Tag Archives: hail

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!

Updated: Potentially Active Severe Weather Episode Mid-Week For Central/Southern Plains

The potential for severe weather on Wednesday and Thursday is becoming more clear with the addition of new weather data to the forecast. Let me preface the rest of this post with two points. 1.) I’ve included for your convenience some severe weather safety links at the bottom of this post and 2.) it’s my hope that the information I’m sharing will alleviate some of the unnecessary anxiety and stress that is so often fostered by attention hungry fear mongers in social media. Having said that, let’s take a look at this week’s severe weather potential.

Updated 7:20 PM CDT: There is a Slight Risk tonight for parts of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma with a pending watch from the Storm Prediction Center. If any storms for tonight, they could have an effect on the atmosphere in such a way that Wednesday’s severe weather outlook could be changed.

It’s no surprise that the Storm Prediction Center added an Enhanced Risk to Wednesday’s severe weather outlook. As is often the case, as more data become available, it’s easier to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Here’s a look at Wednesday’s SPC severe weather outlook. While some severe weather scenarios are almost textbook, this forecast challenge has become more daunting as the days when storms are likely has drawn closer.

WEDNESDAY

Day 1 SPC Categorical Outlook 7 April 2015Tomorrow’s severe weather setup is a very complex scenario. The next two days will certainly be no small challenge to any meteorologist. As of this post, SPC forecasters feel that storms may form much earlier than usual. This will have a significant effect on where and when any additional storms form later in the day. From the SPC discussion, “STILL..DEEP LAYER
SHEAR SHOULD BE STRONG ENOUGH FOR ORGANIZED CONVECTION…INCLUDING SUPERCELLS AND AN EVOLVING STORM CLUSTER…IN THE PRESENCE OF SIZABLE CAPE.” In other words, in spite of the fact that storms may form early, there are ingredients available for them to become potent supercells. It’s possible that if storms form early, it could be in the north-central Oklahoma/south-central Kansas border region…but that is subject to change. As the afternoon progresses, peak heating occurs, and several other elements fall into place making the atmosphere more volatile, there will be, “AN INCREASED RISK FOR SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING VERY LARGE HAIL AND A COUPLE OF TORNADOES. INITIALLY ROUGHLY NEAR THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN KANSAS/OKLAHOMA BORDER AREA…THIS ACTIVITY IS EXPECTED TO SPREAD NORTHEASTWARD/EASTWARD TOWARD THE LOWER MISSOURI VALLEY…BEFORE GRADUALLY WEAKENING WEDNESDAY NIGHT.” Now, let’s take a look at the SPC’s severe weather probability map.

WEDNESDAY’S SEVERE WEATHER PROBABILITY MAP

SPC Probabilistic Outlook 1 7 April 2015As I’ve stated in previous posts, the purpose of the probabilistic map is to give people in the shaded areas an idea of their chances of seeing some kind of severe weather within twenty-five miles of a point. For parts of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma shaded in red, there’s almost a one in three chance of some kind of severe weather occurring fairly close to any specific area. In the “hatched” area that’s outlined in black, there’s a higher probability of storms with a bit of extra power to their punch. The main thing to keep in mind is that if you are properly prepared for severe weather and aren’t doing anything foolishly risky, you’ll be just fine. If you live in a mobile home or will be working in a large room with a wide span roof, a barn, outbuilding, or outdoors (all typically areas that have an increased danger and are particularly vulnerable to even weak tornadoes or strong straight-line winds), you might consider planning today where you would take shelter if you’re in a warning. Outside of the red shaded area is our 15% and 5% probabilities regions which cover a large part of the southern plains to the Ohio valley. Keep in mind that storms may be very isolated in the 5% area, but can still pack quite a punch. So, to wrap up Wednesday’s outlook in lay terms…current SPC forecasts convey the possibility that some storms may get an early start. If they do form, expect them to be severe. Later in the day, the atmosphere will be primed for even more robust storms to form. Expect all modes of severe weather (aka: large hail, damaging straight-line winds, flash flooding potential, and tornadoes), numerous severe thunderstorm and/or tornado watches, and many warnings issued by your local National Weather Service office. Perhaps most importantly and once again, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of following official sources of watch and warning information.

