Monthly Archives: September, 2013

Two Kansas Tornadoes of Note Occurred 40 Years Ago Today #kswx

On this date in 1973, two significant tornadoes occurred in central Kansas. While tornadoes in the autumn are not unusual, it was unusual for two tornadoes to be captured on film in the early 1970’s on the same day. The first film is of a tornado near Lindsborg, KS. The second film is of the Salina, KS tornado which received a great deal more attention due to damage and press coverage. Both films, while characteristically grainy for home movies of that time, still show a great deal of detail in the life cycle of the tornadoes. The Lindsborg tornado displayed a multiple vortex structure approximately half way through the footage. In contrast, the Salina tornado clearly developed multiple vorticies very early in its life cycle before the visible condensation funnel fully developed. Another interesting structural change occurred when the Salina tornado briefly took on a helical structure as it passed some distance behind the water tower. The Salina footage, for its time,  is quite a good film since it documents the entire life cycle of the tornado from its early organization to the “roping out” stage.

Severe weather activity across the great plains is not uncommon in the autumn months. It has not been too long ago since Oklahoma had its largest fall tornado outbreak in state history on October 4, 1998 when several intense tornadic supercells moved across the Norman and Tulsa forecast areas. With that in mind, now would be a good time to check your NOAA weather radio for the upcoming winter season and any potential severe weather events that could take place over the next few weeks.



Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links: Sept. 16 – 22, 2013

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Happy Autumnal Equinox! And for my followers in the Southern Hemisphere, Happy Spring! Regardless of where you live, hope everyone’s having a great week. Due to time constraints and several projects that are vying for my attention, this Gee-O-Science Links post will be on the abbreviated side, but I do hope you’ll find a few items of interest. Let’s get started…


The most common language in science is math. Here’s a good essay on how to fall in love with it all over again.


Citizen science means many things to different people. How do you feel about the term “citizen science?”

Like to help out the National Severe Storms Laboratory with research? Then check out the Precipitation ID Near the Ground (PING) project!

Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere is a great time for many other citizen science projects…here’s how to get started.


Fall foliage will be getting a lot of attention over the next few weeks. Some parts of the USA should have very vibrant views.

Interesting multidisciplinary study of the effects hot weather has on crop yield.

With demand for water often exceeding supply, the current stresses on water sheds may become the new normal.

This should come as no surprise. Heatwaves and wildfires worsened the recent devastating Colorado floods.

Green energy is not only a good idea, but can pay for itself in lives saved from smog.

Peru’s cloud forests, renowned for their biodiversity, are under threat from climate change.


Humberto was the Atlantic tropical cyclone that would not give up. Read how NASA drones explored the storm to find out data on how it brought itself back to life.

Here’s a very interesting read: Ten Amazing Facts About The El Reno, OK Tornado (otherwise known as the EF-5 that was rated EF-3).

This is a very well written FAQ on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC)upcoming climate change report. This should answer many questions I receive weekly.

Scientific American takes a retrospective look back at 25 years of the IPCC.

NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center has released their global analysis for August, 2013 of climate anomalies and events.

And finally, in case you missed this article from the Wichita Eagle, it’s well worth your time. The downgrading of the El Reno, OK tornado will (IMHO) have deleterious long-term ramifications. 

Time for me to wrap this up…hope everyone has a great week…and a big THANK YOU to all my followers!


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Sept 9 – 15, 2013

It’s been an active week in the Atlantic with two hurricanes in an otherwise very quiet season. There are still several weeks in the official hurricane season and a lot can happen over the next few weeks, so stay weather aware if you live in a hurricane prone region. On that note, September is National Preparedness Month in the USA…so prepare now for a disaster…better safe than sorry. Plenty of other interesting science stories this week as well, so let’s get started…


If you’re in the science field as a professional or citizen scientist, you’ve no doubt come across people who argue with research that’s not to their liking. If a polite, “agree to disagree” doesn’t work, just kill the messenger. Trolls, are you listening?

Is the NSA’s next move silencing university professors?

A little public heath mixed with climatology in this interesting read about climate change and those adorable mosquitoes we love to hate.

Another interesting multidisciplinary read: Insights on protecting the worlds poor (public heath, economics, etc.) from climate change.


A very interesting read on the role of apps, data, and their application to citizen science.


The voyager spacecraft are well on their way to interstellar space. Here’s a look at the “golden records” that are traveling along with sounds of the Earth.

