Monthly Archives: June, 2014

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For June 18 – 25, 2014

The past few days have seen summer settle in for a great deal of North America, but the week got started off with a bang. Another series of severe weather episodes brought a round of severe thunderstorms complete with high winds, large hail, flash flooding, and some impressively intense tornadoes. Will 2014 go down as one of the years with the fewest number of tornadoes? Time will tell. There are many active months still ahead. This is also Lightning Safety Week in the USA. I’d also be remiss to remind folks to slowly acclimatized themselves to the  coming summer heat (aka the “silent killer”) and prepare now for the Atlantic hurricane season. In spite of outlooks hinting at a below average season in terms of activity, it only takes one major hurricane making landfall to create a significant disaster.

A shorter post today…working with a full dance card here…so here goes…

Here are this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY

I am normally apolitical…but the fact that science makes politicians very antsy is too good to pass up.

Communicating science to the general public is very challenging and not likely to get easier even in this technical age.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Read how citizen scientists are using the web to track the natural world. And yes, you can take part too!

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

Check out this amazing pop-up solar power station. This could be quite the thing, especially where power is difficult to get to or in disaster areas.

Watching wind turbines in snow makes “inefficiencies” visible…but in due time (much to the chagrin of alternate energy skeptics) that will be rectified.

Summer means an increase in trips to the FL beaches…and an opportunity to trudge your way through a 1.250 tar mat. How nice.

By 2020, Finland is on track to become a model country for sustainable transport.

In spite of the annual sizzling Texas heat, wind power in the Lone Star State is very good things for consumers and their pocketbooks.

Adrift of the coast of Portugal is a frontrunner in the global race for floating windfarms.

At the neighborhood scale, downscaling is helping people deal with climate change.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

This is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Few weather dangers, save for heat, are given such a cavalier attitude. Simply put, if you can hear the thunder, you can be struck.

Speaking of safety, here’s a rather unnerving look at energy installations that are vulnerable to extreme weather.

Meteorological summer verses astronomical summer. What’s the difference?

National Severe Storms Laboratory researchers are leading a project to evaluate experimental flash flood products issued by the National Weather Service.

The sight of the Pilger, NE tornado slinging a house into the air is rare, but it does happen. In 1982, I photographed the remains of a small house that was carried intact by tornado.

Here’s a sobering view of the tornado damage in Pilger, NE…with many before & after pics. A great deal is revealed by simply looking at and considering construction practices.

A very interesting read from the AMS on fatalities in tropical cyclones.

This is a fascinating look at hurricane tracks of the past from NOAA.

Chances are very, very good that our atmosphere is gearing up for an El Nino.

A “must-read” for those who use social media, Twitter in particular, during severe weather. Unfortunately, this isn’t a problem (especially with attention-hungry accounts by the hundreds) that’s going away soon.

Finally, this article has stirred a great deal of consternation amongst those in the storm chasing community who’ve felt threatened by its content. While I disagree that present day radar makes Skywarn spotters obsolete,  I feel it has some sound observations. After decades of storm chasing, I’ve seen many trends come and go. With the taste of notoriety and fame all too irresistible,  more chasers than ever are scampering for “extreme” video and photos, interviews with national media, and a dominant yet precarious position on the social media pedestal. Some internet trolls consider me a “curmudgeon” of the Chuck Doswell type. I actually consider that a compliment. Thank you.

THE QUIXOTIC SIDE

No, this won’t work. Ranks right up there with hanging a bomb on a pole at the southwestern corner of a small town.

On that note…this is a wrap…

Cheers!

 

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For June 10 – 18, 2014

A very active period of weather across much of North America this week. Monday saw the most active severe weather and tornado day in quite some time. One NE supercell in particular was very powerful and, at its most intense state, exhibited twin tornadoes. Elsewhere, drought conditions persist across much of the southwest and southern plains.

Here are this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

In the varied fields of science, there are many terms that are gravely misused and/or misunderstood by the general public. Here’s a list of the top ten…and personally speaking, pay particular attention to 1, 2, 8, and 9.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

USGS iCoast is a cool citizen science project where you can help scientists document changes to coastal areas after major storms.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

How much space junk is orbiting the Earth? A lot…and I do mean a lot.

PALEONTOLOGY/EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

What sound did Tyrannosaurus Rex actually make? Very unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a movie.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

The Earth’s inner core is quite mysterious. A recent finding discovered what could be a massive amount of water.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

How’s my waterway? Learn the condition of local streams, lakes and other waters anywhere in the US… quickly and in plain language from the EPA.

