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Tornado Quest’s Science Week In Review For January 13 – 23, 2017

Greetings everyone! I hope you’re having a good start to the week and the weather is being kind to you no matter where you are. We’ve just had a three day round of severe weather in the southeastern states of the USA including a High Risk on 22 January 2017. A High Risk is very rare, and even more so in January which is a month that’s not known for severe weather or tornadoes. Unfortunately, there’s a considerable amount of damage from Mississippi to Georgia with a number of fatalities. Simultaneously, the northeastern states dealt with a ‘nor’easter’ and California had an unusual amount of rain. It eased the drought conditions that have plagued that state for years, but won’t help much on the long run. This week’s review was delayed several days by the severe weather events and other projects. My next review will be published this Saturday, 28 January 2017. There’s quite a bit to go over this week, so let’s get started.

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

SCIENCE AND PUBLIC POLICY

Who will lead NOAA and, ultimately the National Weather Service, during the Trump administration? This is something to watch very, very carefully.

Due to the lack of American lawmakers who have a sound scientific literacy, it has become increasingly important that scientists become more involved in the political process.

SCIENCE EDUCATION/CRITICAL THINKING

Pseudoscience is as rampant as ever in our modern day culture and, due to the proliferation of social media, is now more easily distributed to an unwary general public. To put it more succinctly…”This means that just because something catches our attention, or is easy to remember, it does not mean it is useful for understanding a new thing we want to learn.”

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Check out this very cool citizen science project that anyone can take part in. The awesome folks at Science Friday have a nice overview of how folks just like you can help out in year-long bird counts.

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

How we process information (and where we get it) has much to do with how we interpret the validity of news…and decide on its validity…even if it’s fake and/or of dubious integrity.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

A very cool astronomy read on how the universe could contain ten time more galaxies than previously thought.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

Is the USA state of Wyoming trying to outlaw clean energy? If so, they’re cutting off their nose to spite their face.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Here’s an excellent read on severe weather High Risks and associated tornadoes that puts this past week’s severe weather into a historical perspective.

Speaking of tornadoes, is it really that cold inside a tornado? A new study on the tornado vortex says it is cold…very cold.

Since satellite monitoring of sea ice began in the 1970’s, the area of oceans covered by sea ice is at an all time low. Chances are good it’s the lowest it has been for many a millennia.

global-sea-ice-extent-2016The dark burgundy colored line in this NSIDC data graph represents sea ice in 2016. Note how it is far below other lines going back to 1978. Also note that the red line on the far left, representing 2017 to date, is even lower than 2016.

While on the subject of sea ice, take a few minutes and watch this fascinating and well produced video on climate change and its effects on glaciers in Alaska, USA.

Here’s a very good and thought-provoking read from meteorologist Brad Panovich. “It’s Time We Move On From A 0% & 100% Climate Change Debate.”

In case you missed it, “At the exact hour when the presidency transferred hands, the Obama administration’s climate and energy web pages became some of the first casualties of the new Trump administration.”

If the new presidential administration ignores climate change, China is more than willing to step up to the plate and become the world’s leader in climate science.

From a global perspective, some are of the opinion that we’ve almost lost any chance to stave off the effects of climate change. Personally speaking, I’m more optimistic, but we’ve no time to waste on getting the job started…and not letting any one industry or government…get in the way of science.

Fortunately, scientists are reminding citizens of the USA that science has been and always will be a major cornerstone of a civilized, intelligent, educated, and technologically advanced society.

WEATHER SAFETY

Here’s a great read from the American Red Cross on safety travel tips for cold weather conditions.

In light of the recent severe weather events and tornadoes, here’s a quick reminder from the National Weather Service on the difference between a Tornado Watch & a Tornado Warning.

difference-between-tornado-watch-and-warning.

Last but not least, some good news. NOAA’s new GOES-16 satellite is fully functional and is sending back some amazing high-resolution images of the Earth. This is truly a watershed event in the atmospheric sciences!

