Monthly Archives: February, 2014

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links Feb. 18 – 25th, 2014

With the North American severe weather season fast approaching, the contiguous USA has just had its first widespread severe weather event. Fortunately, it appears that most damage was minor, tornadoes were not common, and straight line winds were the major hazard. In light of this severe weather episode, I’ve been asked a number of times, “What will the 2014 severe weather season be like?” Honestly, I haven’t a clue. There are many global atmospheric characteristics and trends that could give us a hint, but they’re not consistently reliable. The policy I recommend: Prepare for the worst & hope for the best. Knowledge is power…and make sure you have access to reliable and timely severe weather information. First, make sure your NOAA weather radio is functioning and you have plenty of batteries. Second, if you’re active in social media, follow your local National Weather Service office, your favorite local broadcast meteorologists, and any local officials/emergency management accounts. Now comes that waiting game.

Here are your links for this week…

GENERAL SCIENCE

This is something I’ve wondered about. “How Wrong Is Your Time Zone?”

For the mathematically inclined, formulae can thrill in the way that visual art and music do.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

A good primer for those curious about astronomy: “Where Do Galaxies Come From?”

If clear skies are in your area, enjoy viewing Jupiter which, in a few days, will be at its highest point in the sky for many years to come.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

What’s causing the recent spike in unprecedented seismic activity in Oklahoma?

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

Parts of the UK have experienced devastating floods as of late. They’re now at a crossroads in adaption, or abandonment.

A sobering look at images at the horrible air pollution that plagues much of China.

We’re aware of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but what about Repair?

If we’re to take sustainability seriously, we need a clear vision of what a sustainable future will look like.

The spinning blades on wind turbines not only generate useful electricity, but in rare occasions…lightning

The recent loss of Arctic sea ice may have long-term effects that are greater than expected.

Some amazing imagery of the recent loss of snow-pack in California.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

When much of Moore, OK was devastated by an EF-5 tornado on 20 May 2013, the Plaza Towers Elementary become a deathtrap…not because of the tornadoes intensity, but due to shoddy construction.

The ongoing drought in California may have serious consequences concerning public health.

In spite of short-term cold spells and winter precipitation, January, 2014 was the fourth warmest January since records began in 1880.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT COULDN’T GET MORE WEIRD…

Giant walls built across the traditional ‘tornado alley’ can save the day!

Good news! The Farmer’s Almanac is spot on. Weird.

More bizarre histrionics from the climate change denialists. Apparently those they disagree with (including yours truly) are “global warming Nazi’s.”

Make no mistake about it. The climate denialist machine is well-oiled and well-financed.

Denialism means just that. Denying information or facts that have proven to be true. Being a skeptic is another matter!

Finally, an interesting read on the “shills, skeptics, and hobbyists lumped together in climate denialism.”

In closing, I’d like to add some objective sanity regarding the matter.

My point for posting the above articles is, save for the last one, to show an example of the bizarre antics that have taken place in the world of earth sciences.  I don’t enjoy the bitter vitriol any more than anyone else and DO NOT under ANY circumstances entertain or tolerate trolls or bullying…online or in person. The saddest point about the climate change discussion is the vitriol from denialists has sunken to a new sophomoric low that eradicates any sense of professionalism on their behalf. It’s the kind of childish “mud-slinging” that so often seen in political races. It’s also dismaying to see seemingly intelligent people create accounts in social media for one purpose: trolling those who disagree with them. Hopefully, this will be a self-correcting phase and many of the bullies will disappear when they realize they are truly persona non grata in every sense of the phrase.

And as for the proposal to build walls that prevent tornadoes, well…that’s just pure bullshit.

Cheers!

