Tag Archives: supercell

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 More For October 10 – 17, 2016

Greetings to everyone! I hope you’re all having a great start to  your week and the weather where you live is being kind to you. The big weather story this week is the ongoing flooding in parts of the southeastern USA, North Carolina in particular, that resulted from Hurricane Matthew. In climate science, substantial progress has been made with dozens of countries agreeing on pacts that will have a dramatic impact on the quality of life for every one of us. On that note, let’s get started.

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

SCIENCE COMMUNICATION/SCIENCE AND PUBLIC POLICY

A nice overview of the challenge of communicating science to the general public.

A fascinating take on the gender differences that are often perpetuated within the sciences. “Metaphorically Speaking, Men Are Expected To Be Struck By Genius, Women To Nurture It.”

A chilling segment broadcast on Science Friday on 14 October 2016 on the ‘dangers’ involved in scientific research.

A very thought-provoking essay and overview of four new books that, “one way or another, our planet is wilder and weirder than the rules we are used to would predict.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES/RECYCLING

Ozone is beneficial in the upper levels of our atmosphere. The opposite is true at ground level where humans and other life forms exist. While many effects of ozone are understood, more are being researched and, as our planet warms, concern is growing about the public health and environmental impacts of this toxic substance.

A unique solution to a renewable energy challenge. “Scotland region will be 100% powered by kites within a decade.”

You’d think that in this day and age, irresponsibility like this wouldn’t be an issue, but it is. “British Households Fail To Recycle A ‘Staggering’ 16 Million Plastic Bottles A Day.”

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Ever wonder what it’s like to ride along with hurricane hunters? It’s not for the faint of heart. This video gives you an inside view.

If there’s a good chance of La Nina for North American in the coming months, how will it affect the coming winter?

Are you a storm chaser or have a particular interest in severe weather and tornadoes? Here’s a good read that should spearhead some of your own research into tornado genesis. “Wind Patterns In Lowest Layers Of Supercell Storms Key To Predicting Tornadoes.”

Simply put, this headline is spot on. “If Congress Invests In Seasonal Weather Forecast Research, Everybody Wins.”

Ever feel dismayed about overwhelming evidence on climate change? There’s no need to. Here’s a good viewpoint on how to “make lemonade out of climate change.”

Here’s an excellent Q & A from the Union Of Concerned Scientists regarding drought conditions that plague over 40% of the USA.

This is perhaps the biggest climate change news in quite some time. Over 190 countries have agreed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the battle to combat climate change. It’s a very important step that is vital to the world we live in today…and for future generations.

A startling look at the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti with photos and maps.

ONE IMPORTANT LAST MESSAGE…

Please show your support & wear Orange this Wednesday.

UNITY DAY: Together against bullying — united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Wednesday, October 19, 2016

That’s a wrap for this post! I’d like to extend a warm 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 More For May 16 – 24. 2016

Greetings everyone! I hope all of you have had a good and productive week since we last visited…and here’s to another good week ahead. Speaking of the week ahead, there are several days of severe weather potential across North America on the menu so, as is par for the course, this post will be on the brief side. There are plenty of other topics to touch on this round, so let’s get started.

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

PALEONTOLOGY/EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY

Here’s some very cool news for my fellow dinosaur buffs. A new species of horned dinosaur has been discovered in the USA state of Utah.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

The legacy you leave behind for future generations is of utmost importance. “Don’t Be Eco-Friendly Just To Do A Good Deed…Make It Your Mark.”

While on the topic of being eco-friendly, many people are compliant at home but do a stellar backsliding job when in the workplace.

Very impressive…Portugal is finding a way to power itself with renewable energy for several days at a time.

The cost of storing renewable energy sources (i.e. solar) has reached a new all-time low.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Recent tornado events in the USA’s central and southern plains…and the resulting “extreme” storm chasing videos have once again proved to us that, in spite of deaths in recent years, storm chasers are stopping at nothing for superficial fame.

Speaking of storm chasing, it takes years of diligent forecasting experience and a dedicated intellect to obtain this kind of spectacular (and exceptionally rare) supercell thunderstorm imagery.

Scientist Bill Nye explains why he’s willing to take on the ostriches. “Why I Choose To Challenge Climate Change Deniers.”