That’s a wrap for this review! I’d like to welcome my new followers in social media. I’m glad you’re along for the fun! Have a great week everybody…see you Saturday!

Cheers!


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Tornado Quest Science Links And More For September 26 – October 3, 2016

Greetings everyone! I hope you’re having a good start to your week. For much of North American, there’s a touch of autumn in the air while spring is starting to kick in for the Southern Hemisphere. The big news this week (and for many days to come) is Hurricane Matthew, the first hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic season to achieve major hurricane status and the first Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic/Caribbean basin in almost a decade. Matthew has provided a consistent forecasting challenge and will continue to do so for several more days. As of today 4 October 2016) evacuations are pending for many areas along the southeastern USA coast. There’s also a severe weather threat in the USA’s central plains today…lots going on weather-wise for much of North America…so lets get started.

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

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

With Hurricane Matthew threat to many areas of the Caribbean (and North America), here’s some helpful information on making your own emergency preparedness kits. “Making a preparedness kit is one important way you can protect yourself and those around you. Remember that there are many types of emergencies – from those caused by illness to natural disasters – and you need different types of kits for a variety of situations.”

Further hurricane safety information…

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Do you live in a noisy location? If so, it can affect your quality of life. Here’s a cool citizen science project you can take part in…find out how noisy your location is while supplying data for an important study.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

Perhaps we’re not out in the boonies as much as we thought. “It’s tricky to map an entire galaxy when you live in one of its arms. But astronomers have made the clearest map yet of the Milky Way – and it turns out that the arm that hosts our solar system is even bigger than previously thought.”

New research on Pluto suggests that it could have a deep salty ocean.

Check out this spectacular view…the first of its kind…of a billion stars shining in the Milky Way galaxy.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

An excellent read on why you shouldn’t put all of your trust in a hurricane’s “cone of uncertainty.” Forecasters have a daunting challenge that is often made much worse by the almost unfathomable complexities of our planet’s atmosphere.

The NRDC has an excellent a concise overview on global warming that covers most any question anyone could ever have about this aspect of our changing climate.

A look into climates past. The longest lasting deserts on Earth are approximately 30 million years old and can give us a glimpse into future climate.

An interesting read on a surprising source of greenhouse gases…reservoirs built for many uses, including hydropower, drinking water, farm irrigation, and flood control, etc.

Part climatology, part public health in this read that, while focused on Australia, is applicable to all countries. Many in the medical profession are unsure of how to deal with climate change and its irrevocable connection to our health and well being.

Our planet’s future does depend on your vote. And this year, the stakes are higher than ever.

Speaking of the future, “Dear Tomorrow” is a project where today’s parents are writing letters concerning climate change to children of the future.

Finally, a sobering read that can be summed up by simply saying, “Science, Know Thy Enemy.” How The Attack On Science Is Becoming A Global Contagion.

Sorry to end this post on such a dour note, but unfortunately that is the current political, theological, and cultural climate we live in.

On a lighter note, I’d like to extend a sincere welcome to my new followers in social media. I’m glad you’re along for the fun! There are lots of good times ahead.

Cheers!

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

For much of the contiguous USA plains states, summer heat has been holding on with a vengeance. Fortunately, there are changes underway as we speak and before long, autumn will “show its colors” (no pun intended). It’s also common for an uptick in severe weather to occur across Tornado Alley during the fall months. In the tropical cyclone realm, the Pacific has been very busy this year. The Atlantic has been relatively well-behaved in spite of some noble attempts at hurricane formation. Considering the alternative, I don’t really think anyone in hurricane prone regions is complaining. The downside is the fact that it’s been a decade since a significant hurricane made landfall in the USA. Complacency can breed carelessness. Therefore, this is a good time for us to remind ourselves that September is National Preparedness Month. The theme for 2015 is “Don’t Wait, Communicate” and the time to prepare for natural disasters of all kinds is now…when things are quiet…and you have the time and presence of mind to make calm, rational decisions. Those who have prepared ahead of time and experienced a disaster have told me many times that the time, effort, and resources used to “prep” were well worth it and, in some cases, life saving “preventative medicine.” It doesn’t matter where you live, even if the annual weather events are rather uneventful. Everyone is vulnerable.

