Monthly Archives: March, 2015

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 23 – 30, 2015

To say that the severe weather season for the contiguous USA got started with a “bang” is a vast understatement. Nature pulled a fast one on us. What appeared as a potentially big (literally) hail day with a Moderate and Enhanced Risk for parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma turned out to be an event with all modes of severe weather occurring. At the bottom of this post will be sites with up-to-date information relevant to the event. Is this an omen as to what the rest of the severe weather season will bring? Not likely, but then again, nature always has the better hand and the ace up the sleeve. We’ll have to wait and find out. As for preparedness, it’s best to be prepared for emergencies even if one doesn’t occur. There’s plenty of other interesting topics for this week, so let’s get started.

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE

A very telling read about scientists studying journalists that cover science.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Once again Twitter shows off its third-rate milquetoast attitude towards trolls and bullying.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

The scorch marks left by our rovers are Mars quickly fade as the red planet reclaims traces of our presence.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

As a former HVAC technician, I can vouch for the validity of this infographic on the dangers of indoor air pollution.

A new study shows the extent that humankind has tailored the Earth’s landscapes to our own devices at the expense of the rest of the natural world.

The current California drought isn’t helping the already problematic air quality issues.

Did you take part in Earth Hour on 28 March 2015? I did…and didn’t miss anything I thought I might.

Here’s some awesome renewables news from the Lone Star state! Georgetown, Texas will get all of its power from solar and wind. They should win an award. Now, who’s next?

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Here’s the latest US Drought Monitor. Unfortunately, little to no change from last week. This past week’s rainfall in the southern plains didn’t fall on the parts of Oklahoma and Texas that need it the most.

Interesting new study based in part on NASA satellite data has shows an increase in large, well-organized thunderstorms is behind increased rainfall in the wettest tropical regions.

A very thought-provoking read on the media’s response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It’s our responsibility to leave a health planet for our children, grandchildren, and the many generations to follow. “Tackling Climate Change ~ For Our Kids.”

Antarctica may have seen a recent high temperature record. 63.5F may not be blistering hot, but it’s toasty for that continent.

Speaking of Antarctica, it’s ice shelves are not in the best of shape.

THE 25 MARCH 2015 OKLAHOMA AND ARKANSAS SEVERE WEATHER EVENT

First, some handy safety tips from AAA on what to do if you’re driving and find yourself caught in a storm. Ideally, the best thing to do is not wind up in that kind of bind in the first place!

Summary pages of the 25 March 2015 severe weather events from the Tulsa, Norman, Springfield, and Little Rock National Weather Service offices. Much of this information is preliminary and updates will be added often.

Here’s an excellent video by broadcast meteorologist George Flickinger of Tulsa’s KJRH discussing the Sand Springs, OK tornado and how the silly myths (rivers and/or hills protecting a town or city) were blown away by this storm.

Nice radar images from the Tulsa NWS of the Sand Springs, OK tornado.

An impressive gallery of images from the Tulsa World of the Sand Springs, OK tornado damage.

An excellent must-read for anyone who really wants to understand the dynamics of severe weather: “The Science Behind The Oklahoma And Arkansas Tornadoes Of March 25, 2015.”

As time allows, I may add a few more links with further information regarding this event.

That’s a wrap for this post! I’d also like to extend a hearty welcome to my new followers…very glad you’re along for the fun!

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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 16 – 24, 2015

A belated happy spring to one and all! The vernal equinox took place on 20 March 2015 and (astronomically) ushered in spring for the Northern Hemisphere. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have a day with an equal number of hours of sunlight and darkness, here’s your chance. It only happens twice a year. For the time being, winter is still keeping a chill in the air over much of North America, but the warmth of spring is making itself felt in many other regions. Just a quick reminder that the spring severe weather season is upon us and before it gets too busy, now’s the time to prepare your emergency kit, have a plan of action at home or work, and reliable, official sources of severe weather warning information: a NOAA weather radio, a high-quality smart phone warning app, the broadcast meteorologists of your choice, and your local National Weather Service offices in social media. This will come in handy for many across the central USA plains this week as severe weather is forecast by the Storm Prediction Center. This post was delayed by one day so I could share some “up-to-date” information regarding the severe weather potential. I’ll also give a quick overview at the end of this post on what you can expect…and how to get the most timely weather information.

