Tag Archives: EF Scale

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For April 6 – 13, 2015

It’s been quite a histrionic weather week for the contiguous USA. Some locations are finally warming after a long and snowy winter, the California drought worsens, and the Great Plains had two wild days of severe weather (April 8-9, 2015). This week also marked the thirty-sixth anniversary of the Red River tornado outbreak in Oklahoma and Texas, the sixty-eighth anniversary of the Woodward, Oklahoma tornado, and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak. I’ll have more on those events later in this post. Since we are entering an active weather pattern over the next several days, I’ll keep this post on the brief side and include links that I think you’ll enjoy.

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


A very thought-provoking essay that confirms thought’s I’ve had for some time. “The Science Of Why You Really Should Listen To Science And Experts.”

Some great answers to, “Why Did You Become A Scientist?” My personal favorite…”Science turns “I don’t know” into “I don’t know… yet” and you won’t find anything more empowering than that.”

Ever wonder what the weather station identifiers mean? Here’s a handy essay that explains it all.


Check out this very cool soil collection program. Best of all…it’s free!


The Oklahoma Geological Survey will be adding another analyst to its ranks to keep track of the smaller earthquakes that, as of late, been occurring almost daily in the Sooner state.


My beloved Brontosaurus has been raised from the dead so to speak. Welcome (back) to the dinosaur club!


A well written guide to California’s water crisis and the challenges faced by those dealing with it first hand.

Is there a bright side to the devastating California drought? Yes…and it’s renewable!

Another bright side to the California drought is an optimistic, proactive state of mind.

A mass extinction that occurred 252 million years ago could give us hints at to how the increasing acidity in our oceans could affect current and future life forms.

Here’s a very nice infographic on a highly underrated practice: Upcycling.

China will surpass the  USA as the top producer of greenhouse gas emissions.


It’s always fun to repost everyone’s favorite wind map!

A very nice climate resource: The US Climate Resilience Toolkit.

I love space exploration as much as any other science fan…but have often wondered why physicists immediately leap at careers in astronomy or cosmology. It’s time for a change because, “Climatologists To Physicists: Your Planet Needs You.”

The TRMM rainfall satellite mission has finally come to an end after seventeen years. Fortunately, there’s another satellite waiting to carry on the torch.

Could El Nino last all of 2015? If so, this summer will be incredibly interesting.

While Rolling Stone magazine isn’t know for its science writing, here’s a well-written thought-provoking read. “The Pentagon and Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security At Risk.”

Preliminary tornado/storm surveys from the Chicago National Weather Service on the severe weather events of 9 April, 2015. Until EF Scale rating are finalized and a comprehensive analysis is completed of the entire damage path, take with a grain of salt any unofficial or hyped rumors.

In weather history:


Yet another state has clamped down (aka censored) the term “climate change.”

In spite of overwhelming evidence, no end in sight on this. “Meet The United States Of Divided Climate Beliefs.”

And that’s a wrap for this post…

I’d like to welcome my new followers on Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, About.Me, Facebook, and Tumblr. Glad you’re along for the fun!



Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links May 13 – 20, 2014

Across North America, it’s been a rather tranquil week with a few scattered episodes of severe weather. This will be another abbreviated post for this week. I’ve also noticed some changes to the way WordPress works. If the changes aren’t reversed or aren’t temporary, I’ll move this weekly blog post to the Tornado Quest Tumblr blog. In the meantime, let’s get started on this week’s links…


Here’s a “must-read” on science terminology from meteorologist Dan Satterfield who passed along this essay written by astrophysicist Brian Koberlein.


The “digital revolution” is a major watershed event in the history of human technology. In spite of that, hazards exist especially in the area of privacy.


Can you name more than one female scientist? Here’s a list of unsung heroines.


Check out this very cool citizen science project called “Drugs From Dirt” where you can help scientists find beneficial microbes lurking in your garden soil.

Heads up bird lovers! Your help is needed!


The public servants of Oklahoma are at it again. Apparently the “hyperbole” of scientific truth is just too much. If this continues (and it likely will), the future looks bleak.


What’s most amazing about this recent dinosaur discovery is the fact that the bones were discovered in the first place. Still, the size of this amazing animal is impressive.


Interesting info on a study of pollution sources between urban and rural Midwestern air.

Water is a precious resource. For the benefit of future generations, many complex issues need to be addressed.

How about some good news! Samso is the world’s first 100% renewable energy-powered island!


April 2014 tied 2010 for the hottest April on record according to a new NOAA report. Our humble planet is on track for its 6th warmest year to-date and the 350th month in a row of above average global temperatures.

With no relief in sight for the near future, 100% of CA is now experiencing severe to exceptional drought. As a result, wildfires have hit hard and fast.

The climate change denialist run under a self-delusional guise of “science” that brings into question any credibility (CV or otherwise) they might have…in spite of their credentials. I really don’t feel NASA et al. would put their reputations on the line for pseudoscience. Even though the consensus is solid, climate scientists can’t afford to turn their backs or become complacent.