THURSDAY

Day 2 SPC Categorical Outlook 7 April 2015Thursday’s severe weather outlook will be just as challenging as Wednesday’s…perhaps even more difficult…but the same hazards will be possible, especially in the Slight and Enhanced Risk areas. From the SPC discussion, “WHILE RESIDUAL CONVECTION/CLOUD COVER COULD ALTER THE LOCATION OF — OR EVEN HINDER DEVELOPMENT OF — THE NEXT ROUND OF AFTERNOON/EVENING STORMS AHEAD OF THE ADVANCING SYSTEM…IT APPEARS AT THIS TIME THAT AMPLE DESTABILIZATION WILL OCCUR AHEAD OF THE FRONT IN THE WAKE OF PRIOR PRECIPITATION. In a nutshell, in spite of widespread storms Wednesday that will have used up a lot of “energy,” the atmosphere will have plenty of time to re-charge its batteries for another round of rowdy weather. This time, the focus will be from northeastern Texas to southern Wisconsin and southwestern Michigan. The Enhanced Risk introduced yesterday by the SPC still holds. In fact, population wise, there will be almost three times as many people in the Thursday Enhanced Risk area as there were on Wednesday in spite of the fact that it is a slightly smaller area. Now, let’s take a look at Thursday’s probability map.

THURSDAY’S SEVERE WEATHER PROBABILITY MAP

SPC Probabilistic Outlook 2 7 April 2015Once again, the purpose of this map is to convey to you the probabilities of severe weather in or close to where you live. It’s not meant to scare or alarm anyone but, knowledge being power, to inform you so you can prepare for the possibility of storms and take necessary precautions if you’re in a warned area. The current thinking is that the highest probabilities will exist for much of eastern Missouri and most of Illinois…including the St. Louis and Chicago metro areas and surrounding suburbs. From the SPC discussion, “EXPECT SUPERCELL MODE TO EXIST — AT LEAST INITIALLY — WHICH THUS SUPPORTS INTRODUCTION OF AN SIGNIFICANT SEVERE-WEATHER AREA AND ENHANCED CATEGORICAL RISK ACROSS ILLINOIS/EASTERN MISSOURI AND VICINITY…WHERE LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS APPEAR LIKELY ALONG WITH A FEW TORNADOES.” Just like Wednesday, supercell thunderstorms will exist with all the trimmings. Regardless of where you live in the Marginal, Slight, or Enhanced risk area, prepare accordingly for the possibility of all modes of severe weather. Friday could be active as well from Georgia to the DelMarVa region and Saturday in western Texas…but with two rather significant days of severe weather already on our doorstep, we’ll cross those bridges if/when necessary.

Before I wrap this up, I’d like to pass along some helpful information from the Storm Prediction Center. This graphic is an excellent resource and clearly explains the new severe weather risk categories.

SPC Outlooks Graphic 2Here are some more helpful links:

Let’s meet again tomorrow to take a look at the day’s severe weather setup. It’ll be a much briefer post than this one, and will only focus on tomorrow’s severe weather probabilities. Once again…follow only official National Weather Service sources of watch and warning information along with the broadcast meteorologists of your choice…plan accordingly if you are in a watch…take proper precautions if you are in a warning…and you’ll be just fine. It comes as a surprise to many…but regardless of what these storms throw at you…if you take the necessary safety precautions you’ll come through smelling like a rose.

See you good folks later…

Cheers!

