Tag Archives: Kansas

Tornado Quest Science Week In Review For May 1 – 8. 2017 #HurricaneStrong

Hurricane Preparedness Week #HurricaneStrong has started for the USA. This week’s focus will be on preparing for these powerful storms. If you live in a hurricane prone region, now is the time to prepare. There are numerous websites from the National Weather Service, the American Red Cross, and FEMA that have helpful information.

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


With the current USA’s Environmental Protection Agency now out of the climate science business, here are some good resources to keep yourself informed.

Here’s some very good renewables news. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a new wind turbine was installed every two and a half hours in the United States during the first quarter of 2017.

Arbor Day may only officially be celebrated once a year, but in reality every day can be arbor day.

In spite of improvements in many countries, air pollution still is a substantial public health issue round the world with developing countries having the most troubles.

The contentious atmosphere (no pun intended) surrounding the current presidential administration, the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues with nefarious overtones.


It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week in the USA from May 7 – 13, 2017. Now is the time to get prepared if you live in a hurricane prone region. The National Weather Service has a comprehensive hurricane preparedness website with all the information you need. On Twitter, you can also follow @NWS along the #hurricanePrep #HurricaneStrong & #ItOnlyTakesOne hashtags for more information.

Here’s a very nice infographic from the National Weather Service with a plethora of information on the WSR-88D weather radars that are an invaluable part of the forecasting and warning process.

NOAA has a very useful tool you can use to find out how climate change will affect your neighborhood.

Taking into consideration the recent changes in the Antarctic ice shelves, a major break could be imminent.

A slower rise in global temperatures from 1998 to 2012 has been hailed by climate change denialists as proof that Earth’s climate isn’t changing and future projections are irrelevant. In fact, new data show that the “hiatus” has no impact on long-term climate change projections.

Big changes in the broadcast meteorology field with the minority finally becoming the majority. Broadcast meteorologists are coming to the inevitable conclusion that they’re not only the only scientists their viewers will ever see on television, but that climate change is now a part of the essential information they must convey to their viewers.

The recent drought in California may be linked to a newly identified climate pattern.

This past week marked the eighteen anniversary of the 3 May 1999 Kansas and Oklahoma tornado outbreak, the largest outbreak to date in the history of Oklahoma. The National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK has a comprehensive retrospective with a wealth of information. And yes, it can and will happen again.

This past week also marked the tenth anniversary of the Greensburg, KS EF-5 tornado. Thanks to fast and effective warnings from the Dodge City, KS National Weather Service and good coverage by broadcast meteorologists, many people had plenty of warning. A few decades ago, a tornado of this magnitude would have resulted in dozens of fatalities.

We’ve not heard the last of this for a long, long time. “New York Times Wants To Offer Diverse Opinions. But On Climate, Facts Are Facts.”

Finally, some helpful lightning safety information courtesy the National Weather Service office in Burlington, VT. Every year approximately thirty people are killed and hundreds injured in the USA alone from lightning. Most if not all of these deaths and injuries are avoidable.

That’s a wrap for this post…see you next time!


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This Week’s Tornado Quest Science Links & More For October 24 – November 1, 2016

Greetings everyone! I hope all of you have had a good start to your week. It’s been relatively tranquil across much of North America the past week and the tropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific have been very serene. The season for tropical cyclones is winding down for North America. As we have seen with Hurricane Matthew, it only takes one to result in a tremendous amount of damage and hundreds of fatalities across several countries. As usual, there’s a plethora of topics to cover, so let’s get started.

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


A very thought-provoking read on the state of math education in the USA…which is of particular important to anyone who plans on majoring in the atmospheric sciences.

Life for a new scientists just entering the field is more daunting than ever before.


A very good read on the recent upswing in Oklahoma earthquakes. “How The Oil And Gas Industry Awakened Oklahoma’s Sleeping Fault Lines.”


Solar energy is really taking off…and this is just the awesome beginning.

A study of 41,000 people has further solidified the irrevocable link between air quality (and a myriad of other environmental factors) and your physical health.

Across the globe, up to 300 million children live in conditions with air pollution up to six times over the limit of what is considered minimally safe air quality.

In urban areas, the growth of city trees has shown time and time again to improve air quality. The same can also be said for having indoor plants.

If we can recycle everything we use, including toothbrushes, cigarette butts, and all kinds of plastics that wind up in our oceans, why don’t we?


Winter is on it’s way…and it’s not too early to review some winter weather safety tips that are geared toward travelers in automobiles. A winter weather safety kit is a must. If you need it, you’ll be glad you took the time to prepare. If you absolutely have to travel, know what to do to stay safe. Infographic courtesy of the National Weather Service.


