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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For April 18 – 25, 2016

Greetings to one and all! I hope everyone’s having a great week and, regardless of where you live, the weather’s to your liking. There are plenty of topics to cover this week, especially in the climate change realm, and we’ll touch on those. However, due to impending severe weather in the USA’s central and southern plains this week from 26 April – 28 April, this post will be shorter than usual. Speaking of the severe weather threat, this would be an excellent time to double-check your emergency preparedness kit, your NOAA weather radio, other reliable sources of information, and any other details regarding the safety of your family, friends, coworkers, and you. At the end of this post there are three infographics that will explain the basics of what you need to know for severe weather safety. Having said that, let’s get started on this week’s post.

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

SCIENCE EDUCATION

Fortunately, reason and the scientific method have triumphed once again. “Court Tosses Kansas Case That Tried To Challenge Science Education Guidelines.”

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

Smartphone users are redefining, and diminishing, privacy in public places.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

A very thought-provoking read on the “irony” of Earth Day cleanups.

A nice read on seven things we’ve learned about our fragile and humble home since the first Earth Day back in 1970.

On the flip side, there’s plenty to celebrate on Earth Day…no need for endless pessimism!

Natural disasters around the globe have resulted in economic losses of roughly $7 trillion (equivalent to about £5tn or €6tn) since 1900, according to a new calculation from scientists.

The relentless drought plaguing the western parts of the USA has had far-reaching effects of many facets.

As many as half of all USA citizens breathe air that is literally a public health hazard.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

There’s no doubt about it that April is, statistically, the top month for long-track tornadoes in the USA.

An excellent climate read from Climate Central. “Flirting With The 1.5°C Threshold.

March, 2016 continues a global streak of staggering global warmth due to climate change.

With the Paris climate agreement now signed by more than half of the world’s countries, the hard work begins.

“By mid-century, pockets of southern Europe will face at least one severe climate hazard every year of the scale now occurring only once a century, according to a new study.”

Sad but true quote from Upton Sinclair. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” No better way of displaying climate change denial at its best than with “Bill Nye the Science Guy Takes On Climate Denialist Joe Bastardi the ‘Goebbels’ Guy.”

Last, but not least, here’s some valuable information to have on hand with regards to the pending severe weather for this week…or any time of the year for that matter.

IMG_0805This graphic from the Storm Prediction Center explains what you need to know about the different levels of severe weather risks that are issued in outlooks.

Watch and Warning Info GraphicIf a watch or warning is issued for your area, here’s the basics of what you need to know…most importantly, the difference between a watch and a warning.

IMG_0807If a warning is issued for your area, any of the thunderstorms can contain at least one (if not all) of the above hazards.

Cg45hP8WgAAyK2h.jpg largeMany people are still confused as to the difference between a tornado warning vs. a tornado watch. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

And that’s a wrap for this post! I’d like to extend a warm welcome to my new followers in social media…glad you’re along for the fun!

Cheers!

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Updated: Wednesday’s Severe Weather Episode For Central/Southern Plains

For the mid-day Day 1 Severe Weather Outlook from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), a Moderate Risk was introduced for parts of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The possibility of this happening had been mentioned in previous outlooks. Considering some of the atmospheric ingredients coming into place, I’m not at all surprised. This post will focus on the mid-afternoon update issued by the SPC at 3:00 PM CDT (2000 UTC). More severe weather outlook updates will be issued by the SPC today. The next one will be at approximately 8:00 PM CDT (0100 UTC) and 1:00 AM CDT (0600 UTC). Keep in mind that severe weather setups are in a constant state of flux…and rarely do situations stay static from one hour to the next. This is where keeping in touch with your local National Weather Service office and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice are beneficial along with NOAA weather radio and, if available to you, a quality smart phone warning app. This post will be quite brief since things are rapidly falling into place for a busy severe weather day.

Let’s take a look at the mid-afternoon SPC severe weather update.

PUBLIC SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK ISSUED AT 12:01 PM CDT

PSWO 1 8 April 2014The SPC has issued a special Public Severe Weather Outlook that concisely explains today’s severe weather potential. This essentially has all the information you need to know. The next best step is making sure your emergency kit is in order and keep tabs on any warnings that are issued. Here’s a look at the mid-afternoon severe weather update from SPC.

WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK

Day 1 Categorical Outlook 1 8 April 2015Very little has changed from the earlier forecasts other than an increase in the likelihood of damaging straight-line winds and very large hail…possible up to three inches in diameter. As I’ve stated in previous posts, this is a very complex forecast scenario, is no “slam-dunk” forecast, and variables have come into play that may have a significant change in storm mode and hazards. Not everyone in the categorical outlook areas will see severe weather, but if you live anywhere in the Marginal, Slight, Enhanced, and Moderate Risk, be sure to keep in touch with official sources of watch and warning information. When and where will the storms form? From the mid-afternoon discussion, “ROUGHLY NEAR THE KANSAS/OKLAHOMA BORDER AREA EASTWARD THROUGH THE MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY…IS STILL EXPECTED TO BECOME THE FOCUS FOR THE PRIMARY STORM DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THE PERIOD. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN COVERAGE/INTENSITY ALONG THE PLAINS PORTIONS OF THIS BOUNDARY MAY NOT OCCUR UNTIL THE 00-02Z (7:00 PM – 9:00 PM CDT) TIME FRAME.” In other words, some of the strongest storms may not get going until close to sunset…or even after dark. At night, it can be particularly difficult to see storms…so pay particular attention to any warning that is issued. Make sure you have a source of reliable official warnings handy through your evening and plan accordingly. While you’re at it, do yourself a favor and avoid the fear mongers. For those of you with anxiety and/or phobias regarding storms, deal with PTSD due to a previous encounter with a storm-related event, or are simply experiencing a great deal of worry, they’ll do you no good. Overall, they offer very little information that hasn’t already been disseminated by OFFICIAL watch and warning sources, and their actions (especially in social media) are usually self-serving.

In a scenario such as this, tornadoes are always front and center in everyone’s concern. Here’s a look at the mid-afternoon SPC tornado outlook map.

WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON TORNADO OUTLOOK

SPC Day 1 Tornado Outlook 1 8 April 2015

The current thinking is the highest probability for a tornado is in the red shaded area. The highest probability for a significant (EF2 – EF5) tornado is in the black “hatched” area. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone in the tornado outlook area will see a tornado…or even be in a tornado warning. Tornadoes can also occur in the 5% or 2% area, but that’s less likely. Just because someone lives right outside of the 10% or 5% area doesn’t mean they should let their guard down and take a cavalier attitude. On the flip side, the purpose of this map and all others isn’t to scare you, but keep you informed as to what kind of severe weather you may experience so if it occurs, you can take the necessary precautions.

Before we wind this up…here’s a look at the SPC damaging wind and hail outlooks.

WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON HAIL OUTLOOK

SPC Day 1 Hail Outlook 1 8 April 2015 The chances for large hail are especially significant in the red shaded area and the hatched area for parts of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and a small part of west-central Illinois. Once again, not everyone will see large hail, but the possibility is there. You might consider making sure your vehicles or anything that could be damaged by large hail is under cover. Now a quick look at the SPC damaging wind outlook.

WEDNESDAY MID-AFTERNOON WIND OUTLOOK

SPC Day 1 Wind Outlook 1 8 April 2015The 30% damaging wind outlook area closely corresponds with the tornado outlook. North-central Oklahoma to west-central Missouri are the areas currently most vulnerable. Perhaps most important is the fact that any storms that form and become severe in any of the outlook areas have the potential for damaging straight-line winds, large hail, and tornadoes. Another very important and often overlooked risk is for flash flooding. The severe thunderstorms that form today can put down copious amounts of rain that can turn a low lying road or small creek into a roaring river that can sweep away even the largest of vehicles. Remember the safety phrase, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” It could save your life. Lightning will also be a hazard with any thunderstorm…severe our otherwise…so mind the lightning danger.

Now that you’ve gotten the scoop on what’s ahead especially in the Enhanced and Moderate Risk areas, time to put your game face on and keep on top of all watches and warnings. If you have a solid plan of action to take if you need to seek shelter and a reliable, hype-free source of watch and warning information, you will be safe. Yes, much of the information from official sources will sound stern at times, but it’s their job. You are being looked after by some of the best atmospheric scientists in the field…and trust me, some of these folks are top-notch experts with an inimitable dedication to their profession, willingly carrying the heavy responsibility that rests on their shoulders all while keeping your safety in mind.

For your convenience, here are some excellent sources of weather and weather safety information:

Finally, if you have a smart phone, you can put it to good use by downloading the mPING app and reporting to the National Severe Storms Laboratory any severe weather you experience. This is a great way for you to take your mind off the unpleasant side of severe weather while contributing information to research meteorologists. Every report counts…including yours…but please don’t put yourself in danger just to get that report.

Remember, stay informed, stay safe, stay calm.

Since things are getting very busy for me, this will likely be the last post for the Tornado Quest blog. For the rest of the duration of this event, I can most easily be followed or reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TornadoQuest.

Cheers!

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