Tag Archives: Tulsa

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For March 28 – April 4, 2016

Greetings everyone! I hope all of you are having a great start to the month of April regardless of where you live. Due to several previous commitments, this post will be shorter than usual. I’m running with a full dance card as of late. On that note, let’s get started.

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


A very thought-provoking read about the need for more women in the top tiers of science.


A good read on climate change in the USA. “With Climate Change, USA States Routinely Achieving New Levels Of Record Warmth.”

The latest US Drought Monitor released 31 March 2016 shows increasing drought conditions in parts of the southern plains, western drought holding fast.

Capture 13El Nino had managed to bring some temporary relief to the brutal ongoing California drought.

The tide is beginning to turn in a significant amount. Citizens of the USA are becoming increasingly concerned about climate change.

Along with countless other coastal cities worldwide, Florida is in a world of hurt regarding sea-level rise.

NASA’s Earth Observatory has new data on the startling decline in Arctic ice.

A fascinating read about a meteorologist with a very important job…forecasting for Mount Everest.

The Tulsa, OK metro was affected by two tornadoes on the evening of 30 March, 2016. Both have been rated at EF-2. The damage survey from the Tulsa NWS can be found here.


Someone tell me this is a joke. GOP Congressman Falsely Claims Study ‘Confirms The Halt In Global Warming.’

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



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Tornado Quest Science Links And Much More For July 5 – 15, 2015

Summer has settled in over the southern plains of the USA with the annual vengeance. With the exception of a recent rainy spell complete with flash flood warnings and plenty of fuel to fire a bumper crop of hungry, vindictive mosquitoes, heat indices have been brutal even without the air temperature reaching the century mark. It’s all part of life in this neck of the woods. Fire and ice. If you’re a native to the region like me, you know it takes a thick skin to “weather the weather.” With the severe weather season winding down overall, it is a perfect time for those of us into the atmospheric sciences to stretch our wings and explore different weather and climate vistas; tropical weather (sans tropical cyclones), global wind patterns, climate change, dual-pol doppler radar case studies, atmospheric chemistry, or the ever-present connection between weather, climate, and life forms of all kinds. There’s an almost endless and ever-changing continuum of fascinating atmospheric science topics for the taking and, if you dare step out of your comfort zone, a great deal of knowledge can be yours. As one of my meteorological mentors emphasized with me over 30 years ago, “Everything about the atmosphere and every science related to it is fascinating. If it isn’t, you’re just a one-trick-pony and need to find another interest.” If variety is the spice of life, it is exceptionally important in the sciences. On a more personal note; I’m temporarily back up to speed for the time being. Ongoing heath issues are the reason I’ve had to spread recent posts out several days apart. Friendly suggestion: never take good health for granted. Thanks for the words of encouragement and concern from followers and online friends. You know who you are…and I know who is on my side. Your support, regardless of whether is in-person or from thousands of miles away, is something I appreciate a great deal. Thank you!

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


A fascinating, but rather technical, read on the limitations of statistics in scientific research.

“For women who aspire to the sciences, a sense of belonging is a powerful force in determining the path they take.”


An excellent essay covering anonymity online…which is becoming more difficult to maintain in lieu of convenience.

Some good news for fellow Firefox users…Mozilla is taking Flash down and hard.


Here’s some awesome physics news on the building blocks of our universe. “World record: Most powerful high-energy particle beam for a neutrino experiment ever generated.


Ten years in the making, NASA’s New Horizons reached the pinnacle of a 3 billion mile voyage to Pluto. The images are amazing!


Smoke from recent Alaskan and Canadian wildfires has been taking a significant toll on contiguous USA air quality.

NASA captured from space the annual population of algae (the blue-green color of the phytoplankton) in the North Atlantic reaching towards its peak.

For seasonal allergy sufferers, the BBC takes a look at the science behind the summer pollen count in the UK.

Worse than allergies…new research shows approximately 9,500 people die every year in London from air pollution.

Both and environmental and atmospheric science essay where the title says it all. “The Oceans can’t take any more: Fundamental change in oceans predicted.”