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

SCIENCE EDUCATION/STEM

If you have a daughter interested in a science career, have her check out the Women In STEM career videos from GotScience.org.

Check out this nice infographic on how essential earth and space science is to all of us. It involves saving lives…every day.

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

Many people have serious privacy concerns over Windows 10. To add insult to injury, concerns are now raised over Windows 7 and 8.

If you’re concerned about online security, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense information. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

A very interesting and telling read from the Pew Research Center. “Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015.”

I very, very rarely recommend apps (especially weather apps) since the quality and accuracy of data is so unpredictable. But, in addition to the apps that you feel serve you best, I’d add the American Red Cross app. It’s very customizable and highly informative.

If, like me, you’re a user of many Apple products, here’s a quick overview of the September 9, 2015 Apple product event. For weather folks (including storm chasers), the new and larger iPad Pro would be an excellent addition in the field for radar products and/or model runs…and any improvement on iPhone processor and camera capabilities is a “must have.”

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Here’s a very cool citizen science project just in time for autumn. Kids, parents, and teachers can learn the “hows and whys” of leaves changing color during fall.

Speaking of plant-based citizen science for kids, here’s an excellent resource from Project BudBurst for K-4 educators.

Caren Cooper has written and excellent essay on the importance of the role citizen science plays in our children’s science education.

This is a project that should be taking place across North America. “European Citizens Measure Air Pollution With Their Smartphones.”

GEOLOGIC SCIENCE

What is Geologic time? A very, very, very long time.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

The recent wildfires in the northwest USA have done more than burn vegetation, they’ve endangered wildlife.

Yes, school recycling competitions are for real…and I’d like to see more of these everywhere.

Just follow the money. “Back to School: “Frackademia” Alive and Well at U.S. Universities, Says New Report.”

An interesting read on the irrevocable climate-biosphere link and how crucial food chain bacteria is altered by climate change.

A UK study that would without a doubt be valid worldwide. Trees in urban areas are valuable in dispersing air pollution (and improve the quality of the air you and I breathe).

Awesome is an understatement! “The Netherlands plans to have a 100% wind-powered railway system by 2018.”

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

This past week was the 115th anniversary of the deadliest weather disaster in the history of the USA: the 1900 Galveston, TX hurricane. There’s no exact death toll, but varying estimates range from a very, very conservative 6,000 to as high as 10,000. If you’ve not read “Issac’s Storm,” you should. It’s an excellent account of events and even an enlightening glimpse into the history of the science of early forecasting.

A very nice side-by-side comparison of 1997 and 2015 El Ninos from Climate Central.

While on the topic of El Nino, here’s a great resource for kids, parents, and teachers that has everything you ever wanted to know about this climate phenomenon and more.

According to new research, droughts and heat waves are happening simultaneously with much greater frequency than in the past.

An interesting read on how climate change would mean the death of one world and the birth of another.

If you live in the western contiguous 48 USA and thought August was hot, you were right. It was well above average in temperatures.

Many of us, including your’s truly, have watched The Weather Channel since it first aired in 1982. There are some big changes on tap and, personally speaking, I think they’re beneficial in the long-term.

“Cherry-picking” research is common among climate change denialists. In spite of the overwhelming worldwide consensus, research of dubious integrity continues.

QUIXOTIC HUMOR

If there was ever a country that has a fascinating cornucopia of dialects, it’s the USA. “Welcome To The United Slang Of America.”

And that’s a wrap for this post! I’d like to extend a warm “welcome” to my new followers. Glad you’re along for the fun!

Cheers!

