Grassroots meteorologist provides Mint Hill forecast

The brain of the Mint Hill weather station: the solar-powered black and white cylinders stand five feet from the ground, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, and rain, transmitting data every three seconds, 24 hours a day. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS MULLIS

Mint Hill is home to a weather station that provides a large amount of weather data at the local level. A 34-foot pole stands just a few miles from downtown, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure, rain, and light, while transmitting data every three seconds to be uploaded to MintHillWeather.com.

The weather station is the solo project of Mint Hill resident Chris Mullis, who grew up in Charlotte, being introduced to the world of science through the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club. His passion for astronomy led him to a doctorate degree at the University of Hawaii.

Astronomers develop a relationship with the weather, as they depend on clear skies for observations. They also share with meteorologists the fundamentals of data collecting as scientists. So it was easy for Mullis to cross over to the meteorological world a couple months ago when he constructed his weather station and built his website.

Alongside dozens of charts, graphs, and columns of information are visual aides. The live sky camera, daily videos, and blog illustrating phenomena of the sky provide fascinating visuals from a local perspective. Visitors can see a full-screen lightning flash from last Saturday morning, a meteor from the August 12 Perseid shower, or simply watch the sky grow brighter from the rising sun any given day.

“Visual information is the most powerful type of information,” explained Mullis. “Science begins with observation, and what better way to question the natural world than by looking at it.”

His inspiration for this latest scientific endeavor was in large part his children. As they progress through their education, Mullis wants to keep their curiosities alive. He talks to classrooms of young children about astronomy and meteorology, hoping to instill the importance of questions.

“I’m a grassroots agitator for science education and asking why and questioning the simple stuff; pausing to look and think, ‘why is that?’ I’m taking this weather science and using it as a reason to have a conversation about science and technology. I’m not trying to generate new meteorologists or new astronomers, I’m trying to get kids and citizens to think about science and technology.”

For that reason, he regularly takes out the telescope at home for his children. For special astronomical occasions, the neighborhood kids visit for observations.

MintHillWeather.com was not created just as a tool for teaching science. It’s a useful site for anyone wanting the local weather forecast. Radar images come from Weather Underground in exchange for the high quality data Mullis collects. Current conditions and forecasts provide the casual weather-watcher with the information they need to make the day’s or week’s plans. Scrolling down the home page, more detailed information can be found like precipitation and the UV index, useful for gardeners.

Visitors can also find advisories and astronomical observation charts. The current solar image is always available, illustrating the mind-blowing size of the sun (look for the Earth and Jupiter scale markers). Mint Hill residents can obtain information from the website in a variety of convenient ways. The website is easy to remember and navigate. Following the forecast on Twitter (twitter.com/MintHillWeather) provides live weather conditions on the hour every hour. The Facebook (facebook.com/MintHillWeather) page posts current conditions and the forecast every morning and afternoon. The site also has a mobile version for smart phone use.

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Shooting at McDonald’s

A man shot into the McDonald’s on Lawyers Road at Lebanon Road Monday around 2 am.  He approached the front door and attempted to open it, but the restaurant was closed.  He then shot the door, shattering glass.  The gunman fled the scene.  No one was injured.

Mint Hill and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police searched the area for the gunman.  They used K-9 units and sent detectives to talk with employees.  The suspect is still at large.

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String of shootings

Six car windows and Jakes Good Eats restaurant window were shot in east Charlotte last Friday, June 8; and last Tuesday, June 5 a bullet entered a home on Cabarrus Road in Mint Hill.  Some of the bullets have narrowly missed people, including drivers and a restaurant patron.  Shattered glass injured drivers on Albemarle road when their window was shot out.  Police are working with undercover detectives and K-9 units, and keeping watch of the homes of potential suspects.  CMPD requested the fragment of the round in the Mint Hill home to compare it to the Albemarle Road rounds.  Two vehicles were seen on Albemarle Road, a red pickup truck and a grey or silver Chevy Astro Van.  Police encourage witnesses to call Crime Stoppers at 704-336-1600.

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The American POW Experience

The Town of Matthews will show “The American POW Experience,” honoring local Mint Hill and Matthews residents who were WWII POWs. The viewing will begin at 7 pm at the Matthews Community Center. Admission is free.

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Lions Club holds annual yard sale at Bi-Lo

All proceeds from Saturday's yard sale at Bi-Li go to the Lions Club to support their various causes in the Mint Hill community.

(Club will hold a car show Saturday)

Bi-Lo co-manager Tonya Ivey said the yard sale they sponsored in collaboration with the Lions Club last Saturday was successful enough to consider making it a monthly event.  She said the turn out was good, everyone made some money, and when it was over Good Will brought a truck to take donations if people didn’t want to pack up and keep their things.
Yard sale proceeds go to the Lions Club, an organization whose efforts Ivey and others at Bi-Lo respect and appreciate.
“They do a lot of good work in the community,” said Ivey.
This Saturday Bi-Lo and the Lions Club will hold their forth-annual car show in the Bi-Lo parking lot from 2 -5 pm.  The show grows with each year, and 30 to 40 cars are expected to participate.  The Corvette Car Club, Carolina Cruisers, Mint Hill Police, and Mint Hill Fire Department will be present.
Snow cones, pop corn, and lunch plates of chicken breast, baked beans, cole slaw and a roll – only five dollars a plate – will be for sale to help raise money.  Bi-Lo will also provide music. Continue reading

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Indy teacher sky dives

Long-time Independence High School  chemistry teacher,  Melissa Bliss, did something crazy before Mother’s Day—she went sky diving.  She made a trip down to Skydive Carolina in Chester, South Carolina, where she met up with her tandem partner, the man who would be latched onto her when she made her big leap towards the ground.
There are a couple of procedures, including picking a flight suit, watching an informational video and doing a series of exercises before jumping.
“It was a very quick process before we went up in the air, the instructors made it out to be no big deal, so I wasn’t quite nervous.” Bliss said.
She paid extra for a videographer to go skydiving with her so he could take pictures and even make a video, so she could show her friends and family.
“It made a great, and shocking, Mother’s Day present for my mother,” she said. Continue reading

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