Suger-coating the issue or avoiding being labeled “doom and gloom” won’t make the potential environmental disaster go away.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry (by some accounts) has been involved in a game of public deception that continues to this day.

Some great news on the renewables front. Kenya is building Africa’s biggest wind power farm to generate one fifth of its power needs.

Want more awesome renewables news? Denmark just generated 140 percent of its electrical needs from wind power.

Here’s even more good renewables news! The price of solar power has once again dropped to a new low!


The National Weather Service recently implemented new graphics on their websites which will make it easier for you to interpret forecasts and how they will impact your day-to-day life.

The National Weather Service needs your feedback in another very important (and potentially life-saving) topic: Severe Weather Impact Graphics. These have, IMHO, been exceptionally effective in giving you important severe thunderstorm and tornado warning impact information that can be found nowhere else. Your local NWS office will issue these products over social media (specifically Twitter). You can also follow @NWSSevereTstorm and/or @NWSTornad0 on Twitter and get every severe thunderstorm warning and tornado warning issued for the USA. This example of a Tornado Warning from the National Weather Service in Tulsa, OK is a good example of a Severe Weather Impact Graphic.

NWS Tulsa Tornado WarningTake careful notice of the plethora of information you get in addition to the warning over your NOAA weather radio. Population, the area in square miles, number of public schools, hospitals, airports, etc. are included. The time the warning is valid til is also included as well as storm information regarding movement and hazards. Media meteorologists (whom you should follow…your personal favorites of your choice) are excellent at conveying this information to the public. Ultimately, your first line of defense in a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning scenario is knowledge and awareness of impacts to your and your loved ones…and that comes from the National Weather Service…and no one else…storm chasers and weather hobbyists in particular.

While on the topic of severe weather warnings and the use (and abuse) of social media to disseminate warning information, here’s a spot-on essay that shows just hot bad the deterioration, specifically with Twitter, has become with bots and “mediarologists” run amok.

The PECAN severe storm research project has been gathering some incredible data this spring across the Great Plains. I can’t wait to see the data presented at conferences!

Good advice. “Keep calm and stop obsessing over weekly changes in ENSO.”

As if the western USA drought wasn’t bad enough, an unusually hot summer is raising the misery index for many residents of Washington to Utah.

The heat has also been problematic in Europe as well. “Heat records all over: The Northern Hemisphere Is In Hot Water.”

“Which Advanced Country Has The Most Climate Sceptics?” No, it’s not the United States. Yes, some of the internet’s most notoriously hostile climate change denialists live there.

As of late, there’s been a rubbish story making the rounds that an “ice age” is imminent. Don’t believe it for a minute.

“Nobel Prize-Winning Scientists Call For Action To Minimize The Substantial Risks Of Climate Change.”

The IPCC is at a crossroads with many key points to consider. Here’s an excellent essay that provides the reader with a concise overview.

Why do people in the path of a hurricane ignore evacuation orders?

Speaking of storm safety, is this tornado photo an awesome childhood experience or reckless parenting? My main concern would be the lightning danger…which is always a potentially lethal killer in every thunderstorm.

Last but certainly not least, here’s some “bookmark worthy” summer heat safety tips from the NWS that will help keep you and your family safe from this underrated killer.


Some people, in spite of being the beneficiaries of broadcast meteorologists, simply can’t wrap their heads around the importance of potentially life-saving information. Sadly, this is an all-too common behavioral phenomenon.


In our contemporary society where technology reigns 24/7…this could be just the ticket to de-stressing from our obsession with being plugged in.

Now dust off those coloring pencils and crayons…and de-stress! 🙂


Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For April 28 – May 5, 2015

After several days of respite from episodes of severe weather, an active week is underway with much of the Great Plains forecast to have multiple rounds of thunderstorms, some of which will be severe. Like many other posts for this time of year, this week will be somewhat brief. Between Skywarn spotting duties, storm chasing, and several writing projects, I’ve got a full dance card. Nevertheless, there are plenty of good science stories for our enjoyment.