Finally, today (May 20) marks the 1st anniversary of the Moore, OK EF-5 tornado. Here’s a fantastic timeline of all products (including social media) issued by the Norman, OK NWS during the event. A full overview of the event can be found here. The amazing recovery and rebuilding efforts are better covered elsewhere. One thing is certain…it’s heartening to see people put differences of all degrees aside and come to the aid of their fellow humans in the wake of an event of this magnitude.

If time and schedule allows, I’ll add a few more links this week. Until next time…


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For April 22 – 29, 2014

The big news this week is focused on multiple rounds of severe weather across the plains into the southern states. Due to the ongoing severe weather as of this writing, this post will be shorter than usual…and many links focused on the recent severe thunderstorm and tornado events.


Two very helpful links from Ready.gov on making an emergency preparedness plan & building an emergency kit. Regardless of where you live and your local climate, these are things you should do. If you’d like to help the folks who have been affected by this weeks severe thunderstorms and deadly tornadoes, you can easily make an online donation to the American Red Cross. Every little bit helps.

If you have a NOAA weather radio and need codes for SAME programming, you can find codes for all 50 states and USA territories here.


An interesting read on sustainability and it’s relation to economics the world over: Think Globally To Cut Down Waste Locally

Mayflower, AR was heavily damaged by a tornado on 27 April 2014. Unfortunately, this town is no stranger to disaster especially after having endured the ExxonMobile tar sands pipeline spill in 2013.


The latest US Drought Monitor is out. Extreme to exceptional conditions persist across CA, CO, KS, NM, NV, OK, & TX.

Very interesting piece: A tornado’s cost: Living in a tornado alley.

There’s an increasing awareness of the link between climate change and public health.

Are climate scientists confusing the general public about climate change? One study thinks so.

The Storm Prediction Center has a new Local Storm Reports page with a variety of customization tools. Give it a test drive.

A gallery from Associated Press of tornado damage across parts of AL, AR, & MS.

The Tulsa National Weather Service has posted a preliminary damage survey of the Quapaw, OK tornado of 27 April 2014 which resulted in EF-2 damage and one fatality. It’s my understanding that no tornado warning was issued for this storm. Regardless, that’s no excuse for unfettered criticism of any National Weather Service office. Almost every Severe Thunderstorm Warning comes with a caveat that essentially states, “Severe thunderstorms can and/or will sometimes produce tornadoes without warning. Take shelter immediately if a tornado is spotted.”  For future reference, you should always keep in mind that, depending on the structure and environment of a severe thunderstorm, a tornado, no matter how small or brief, is always a possibility…and once that warning is issued, it is your responsibility to heed the warning and take proper safety precautions.


There are many countries that I would have expected such supernatural, conspiratorial nonsense from, but Sweden? This Swede is aghast at the scientific ignorance of many public servants. Then again, that’s nothing new.

And that’s a wrap for this week.



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…


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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…


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.


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


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


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


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!


National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Technical Investigation of Joplin, MO Tornado (492 page PDF File) #mowx

There’s no doubt that the Joplin, MO tornado of 22 May 2011 was a watershed event in 21st century USA weather history. A triple digit death toll had not been seen in the USA since 1953. Since then, spotter networks, improvements in radar and warning technology had reduced the overall death tolls dramatically. In light of the 3 May 1999 Bridge Creek/Moore/OKC tornado, much speculation was generated about the potential death tolls that could result from a violent, long-track EF-4 or EF-5 moving through a large metropolitan area such as Dallas/Ft. Worth. Many people, including yours truly, assumed it would take a direct hit for a triple digit death toll to occur in contemporary society. Only then, the death tolls could possibly top 100 or more. The Joplin, MO event was a dramatic wake up call that it didn’t take a large metropolitan area suffering a direct hit from a violent tornado for a 100+ fatality death toll to occur. The Joplin metro has a population of roughly 50,000 yet had a death toll of 161 from a violent EF-5 that moved through the city during a late Sunday afternoon.

The NIST has released a technical investigation of the Joplin tornado event. While rather technical, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the atmospheric or earth sciences. A word of caution; this is a large 492 page PDF file. The download time, depending on your internet connection and computer, may take some time. Regardless, it’s a worthwhile read with a wealth of information.

Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Oct. 20 – 26, 2013

Across North America, the crisp, cool air of autumn is firmly in place. It’s hard to imagine that summer’s heat firmly entrenched just a few short weeks ago. And just think, the holiday season is less than two months away. The older I get, the faster the time flies. There’s plenty to look at this week so let’s get started.


Why do so many people reject science? Some answers give insight into our complex perceptions of the world around us.

The USA government shutdown may be over, but it’s effects on scientific research will resonate for some time to come.

Fascinating photo essay look at 400 years of women in science.


How can non-scientists influence the course of scientific research? The possibilities are almost endless!

Looking for some cool citizen science projects for Halloween? Look no further…check these out!


On it’s way to Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft snapped an amazing photo of our home.


The USGS is investigating possible links between recent Oklahoma earthquakes and waste water disposal from oil and gas production.