Unfortunately, there’s a 99% chance that 2016 will be a record breaking year for global temperatures.

Recent and abrupt changes in the Atlantic Ocean may have been naturally occurring and not related to climate change.

The El Niño phenomenon that fueled endless weird weather, hot months this past year is on the downswing. If the latest NOAA data is any indicator, La Niña is liquored up and ready to rage.

As hurricane season approaches for the Atlantic basin, it’s very important to identify and have access to reliable sources of valid (and potentially life-saving) information.

Capture 2

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Folks in my ancestral homeland are celebrating the arrival of the summer midnight sun! Njuta av din sommar och har en stor tid!

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

Cheers!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For Nov. 1 – Nov. 8, 2015

Overall, it’s been a relatively quiet weather week across most of North America. A taste of autumn severe weather activity on Thursday, November 5 was one of the few highlights. Much of the southern states received beneficial rainfall. Unfortunately for the western states, the ongoing drought has stayed the course.  Due to several ongoing projects, this week’s post will be brief.

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

TECHNOLOGY/PRIVACY

Clicking that “Do Not Track” box may do you no good after all.

The next time a new “flavor-of-the-month” app rears its head and the developer describes it as a “game changer,” think twice about installing it. Chances are they’re playing a “game” with your private data.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

An under-reported story. Indonesia’s devastating (and deadly) forest fires are man-made.

Here’s some very encouraging renewables news. Sweden is aiming to be the world’s first country free of fossil fuels by 2050!

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Tornadoes in North America aren’t limited to the spring months. In fact, the autumn is historically noted as a very active severe weather season.

Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective” is a fascinating read published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

The lasting legacy of climate change will be heat.” Indeed, a true statement as the long-term affects of climate change become more clearly defined with increasing research.

An interesting read on paleoclimatology research. Tree rings are being used to get a retrospective of Europe’s climate going back 2,000 years.

Quite often, the process is as important as the content when conveying knowledge. “How To Explain Climate Change To Teens.”

A mixed bag of results, many disconcerting yet some encouraging, in this Pew Research Center overview of global concern about climate change.

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

Cheers!

 

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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For June 2 – 9, 2015

The southern plains of the contiguous USA are getting a well deserved respite from the recent heavy rains. They certainly busted the drought that had plagued the region for several years. But, as is often the case for that part of the country, it’s feast or famine (aka extremes) when it comes to weather. Unfortunately for California, the relentless drought has now become a way of life and residents are literally ripping up their water-guzzling lawns and lush flowerbeds for native (i.e. drought-tolerant) plants…which are what they should have planted in the first place. In terms of severe weather, an interesting fact that’s come to my attention is the number of tornadoes for Oklahoma in 2015. To date, there have been approximately seventy-seven tornadoes so far…and it’s still only early June. It will be interesting to see how the rest of summer and autumn (which has a slight uptick in severe weather events) turns out. In the tropics, a quieter year than normal is forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season…but it only takes one modest storm to make for a major disaster, especially in a densely populated area. The climate talks in Paris are just a few months away and that’s been a topic of great discussion as of late…but we’ll save that for another time.

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

GENERAL SCIENCE

Is there an attack on truth…and have we entered an age if willful ignorance? By some accounts, the answer is a resounding, “yes.”

CITIZEN SCIENCE

The latest CoCoRaHS update is out. Since March, 2015, they’ve received a million reports from 17,000 stations…and every single one is important. CoCoRaHS is a great way to combine citizen science and your interest in weather.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

As time passes, the connection between fracking and Oklahoma earthquake frequency becomes more obvious. “Mounting Evidence Says Injection Wells Cause Oklahoma’s Earthquake Surge.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

World Oceans Day was observed this week. In light of that, here’s an optimistic view of the future of our planet.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Here’s the latest US Drought Monitor map. Significant improvement for Oklahoma and Texas…and very little change for the hard hit western states.

The California drought is taking a heavy toll on western farmers to the tune of almost $3 billion in 2015 alone.

A case of too little, too late? “G7 Carbon Goal May Come Too Late, Scientists Say.”

Twenty-five views with a variety of powerful messages on our planet’s changing climate and future.