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


Mind the apps you download from Google Play…or iTunes for that matter. Many popular ones, without your permission, are collecting a great deal of private data. For you and me, it’s simply a matter of common sense when choosing apps.

Snarks, trolls, & nefarious interlopers run amok in social media. It can be tough enough for adults who are targets but for our youth, much of the anonymous abuse can be particularly brutal. “Young people think friends more at risk of cyberbullying.


Can Instagram be used by citizen scientists to track climate change? You bet! Here’s how.

Here’s a very cool segment on the Diane Rehm show: The Environmental Outlook: Citizen Scientists.


The MESSENGER spacecraft exceeded all expectations before snapping one final image shortly before crashing into the surface of the planet Mercury.

An amazing look at the vastness of space…specifically within our own solar system.


The Oklahoma earthquake and link to fracking gets more interesting by the week. Observing it from the perspective of a native Oklahoman, it’s like watching a slow motion train wreck.

Here’s a spectacular video from the United States Geological Survey of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano putting on quite a show.


Desperate times mean desperate measures. California is tapping into water reserves that are 20,000 years old to help take the edge off their brutal drought.

Tulsa has always had a problem with ozone for as far back as I can remember. As a result, it was no surprise that the former “oil capital” was ranked the 12th worst city in the USA for ozone levels.

A very good read! “The Next Step In Saving The Planet: E.O. Wilson And Sean Carroll In Conversation.”


If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you have many reasons to hate pollen with a passion. Here’s another reason…it may mess with your weather.

Interesting essay with suggestions for dealing with disaster preparedness.

Speaking of disaster preparedness, the USA has been in somewhat of a hurricane “drought” for several years. It’s simply a matter of good luck that we’ve been this fortunate, but it won’t last forever.

Social science (sociology and psychology) and operational meteorology aren’t mutually exclusive. “Troubled Forecasters Seek Way To Improve Tornado Warnings.”

As glaciers in Antarctica retreat, the future results will not be pleasant to deal with.

A very nice interview with Heidi Cullen of Climate Central on the role of oceans in climate change.

An informative, and fun, infographic on five characteristics of science and/or climate change denial.

That’s a wrap for this post! I’ll be writing some posts with subjective analysis of this week’s severe weather setups for the Great Plains, Wednesday and Saturday in particular. If you’re in an area that will be under the gun for severe weather this week, remember to stay in touch with reliable media outlets of your choice, keep your NOAA weather radio handy, and follow your local National Weather Service office and the Storm Prediction Center for the latest severe weather information.


Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 23 – 30, 2015

To say that the severe weather season for the contiguous USA got started with a “bang” is a vast understatement. Nature pulled a fast one on us. What appeared as a potentially big (literally) hail day with a Moderate and Enhanced Risk for parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma turned out to be an event with all modes of severe weather occurring. At the bottom of this post will be sites with up-to-date information relevant to the event. Is this an omen as to what the rest of the severe weather season will bring? Not likely, but then again, nature always has the better hand and the ace up the sleeve. We’ll have to wait and find out. As for preparedness, it’s best to be prepared for emergencies even if one doesn’t occur. There’s plenty of other interesting topics for this week, so let’s get started.

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


A very telling read about scientists studying journalists that cover science.


Once again Twitter shows off its third-rate milquetoast attitude towards trolls and bullying.


The scorch marks left by our rovers are Mars quickly fade as the red planet reclaims traces of our presence.


As a former HVAC technician, I can vouch for the validity of this infographic on the dangers of indoor air pollution.

A new study shows the extent that humankind has tailored the Earth’s landscapes to our own devices at the expense of the rest of the natural world.

The current California drought isn’t helping the already problematic air quality issues.

Did you take part in Earth Hour on 28 March 2015? I did…and didn’t miss anything I thought I might.

Here’s some awesome renewables news from the Lone Star state! Georgetown, Texas will get all of its power from solar and wind. They should win an award. Now, who’s next?