Updated: Potentially Active Severe Weather Episode Mid-Week For Central/Southern Plains

As expected, there have been significant changes to the Storm Prediction Center’s severe weather outlooks for this week. The most notable change is with the Thursday outlook which, as of this post, has the outlook area covering states much farther to the northeast that in previous outlooks. Regardless, we’ve a busy weather week ahead. Let’s first take a look at Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY

SPC Wed Outlook 1 6 April 2015

Wednesday’s Slight Risk has been expanded and now covers a large area from south-central OK into southern Iowa and western Illinois. Several major metro areas are within the Slight Risk and include Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, Wichita, and all surrounding suburbs. Warm, moist air is flowing northward across the risk area and will provide the fuel for the storms. In western Oklahoma, Kansas, and northwest Texas, a “dryline” (which is a sharp demarcation line between dry and moist air) will be the focal point for storm development. In the early hours of Wednesday, storm formation will be deterred by a “cap” which literally stops warm, moist parcels of air from rising and forming storms. Eventually, ingredients in the recipe will come into play that will allow the cap to “break” and storms will develop. Once that happens, storms that develop should rapidly become supercell thunderstorms with heavy rainfall, large hail, strong straight-line winds, and the potential for tornadoes. The SPC specifically addresses the tornado threat with, “THE AMPLY MOIST BOUNDARY LAYER AND FAVORABLE LOW-LEVEL SHEAR — PARTICULARLY NORTHWARD INTO KANSAS NEARER THE ADVANCING SURFACE LOW — WILL LIKELY BE SUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT RISK FOR TORNADOES.” In other words, plentiful moisture for storm “fuel” along with wind shear that will allow storms to rotate will be present. There’s no reason to panic, just be aware that “tis the season” and any storms that form in the right environment have tornadic potential. Some forecast data hints at storms being somewhat isolated from each other, but any storms that do form will quickly become severe. As the evening progresses, storms will likely become more numerous, less isolated, and a reduction in the tornado threat may occur, but the large hail and damaging straight-line wind threat will continue. Flash flooding will also be an issue with any location that experiences torrential rainfall. Flooding kills more people every year than all other weather hazards combined and, in my opinion is a greatly underrated weather hazard. Now let’s take a look at Wednesday’s SPC Severe Weather Probabilistic map.

WEDNESDAY’S SEVERE WEATHER PROBABILISTIC MAP

SPC Wed Outlook 2 6 April 2015

The purpose of this SPC map is very simple, but certainly not meant to frighten anyone. It simply shows the probability of severe weather, including significant events, of occurring within twenty-five miles of any given point. Not every location within the Slight Risk 15% area or the significant severe “hatched” area will see storms. Some locations may not even see a drop of rain. It simply lets you know that within these areas, particularly the “hatched” area outlined in black, has a higher probability of severe weather being reported. This doesn’t mean an imminent disaster, but the Slight Risk also doesn’t mean storms will be “slightly” severe. At this time, SPC forecasters feel that storms within the hatched area will be pretty potent…which means if you live in or will be traveling through this area, expect a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch, numerous warnings, and some robust storms that won’t hesitate to show off how much shake, rattle, and roll they can make. It does not mean the end of the world or “death raining from the skies” which, unfortunately, is the message that many attention hungry fear mongers will convey through social media. If you have a well stocked emergency kit, a disaster/shelter plan in place, have good sources of watch and warning information, and heed all warnings and advisories only from official sources (your local National Weather Service office and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice), you will be safe. If you’re in an area where a warning has been issued, do not run outside with your camcorder to capture your ten seconds of YouTube fame, jump in a car and decide to become and impromptu “storm chaser,” or panic and try to drive out of the path of a storm. Those actions will expose you to lightning, high winds which can make driving difficult, low visibility, traffic congestion, and flash flooding which (with only two feet or less of water) can sweep you and your vehicle away. Plan ahead (as in now) for a day of severe weather, stay weather aware, and you’ll be fine. Now we can turn our attention to Thursday.