Rocks made of plastic have been found on Hawaiian beaches. Nothing good can come of this.

Good tips on saving time, money, energy, and carbon emissions while drying clothes.

This is how much American spends putting out wildfires. Yes, it’s a lot. Much more that I ever imagined.

Apparently Australia is lagging behind many other countries with an aging and inefficient electricity sector.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center’s review of May, 2014 is out. The ongoing drought and coming El Nino are some highlights.

Speaking of El Nino, here is a look at the potential impacts to the United States from NOAA.

Scientists have discovered a relationship between climate change and ocean currents over the past six million yearsRead more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-06-link-climate-ocean-currents-million.html#jCp

Scientists have discovered a relationship between climate change and ocean currents over the past six million yearsRead more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-06-link-climate-ocean-currents-million.html#jCp

A very timely and spot-on viewpoint from the inimitable Chuck Doswell.

Post-tornado damage survey’s are a daunting task. As a veteran of many over the past 30+ years, I can tell you from personal experience that it’s arduous work.

In a variety of weather related disaster scenarios, these lightweight foldable shelters could be very useful.

Recent research has discovered a link between climate change and ocean currents over six million years.

THE QUIXOTICALLY VISCERAL UNDERBELLY

Just when I’d thought the “flat earth society” and bloodletting were out of style…comes this. Someone please tell me this is a joke.

Another storm chaser has reached an all time low. Gotta get that “money shot” for a financial windfall!

Yes, this definitely qualifies as a contender for the worst academic paper of the decade…or at least the year.

ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE…

Rather than end this on a dour note, let me rectify the situation with a hopeful and forward-looking viewpoint. “Why We Should Focus More On Clouds, Trees, And Streams.”  We’re very lucky to be living on a planet that has an abundance of spectacular vistas. Let’s enjoy, nurture, and preserve them in the very brief time our species will exist.

And that’s a wrap for this week!

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For June 3 – 10, 2014

It’s been an active week across the plains for severe weather and badly needed rains. In spite of the number of severe weather events, tornadoes have been relatively far and few between. A frequent storm mode known as a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) has often been the dominant storm mode. These generally bring a lot of heavy rains, frequent lightning, and damaging straight-line winds. They’re also notorious for traveling several hundreds of miles across the continent. In the past week, at least two MCS storms formed from individual supercells that morphed into a massive rain-maker with high winds…some traveling as far as initiation in eastern CO, across KS and OK, and eventually winding up in northern FL. In spite of the heavy rains that come with these systems, many drought ravaged states are still running a serious deficit of several inches. As is the case during this time of year, this will be shorter post…I’ve got a full dance card & no one has yet to have invented the 30 hour day.

Here are this week’s links for your consideration…

ASTRONOMY

Part of infant Earth survived moon’s shocking birth. You can read more here about the moon’s origins.

Check out these amazing Vine videos taken from the ISS.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

A high-five to Vermont for being the first US state to create a long-term climate plan.

With 300,000 mirrors, the world’s largest thermal solar plant is under construction in the Mojave.

Plastiglomerate…a new word to add to your geology glossary.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES

As I stated earlier in this post, many plains states are still in a serious rainfall deficit in spite of recent precipitation. Here’s a look at the latest US Drought Monitor. Yes, there’s some improvement (as of June 5) but we still have a long way to go.

Many of the storm systems that have traveled across several states have caused flooding. The American Red Cross has a very nice free app that has some great flood safety info.

A nice meteorological retrospective from the Tulsa NWS of the OK June 8, 1974 tornado outbreak which spearheaded my interest in all things weather. Had this outbreak taken place today, the amount of damage, injuries, and possibly fatalities would be much, much higher. It’s certainly a day I’ll never forget.

If you need to be convinced that standing under a tree is dangerous when lightning is present, this video should help out.

A very thought provoking read on the proliferation of amateur weather forecasting websites. I’ll try not to take sides, but my most honest advice to the general public is caveat emptor.

The designations of County Warning Areas (CWA) for the National Weather Service has always puzzled me and, often, makes little sense how they are set up. Here’s an example of a warning faux pas.

A very compelling video shared on Twitter from the Sacramento NWS: How hot does it get in a parked car? Watch this and find out. While tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, etc. get all the attention, heat kills more people annually than all the other weather dangers (including lightning) combined.

Good read on climate imbalance: Disparity in the quality of research by contrarian and mainstream climate scientists.