Here’s the latest US Drought Monitor. Unfortunately, little to no change from last week. This past week’s rainfall in the southern plains didn’t fall on the parts of Oklahoma and Texas that need it the most.

Interesting new study based in part on NASA satellite data has shows an increase in large, well-organized thunderstorms is behind increased rainfall in the wettest tropical regions.

A very thought-provoking read on the media’s response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It’s our responsibility to leave a health planet for our children, grandchildren, and the many generations to follow. “Tackling Climate Change ~ For Our Kids.”

Antarctica may have seen a recent high temperature record. 63.5F may not be blistering hot, but it’s toasty for that continent.

Speaking of Antarctica, it’s ice shelves are not in the best of shape.


First, some handy safety tips from AAA on what to do if you’re driving and find yourself caught in a storm. Ideally, the best thing to do is not wind up in that kind of bind in the first place!

Summary pages of the 25 March 2015 severe weather events from the Tulsa, Norman, Springfield, and Little Rock National Weather Service offices. Much of this information is preliminary and updates will be added often.

Here’s an excellent video by broadcast meteorologist George Flickinger of Tulsa’s KJRH discussing the Sand Springs, OK tornado and how the silly myths (rivers and/or hills protecting a town or city) were blown away by this storm.

Nice radar images from the Tulsa NWS of the Sand Springs, OK tornado.

An impressive gallery of images from the Tulsa World of the Sand Springs, OK tornado damage.

An excellent must-read for anyone who really wants to understand the dynamics of severe weather: “The Science Behind The Oklahoma And Arkansas Tornadoes Of March 25, 2015.”

As time allows, I may add a few more links with further information regarding this event.

That’s a wrap for this post! I’d also like to extend a hearty welcome to my new followers…very glad you’re along for the fun!

Tornado Quest Science Links And Much, Much More For March 9 – 16, 2015

With the spring severe weather season around the atmospheric corner, many states are having ‘severe weather awareness’ weeks or events in order to raise public awareness. It may seem ironic after a long winter (at least for the eastern half of the contiguous USA) and spring storms may seem like they’re years away. Unfortunately, they’re not. One of the primary hazards is lightning. Much to the surprise of many, lightning is second only to flash floods in weather related deaths. I’ve included several lightning safety links in this post and hope you’ll find some good information to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Due to time constraints and a very busy schedule, I’ve included a few links this week that didn’t make it into post from the past two previous weeks. Some are from sources that I don’t usually use or have never shared before. Their inclusion in this post is merely to share an opposing opinion, information, and/or make a point…and in no way conveys any degree of endorsement.

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


Google it taking a new view of web site rankings that, overall, is much welcomed. As expected, there’s a backlash that’s quite amusing to observe. Other viewpoints take a different stance.


I couldn’t have said it better myself. “One thing is certain: if our educational system does not honestly and explicitly promote the central tenet of science—that nothing is sacred—then we encourage myth and prejudice to endure.”


Every so often a good primer on citizen science comes along…and this is a good one.

In March and September, 2015, you have a cool opportunity to help measure how our night skies are changing.


Most everyone’s shower wastes a lot of water and energy. Here’s a good read with tips to help you save water and money.

Making your home greener on a budget is easier than you think.

This can’t come to fruition soon enough. “Wind could power a third of America’s electricity by 2015.”


The Oklahoma “quakegate” plot thickens. “Under pressure? Do emails tell of earthquake information sharing or state, industry interference?”

Here’s a nice look at Tonga’s newly formed volcanic island. Time to update your world maps.


A concise overview of recent decisions the IPCC made about its future.

Some climate scientists on both sides of the spectrum are concerned that, “investigations on both sides of the debate tread on the academic freedom of researchers everywhere.” I concur…in spite of my own opinions which are in agreement with the vast majority of climate scientists.

Spin doctors contribute nothing beneficial to the public, but manufacture a great deal of nefarious noise where everyone who disagrees is guilty until they prove themselves innocent.

While on that topic, here’s an interesting look back at what climate change deniers said of the IPCC twenty years ago.