THURSDAY

SPC Day 4 Outlook 6 April 2015

At the risk of sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet, when I first saw this map, my immediate thought was, “Ah-Ha! Just as I thought. The severe weather threat area has been shifted to the north and east! Wednesday’s storms have overturned much of the atmosphere and laid out tons of outflow boundaries! What a mess…and forecasting nightmare.” I’m beginning to think that almost forty years of being a “weather geek” is paying off. But enough of me, back to the SPC severe outlook for Thursday. Due to the previous days severe weather and certain changes in the atmospheric “recipe,” this day presents (as stated in the SPC outlook), “SUBSTANTIAL CHALLENGES WITH RESPECT TO THE CONVECTIVE FORECAST.” In other words, severe weather is very likely, but what a headache it is trying to narrow things down to when and where. Wednesday’s storms will have had an effect on the atmosphere that will change where and when new storms form. To make matters more challenging, computer forecast models are not fully in agreement on where storms will be at the beginning of the day and where they will form as the hours pass. The threat for large hail and damaging straight line winds will definitely be present and the risk for tornadoes could be somewhat less than on Wednesday, but don’t let your guard down. Any storms that form Thursday will be just as potent as Wednesday’s storms and you should heed official information on watches and warnings with the same degree of caution. In spite of the possibility that Wednesday’s storms may have taken some of Thursday’s severe weather energy, it will be a day you’ll want to be keenly weather aware, especially in the red 30% area for parts of Illinois and Missouri. Once again, there’s no need to panic or worry. Simply be prepared, avoid the fear mongers, stick with official sources of weather information, and you will be fine. Let’s take a quick look at Friday.

FRIDAY

SPC Day 5 Outlook 6 April 2015By the time Friday rolls around, much of the “energy” for storms will have moved to an area stretching from Georgia northward to the DelMarVa region. Time will tell, but it appears at this time that damaging straight line winds and large hail will be the primary threats. As is the case with previous days, what transpires Friday will depend a great deal on Thursday’s storm activity. If you live in or near the 15% probability region, keep a reliable source of official weather information handy. As is always the case, as each specific forecast time draws nearer, the SPC forecasters can be more specific as to where and when storms will occur and what threats will be most prominent.

It’s my hope that these posts are helpful in your preparation for an active and interesting episode of weather. If anything,  I hope to give those of you that have a degree of anxiety or phobias towards storms a sense of being in control by acquiring knowledge. Knowledge being power, and a sense of empowerment begets a calmer state of mind. In our contemporary world where divisiveness on the most menial of topics runs rampant, the human species needs all the “calm” we can get.

Let’s meet again tomorrow and take a look at this show Mother Nature has on the schedule. Who knows what changes she’ll have up her sleeve by then. In the mean time, check your NOAA weather radio, emergency kit, and plan your day accordingly. If you’d like to see all of the SPC’s information, you can find it here. If you need information from your local National Weather Service office, click your location on the “NWS Forecast Offices Map” and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Finally, if you need information on NOAA weather radio, you can find it all here.

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 30 – April 6, 2015

The severe weather season has kicked into full swing across much of the great plains. So far there have been only a few events, but we’ve still the busiest and most active months ahead. Due to this week’s pending severe weather, this post will be shorter than usual. I’ve also addressed the current severe weather setup for this week in other posts.

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

SCIENCE EDUCATION/PUBLIC SCIENCE POLICY

A very good…and most timely…read on the hard-hitting realities that exist whether we want to believe them or not. “Why Scientific Truth May Hurt.”

A though-provoking read on what the climate movement must learn from religion.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

The CoCoRaHS “Hail Week” runs from April 6 – 11. 2015. Learn how to measure and collect hail…and then report it when it does make an occasional visit to your location.

TECHNOLOGY

A nice article on my favorite search engine which, in the process of competing with Google has also tripled it’s growth.

PHYSICS

After a two-year hiatus, the Large Hadron Collider is back in action and more powerful than before.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

When it hits home, it hits harder. “Poll: Americans Starting to Worry About Climate Change Now That It Affects Their Lawns.”

No surprise here. The California drought is testing the limits of unfettered, unregulated, and endless growth.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Here’s a look at the latest US Drought Monitor. Conditions in California have remain steady as mandatory water rationing goes into effect. Extreme/exceptional conditions across Oklahoma and Texas actually worsened.

While on the topic of drought, the California drought saga continues.

This is a climactic “smoking gun” if there ever was one. “Thawing Permafrost Could Be The Worst Climate Threat You’ve Never Heard Of.”

Some good news from the National Weather Service. Impact-based warnings are becoming more commonplace across the nation.

A new technique in flood forecasting could prove beneficial for any populated area near a coastal area.