Finally, an optimistic view on seven reasons the US should succeed on climate change.

A sincere “Thank You” to all the awesome folks out there who have RT/Mentioned me on Twitter. I’d also like to extend a welcome to my new followers. Glad you’re along for the ride!

Have a great week everyone…and I’ll see you sooner than later…

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For May 27 – June 3, 2014

Here’s a hearty welcome to meteorological summer in the Northern Hemisphere. For folks south of the equator, welcome to winter. Summer will definitely be felt across much of North America this week with many areas of the plains states flirting with the triple digits in temperatures. There will also be multiple rounds of severe weather possible across the southern and central plains. It’s been rather quiet in sheer numbers of tornadoes, but we still have many potentially active months ahead. As is usually the case in weeks like these, this post will be shorter than usual.

Let’s take a look at this weeks links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

Is it acceptable to fudge the facts on science to pacify? Personally speaking, no. The scientific method and rationalism can stand on their own merit.

TECHNOLOGY

Sad but true. Total digital privacy no longer exists.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

A good read by Caren Cooper: Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop: Shake it up with the fast pace of citizen science!

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

Check out this new wind turbine design that has incredible potential especially in urban areas

Wind energy projects in Osage County, OK are dividing “neighbors and families?” Surely you jest!

Fumes from traffic come with a high price.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

If you’ve not seen NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services site, take a look. It has a wealth of information…much of which will be very important during the Atlantic hurricane season.

A hurricane’s storm surge is often the most dangerous effect it has on land. NOAA has a new source of storm surge data with potentially life-saving information.

A NASA satellite scheduled to be launched in July will look for answers to further our understanding of climate change.

A very telling video report showing Americans on the front lines of climate change.

Rainforests may hold clues to questions being researched by scientists who normally study desert climates.

In spite of a lower-than-average number of tornadoes, 2013 events packed quite a punch.

What has to be one of the most “odd” studies has created quite a row…and the noisiest commentators aren’t who you’d expect. Bruised egos perhaps?

That’s a wrap for this week. We’ve several busy severe weather days ahead for the plains. If you’re under the gun, stay very weather aware and stay safe!

Cheers!

June 1 – November 30, 2014 Marks The Beginning Of The Atlantic #Hurricane Season

Believe it or not, it’s that time of year. The Atlantic hurricane season has “officially” started today and will last until November 30, 2014. Obviously, our planet doesn’t care about specific calendar dates. These are just used by us humans as a statistical reference point. There have been cases of tropical cyclones (the official name for tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes) that have occurred before or after these dates. NOAA and the National Weather Service have been on a week long campaign to encourage preparedness in case of a scenario where you would have to evacuate or shelter in place during a tropical cyclone event. In light of the start of the season, I’d like to pass along a few links for folks who live or have interests in hurricane prone regions.

The National Hurricane Center is your one-stop-shop for all things concerning tropical cyclones.

The National Weather Service’s Southern Region site has some handy info including several tracking maps that can be printed.

Here’s NOAA’s outlook for the 2014 Atlantic season. Please keep in mind that this is only an outlook and not a specific forecast. A below average year may be ahead, but it takes just one major hurricane to devastate a large region of North America. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 is a perfect example.

Here’s some very important information from the World Meteorological Organization on the dangers of storm surges. Many people may associate most tropical cyclone deaths with winds or the occasional tornado that does often accompany many hurricanes. Truth be known, the storm surge and resultant flooding kill far more people and is a danger that should not be taken lightly. This article has many good links with important information…so please read it carefully.

The American Red Cross has some great information on preparing a safety kit and other basic safety information.

Finally, everyone has their favorite media source of information. Along with The Weather Channel and WeatherNation, many broadcast meteorologists have an insight on your specific areas and local conditions that will be of great importance to you. For personal reasons, I don’t offer recommendations since your personal preferences are subjective and should guide you. I will offer this somewhat unpopular suggestion and recommend (with the most sincere intentions for your safety) to only get potentially life-saving information from NOAA, your local National Weather Service office, the National Hurricane Center, and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice. Weather hobbyists that are hundreds of miles from you are generally not good sources of information and all too often use fear mongering in order to gain attention for self-serving purposes. It happens during winter storms, severe thunderstorm and tornado events, and it will happen this year when tropical cyclones are present. In other words, caveat emptor.

I hope these links are helpful to you and offer valuable information. This list isn’t exhaustive and there are many other sites with good info. Knowledge is power and the best kind of power to have when facing a robust hurricane is preparedness.

Cheers!

 

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