Monthly Archives: March, 2013

Gee-O-Science Links For March, 2013

It’s been another great month for all kinds of science, but we’ll place special emphasis on many severe weather awareness links for very important information. It’s that time of year…and the severe weather season for North America is here.


Thinking for yourself and critical thinking are exceptionally important in contemporary society, especially with the current exciting science and technological developments.

Daylight Savings Time is such a silly notion that should have gone the way of the carrier pigeon. Yet we hang on to this antiquated habit. Why?

Shopping for green products can be tricky, even when you’re as careful as I am. Here’s a guide to eco-friendly products that I found helpful.

Stephen Fry is not just a great actor, but an intellectual of the highest regard. Here’s his take on “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18.”

You may wish you knew a lot more about how to handle yourself after a natural disaster because what Emergency Management really is trying to say is, ” Be prepared to help yourself because we can’t help everyone.”


Yes, it’s true. You are made of star stuff…as am I…and every living being that’s ever lived on planet Earth. It’s important that our children know that fact.

Speaking of star stuff, cosmologist and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss takes us on a fascinating journey back to the beginning.

The Hubble telescope finds the birth certificate of the oldest known star…and looks back in time almost 14 billion years.

Studying the atmosphere of planet Earth is exciting enough, but some scientists are now taking a look at the atmospheres of other planets.


Ever wonder what exactly is a dinosaur? The American Museum of Natural History can help answer any questions you have.

While on the topic of everyone’s favorite extinct animals, here’s a great write-up on 10 Dinosaur Myths That Need To Go Extinct.

Here’s a very nice video featuring the inimitable Richard Dawkins (who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting) in a one hour video, “The Greatest Show On Earth.”


March 27 is the anniversary of the Good Friday earthquake in Alaska. At 9.2 magnitude, it’s the most powerful earthquake to date for the United States.

March 24-30 is Tsunami Preparedness Week in California…a state not only vulnerable to violent earthquakes, but the tsunamis they generate.


Interested in weather and citizen science? You need look no further than your rain gauge!  The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) has all the details on how you can get involved!

Measuring rain is pretty easy. NCAR takes a look at commonplace challenges involved in measuring snow.

And while measuring snow, samples are often taken…and can be quite telling.

A very nice part personal essay, part informational article on the topic of contrails.

Here’s a fascinating paper just out from the American Meteorological Society: Tornado Debris Characteristics and Trajectories During the 27 April 2011 Super Outbreak as Determined Using Social Media Data. (35 page PDF file)

The National Center for Science Education has a nice, short primer video on A Brief History of Climate Science.

NOAA has a new national strategy on the menu to help wildlife, fish, and plants deal with our changing climate.

Does our planet have a “point-of-no-return” tipping point in regards to climate change?

The earth’s atmosphere and climate has been warm before, but what makes current changes so different from the past?

A nice read from Grist: “Two Reasons Climate Change Is Not Like Other Environmental Problems.”

Climactic warming trends are more likely to lead to less rainfall, which goes against a great deal of current atmospheric theory.

Speaking of lack of rainfall, a change in the monsoon patterns for the southwestern part of North America could have long-range effects on an already dry climate.

NOAA is already anticipating the ongoing great plains drought to continue for 2013 with Dust Bowl-like conditions possible.

Fortunately for television viewers, there are a handful of media meteorologists who boldly take the bull by the horns & face the situation.

The long-term stratagems of dealing with climate change and any political/financial challenges is quite complex. Is there positive change ahead?

Science curriculum in the US is sorely lacking in earth and atmospheric science. Fortunately, a few brave souls are bringing climate into the classroom. Unfortunately, science classes void of any curriculum on climate change are doing a disservice to our children.

It’s a long shot, but Climate Central is taking a look at what the 2013 tornado season might have in store for us.

Taking a look back, it’s been eighty-eight years since the Tri-State tornado of 1925. NOAA has a nice site with fascinating info on the deadliest tornado in US history.

NOAA”s Storm Prediction Center has a new website coming out. Take a look…and be sure to bookmark this one!

The National Weather Service is dealing with a vacancy rate of approximately 8% & giving “multi-tasking” a new meaning. And you thought your job was stressful.

Finally, with the North American severe weather season on our doorstep, here are several links of very timely and important information…

Tornadoes, Lightning, & Thunderstorms: Nature’s Most Violent Storms (20 page PDF file)

Tornado Safety Rules From The Storm Prediction Center

Highway Overpasses As Tornado Shelters (slide show)

The Online Tornado FAQ

Facts About Derechos

Flash Flooding Safety: Turn Around, Don’t Drown Basic Disasters Supply Kit Info

Please keep in mind that it’s not unusual for safety recommendations to change over time. For example, it’s now commonly recommended that people taking shelter from a tornado not only shield themselves with thick blanket and pillows, but wear a safety helmet of some kind. The safety recommendations on the links above are the responsibility, opinions, and under control of the respective author or agencies. I can merely pass on info that I hope will be of help…and am  not responsible or liable in any way for it’s presentation or accuracy.


