 to 100 miles wide tackling coastal homes. Known as storm surges, strong winds push the water toward the shore causing an abnormal increase in the ocean’s level. Its height can range from four feet to more than 20 feet, depending on the storm’s strength.

Scholars program aids diversity

On Tuesday, the Columbia School Board reviewed three programs aimed at narrowing the academic achievement gap among student groups. The one showing strong results is the Minority Achievement Committee Scholars. Begun in 2002 and aimed at high school students who are minorities, the MAC Scholars program works to increase the number of black students who graduate from high school and encourages its participants to take Advanced Placement and honors classes.

MU holds open forum to address law that created Constitution Day

The Constitution’s 218th birthday last week still has people talking, at least in part because of a new federal law that came into effect this year. Constitution Day was observed for the first time on Sept. 17. On Thursday, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton moderated an open forum to discuss the document.

Mother of dead soldier leads protest

The Columbia Coalition for Peace will not be alone in calling for an end to war in Iraq when it gathers at 1 p.m. Saturday in Peace Park on the MU campus for a demonstration. Demonstrations are also scheduled to take place in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Camdenton. The Missouri demonstrations come on the same day as a nationally organized gathering near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

A ride through history

Herb Crum remembers his first day behind the wheel, collecting 15 cents per ride and a nickel for transfers on his route from Broadway to the Indian Hills neighborhood. He was one of the first 11 city bus drivers hired by an ambitious Public Works Director by the name of Ray Beck. “I remember interviewing and hiring Crum as one of the original drivers,” Beck said. “I sent them to St. Louis to pick up the 10 buses I had hired.”

Event addresses dangers of illegal handguns

Nearly two years after MU student Charles Blondis was shot to death with an illegal handgun, his mother still feels the pain and loss. “Each day is a sad day, with some moments of happiness,” Alba Blondis said. “It is always going to be that way.”

Suspect charged in Saturday shooting

Maurice Griffith, 28, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Police said Griffith fired shots at and hit a moving vehicle near the Lake of the Woods Exit off Interstate 70 on Saturday night.