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

SCIENCE EDUCATION AND THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD

A brilliant spot-on essay by Lawrence Krauss, who is one of many on my ‘most admired’ list. “Teaching Doubt.” “Informed doubt is the very essence of science.”

SOCIAL SCIENCE

A little sociology, psychology, and geographic demography wrapped into one very interesting read; How Different Groups Think About Scientific Issues.

Good news for introverts such as myself. We are winning quiet victories.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Citizen science FTW! Two new species of flowering plants have been discovered in South Africa.

Citizen scientists can pitch in on collecting climate data for this spring!

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft is set to plunge to its death on April 30, 2015…but since 2011, Messenger has been doing some amazing work including capturing the most spectacular images of Mercury to date.

NASA tells Congress to take a hike. I couldn’t agree more.

PALEONTOLOGY/EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

One of the many great things about paleontology is the ever-changing nature of its discoveries. And this newest one is not a little amazing.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

Wind, like water, can sculpt the Earth’s landscapes in some amazing ways.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES/SUSTAINABILITY

A very good read on the connection between our urban biosphere and atmosphere. It’s also a good excuse for you to plant a tree!

As of late, the UK has been dealing with air pollution that warrants health warnings.

What smog-eating buildings lack in aesthetics is made up for in clean air.

Of note to seasonal allergy sufferers; Air pollutants could boost the potency of the very things that make you feel miserable.

Love to see this come to fruition. “Solar could meet CA energy demand 3 to 5 times over.”

Speaking of CA, solar plants produced 5% of the state’s electricity last year.

This gives a new meaning to “waste” not, want not. “This Public Bus Runs Entirely On Human Poop Converted Into Fuel.”

New roofs in France must be covered in plants or solar panels. I’ve no problem with that. Not only will it be a good renewables/sustainability move, anything…and I do mean anything…is more aesthetically appealing than a black tar and gravel roof.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Happy World Meteorological Day to all the atmospheric scientists, citizen scientists, and devoted weather hobbyists out there! Here’s a look at work the World Meteorological Organization is doing regarding climate change. “The WMO is working more broadly to better disseminate weather and climate information to those on the ground who need it to make informed decisions, including farmers, health workers and emergency managers.”

The latest State Of The Climate report has been released by NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center. The full report can be read here. A concise summary can be found here. Bottom line: global average temperatures for both February, 2015 and December, 2014 – February 2015 were above average across the board for land and sea surface temperatures. I highly recommend that those interested, regardless of your position, read the full report carefully.

This week’s US Drought Monitor shows a sliver of improvement, but otherwise the extreme/exceptional conditions persist from CA, NV, & OR to OK & TX.

As California’s drought worsens, a relief plan has been proposed. Water rationing may very well become a way of life while reserves of water up to 20,000 years old are being tapped. Desperate measures for desperate times indeed.

Arctic sea ice, which scientists knew was shrinking rapidly, has just hit a new low.

Merchants Of Doubt” will be showing in a few select cities. If you’re living in one where it will be showing, I’d take it in. There are plenty of folks who don’t think you should.

Waterspouts may appear graceful, benign, and even almost harmless, but they are as potentially deadly as any Great Plains tornado. Here’s an interesting video of a recent waterspout in Brazil.

Interesting concept that’s certainly worth a try. “Experimental Forecast Projects #Tornado Season.”

Intriguing read about weather’s second deadliest killer. “Morning is the time for powerful lightning.”

Here’s a very interesting read on severe weather and how it affects animal behavior.

The individual who compiled this data isn’t doing his reputation any favors. Besides, as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” Regardless, here’s said individual’s take on the “dreariest” cities in the USA.

THE VISCERAL UNDERBELLY

This blatant violation of the 1st Amendment can only get worse from here. “Florida’s Climate Change Gag Order Claims Its First Victim.”

Someone please tell me this is a joke…right? “Solar eclipse: schoolchildren banned from watching on ‘religious and cultural’ grounds.”