45 People Who Should Not Be Allowed To Use The English Language ~ I’m sure we all fit in this list somewhere.  🙂

An interesting & quite humorous take on Americans & the rest of the world.

Corn cobs? Splinter-free TP? Good lord…no wonder people in early 19th century photographs looked like sitting still was a painful process.

Earth911 has a nice “DIY” article on how to make a recycled bird feeder. Keep those little dinosaurs well fed with upcycling!

And that’s a wrap for March!

Severe weather season is here. Keep your NOAA weather radio handy & stay very, very weather aware.



Time Flies When Storm Chasing Is Fun…And A Lesson In Hard Knocks

As the old saying goes, “the older you get, the faster the time passes. “That’s certainly true in my case where the past quarter century has passed in a blizzard of frenzied contemporary life.  It’s also hard to fathom that, as of today, it’s been thirty one years ago this evening that I started storm chasing.

Unlike the storm chasers of today, the “early years” of chasing were done with a lot of basic information. I had only a local forecast, broadcasts from NOAA weather radio, and PBS’s A.M. Weather for data. My target areas were relatively close, usually no more than 100 miles away from my home, and my forecast analysis was done with colored pencils and the basic data on a home-made surface map. Incidentally, to this day I still do hand analysis to determine a target area for chasing.

The evening of 15 March, 1982 started out with a tornado watch, and the usual forecast for severe weather. Rather than listen to the scanner traffic at home, I decided to take a short trip to observe a severe thunderstorm that was moving into Washington, Co. OK. From a distance of around 25 miles,  I was fascinated to observe the storm from a totally new perspective. From the side of a narrow country road,  I set up my Canon AE-1 and snapped the photo below at approximately 7:00 pm CDT. In short order, I’d heard that a tornado warning had been issued for the storm and the most dangerous part of the mesocyclone would pass over Bartlesville, OK. Little did I realize that on my first storm chase I would witness a suprecell thunderstorm with a tornado in progress. For clarity, the view of this photo is to the north. The location of the mesocyclone and tornado would have been near the center of the photograph.

Tornadic Supercell Over Washington Co.OK at approximately 7:00 CDT on 15 March 1982

Tornadic Supercell Over Washington Co.OK at approximately 7:00 CDT on 15 March 1982

Since then, thirty-one seasons of storm chasing have passed. I’ve seen incredible displays of atmospheric phenomenon whose beauty defies description. I’ve also watch storms devastate many areas and walked through many towns where dreams and lives were ended.

It’s true that storm chasing isn’t what it used to be. A lone tornadic supercell making it’s way across the southern plains is a beacon for the sincerely motivated…and also catnip for anyone with a camcorder and a hunger for YouTube fame. Spectacle-seekers, adrenaline junkies, and fakirs (no, not the religious/cultural kind) run amok have changed the scope and public image of what once was the intellectual pursuit of citizen scientists and a handful of research meteorologists.  Taking storm chasing seriously is a very demanding challenge and should only be considered by those who are willing to take on the rigors of learning a great deal of atmospheric physics.  The most important part of storm chasing takes place in your mind…with a deep understanding of the intricate structure of the earth’s atmosphere.  Not what everyone wants to hear, is it?

I’ll be out there again this year. I’ve learned to be very selective in my decisions of chase days. Often, a moderate or even high risk doesn’t guarantee you’ll capture anything other than the QLCS from hell bearing down on your location as you sit helplessly at the end of a dirt road to nowhere. For those willing to take on the rigors of learning about our atmosphere, I wish you well, please yield to first responders and research meteorology field teams, and remember that your first duty is to public safety.  Ultimately, that’s what matters most in the end.

Quiet Weather & Emergency Preparedness Go Together

A period of relatively tranquil weather on tap for many of the plains states over the next several days. While it’s tempting to delay preparing for the severe weather season, this is actually an ideal time to get ready for spring storms. Checking your NOAA weather radio is always a good first step. Make sure it’s in proper working order, the batteries are fresh and you have spares on hand, and it’s programmed properly for your location. An emergency kit is also a must. The Red Cross has some useful information to help you get started. As the old saying goes, better to prepare and not need it than to need it and not have it.

As far as weather patterns go, it’s impossible to tell what the coming spring storm season will be like. Mother nature will always have the ace up her sleeve and it’s up to us to be prepared for whatever she throws at us. I’ve received numerous inquiries and emails about what the upcoming severe weather season will be like. All I can say is this…prepare now…and take things one day at a time.

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