Tag Archives: Storm Prediction Center

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

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

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

SCIENCE AND PUBLIC POLICY

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

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

SCIENCE EDUCATION/CRITICAL THINKING

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

CITIZEN SCIENCE

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

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

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

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

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

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

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

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEATHER SAFETY

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!


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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For August 15 – 29, 2016

Greetings all! I hope everyone’s having a great start to your week. Due to several previous time-consuming commitments I’ve had to delay publishing a post by one week. The tropical Atlantic has been very busy as of late with (as of 29 August 2016) one hurricane, two tropical depressions, and an interesting tropical wave near the Cabo Verde Islands. Two back-to-back hurricanes are also between North American and Hawaii. Ultimately, nature has the upper hand and will do things on its own time scale which is the primary reason for preparedness…regardless of whether an immediate threat is present…or not. Having said that, it would behoove us to keep tabs on the tropics…the peak of the season has arrived. On that note, let’s get started.

For your consideration, here are the links for this post…

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

Do you use WhatsApp? I’d recommend you switch to Telegram. Here’s why.

All iPhone users need to get the latest iOS update immediately.

GENERAL SCIENCE

An eye-opening reminder as to why the maps we know and love offer a very distorted view of our humble home.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

There’s a solar eclipse treat on the menu next year for much of the USA and, understandably, many folks are not a little excited.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

Summers in the U.S. bring more than just searing, dangerously hot days. When there’s little air circulation and the air becomes stagnant, high levels of air pollution and increases in the level of ozone are triggered by the hot temperatures. The resulting health consequences for millions of Americans is quite significant. The Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Dallas/Fort Worth metros have had at least two “Ozone Alert Days” so far this summer.

Speaking of sizzling summer days, setting in traffic in urban areas has certain air quality hazards. Here’s a good read on how you can reduce your exposure to pollutants.

Here’s some very good renewables news. Wind power is flourishing in the USA. In fact, the first offshore wind farm in the USA is nearing completion. Unfortunately, the comments section on the latter link is exceptionally cynical.

If wind power won’t work for you, check out solar. The price of solar is declining to all-time record lows.

A disconcerting environmental science/climate read. “This year’s melt season in the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas started with a bang, with a record low maximum extent in March and relatively rapid ice loss through May. One NASA sea ice scientist describes this as ‘the new normal.'”

This is very exciting…not just for the USA, but the world in general. President Obama just quadrupled the size of a national marine monument off northwestern Hawaii. It’ll be twice the size of Texas!

Last but not least, the USA’s National Parks just celebrated their 100th anniversary. Here’s a spectacular VR trip through geologic time courtesy of NPR.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

A concise overview of the recent deadly floods in Louisiana. By some accounts, the storm system responsible for the heavy rainfall was a “hurricane without the winds.”

This “no name” storm also dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina.

Here’s a very good read on the Louisiana flooding by Dr. Marshall Shepherd. “5 Reasons Some Were Unaware Of One Of The Biggest Weather Disasters Since Sandy.”

On 24 August 2016, a localized outbreak of tornadoes occurred in parts of Indiana and Ohio. The Storm Prediction Center is now being raked over the coals for having “missed” a forecast. Did the SPC miss a forecast and, more importantly, does it matter? There’s been plenty of sophomoric “Monday morning quarterbacking” over this (the vast majority coming from amateur weather hobbyists) who think they are better qualified. I seriously doubt that. As with the hype over what was known as “Invest #99L,” nature always has the better hand and the ace up its sleeve. Dealing with a 3-D fluid that is in a constant state of change is difficult enough for day-to-day forecasting let alone a regional tornado outbreak that didn’t have all the parameters that would have given even the most seasoned forecasters a “heads up.” I can recall several instances this year alone where the SPC was absolutely spot-on in it’s forecast…but all it takes is one “miss” and the trolling begins.

A perfect example of how imagery is worth a thousand words. Take a look at the hottest weather ever visualized.

Can lightning be predicted in the same way forecasters predict precipitation?

An interesting, and irrevocable, climate science & economics connection. As our climate changes, our economies become more vulnerable. The time for economic adaptation is now.

Communities have traditionally prepared for natural disasters based on past events. Extreme weather events will now force communities to confront new climate patterns and prepare with a focus on the future.

An interesting read on the ocean-weather-climate link. “Pacific Sea Level Predicts Global Temperature Changes.”