Emergency management officials are understandably concerned about the growing public complacency towards hurricane hazards.

Here’s a very nice graphic from the National Weather Service in Kansas City via the Oklahoma Mesonet that explains the recent changes to the Storm Prediction Center’s Convective Outlooks.

A very nice retrospective look back at the April 3-4, 1974 tornado Superoutbreak.

That’s a wrap for this post!

I’d also like to welcome my new followers! Glad you’re along!

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!

Gee-O-Science Links For March, 2013

It’s been another great month for all kinds of science, but we’ll place special emphasis on many severe weather awareness links for very important information. It’s that time of year…and the severe weather season for North America is here.

GENERAL SCIENCE

Thinking for yourself and critical thinking are exceptionally important in contemporary society, especially with the current exciting science and technological developments.

Daylight Savings Time is such a silly notion that should have gone the way of the carrier pigeon. Yet we hang on to this antiquated habit. Why?

Shopping for green products can be tricky, even when you’re as careful as I am. Here’s a guide to eco-friendly products that I found helpful.

Stephen Fry is not just a great actor, but an intellectual of the highest regard. Here’s his take on “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18.”

You may wish you knew a lot more about how to handle yourself after a natural disaster because what Emergency Management really is trying to say is, ” Be prepared to help yourself because we can’t help everyone.”

ASTRONOMY

Yes, it’s true. You are made of star stuff…as am I…and every living being that’s ever lived on planet Earth. It’s important that our children know that fact.

Speaking of star stuff, cosmologist and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss takes us on a fascinating journey back to the beginning.

The Hubble telescope finds the birth certificate of the oldest known star…and looks back in time almost 14 billion years.

Studying the atmosphere of planet Earth is exciting enough, but some scientists are now taking a look at the atmospheres of other planets.

PALEONTOLOGY/EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Ever wonder what exactly is a dinosaur? The American Museum of Natural History can help answer any questions you have.

While on the topic of everyone’s favorite extinct animals, here’s a great write-up on 10 Dinosaur Myths That Need To Go Extinct.

Here’s a very nice video featuring the inimitable Richard Dawkins (who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting) in a one hour video, “The Greatest Show On Earth.”

GEOLOGIC SCIENCE

March 27 is the anniversary of the Good Friday earthquake in Alaska. At 9.2 magnitude, it’s the most powerful earthquake to date for the United States.

March 24-30 is Tsunami Preparedness Week in California…a state not only vulnerable to violent earthquakes, but the tsunamis they generate.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Interested in weather and citizen science? You need look no further than your rain gauge!  The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) has all the details on how you can get involved!

Measuring rain is pretty easy. NCAR takes a look at commonplace challenges involved in measuring snow.

And while measuring snow, samples are often taken…and can be quite telling.

A very nice part personal essay, part informational article on the topic of contrails.

Here’s a fascinating paper just out from the American Meteorological Society: Tornado Debris Characteristics and Trajectories During the 27 April 2011 Super Outbreak as Determined Using Social Media Data. (35 page PDF file)

The National Center for Science Education has a nice, short primer video on A Brief History of Climate Science.

NOAA has a new national strategy on the menu to help wildlife, fish, and plants deal with our changing climate.

Does our planet have a “point-of-no-return” tipping point in regards to climate change?

The earth’s atmosphere and climate has been warm before, but what makes current changes so different from the past?

A nice read from Grist: “Two Reasons Climate Change Is Not Like Other Environmental Problems.”

Climactic warming trends are more likely to lead to less rainfall, which goes against a great deal of current atmospheric theory.

Speaking of lack of rainfall, a change in the monsoon patterns for the southwestern part of North America could have long-range effects on an already dry climate.

NOAA is already anticipating the ongoing great plains drought to continue for 2013 with Dust Bowl-like conditions possible.

Fortunately for television viewers, there are a handful of media meteorologists who boldly take the bull by the horns & face the situation.

The long-term stratagems of dealing with climate change and any political/financial challenges is quite complex. Is there positive change ahead?