In your home, preparing for winter is very easy. These few tips will save you a lot of trouble and possibly your life. Infographic courtesy of the NYC National Weather Service.


Will the polar vortex be a player this winter for the northern states of the USA? At least one source says, “Yes.”

Understanding why the public makes evacuation decisions in a hurricane scenario is as important as the evacuation order itself. “Why We Should Not Demonize Residents Who Refuse To Evacuate During Hurricanes.”

Some natural disaster events can be tied to climate change, but not all of them. Here’s why blaming all natural disasters on climate change is a recipe for disaster.

The Mediterranean region, already experiencing dry conditions, may be in for much worse in the decades to come.

There are several towns around the world that are grabbing climate change by the horns and courageously embracing changes that will be unavoidable to all of us…eventually. One of these towns is Greensburg, KS which was devastated by an EF-5 tornado in 2007 but is now one of the leading green communities in the USA.

Death Valley’s claim to having the world’s highest temperature reading could be put to death itself by renewed analysis.

Here’s a good read for my fellow weather geeks. “Sun-clouds-climate connection takes a beating from CERN.”

Take a look at a new way of evaluating damage to structures from tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.

Have you ever wondered what those red and blue lines on some weather maps mean? Here’s a nice overview on how to read a basic weather map.

When it dark at 3:00 PM on a winter’s day in the fabulous city of Stockholm, Sweden, creativity (and productivity) soar sky high! Yes, climate and human behavior have strong links.

Finally, if you’ve not seen “Before The Flood” on National Geographic, you’re in for quite a treat. It’s well worth the time to watch it in its entirety. For people who don’t understand the gravity of climate change and what our children, grandchildren, & future generations face, this documentary will put it into perspective.


According to a new poll in Texas’ 21st congressional district, 45 percent of respondents said they are less likely to vote for Rep. Lamar Smith because he refused to investigate allegations that ExxonMobil knew about climate change in the ’70s and failed to disclose the threat to the public. To add insult to injury, Smith is (ironically) also the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee chair and is among the 34 percent of Congress members who deny climate change.

That’s a wrap for this post! See you good people next time!


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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…


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


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


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.


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!



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Updated 15 July 2014: Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For July 6 – 13, 2014

It’s been another busy weather week across North America with everything from tornadoes in Canada to a visit from Hurricane Arthur to the NC coast. Arthur peaked at Category 2 intensity, but the damage seemed minimal compared to what could have occurred.

Before getting to this week’s links, the Tornado Quest Twitter account (@TornadoQuest) was either the victim of a malicious (and illegal) cyber-attack or an unexplainable “glitch” in the Twitter cyber-sphere. Sometime in the early morning hours of Saturday, 12 July 2014, hundreds of accounts that I was following (some I’d followed for several years) were unfollowed. If you’ve been unfollowed, it was not intentional, you will be followed back, and please accept my apologies. I have some people who are quite good at computer forensics (think of Sherlock Holmes for technology…locating and tracking down people) looking into the matter. Again, my sincere apologies and I appreciate those of you who have expressed concern and patience.  Also, this week’s blog will be very short. As time allows, I’ll likely add a few links this week.

Update: 15 July 2014. Thanks to some help from folks who know much more about internet “glitches,” the situation with the Tornado Quest Twitter account seems to have been solved. We’re going to monitor this for quite some time. Again, my apologies if you were mistakenly unfollowed during this “cyber-mess.” 

Without any further delay, lets dive right into this week’s links…


A spot-on article by Chris Mooney worth revisiting: Neil deGrasse Tyson on “Cosmos,” How Science Got Cool, and Why He Doesn’t Debate Deniers. Couldn’t have said it better myself.


Sustainability science requires the freedom to observe and understand our planet. Indeed it does.

A zero-energy house of the future could be lurking in your neighborhood. Our cities desperately need more of these.

Some good news on the sustainability front: Global Solar Module Prices Just Reached A Record Low.

NASA will soon be using  a high-flying laser altimeter to check out summer sea ice…and more.

Groundwater levels across Texas have been declining for decades. Some contributing factors have finally been identified.

Helsinki is taking a bold step with plans on having a car-free city within ten years.

The ongoing great plains drought and a poor KS wheat harvest are bound to have a domino effect that will be felt far outside of the wheat belt.


I’m often asked, “What makes a thunderstorm severe?” The answer is quite simple, but frequently misunderstood. And no, heavy rain and frequent lightning don’t make for a severe thunderstorm.

Interesting read on west Antarctica ice sheet research and why it’s so important to climate change research.

Looking into the past is often very productive in getting a glimpse into the future. Greenland melt may have pushed sea level six meters higher in the past.

A thought provoking read on two challenges regarding climate change. 1) How bad will it get and 2) how to combat the changes.