The latest US Drought Monitor shows dry conditions persist in the western states while spreading in the southeast.

A spot-on read covering tactical capers of climate change denialists. This is anti-science mindsets at their best.

Speaking of climate change denialists, referring them as “skeptics” is disingenuous to the true meaning of skepticism.

THE QUIXOTIC

A spot 0n yet startling read by Lawrence M. Krauss. “Trump’s Anti-Science Campaign.”

That’s a wrap for this post! I’d like to give a warm welcome to my new followers in social media. It’s nice to have new folks along with the old friends that have been a part of my online community for several years!

Cheers!

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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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Tornado Quest Science Links And More For Nov. 8 – 15, 2015

Fortunately, for the time being, the tropics in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific are quiet. Very soon, the Atlantic tropical cyclone season will come to an end. 2015 will be another year in the books with North American not having a landfall from a major hurricane. It’s understandable that many folks in meteorology and emergency management are concerned about public complacency since 2005 was the last year the USA had a major hurricane make landfall.

In spite of the recent horrific events in Paris, the climate talks will commence without disruption…which is the way it should be. Never, ever give in or give up. And if you have an interest in the future of our planet, please keep tabs on the Paris climate talks as they progress.

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

GENERAL SCIENCE/PUBLIC POLICY

If there was ever a time for a “break up” to occur, this is it. Considering the hostility that has arisen in the past few years, it’s time science moved on to greener pastures.

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

Your tweets (20 million of them) reveal a great deal about your behavior and real-world situations.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Citizen science and your body and health are a good match. Check out these six projects.

SCIENCE EDUCATION

There could be many contenders for this title, but I’d have to agree overall that Darwin’s “Origin Of Species” is a good choice as the most influential academic book.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

Intriguing read about one of our solar system neighbors. NASA probe shows how solar burps may have stripped Mars of water.

5,400 MPH winds were discovered blasting around an exoplanet. I wonder what that would be on the EF-Scale?

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

A bit of public health and environmental science. The health benefits to spending time in nature are unmistakably good to your health.

A dubious milestone indeed. Our humble home is on track to end 2015 with an average of 1 degree C of warming.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

A sobering read on the rising levels of global atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The latest NOAA State Of The Climate report is out with a detailed review of USA significant weather anomalies and events for October, 2015.

Oct 2015 Weather

Here’s a nice map from the Storm Prediction Center of preliminary USA tornado totals for 2015. With severe weather having occurred in the past week and more storms on tap for 16 November, 2015, these numbers will go up.

2015 USA Tornado Count

The states with above normal numbers of documented tornadoes are listed in red. The above average list not only includes traditional “Tornado Alley” states of CO, IL, KS, OK, and TX, but also HI and MA. It’s also interesting to note that many states, such as AR, MS, and TN (located in what’s often referred to as “Dixie Alley”) are having a well below average years. Annual anomalies in tornado occurrence are very common and often the numbers of confirmed tornadoes is or isn’t dependent on population density, topography, and when the tornadoes occurred.

That’s a wrap for this post! I’d like to extend a sincere “welcome” to my new followers in social media. I’m glad you’re along for the fun!

Cheers!

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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For May 5 – 12, 2015

The last day of an active severe weather episode is underway as of this post with tornado and severe thunderstorm watches in effect for parts of the Great Lakes and Ohio valley region. The focus of most of the week’s severe weather has been across the central and southern plains. If you’d like to review some of the data from past severe weather events, visit the Storm Prediction Center’s Severe Weather Events Archive. It’s a treasure trove of information that can prove helpful in many regards, especially for those interested in using past events and their relation to forecasting techniques. It’s also been a very long week for me…so this will be a very short post. Still, there are several items I’d like to share with you.

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

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

How often should you post on social media? It depends on what you’re using. The most important “A-#1” rule to remember is…quality over quantity.

CITIZEN SCIENCE

Check out iSeeChange… a crowdsourced citizen science journal of community submitted local weather and environment observations.

A reminder for you to download the mPING app for your iOS or Android smart phone. It’s a very small app, won’t take a lot of space, and will help weather research with your real-time reports!

Has Wyoming criminalized citizen science? Certainly seems suspiciously malevolent to me.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCE

“Using the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers have observed a gas clump in the early stages of its gravitational collapse for the first time.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

There’s a reason I never use incandescent bulbs unless absolutely necessary. “The Shocking Truth About LED lights.”