Check out this great storm chasing essay that not only has great photos, but a spot-on title. “For The Love Of The Storm: Chasing Isn’t All About Tornadoes.” Unfortunately, for many “extreme” storm chasers, a tornado is a means to an end.

The recent story about a hiatus in global warming was just that…a story. Wishful thinking for many who, for financial, legal, or political reasons, still fight scientific facts.

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

Cheers!

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For April 20 – 28, 2015

After several days of active severe weather, the contiguous 48 USA states get a bit of a respite. For the most part, it will be welcome. There’s still plenty of time left to get your emergency kit for home or work in order…and this quiet period is a good time to make sure everything is in check. May is the most active tornado month (from a climatological standpoint) for North America…so we’ve still many weeks of severe weather potential ahead. With the recent spate of severe weather and several crucial deadlines garnering my time and energy, I’ve had to carefully delegate my time…ergo the brevity of this post.

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

GENERAL SCIENCE

Food for thought. “Can We Trust Scientists Self-Control?” In general, yes.

An excellent essay that hits the spot in “Inoculating Against Science Denial.”

TECHNOLOGY/SOCIAL MEDIA

A “must-read” for anyone who is online from Ghostery (which I can’t recommend highly enough). Trolls…aka online bullies…don’t just live for the change to make sophomoric comments, some lust for private data too.

HISTORY OF SCIENCE

A very comprehensive list of about one hundred books that cover a wide spectrum on the history of science.

GEOLOGICAL SCIENCE

The recent devastating Nepal earthquake was, by some accounts, a “nightmare waiting to happen.”

This doesn’t surprise me at all. We’re so good at causing earthquakes, the U.S. Geological Survey wants to start forecasting them.

Oklahomans feel far more earthquakes than Californians do…and the reason isn’t a surprise. Shake, frack, and roll.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE/RENEWABLES

This is the kind of good news I love seeing. “Like Shale Oil, Solar Power Is Shaking Up Global Energy.”

This is Air Quality Awareness Week. For many folks (depending on their local climate patterns) with health issues, this is far more important than even severe weather awareness.

2015 could be a very rough year for wildfires across the contiguous USA…and California in particular.

Our dependency on Amazon rainforests is much greater than we are aware of.

Some surprising survey results of American’s opinions on regulating CO2 and renewable energy research.

ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

Nice overview of the current California drought and its connection to climate change.

California’s drought isn’t the end of the world, but it will change the lifestyles of people who are affected by it. Welcome to a new and permanent way of life.

Are recent extremes in weather events tied to climate change? Some studies say, “yes.”

It’s been almost a decade (October, 2005) since a major (Category 3 or stronger) hurricane has made landfall in the USA. How much longer will our luck hold out?

I couldn’t have said it better myself. “Climate change eats away at the foundation of virtually every issue Americans worry most about today: the economy, national security, good jobs and public health.”

Could seasonal tornado forecasts be on the horizon? If this is feasible, it will be interesting to see how well it works over the long term.

There’s quite a storm brewing over the National Weather Service in Birmingham, AL installing a television studio. Personally, I welcome the concept and think it’s a cracking idea!

Can doppler radar detect birds? Absolutely. It can also detect smoke from wildfires, insects, bats…and much more!

Ft Worth TX NWS GraphicA very informative graphic from the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, TX explaining why an impressive velocity couplet on radar doesn’t mean “wedge.” A long-lasting cyclic supercell moved across central TX on 26 April 2015 and produced all modes of severe weather including large hail, tornadoes, and flash flooding. Damage surveys revealed all the tornadoes that occurred were of EF-0 intensity. Evaluation of real-time storm chaser reports also reveal 1) the difficulty in accurately deciphering what chasers are seeing with only lightning to illuminate the storm and 2) the hazards for the general public of getting your warning information from unofficial (non NWS and media outlet) weather information sources.

Ft Worth TX NWS Graphic2Yes, it was a remarkable supercell with impressive fluid dynamics and behavior, but rather normal in the number of and intensity of tornadoes.

FINALLY, THE QUIXOTIC

Can you put a price on the opinion of Pope Francis? Apparently some delusional opportunists think so…which is a shame. Unethical also comes to mind.

And on that note, this is a wrap! See you good folks next time!

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!

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