Media inquiries: tornadoquest@gmail.com

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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For May 26 – June 2, 2015

Many of you who live outside of the southern plains of the contiguous USA may be wondering why all the news coverage of flooding (particularly in Oklahoma and Texas) is taking place. To say that we’ve had more than our share of drought-busting rains is a vast understatement. The good side is we’ve gotten several lakes that have been well below normal for years back to or over their usual level. Many agricultural interests got some badly needed relief. On the sad, and even tragic side, several lives have been lost including a Claremore, OK firefighter who drowned while trying to rescue people who were trapped in a building that was in danger of flooding. Several other Oklahoma first responders had close calls and nearly lost their lives saving people who (to be direct and to-the-point) did stupid and dangerous things…like driving a large four-wheel drive vehicle through water of an unknown depth. Those of us in the know who have seen the after effects of deadly floods (which I have) could talk to a good portion of the public until we’re blue in the face about the dangers of flash floods, but it’s all too often for naught. Everyone thinks their vehicle can handle the water. Everyone thinks their driving skills can overcome the forces of nature. Everyone thinks that drowning fatalities only happen to “other” people. The sad truth is 1. Flash Flooding is the largest weather related killer and outranks yearly the number of people killed by tornadoes, hurricanes, heat, cold, lightning, et. al combined and 2. YOU are just as vulnerable to death by drowning regardless of what kind of vehicle you’re driving. If you’re interested in staying alive, read this and take it to heart…and seriously. Now, on to our regular business.

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

GENERAL SCIENCE

I’m absolutely gobsmacked that in 2015 this is still an issue. “Bias Against Women In Science Persists, Even In Egalitarian Societies.”

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

This can’t happen soon enough…and with merciless vengeance. Twitter trolls, your days are numbered. The Department of Justice is about to drop the hammer…on you.

SOCIAL SCIENCE

From personal experience, I’ve no doubt this is true. “Seeing Awe-Inspiring Natural Sights Makes You A Better Person.”

EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY/PALEONTOLOGY

Fascinating read on new evidence on the origins of life.

There’s a new branch on the human family tree. Anthropologists say they’ve found a new human ancestor.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

A new study finds little known earthquake and tsunami hazards are lurking offshore of Southern California.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

Cooperation is imperative to dealing with drought conditions. “Watersheds don’t obey the political boundaries of multi-state, multi-country resources.”

In the midst of an unprecedented California drought, residents of San Diego are ripping up their water-guzzling lawns.

As the world’s population grows, the quest to quench an ever-growing thirsty planet is an increasingly daunting task.

It would be great to see these go worldwide. “World’s first Ocean Cleanup Array will start removing plastic from the seas in 2016.”

Snow may be fun while it’s fresh…but the melting piles that are still melting are vile in every way possible.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

The Atlantic hurricane season has officially started. Here’s an excellent overview of storm names, the seasonal outlook, and forecast products.

Complacency regarding the hurricane threat can lead to potentially lethal consequences. For many vulnerable regions of the USA, luck will run out…eventually. Regardless of how ambivalent one may be, now is the time to prepare…and the Red Cross has an excellent Hurricane Safety Checklist. (1 page PDF file)

Contrary to popular opinion, tropical storms are not the “drought-busters” that people want to believe they are.

This op-ed is simultaneously ignorant of the National Weather Service warning procedure, the atmospheric fluid dynamics of tornadogenisis, and fawningly sycophantic. Oddly enough, that’s about all it does achieve.

And before I close out this post one more reminder on flash flooding…TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!

Food for thought regarding climate change in the future. “Can A 4C Earth Support 10 Billion People?

An interesting read on research linking a warming Arctic and its potential connections to extremes in weather events.

A very interesting and telling look at eight maps that reveal American’s incoherent opinions of climate change.

THE QUIXOTIC

The plot thickens in the fracking/earthquake connection as academic integrity is threatened in Oklahoma. “Did Oklahoma’s richest man try to get Oklahoma Geological Survey scientists dismissed?”

For some, wind farms are an eyesore and aesthetics always outweigh environmental benefits…ergo, the perfect reason to abolish them from the face of the planet. Right.

That’s a wrap for this post!

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!

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