Science curriculum in the US is sorely lacking in earth and atmospheric science. Fortunately, a few brave souls are bringing climate into the classroom. Unfortunately, science classes void of any curriculum on climate change are doing a disservice to our children.

It’s a long shot, but Climate Central is taking a look at what the 2013 tornado season might have in store for us.

Taking a look back, it’s been eighty-eight years since the Tri-State tornado of 1925. NOAA has a nice site with fascinating info on the deadliest tornado in US history.

NOAA”s Storm Prediction Center has a new website coming out. Take a look…and be sure to bookmark this one!

The National Weather Service is dealing with a vacancy rate of approximately 8% & giving “multi-tasking” a new meaning. And you thought your job was stressful.

Finally, with the North American severe weather season on our doorstep, here are several links of very timely and important information…

Tornadoes, Lightning, & Thunderstorms: Nature’s Most Violent Storms (20 page PDF file)

Tornado Safety Rules From The Storm Prediction Center

Highway Overpasses As Tornado Shelters (slide show)

The Online Tornado FAQ

Facts About Derechos

Flash Flooding Safety: Turn Around, Don’t Drown

Ready.gov Basic Disasters Supply Kit Info

Please keep in mind that it’s not unusual for safety recommendations to change over time. For example, it’s now commonly recommended that people taking shelter from a tornado not only shield themselves with thick blanket and pillows, but wear a safety helmet of some kind. The safety recommendations on the links above are the responsibility, opinions, and under control of the respective author or agencies. I can merely pass on info that I hope will be of help…and am  not responsible or liable in any way for it’s presentation or accuracy.

JUST FOR KICKS

45 People Who Should Not Be Allowed To Use The English Language ~ I’m sure we all fit in this list somewhere.  🙂

An interesting & quite humorous take on Americans & the rest of the world.

Corn cobs? Splinter-free TP? Good lord…no wonder people in early 19th century photographs looked like sitting still was a painful process.

Earth911 has a nice “DIY” article on how to make a recycled bird feeder. Keep those little dinosaurs well fed with upcycling!

And that’s a wrap for March!

Severe weather season is here. Keep your NOAA weather radio handy & stay very, very weather aware.

Cheers!

A Remarkable March Tornado Outbreak

What will likely be one of the largest (if not the largest since record keeping began in 1950) March tornado outbreaks took place on 2 March 2012. The forecast, synoptic setup, and SPC product details can be found at this link. What I have for this post are a few examples of base reflectivity (BR) and storm relative velocity (SRV) that I captured during the event. At the height of the outbreak, it was very difficult to keep up with the multiple warnings, special weather statements, spotter reports, and multiple radar sites simultaneously. In fact, my Twitter feed on Hootsuite was probably posting an incredible 150-200 ‘tweets’ per minute making it almost impossible to keep up with the flow of info. During the outbreak, I was fortunate enough to capture a few radar images and two tornado warnings.

This scan, taken at 2019Z shows two tornadic supercells back-to-back. The supercell on the right produced the Henryville, IN tornado which resulted in significant damage and several fatalities. A classic ‘hook echo’ configuration can be seen as well as what’s often referred to as a ‘debris ball.’ This results from the radar beam hitting a large amount of airborne debris that results in a high reflectivity signature.

This scan, taken at 2023Z shows the same two tornadic supercells a few minutes later. Two tornadoes were still in progress and substantial damage was taking place.

The above scan taken at 2023Z shows the Storm Relative Velocity product for the two tornadic IN supercells. Two substantial couplets can be seen at the location of the mesocyclones. On the eastern supercell, high velocity data to the right of the couplet (pink colors) may be indicative of a very strong Rear Flank Downdraft (RFD) which, according to some research, instrumental in tornado genesis.

The Severe Weather Statement issued by the Louisville, KY NWSFO expresses the nature of the situation with a Tornado Emergency.

The same sense of urgency is expressed in this Tornado Warning issued by the Wilmington, OH NWSFO for the same tornadic supercells as they moved further east.

This reflectivity scan, taken at 2301Z, shows the supercell that produced a tornado that damaged a large portion of West Liberty, KY. The scan shows a classic supercell reflectivity image with a well defined hook echo and a “debris ball” just east of West Liberty.