The western drought hasn’t spared Arizona from the same kind of water woes California is facing.

Starbucks is going to stop selling bottled water in drought-ravaged California.

The western drought isn’t only bringing problems related to water, the coming “fire season” is expected to be difficult as well.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

With the addition of the Marginal and Enhanced SPC risk categories, I’m often asked what is the meaning behind it all. Fortunately, the folks at SPC have this handy graphic.

A very interesting read on weather forecasters, specifically those in broadcast media, and changing attitudes toward climate change.

A very tough job indeed. “Two Guys In Paris Aim To Charm The World Into Climate Action.”

Being a geoscientist can be very hazardous work. Unfortunately, two scientists recently lost their lives while studying climate change.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to access research stations in Antarctica due to sea ice which is increasing due to a variety of reasons.

Thanks to Hadley Cells, we can take a look at an interesting map that averaged cloud cover over our planet for the past thirteen years.

This past week was the 110th anniversary of the Snyder, OK tornado…one of the top 20 deadliest tornadoes in USA history. The death toll of 97 is approximate since there is no data on exactly how many people were killed. One of the more sobering images is the mass grave containing more than thirty unidentified fatalities from the tornado.

A QUICK NOTE TO MY NEW FOLLOWERS…

I’d like to extend a sincere “Welcome!” to my new followers! I’m glad you’re along for the fun! There are some cool things in the works for Tornado Quest over the next few months. Like all good things, it takes time and finding the right people for the right job. If you’re new to Tornado Quest, don’t let the name fool you. I purposefully explore and share a wide spectrum of earth science information, specifically geoscience, environmental, and atmospheric science topics. There’s always something interesting going on with this amazingly complex planet we live on. To focus only on storm chasing and specifically tornadoes, really misses the point. As one of my meteorological mentors told me in the spring of 1984, “All weather is interesting. There’s something fascinating going on every day. If someone can’t grasp that and tornadoes are all they’re interested in, well…they’ve no business being a part of this science.” He couldn’t have been more correct.

That’s a wrap for this post! See you folks again soon!

Cheers!

Update For Thursday’s Ongoing Storms And Severe Weather Potential

Today, 9 April 2015, is shaping up to be a very active severe weather day across a vast area of the contiguous 48 states. Like yesterday, this has been well forecast several days in advance. Let’s take a look at the mid-afternoon severe weather outlook from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). This outlook will remain valid from 3:00 PM CDT to approximately 8:00 PM CDT.

THURSDAY MID-AFTERNOON CATEGORICAL SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK

SPC Day 1 Outlook 2000 UTC 9 April 2015As you can see, there is a large area covered by Marginal, Slight, and Enhanced severe weather risks today. The current outlook also considers northern Illinois and bordering parts of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri to be at the highest risk of tornadoes. This is well covered by the current tornado watches. If you live anywhere in the Marginal, Slight, or Enhanced risk area and are under a watch, pay special attention to a reliable, official source of warning information and be prepared to take precautions should a warning be issued for your area. Expect all modes of severe weather, especially in the tornado watches. Now, let’s take a look at the current SPC watches as of 3:45 PM CDT.

SPC WATCHES IN EFFECT AS OF 3:45 PM CDT

SPC Watches 1 9 April 2015As of this post, a new watch is pending for parts of southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. There are currently seven watches in effect…four severe thunderstorm watches and three tornado watches. The area of highest tornado potential is well covered by the tornado watches for parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Lake Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Another tornado watch farther to the south covers much of the ArkLaTex region in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. The atmospheric ingredients in this region are such that a couple of tornadoes are possible and storms are forming well ahead of an advancing cold front that’s currently moving through parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. A very busy and active severe weather day is well underway…so pay special attention to official sources of weather watch and warning information. As I’ve stated in previous posts, the best sources of timely watch and warning information will come from the Storm Prediction Center, your local National Weather Service office, and the broadcast meteorologists of your choice. We have a long evening ahead, but if you have prepared ahead of time and plan accordingly, it will be much easier and less stressful on you. And remember…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.

Once again…for your convenience…here are some handy safety rules and weather links…

Finally, another reminder that if you have a smart phone, you can put it to good use during severe weather year round 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.

Cheers!

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!

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