WIRED magazine has an incredible view of Martian sand dunes that, like the dunes on our planet Earth, move with the winds.


As much as I admire the work of Sir Richard Attenborough, I have to agree with the author of this article: Humans are still evolving.


There are many ways in which you can receive emergency information. FEMA, as a part of Emergency Preparedness Month, has important information on Wireless Emergency Alerts that can be received on cell phones.

While on the topic of emergency preparedness, here’s some very important information on NOAA weather radios…the where, what, and whys of a potentially life-saving device that should be as common in homes (regardless of where you live) as smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.


New Orleans has a radical new plan for dealing with floods…as in ‘let them happen’…sort of.


NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center has released their State Of The Climate report for August and Summer 2013.

Here’s a very good read from UCAR/NCAR on a detailed view of the Colorado floods that caused a great deal of damage and resulted in several fatalities.

The Colorado flash floods were often referred to as a, “100 year flood.” What does that mean?

Hurricane Humberto tied a record as the latest date in the Atlantic tropical cyclone season without a hurricane. Here’s an inside look as to why it’s been quiet so far in the Atlantic.

NASA is using converted military drones to gather data for improving forecasting of tropical cyclones.

Some new research indicates that climate change will upset vital ocean chemical cycles.

An interesting read on the USA’s inadequate response to a major security threat: climate change.

The warm season in Europe is heating up…and at a faster rate than previously thought.

Check out this very interesting map from the Storm Prediction Center’s data of the number of tornadoes in the USA as of the end of June, 2013. So far, Oklahoma takes the top spot, Texas coming second.  It’s also important to remember that this is still preliminary data and tornado occurrence varies from year to year and is oblivious to political geographic barriers. If you’d like a more detailed look at USA tornado statistics, browse through the Storm Prediction Center Warning Coordination Meteorologist’s page for some fascinating data.


Why the NSA loves Google’s Chromebook…as if they didn’t already have their claws deep into the Fourth Amendment already.

This proud metal-head sees no irony in finding happiness in “angry” music.

Some people should not be allowed the privilege of parenthood…and here’s one village idiot who needs to be sent to Coventry.  Permanently.

Finally, here’s a very enjoyable read on the fine art of conversation. Though written in 1866, it’s advice is still quite applicable in today’s society.

And that’s a wrap for this week. Keep your eyes on the tropics. The season’s quiet, but not over. And while you’re thinking about it, remember to put together your emergency preparedness plans.

See you good folks next week!


State-By-State Tornado Count for USA through June, 2013 via @NWSSPC

Here’s a very interesting map from the Storm Prediction Center of the state-by-state tornado count as of the end of June 2013. In spite of some brief active periods, especially the May mayhem in Oklahoma, this year has been below normal in the numbers of tornadoes. Currently, Oklahoma and Texas have the number one and two rankings respectively. It’s interesting to note that some states, such as Alabama, are currently at half the climatological normal number of tornadoes. Perhaps the most important factor a map like this can convey to us is that tornado occurrence across the USA varies a great deal from year to year. The long-term “big picture” climatology is ultimately the most important data to take into account when considering the true tornado risk.

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Sept. 2 – 8, 2013

It’s hard to believe that September is well underway and the meteorological autumn has commenced in the Northern Hemisphere. For the time being, the tropical Atlantic is quiet though Tropical Depression 9 near the Cape Verde Islands is forecast to become hurricane Humberto and stay in the open Atlantic.

Here’s a few links of interest to browse through…hope you find something interesting this week…


One of my favorite radio shows, To The Best Of Our Knowledge, has a nice program on wonder…an element that is essential to scientific research…and so many other fields of study.

Sesame Street is widening it’s focus to include some science along with the ABC’s.

What’s in urine? 3,000 chemicals & counting. And now you know…


Hate those home pages that many popular browsers use? Me too. Here’s how to set a blank homepage in IE, Firefox, & Chrome.


Here’s a very cool geography link (from a historical perspective) of interactive maps comparing several 19th century cities to today.


New studies indicate that crop pests and pathogens are on the move thanks to climate change.


I could get used to flights like this! Watch this video about some very cool airborne research done by NASA’s cloud hunters.

Here’s a very cool look at the total area covered by tornadoes year by year in the USA.

September 8th marks the anniversary of the Galveston, TX hurricane of 1900…the deadliest natural disaster in USA history.