To date, 2014 has been relatively quiet for tornado activity. There are several months (including a normally active autumn) left in the year…so don’t let your guard down.

I’ve gotten a few inquiries regarding El Nino and it’s relation to ENSO. Here’s a good primer from NOAA.

NOAA”s new storm surge maps helped USA east coast residents prepare better for Hurricane Arthur.

An interesting take on the “urban heat island effect” that we urbanites are so familiar with.

Much of the eastern 2/3 of the contiguous 48 states will get an unseasonably nice cool down for mid July. Polar-vortex? Yes? No? Maybe?

Northern Sweden is sizzling in summer temps to 83F…the hottest it’s been in 90 years.

I rarely endorse specific products, but have to give a “tip-0f-the-hat” to RadarScope. If you’re on the go, or mobile, it’s top notch in terms of data…including a host of new dual-pol products.


Don’t look now…but those with too much time and too little civility and intelligence have discovered yet another way to reach an all-time new low.

Now, back to deciphering the technical difficulties.


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For May 6 – 13, 2014

Another busy weather week across the Great Plains of the USA. We’ve had several rounds of severe weather, unfortunately the rains from the thunderstorms have brought little or no relief to drought ravaged areas that span from CA and NV to KS, OK, & TX. Speaking of severe weather, it’s true that the season has been rather “mild” compared to other years, but that’s no reason for us to let our guard down. Many significant severe weather days including events that made the history books have occurred on what most would have considered a “quiet” severe weather season.

As is the case this time of year, this will be an abbreviated post. If my schedule allows, I’ll add a few more links and post via Twitter the link to the updated blog.

Here are a few links for your consideration…


The “state of the climate” has changed (pun intended) for Wyoming’s science education…and not in a good way. Addendum: Normally I am relatively apolitical in my posts, but this was too disturbing to not share with concerned, like-minded folks.


I can’t speak highly enough of the mPING app from the Nat’l Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK. Unlike many weather apps, this has a very small download that won’t take up several tons of space on your phone, you can use it from any of the 50 states, no need to go outdoors, and your report helps important weather research.


Many seasonal allergy sufferers are unaware that the air we breathe indoors year round is often worse for our health than the outdoors.

According to the World Health Organization, cities in India are among the world’s most polluted.

In AZ, the world’s largest solar array is set to start cranking out power…which is awesome in every way!


According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, as of 6 May 2014, almost half of the USA was experiencing drought conditions.

Interesting read on why some tree ring records haven’t tracked recent warming.

The weather has been histrionic across many plains states. Folks in Kansas know they’re no exception.

El Nino could be a big climate/weather story for 2014. Here’s a concise FAQ that explains what El Nino’s all about.

May 11, 2014 was the anniversary of the Waco, TX tornado…likely the deadliest tornado in TX history.

Rick Smith, the WCM of the Norman, OK NWS has written and interesting blog essay on recent responses to questions regarding where people would take shelter from a tornado. Some responses seem sane, others quite unsettling.

Harold Brooks of the Nat’l Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, OK has written and excellent essay on the data connection between tornadoes and climate change.

If you’ve not seen the National Climate Assessment website, check it out. State-of-the-art is an apt description. NOAA’s Climate Connection has a very nice concise overview.

This week’s troll magnet read: “Scientists Warn Of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt.

Good story from KOCO in Oklahoma City on the lackluster performance of “tornado sirens” in the life-saving warning process.

And that’s a wrap for this week!



Two Kansas Tornadoes of Note Occurred 40 Years Ago Today #kswx

On this date in 1973, two significant tornadoes occurred in central Kansas. While tornadoes in the autumn are not unusual, it was unusual for two tornadoes to be captured on film in the early 1970’s on the same day. The first film is of a tornado near Lindsborg, KS. The second film is of the Salina, KS tornado which received a great deal more attention due to damage and press coverage. Both films, while characteristically grainy for home movies of that time, still show a great deal of detail in the life cycle of the tornadoes. The Lindsborg tornado displayed a multiple vortex structure approximately half way through the footage. In contrast, the Salina tornado clearly developed multiple vorticies very early in its life cycle before the visible condensation funnel fully developed. Another interesting structural change occurred when the Salina tornado briefly took on a helical structure as it passed some distance behind the water tower. The Salina footage, for its time,  is quite a good film since it documents the entire life cycle of the tornado from its early organization to the “roping out” stage.

Severe weather activity across the great plains is not uncommon in the autumn months. It has not been too long ago since Oklahoma had its largest fall tornado outbreak in state history on October 4, 1998 when several intense tornadic supercells moved across the Norman and Tulsa forecast areas. With that in mind, now would be a good time to check your NOAA weather radio for the upcoming winter season and any potential severe weather events that could take place over the next few weeks.


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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