In spite of vast amounts of scientific data to support climate change, the vitriol is still flying in a most sophomoric manner.

If it’s biased with an obvious non-scientific bias void of objectivity from the beginning, it’s not science.

Given a choice, some studies on public perception of climate change indicate that people would rather have immediate material reward than invest in future quality of life.

Scientists are planning a trip to the stratosphere…a part of our atmosphere which we know little about.

Interesting read on unprecedented Arctic warming (with journal reference for further reading).

The US Drought Monitor for late October is out. Much of the southern plains and southwest plagued by a continuing drought, will stay dry.

Unless ‘mother nature’ has an ace up her sleeve that we don’t know about, the 2013 Atlantic basin tropical cyclone season will be one of the quietest on record.

The El Reno, OK tornado of May 31, 2013 will go down as one of the most controversial tornadic events in recent science history. WeatherBrains had a recent show you can watch here with Oklahoma City’s KFOR television meteorologist Mike Morgan.  The inimitable Chuck Doswell chimes in with a reply to the interview here. Finally, here’s another take on the scenario from Virginia Tech’s Jen Henderson.  Needless to say, the many dimensions of the El Reno tornado, from the downgrading from an EF-5 to an EF-3 to how the Oklahoma City media handled the storm, aren’t going to go away quietly.


As a long-time indoor gardener, I can vouch for the validity of tropical houseplants improving indoor air quality. Here are some good choices of easy to care for varieties.

Considering the “state-of-the-art” animations you can watch here, I’d say every on-camera meteorologist’s job security is sound. 🙂

And that’s a wrap for this week!

A special “thank you” to my new followers on Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, & Instagram. Glad you’re along!


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Oct. 12 – 20, 2013

The crispness of cool Autumn air is beginning to settle in across the Northern Hemisphere. Some areas in the contiguous 48 states have seen significant snowfall amounts. In the tropical Atlantic, one of the least active hurricane seasons in over 40 years continues. And with the US government shutdown over (for the time being), NOAA, NASA, USGS, the EPA, and other agencies are getting back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, a great deal of scientific research was put on the back burner. So, with all that in mind, lets take a look at this weeks links…


Many folks in tornado prone areas pine for public shelters. Chuck Doswell doesn’t think they’re a good idea and I very much agree.

The folks at the Capital Weather Gang wrote a very interesting article that (in spite of its unpopularity) I feel is quite valid: Beware the flaky forecasts.

National Geographic has a very nice multi-media feature on the El Reno, OK tornado of May 31, 2013 with a great overview of the Twistex team.

Here’s a very interesting read (with journal reference) on how the Earth’s rotation affects vorticies (hurricanes, tornadoes, ocean currents, etc.) in nature.

Wind energy is great and I hope becomes more the norm. Unfortunately, those spinning blades can play havoc with National Weather Service radars.


The World Health Organization has now included air pollution as a major health hazard.


Project FeederWatch is a great way to get involved in citizen science during the cold winter months. Think of it as keeping track of miniature dinosaurs!

NASA has a very cool cloud spotter app for all of you folks out there who, like me, spend a lot of our outdoor time looking at clouds.

Here’s a great article with a plethora of citizen science projects that has almost something for everyone.


When I was awestruck at the size of the Tyrannosaurus in NYC’s Museum of Natural History, I naturally assumed it was probably the largest in the world. Nope…there are bigger ones!

And that’s a wrap for this post! Hope everyone has a great week!


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For Sept. 23 – Oct 12, 2013

After a few week on hiatus due to several ongoing projects, I’ve decided to trim the Gee-O-Science weekly post down to ten links per week. Even with the best of intentions, time management can go awry. Having said that, here we go…

Here’s an excellent account of the El Reno, OK tornado of May 31, 2013: “Chasing The Beast” which no only goes into the tragic events of fatalities, but several other storm chaser accounts of events during this particularly violent tornado.

Another good read from the American Meteorological Society is this preliminary report on the role of multiple vortex structures (44 page PDF file) in the El Reno, OK tornado and it’s connection with storm researcher fatalities.

Building homes to withstand hurricane force winds is one thing, but tornadoes are something else…unless you’d like living in a steel-reinforced concrete pillbox.

NOAA is embarking on a very cool concept, using underwater robots to improve hurricane science.

The Latest IPCC Climate Change report has been out for many days, but there’s still some uncertainty on the contents. Here’s a good overview from Scientific American that was posted before the latest report was issued.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reports that Arctic sea ice minimum for 2013 is the sixth lowest on record.

Sadly enough, evolution isn’t the only science topic that’s being ostracized. Add climate change to the list.

Though not an official NOAA weather product, this ever-changing wind map is one of the coolest sites online.

Check out these amazing black and white images of the red planet.

When possible, I’ll try to include a citizen science link with every weeks post. Here’s a cool one you can try out and all you need is a computer to gather 19th century weather data.

As you can tell, some article will not be strictly related to specific geoscience topics and will often contain information on other areas of interest. Variety, especially in science, is the spice of life.

Have a great week folks….cheers!

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!


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