Once again we see very strong wording in a tornado warning…this one being from the NWSFO in Jackson, KY with emphasis on a Tornado Emergency for the warned area.

The second base reflectivity image is from 0001Z and shows a more pronounced debris ball with 70dBZ at the precipitation core as well as high values at the center of the mesocyclone.

Tornado outbreaks in March are not unheard of and there are several events in the past that have made the “top ten” lists of March events including the Tri-State tornado of 1925. This event was certainly no exception and is likely to remain in the record books for some time to come. Fortunately, with doppler radar and spotter networks, the storms were well observed which no doubt kept the death toll from being much higher. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the fatalities occurred in mobile homes…deaths that could have easily been prevented…but only when a full understanding of the dangers of remaining in fragile and cheaply built structures is finally comprehended by the public.

Close Call For Tulsa: April 14, 2011

Shortly before 5:30 PM on April 14, 2011 a thunderstorm that developed over Lincoln County, OK took on supercell characteristics and moved into the Tulsa metro area. The SPC Day 1 Outlook had a large part of OK in a Moderate Risk area. Specifics on the synoptic scale conditions and storm reports can be found here.

As the supercell moved closer to the Tulsa metro, it began to indicate that there was sufficient rotation within a sustained mesocyclone to warrant a Tornado Warning which included part of the Tulsa metro. The Tulsa NWS doppler radar (KINX) indicated a possible tornado near Kellyville, OK moving to the northeast.

The first image shows the supercell soon after the first tornado warning was issued. At that time, the center of rotation was located between Kellyville and Sapulpa, OK. A very distinct inflow notch can be seen along with a short flanking line and the main heavy rain/hail precipitation core to the northeast.

In the second image, the center of rotation has moved east of Hwy 75 and was moving almost due east along the 71st street corridor. The structure was still maintaining the “hook echo” structure and supercell characteristics. Many eyewitnesses to the storm claimed they saw a distinct wall cloud with rotation. In an unusual safety measure, radio station KRMG abandoned their broadcast station and offices for shelter in a basement since the wall cloud was passing over the 71st and Yale intersection. Meteorologists at the Tulsa NWS also began to notice that scans from the high resolution Tulsa Terminal doppler radar (TTUL) showed a decrease in storm inflow. This decrease likely was at the lower levels of the mesocyclone. Rotation in the mid and upper levels warranted further Tornado Warnings as the storm moved northeast into Rogers County, OK.

The conditions for tornadic potential were higher in southeastern OK. It was during this outbreak that a large supercell with a long-track tornado did considerable damage to the small town of Tushka, OK resulting in two fatalities.

The final image is the Storm Relative Velocity (SRV) image of the supercell that produced the Tushka, OK tornado as the storm was moving over LeFlore County, OK at approximately 9:27 PM. A very distinctive couplet can be seen southwest of Poteau, OK. The greens indicate air moving toward the Fort Smith, AR doppler radar site (KSRX) and reds show air moving away from the radar. SRV 0.5 level data indicated +84 kts and -82 kts respectively. At this time, a confirmed tornado was moving through LeFlore County. Conditions for long-track tornadoes and violent supercells existed in this portion of the state and indeed the strongest storms occurred in southeastern OK and southwest AR during this event. This days severe weather was one of many very prolific severe weather days that occurred during the record breaking month of April, 2011.

A Decade Past

For most people reading this, the date of May 3, 1999 will have no meaning.  For weather enthusiasts/storm chasers like me and others who were living in OK & south central KS that day, it’s a date we won’t soon forget.  That day, the largest tornado outbreak in the history of OK took place.  Over 70 tornadoes, 40+ fatalities, approx. 700 injuries, and thousands of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed.  It was truly a remarkable meteorological event.  That day alone, I saw five tornadoes.  It was also one of the most exhausting chases I’ve ever been on.