THIS WEEK’S SEVERE WEATHER POTENTIAL…AND SOME HELPFUL HINTS

Updated 2:25 PM (1925 UTC) 24 March 2015: As of this post, an Elevated and Slight Risk of severe thunderstorms exists for Tuesday (from OK to MO) and Wednesday (TX northeast into IL/KY). As is always the case with Storm Prediction Center (SPC) severe weather outlooks, changes in status are inevitable. This video from the SPC will show you how severe weather forecasts are made. These forecasts are made by some of the top-notch atmospheric scientists in the USA and should be the primary severe weather outlooks you use. The SPC also issues all severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and mesoscale discussions (technical but informative products regarding the status of severe weather potential or ongoing storms). Now that we’ve covered that, here’s my subjective take on this week’s severe weather potential. The primary threats will be high winds and hail. Tornadoes will likely be far and few between if any are able to form. This isn’t the kind of “recipe” for a major severe weather outbreak, so there’s no reason to panic or worry unnecessarily. I’ll also spare you all the “geek-speak” that will no doubt flood social media and blogs since that is not the intended audience for this section of this post.

While you still have a day or so to prepare, look over your emergency kit to make sure it’s in order, your NOAA weather radio is function properly, follow the SPC, your local National Weather Service office, and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice on Twitter, and (if this applies to you) double-check your smart phone severe weather warning app. Though this only scratches the surface and I could go on for page after page on preparedness, it’s my intention to give you some helpful hints and give some peace of mind to those who tend to have strong feelings of anxiety or worry if and when severe weather is possible. One thing you can do that will most certainly alleviate any unnecessary discomfort on your part is to avoid the fear mongers, hype-sters, and over zealous “media-rologists.” It’s true that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, freedom of speech, and (as long as TOS are observed) can run their own social media accounts as they wish. On the other hand, the public (and possibly law enforcement) won’t take kindly to someone screaming “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. You’re free to follow whomever you wish in social media, but caveat emptor please. Just as one would never go to a homeopathic hobbyist for a severe medical condition, one should exercise extreme caution regarding severe weather warnings. As for the information I share on any of the social media outlets from Tornado Quest, I only share severe thunderstorm or tornado watch information for the southern plains from the SPC once all the information is online. I also enjoy sharing mesoscale discussions relevant to Oklahoma and surrounding states to give folks a “behind the scenes” look into what SPC forecasters are thinking. This is merely for convenience since (1.) I have a high concentration of followers in the southern plains and (2.) I try my best to make folks aware of official sources of information. If I comment or post a radar image of a particularly strong or tornadic storm, it’s more from a scientific or weather geek perspective. I do not and never will post warning information. Under no circumstances should any of the information I share on Tornado Quest be used for the safety of life and/or property. If you’ve read this far, it’s become obvious that this portion of the post is less about this week’s severe weather potential than how you can best get reliable and timely warnings from the best responsible sources. I’ve addressed this issue for years and, not unexpectedly, my opinions aren’t popular…but I stand behind every word.

And on that note, I’d like to welcome my new followers…I appreciate all of you a great deal. Stay weather aware folks! See you next time!

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 9 – 16, 2015

With the spring severe weather season around the atmospheric corner, many states are having ‘severe weather awareness’ weeks or events in order to raise public awareness. It may seem ironic after a long winter (at least for the eastern half of the contiguous USA) and spring storms may seem like they’re years away. Unfortunately, they’re not. One of the primary hazards is lightning. Much to the surprise of many, lightning is second only to flash floods in weather related deaths. I’ve included several lightning safety links in this post and hope you’ll find some good information to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Due to time constraints and a very busy schedule, I’ve included a few links this week that didn’t make it into post from the past two previous weeks. Some are from sources that I don’t usually use or have never shared before. Their inclusion in this post is merely to share an opposing opinion, information, and/or make a point…and in no way conveys any degree of endorsement.

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

SOCIAL MEDIA/TECHNOLOGY

Google it taking a new view of web site rankings that, overall, is much welcomed. As expected, there’s a backlash that’s quite amusing to observe. Other viewpoints take a different stance.