Dont Put That Winter Coat Away. @NWSCPC Outlooks Show Cold Hanging On

Most everyone across the contiguous 48 states has had their fill of winter (including yours truly) but don’t let this weeks respite from below zero wind chills fool you. The latest temperature probability outlooks from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) hint at below average temperatures for Feb. 25 – March 1 and Feb. 27 – March 5 across much of the eastern half of the lower 48. On the other hand, Alaska and much of the western states will be above normal. As for precipitation, the probability outlooks hint at some relief for drought ravaged parts of California for Feb. 25 – March 1 and Feb. 27 – March 5 while much of the upper Midwest will be below average. I enjoy sharing the CPC products with my followers because it can be useful information. Keep in mind that these products are not specific forecasts but probability outlooks based on a myriad of information sources from current computer model forecasts, statistics, seasonal averages, past weather patterns, etc. Nevertheless, CPC data can be very helpful in a myriad of scenarios.

Have a great week everyone…cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Feb. 11 – 18, 2014

Winter’s grip on North American has taken a momentary respite, but there’s still many weeks of cold weather and chances for slippery precipitation…so don’t put that heavy coat and your snow shovel away just yet. We do have a taste of the spring severe season coming up Thursday into Friday. Chances are it will be a squall line/linear convection type of event with high winds and large hail as the main hazards, but the threat from tornadoes is not absent. You know the game plan…stay tuned to your NOAA weather radio, local broadcast meteorologists, and outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center for the latest information.

Here’s a look at this week’s links…

CITIZEN SCIENCE

You can join the Citizen Science Association with a free, inaugural membership…but hurry before time runs out! Be sure to fill out the survey too!

Here’s a ‘must read’ if you’re into or interested in citizen science: A Citizen Science Manifesto.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

Volcanoes, including Oregon’s Mt. Hood, can go from dormant to active quickly.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

I’d love to see this filled in much more. The USGS had put together a map showing 47,000 online wind turbines in the USA.

Satellite instruments document the transformations wrought both by the human footprint and by natural processes.

If you’re into recycling as much as I am, you’re keenly aware of those numbers inside of the recycling symbol. If not, here’s what those numbers mean.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

NOAA has issued their State Of The Climate report for January, 2014. Some areas were quite cold, some quite warm, and far too many locales were locked in the grip of an ongoing drought.

Denmark is taking the world-wide lead by spearheading climate policy into law.

The effects of climate change are multifaceted and global conflict is not exempt.

A warming planet could mean less ice and snow for Olympic bid cities.

Check out one of this weeks most popular reads I posted on my Twitter account: The NSA and Climate Change Spying: What We Know So Far.

Here’s a very interesting read from a MIT hurricane expert on the role climate change is playing in our society.

The National Weather Service in Norman, OK has put together a nice video retrospective on the El Reno, OK tornado of 31 May 2013.

Dr. Chuck Doswell was spot in his presentation at the 2014 Chaser Convention in Denver, CO.

Some Oklahoma City metro school districts are considering implementing “storm days” with mixed opinions regarding effectiveness.

A relatively rare winter storm affected several southern states this past week. Here’s a look at the aftermath of an ice storm in Augusta, GA.

While much of North America was in the icebox, England was seeing rainfall totals that hadn’t occurred in over 200 years.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Here are some final links on important topics…

Sir David Attenborough: Enough With the Creationists and Climate Change Deniers!

Phil Plait’s take on why astrology is nonsensical pseudoscience.

Finally, not one, not two, but three essays that expose the true nature of the internet troll. They’re on thin ice (pun intended) and they know it…otherwise they wouldn’t be persona non grata, desperate for attention, and emotionally and intellectually void of the cognition to act in a civil manner. Bullying is bullying regardless of whether it takes place among teenagers on Facebook or among climate change denialists that live to harass with vitriol round the clock. Such a shame that human potential often goes to malevolent ends.

And that’s a wrap for this week!

Cheers!