Climate change is giving the term “Baked Alaska” a whole new meaning.

How Many Tornadoes Has Your City Seen Since 1950? The answer may surprise you.

As for the coming severe weather season, here’s an interesting read on an experimental tornado forecasting technique.

Boston set a record with 108.6 inches of snow this year…to date. If you do the math, that’s nine feet (and change) of snow!


Lightning safety information from the National Weather Service. Top notch info.

An excellent 20 page PDF file from the National Weather Service: “Thunderstorms, Lightning, Tornadoes…Nature’s Most Violent Storms

Personal lightning safety information links from the National Lightning Safety Institute.

NCAA lightning safety information specifically geared towards outdoor sporting events.

Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors website.


Being a native Oklahoman has its perks…and drawbacks. You’re naturally inclined to have a sense of humor about your state, being an “Okie,” and the never-ending jokes. I only wish this were a joke.

And on that note, that’s a wrap for this post. I’d like to welcome my new followers…glad you’re along for the fun! I’m in this for the long haul and, having just had my 6th anniversary on Twitter, my 17th anniversary of Tornado Quest being online, and my 33rd anniversary of being a storm chaser, am more than a little excited to be working on some nice stuff for weather and science buffs from all walks of life. We are just getting started!


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For June 3 – 10, 2014

It’s been an active week across the plains for severe weather and badly needed rains. In spite of the number of severe weather events, tornadoes have been relatively far and few between. A frequent storm mode known as a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) has often been the dominant storm mode. These generally bring a lot of heavy rains, frequent lightning, and damaging straight-line winds. They’re also notorious for traveling several hundreds of miles across the continent. In the past week, at least two MCS storms formed from individual supercells that morphed into a massive rain-maker with high winds…some traveling as far as initiation in eastern CO, across KS and OK, and eventually winding up in northern FL. In spite of the heavy rains that come with these systems, many drought ravaged states are still running a serious deficit of several inches. As is the case during this time of year, this will be shorter post…I’ve got a full dance card & no one has yet to have invented the 30 hour day.

Here are this week’s links for your consideration…


Part of infant Earth survived moon’s shocking birth. You can read more here about the moon’s origins.

Check out these amazing Vine videos taken from the ISS.


A high-five to Vermont for being the first US state to create a long-term climate plan.

With 300,000 mirrors, the world’s largest thermal solar plant is under construction in the Mojave.

Plastiglomerate…a new word to add to your geology glossary.


As I stated earlier in this post, many plains states are still in a serious rainfall deficit in spite of recent precipitation. Here’s a look at the latest US Drought Monitor. Yes, there’s some improvement (as of June 5) but we still have a long way to go.

Many of the storm systems that have traveled across several states have caused flooding. The American Red Cross has a very nice free app that has some great flood safety info.

A nice meteorological retrospective from the Tulsa NWS of the OK June 8, 1974 tornado outbreak which spearheaded my interest in all things weather. Had this outbreak taken place today, the amount of damage, injuries, and possibly fatalities would be much, much higher. It’s certainly a day I’ll never forget.

If you need to be convinced that standing under a tree is dangerous when lightning is present, this video should help out.

A very thought provoking read on the proliferation of amateur weather forecasting websites. I’ll try not to take sides, but my most honest advice to the general public is caveat emptor.

The designations of County Warning Areas (CWA) for the National Weather Service has always puzzled me and, often, makes little sense how they are set up. Here’s an example of a warning faux pas.

A very compelling video shared on Twitter from the Sacramento NWS: How hot does it get in a parked car? Watch this and find out. While tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, etc. get all the attention, heat kills more people annually than all the other weather dangers (including lightning) combined.

Good read on climate imbalance: Disparity in the quality of research by contrarian and mainstream climate scientists.

Finally, an optimistic view on seven reasons the US should succeed on climate change.

A sincere “Thank You” to all the awesome folks out there who have RT/Mentioned me on Twitter. I’d also like to extend a welcome to my new followers. Glad you’re along for the ride!