SCIENCE EDUCATION

I couldn’t have said it better myself. “One thing is certain: if our educational system does not honestly and explicitly promote the central tenet of science—that nothing is sacred—then we encourage myth and prejudice to endure.”

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Every so often a good primer on citizen science comes along…and this is a good one.

In March and September, 2015, you have a cool opportunity to help measure how our night skies are changing.

SUSTAINABILITY/ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Most everyone’s shower wastes a lot of water and energy. Here’s a good read with tips to help you save water and money.

Making your home greener on a budget is easier than you think.

This can’t come to fruition soon enough. “Wind could power a third of America’s electricity by 2015.”

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

The Oklahoma “quakegate” plot thickens. “Under pressure? Do emails tell of earthquake information sharing or state, industry interference?”

Here’s a nice look at Tonga’s newly formed volcanic island. Time to update your world maps.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

A concise overview of recent decisions the IPCC made about its future.

Some climate scientists on both sides of the spectrum are concerned that, “investigations on both sides of the debate tread on the academic freedom of researchers everywhere.” I concur…in spite of my own opinions which are in agreement with the vast majority of climate scientists.

Spin doctors contribute nothing beneficial to the public, but manufacture a great deal of nefarious noise where everyone who disagrees is guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

While on that topic, here’s an interesting look back at what climate change deniers said of the IPCC twenty years ago.

Climate change is giving the term “Baked Alaska” a whole new meaning.

How Many Tornadoes Has Your City Seen Since 1950? The answer may surprise you.

As for the coming severe weather season, here’s an interesting read on an experimental tornado forecasting technique.

Boston set a record with 108.6 inches of snow this year…to date. If you do the math, that’s nine feet (and change) of snow!

LIGHTNING SAFETY

Lightning safety information from the National Weather Service. Top notch info.

An excellent 20 page PDF file from the National Weather Service: “Thunderstorms, Lightning, Tornadoes…Nature’s Most Violent Storms

Personal lightning safety information links from the National Lightning Safety Institute.

NCAA lightning safety information specifically geared towards outdoor sporting events.

Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors website.

THE QUIXOTIC UNDERBELLY

Being a native Oklahoman has its perks…and drawbacks. You’re naturally inclined to have a sense of humor about your state, being an “Okie,” and the never-ending jokes. I only wish this were a joke.

And on that note, that’s a wrap for this post. I’d like to welcome my new followers…glad you’re along for the fun! I’m in this for the long haul and, having just had my 6th anniversary on Twitter, my 17th anniversary of Tornado Quest being online, and my 33rd anniversary of being a storm chaser, am more than a little excited to be working on some nice stuff for weather and science buffs from all walks of life. We are just getting started!

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 2 – 9, 2015

After the last winter storm which brought significant snowfall from west Texas to the east coast, we’ve finally gotten a temporary respite across the contiguous 48 states. The sedate weather we’re enjoying now is the quiet before the storm…literally. The spring severe weather season is, for all practical matters, already upon us. This would be an excellent time to make sure your emergency kit is in order, your NOAA weather radio is fully functional, and you know how to get timely severe weather watch and warning information from your local National Weather Service office and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice. On the home front, it’s been another week with a full dance card. This post will, as many are during the spring and early summer, on the brief side. Preparing for the severe weather season often takes a bit of time, especially when doing double duty as a Skywarn spotter and double checking the “to do” list for storm chasing.

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE/SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Daylight Saving Time is archaic and anachronistic at best…and that’s the nicest thing I can say about such old school nonsense. Adding insult to injury, it also costs you money.

The problem isn’t “scienceyness” but the tendency for mainstream media to water down science stories for the general public. “John/Jane Q Public” isn’t as scientific illiterate as many think.

SOCIAL MEDIA/TECHNOLOGY

A very good essay on over two dozen social media rules…which ones you can break, which ones you can’t, and which ones will cost you followers.

I’ve been giving the beta version of the Vivaldi browser a spin…and it could be a competitor to be reckoned with if it’s done right.

Google may begin rating website rankings on facts rather than links. If this comes to fruition, hopefully it’ll keep the shills and hype-mongers at bay.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY/RENEWABLES/RECYCLING

The K-Cups are convenient, but they are (no pun intended) a brewing problem.