Some Helpful Winter Weather Safety Info

In light of the impending winter storm that will impact several southern states and the Mid-Atlantic, I’d like to pass along some winter weather safety information. Many of you may already have this information at hand but for those who don’t, I’d recommend bookmarking it for future reference.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

National Weather Service Winter Weather Safety and Awareness

Winter Storms: The Deceptive Killers (12 page PDF file)

What You Need To Know When The Power Goes Out

As a veteran of several devastating ice storms in Oklahoma, I can assure you that the aftermath is neither pretty or easily tolerable. For many of you, there’s less than twelve to eighteen hours (at most) left to prepare. As they say for an approaching hurricane, “all necessary preparations should be rushed to completion.” There’s no reason to panic, that will get you nowhere, but you’re running out of time. If your area is impacted by a significant ice storm, be prepared for power outages. Keep very close tabs on your local National Weather Service office via their website or NOAA weather radio as well as local broadcast meteorologists for the latest information. As for social media (and this is only my own opinion) be quite selective with the information you take in. Stick with your local weather service office and reliable media and avoid the ‘rumor mill’ or online amateurs waving their arms about to garner attention. Yes, there are plenty of meteorology buffs, including yours truly, who enjoy sharing information, but we should not be looked upon as official sources of information that involve the protection or safety of lives and property. I may share something I find interesting, but it’s only from a purely scientific  viewpoint and should never be taken as a “warning” of any sort. That’s what reliable media/broadcast meteorologists and National Weather Service office are for. Yes, I’ve gotten onto a bit of a soapbox here, but this is something I feel very strongly about, especially in life threatening situations…and I feel my opinions are very valid for good reason.

Now for a quick note that’s on the lighter side…while you’re weathering this winter storm, download the National Severe Storm Laboratory’s mPING app and report the kind of precipitation and weather you’re getting. Your report goes into helping research meteorologists verify what they’re seeing on radar. If nothing else, it’ll give you something to take your mind off the potential winter weather hazards and you’ll be contributing to weather research. You don’t have to go outside to send in a mPING report…you can do it from the safety and comfort inside of your home or place of work.

Alright…you’ve got yourself set for this winter storm, right? Good. Take some mental notes while it’s in progress. Events like this don’t happen often…which is good. Stay safe, stay warm, and stay informed.

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Feb. 4 – 11, 2013

Much of North America may be getting a short-term respite from the extreme cold, but not before a major winter weather event with all the trimmings takes a shot at many southern states in the USA that are not accustomed to this kind of weather. As it stands now, winter weather advisories and/or warnings extend from Texas into New England. Most worrisome is the potential ice storm and it’s effects across parts of Alabama, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. Folks in these areas should rush to completion any preparations they need to make and prepare for the possibility of loosing power for several days.

Let’s take a look at this weeks links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

Communicating science to the general public can be a very daunting task, but it’s an important talent to refine.

The challenges of communicating science include publications. Choosing the right title can make or break an article.

From a variety of disciplines, take a look at some of the best science visualizations of the year.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Check out this cool citizen science project that requires only a simple camera and an eye for landscape.

Read about  five easy ways to become a freelance scientist…who, contrary to popular opinion, can offer a great deal to the professionals.

TECHNOLOGY

If you’re a fan of Google, it looks like they’ve got a full dance card of goodies on tap.

Can Big Brother peek into your home? You bet they can.

Part technology (the tools used) and part social science (a study of bullying and trolls in the online world) in this interesting read: Outing A Pseudonymous Blogger.

PALEONTOLOGY/EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Dimetrodon, a carnivorous dinosaur that walked on land between 298 million and 272 million years ago, was the first terrestrial vertebrate to develop serrated teeth.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

This should be a ‘no-brainer’ for contractors, roofing companies, and home owners alike…white roofs are better than green roofs and anything is better than black.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

A (belated) Happy Birthday to the National Weather Service which was established on February 9, 1870.

Here’s some interesting info from the folks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory on FACETs and it’s fantastic potential for public safety.

Here’s a look at preliminary tornado statistics for 2013 from the Storm Prediction Center.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2013 was among the top ten warmest years since modern records began in 1850.