Several things about that day really have stayed with me all these ten years.  On my way from Tulsa to my target area (which was between OKC and Lawton) I passed the Tanger Outlet Mall in Stroud, OK.  The mall was a popular shopping destination for residents in the area and, if I had some extra time, I often made a stop there on my way from Tulsa to points west.  I vividly remember looking over at the mall as I passed it on I-44 and for a moment, considered stopping there for a few minutes. Then the sense of urgency pulled me out of that lull and I kept going.  The days weather data kept going round in my head.  I knew we were in for a big day and I didn’t want to waste any time.  Little did I know that the next time I saw the mall several hours later, it would be in ruins from a tornado that damaged every store.

Somewhere to the west of OKC, there’s a rest stop on I-40.  When I got to that area, things were really starting to light up.  The supercell that would heavily damage the OKC metro was already tornadic, and I felt I’d best stop, regroup, and adjust my target area.  As I sat in my minivan listening to NOAA weather radio, a local television station in OKC, and watched the sky, I could hear the ‘clang clang clang’ of a truck driver who had parked in the same rest area.  The driver was bent under his truck and, with a hammer of some kind, was beating the daylights out of something.  I guess if you can’t fix it with the proper tools, get a hammer.  I felt rather sorry for the poor fellow.  Who knows what was wrong with his truck, how far from home he was, how far he had to go, and if he knew what kind of weather was about to pounce on top of him.

Three wall clouds, five tornadoes, and a shower of golf ball size hail later, I was headed back east on I-40 due north of Anadarko, OK.  I was torn between pursuing the storm to my north, or watching another which was rapidly intensifying to the south of Shawnee, OK.  I chose the latter since I knew that it might move toward Tulsa.  As I continued east, I saw one of the most amazing displays of “anvil zits” I’ve ever seen.  The upper portion of the tower to my north was absolutely a strobe light with lightning.  For those who don’t know, “anvil zits” is a storm chaser’s slang term for rapid staccato lightning that occurs where the updraft tower meets the thunderstorms anvil.  These are very rapid and repeating flashes of lightning that almost give the effect of a strobe light you’d see at a concert or club.

Going back up I-44, it was obvious to me that the storm to my southeast would continue on being severe for quite some time.  I was also listening to the radio and trying to digest what had taken place in the OKC metro.  The outbreak was far from over and I was wondering what else was in store.  But, fatigue was setting in and I knew if  I didn’t rest for a bit, I’d be driving half asleep.  At mile marker 177, I pulled over at a rest stop, turned all but my NOAA weather radios off, closed my eyes, and slid down in my seat.  I was exhausted from all the adrenaline.  Time passes.  I wake up.  Now the supercell thunderstorm that was to my southeast was northeast of me and headed for Tulsa.  Not good.  So, off I go after my nap and head northeast.  “Gee, that’s funny. There’s vegetation from trees along the interstate.” , I mumbled to myself as I got closer to Stroud, OK.  Suddenly, I’m at a dead stop.  Traffic in front of me has been stopped for some reason. Was it a wreck?  No, it had been a tornado…and a pretty good size one too…almost 1/3 mile wide.  Suddenly it hit me that as I was snoozing away back at that picnic area, a large tornado crossed the interstate just six miles in front of me…and I SLEPT through it…warning and all! After a gas leak had been taken care of, traffic began to move.  I was in a hurry to catch up with the storm and concerned about what could happen in Tulsa.  Suddenly, more vegetation, debris…and the Tanger Outlet Mall…in ruins.  So ironic that just a few hours earlier I’d considered stopping there.  If you’d told me earlier in the day that a tornado would destroy the place, I’d have said you were crazy.  When it was over, I’d crossed four damage paths on my way back to Tulsa and didn’t make it home until almost 4:00 a.m. the following morning.

The Norman, OK National Weather Service has a nice site up on the outbreak at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/wxevents/19990503/.  You can find all the information you want concerning this weather event including some very important information regarding using underpasses as shelters that may save your life.  Quite a few of the photographs on my website are also from that storm chase.

Ten years, a decade past.  A lot has happened.  Much of it I’d love to experience again, and not a little that I wish had never happened.  But at least when I crawled out of my minivan early the next morning, my home was still in one piece.

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