Shortages of fresh water in the future could lead to some very unpleasant patterns in human behavior.

The plot thickens in Oklahoma as “quakegate” gets more interesting by the week. “Emails describe meetings between oil industry, earthquake researchers.”

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

To describe February across the contiguous 48 USA as fire and ice would be an understatement. While the west basked in warmth, the east shivered under record breaking snowfalls. The NOAA National Climactic Data Center’s State Of The Climate report has all the details.

According to this study, a revision of Tornado Watches based on the likelihood of tornadoes could help with public safety.

Speaking of tornado watches, spring, and the severe weather trimmings, is on our doorstep. Are you ready?

A spot-on must read by Marshall Shepherd and Chuck Doswell…”Standing Up For Meteorologists.”

A very thought-provoking read by Bill McKibben: “Climate fight won’t wait for Paris: vive la résistance.”

Will the Paris climate summit accomplish enough? Time will tell. Many aren’t optimistic.

Semantics do matter. “Call Them Climate Deniers, Not Skeptics.”

Considering the fact that everyone on planet Earth shares the same atmosphere, it’s no surprise that China’s pollution could have ties to the USA’s cold, snowy winters.

Those snowy winters result in many challenges…including a downturn in the local economies.

El Nino finally made an appearance, but not in time to help the ongoing drought in many parts of the western USA.

And that’s a wrap for this post…see you good folks next time!

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For Feb. 23 – March 5, 2015

This has been a very busy week for me with several important projects in the works, two media interviews, and last but not least, a potent March winter storm. Hence the short post for this week. Spring, and the severe weather that accompanies the seasonal changes on the Great Plains, is just around the corner. Along with that goes many long, long days for me. In lieu of my usual post, I’m sharing some severe weather safety information. It’s that time of year to prepare as the inevitable uptick in severe thunderstorm, hail, high winds, tornadoes, flash floods, and lightning events will take place.

For your consideration, here are this week’s links…

GENERAL SCIENCE/SCIENCE EDUCATION

Communicating science to a largely apathetic general public is often one of the most challenging communication dilemmas a scientist will face.

Not directly weather related, but a result of it. “Insurers pay out more on claims in storm-prone Oklahoma.”

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Many parts of the USA will be affected by climate change…and the “breadbasket” is no exception.

A very timely essay on the hazards of posting weather model forecast images in social media.

Here’s this week’s US Drought Monitor. Aside from minor improvement in Texas, extreme and exceptional drought conditions persist in several states.

SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY

Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Lightning: Nature’s Most Violent Storms (PDF file)

Tornado Safety Rules from the Storm Prediction Center

Highway Overpasses As Tornado Shelters

The Online Tornado FAQ

Facts About Derechos

Flash Flooding: Turn Around, Don’t Drown

NOAA Weather Radio

Ready.gov Basic Disaster Supply Kit Info

National Weather Service Website Legend, Definitions, Safety, & Preparedness Info

Also, a quick reminder to always practice very strict due diligence when making choices on where you get potentially life-saving weather information for you and your loved ones. The best and most timely information (where seconds can literally mean life or death) will come from your local National Weather Service office, NOAA weather radio, and the broadcast meteorologists (local and/or national) of your choice. It will not come from weather hobbyists, storm chasers, etc. who, all too often, are fishing for Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and a great deal of attention for their social media. Having said that, I will re-emphasize what I have always said about my own online presence; Tornado Quest is not, has never been, and never will be a source for potentially life saving information. I may pass along severe weather watch and mesoscale discussion for the southern plains (I have a very high percentage of followers in this region) and may comment occasionally on a severe thunderstorm or tornado radar image I find intriguing in a scientific sense, but never in a warning mode or masquerading as a source of very important weather watch and/or warning information. You know who you prefer in your local or national television market in terms of broadcast meteorologists and should know how to get information from your local National Weather Service office via computer, cell phone, or NOAA weather radio. My opinions on who you get your weather information from are not popular with many hobbyists, but I stand firmly by everything I say.

And on that note, have a great day…see you next time!

Cheers!

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