Speaking of 2013, here’s a nice 8 minute video with commentary showing our planet in all its atmospheric glory.

There’s nothing in the United States, or the world for that matter, like the Oklahoma Mesonet. Here’s a nice article from a Oklahoma newspaper about the OK Mesonet’s 20th anniversary

If you’ve not read about NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed in Norman, OK, check it out here.

CA is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the state’s history. If this current trend continues, they’ll get worse and last longer.

Trade winds are having an effect on climate change. Here’s an interesting read on another piece of the climate puzzle.

Like some more pieces to the climate puzzle? Read about the cascade of uncertainty in climate projections.

Greenland’s changing climate is a key player in the study of our atmosphere.

If it’s so cold, why do we hear so much about climate change and global warming? Because we need to observe the climate on our planet as a whole, not just what’s going on in one’s backyard.

While on the topic of cold, many folks are ready for spring. The earlier, the better. But, that may not be what you really should hope for.

Few people often agree on the best weather forecast models. Here’s an interesting take on a recent evaluation.

And that’s a wrap for this week!

Cheers!

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Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Jan. 27 – Feb. 4, 2014

Winter certainly has not loosened its grip on the contiguous 48 United States. As of this post, one of several rounds of snow, sleet, and freezing rain were making a path from OK, KS, & TX to southern  ME. On the home front, I was invited by the folks at Kestrel Meters to write a guest post for their blog! So, let’s get started on this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

Sublime magazine takes a look at the inherent uncertainties that will always be a part of all fields of science…and why so many people find that distressing.

A thought-provoking long-read that touches on so many topics; history, climatology, sociology, and much more.

SCIENCE EDUCATION

Conveying complex scientific information to the layperson can be incredibly frustrating. Here are some helpful tips that could ease the pain.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

There’s plenty of snow to be measured while contributing to citizen science!

PHYSICS

What do swirling patterns on bubbles and hurricanes, tornadoes, and other atmospheric vortexes have in common?

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Was January cold in Alaska? Well, “cool” might be a better description since the USA’s largest state had record warmth.

How much snow does it take to cancel school? Here’s an interesting map that gives a general idea. Note: please see the links within the article with the writer’s caveats as to the map’s accuracy.

Weather can not only close schools, but take a toll on our roads.

The inimitable Chuck Doswell writes eloquently on the forecasters frustrations with specific relation to the recent winter storm that cripples much of the southern US.

Here’s a more personal, subjective viewpoint on the southern storm, “Why The South Fell Apart In The Snow.”

Can glaciers move fast? Yes they can…and the world’s fastest is located in Greenland.

Some very cool new technology from NASA will enable scientists to measure depth of sea ice and glaciers.

Why is there more methane in the Earth’s atmosphere? The sources are numerous.

Personally, I feel it’s time to reassess the Enhanced Fujita scale and the impact that remote sensing/portable high-resolution doppler radars can have on tornado intensity ratings.

Here’s a “spot-on” essay from meteorologist Dan Satterfield that cuts through the rubbish and exposes “The Great Facebook Blizzard – Storms and Rumors of Storms.”

Last, but definitely not least, I’m pleased to present a blog essay I’ve written for the awesome folks at Kestrel Meters. They were kind enough to invite me to write on the topic of becoming a storm spotter. Many folks are interested, but there’s a lot that you should be aware of. My feature, “A Beginner’s Guide To Skywarn Severe Weather Spotting” touches on a few topics that I hope are of value to you if you’re considering becoming a Skywarn spotter.  I’m also a big fan of Kestrel products and have used their 3000 and 4000 for many years and can’t recommend their line of products highly enough. Give them a visit…try one of their great meters out…and tell them I sent you. You won’t regret using a Kestrel. In terms of hand-held weather meters, they’re state-of-the-art…and made in the USA!

Have a great week everybody…stay warm and drive carefully!

Cheers!

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