The Atlantic tropical season has been quiet so far, but it may not stay that way for long.

All scientific research involves challenges and hurdles to overcome. Here’s a good example with climate science.

Interesting read on how one degree Celsius of climate warming could cut Kansas’ wheat production by almost twenty percent.

A well documented climate change over 12,000 years ago could be tied to a cosmic impact.

Why should we trust climate models? It’s a matter of science…and the scientific method.

NOAA invests $1.3 million with university & federal researchers for hurricane forecasting advances.

Here’s some essential reading from NOAA’s Nat’l Climactic Data Center and the American Meteorological Society (note: very large PDF file)  Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate Perspective

There are good science article out there, and there are bad ones. This gem from the Daily Mail (UK) is a perfect example of 1) factoid writing on the level of the National Enquirer and 2) sensationalism void of scientific merit that denies years of peer-reviewed research subject to the scientific method.

In case you missed this, here’s a good read from the inimitable Chuck Doswell on the recent EF Scale controversy that surrounds the May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK tornado.

Finally, keep in mind that September is National Preparedness Month in the USA. Here’s some good information from the CDC on hurricane preparedness…and now’s the time to prepare before it’s too late.  FEMA has a very handy emergency info sheet you can print out & keep in a safe place.


A coordinated kamikaze attach by squirrels on the power grids of the US of A could bring Uncle Sam to a screeching halt. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why the other queue seems to move faster than yours. If I had a dime for every time this has happened to me…

Being royalty isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Apparently, Richard III was begnawed by roundworms. To add insult to injury, his remains were found under a parking lot.  Egads!

And that’s a wrap for this week! Regardless of where you live, I hope the winds are at your back & your finances are on the right side of the ledger.


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Aug. 26 – Sept. 1, 2013

Another very interesting week on the science front with plethora of info from a variety of disciplines online. Most notable in the atmospheric sciences, is the eerily quiet Atlantic hurricane season. As usual, our atmosphere always has the upper hand and the ace up the sleeve…so time will tell what it has in store for us. In the meantime, let’s get started on this weeks science links…


Thought provoking read about scientific expertise. Bottom line: no one can be an expert on everything. So we (professional & citizen scientists alike) can relax…someone knows something we don’t know & we know something they don’t know.

The political demographics of the science community have changed a great deal in recent decades…and there’s a good reason why.

The Guardian has a list of 20 big questions in science. Some good questions here. As usual, geosciences take a back seat to other topics.

September is National Preparedness month in the USA. The USGS has compiled a nice list of info that is bookmark worthy.


Stop, Collaborate and…vote! A citizen science project to help solve climate change with MIT’s Climate CoLab.


Here’s one of many autumn foliage forecasts…and for some parts of the USA, it should be a good year.

We’ve all contributed to this problem. Old electronics don’t die, they pile up, and up, and up…

Very nice video from NOAA’s Ocean Today. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to watch. Our oceans are a veritable junkyard.

Take a look at this spectacular time-lapse view of the California Rim fire.

No surprise here. Air pollution can be held responsible for up to 200,000 early deaths each year in the USA alone.

The California Rim fire calls into question the uncertain future of Yosemite’s forests.


Spectacular view of all of the hurricanes of the past 170 years mapped on the planet Earth.

Here’s a great list of hurricane planning and response resources from NOAA.

Can anything survive the incredible force of EF-5 tornado winds? And the answer is

Incredible image of red sprites captured above a Nebraska thunderstorm.

Could a recent slow down in atmospheric warming be linked to La Nina?

With the increase in frequency and severity of wildfires in the USA, it begs to question if there’s a connection with climate change.

Many folks are somewhat familiar with the IPCC, but not sure how an intergovernmental panel works. The Union of Concerned Scientists (via climate scientist Heidi Cullen) has a nice overview.

A very chilling and sobering read about the last storm chase of Tim Samaras, his son, and chase partner, and other chasers who had close encounters with the El Reno, OK tornado of 31 May 2013.

For reasons unbeknownst to me (and beyond common sense), NOAA has downgraded the El Reno tornado to EF-3 from EF-5.  I’ll be putting together a blog post in this issue which will contain my own subjective viewpoint in the near future.

For my followers in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you’re having a great start to the “meteorological autumn”….same for my followers in the Southern Hemisphere who are now entering their spring. Enjoy the seasons!


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