Have a great week everyone…and I’ll see you sooner than later…


Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links For May 20 – 27, 2014

This is traditionally a very busy time for me with many projects calling for attention as well as some very active weather…so this will be a very abbreviated post. If time allows, I may add a few links later in the week.

Here are this week’s links for your consideration…


After many decades in citizen science, I can tell you it’s anything but weird and wild…but it’s certainly in it’s golden age with unbridled curiosity…and nothing but good things can come from that.

Popular Science has a list of 5 apps for a very cool citizen science summer.

If you’re into astronomy and citizen science, your help is needed in evaluating images from the Spitzer space telescope.


Apparently, Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur. The child paleontologist in me is crushed.


Here’s a fascinating site from the USGS that shows the location of wind farms across the USA!

Across the Atlantic, Sweden is set to take the lead in Nordic wind power.


For the northern hemisphere, summer is on the doorstep. Summer heat kills more people every year that tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, et al. combined. Here’s some very important information on this “silent killer.”

The Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, like many regions, are taking a shellacking from an relentless drought.

NOAA’s Carbon Tracker is a fascinating tool. Here’s a look a the details.

A look at Europe’s next generation of weather satellites.

The World Meteorological Organization is taking action on storm surges which kill more people that tropical cyclone winds or earthquake-generated tsunamis.

NOAA has issued their outlook (not a forecast) for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. Near normal or below normal number of tropical cyclones are expected. The caveat is the simple fact that it takes only one intense hurricane (i.e. Andrew) to devastate a region and cause billions in damage.

We’re at the 30th anniversary of the devastating Memorial Day flood in Tulsa, OK…the deadliest natural disaster in the city’s history. Here’s a look back from the Tulsa World and the Tulsa Nat’l Weather Service. To date, it’s the deadliest natural disaster in Tulsa’s history with 14 fatalities.

That’s a wrap for this post!


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

It’s hard to believe that the first month of a new year is half over, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun. I’m running a couple of days late on my weekly post due to previous commitments that took far too much time to complete. At least the journey to the finished product was enjoyable.

Here’s a look at a few links for this week…


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revamped its Citizen Science website, “to assist the public in conducting scientific research and collecting data to better understand their local environment and address issues of concern.” Information via the SciStarter blog. 

This article from SciStarter looks at the connections between children, citizen science, privacy, and COPPA compliance.


Net neutrality took a big blow this week.


Ten years of amazing Rover action on Mars…and here’s to many more!

When you can’t measure the wind speed and direction on other planets, just use the sand dunes as “windsocks.”


Make no mistake about it. There’s no such thing as “clean” coal. Here’s a thought-provoking read on Australia’s use of the old-hat fossil fuel.


NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center has released their latest State Of The Climate report. Some fascinating data here. It is a must-read.

A very good read that’s more than timely ~ Global Warming: The Conversation We Need To Have

A very thoughtful essay on attacks targeting climate scientists.

While North America froze during the recent “polar vortex” cold snap, Scandinavia basked in unusually mild winter weather.

There are many ways of recording temperature on the Earth. Here’s a good read on utilizing satellites for that purpose.

The Tulsa World has a very nice “behind the scenes” look at the Tulsa, OK National Weather Service including some important food for thought (i.e. the silly myth that Tulsa can’t be hit by a major (EF-4/5) tornado).

And speaking of potential disasters, 2013 was a big year for major disasters of all kinds across all points on the globe.

Finally, “We The Geeks” is an enjoyable video to watch with a host of great guests. And yes, they talked about the much maligned “polar vortex” that so many curmudgeons are dismissing.

Have a great week everybody…






An inside look at the Tulsa NWS @NWStulsa office from Tulsa World h/t @FredOrth

It’s not often that we get an inside look at the operations of a National Weather Service office. The Tulsa World has written a nice article that takes us inside the Tulsa National Weather Service that not only gives a glimpse of the day-to-day operations, but points out some things that make the Tulsa office unique compared to other NWSFO & a badly needed reminder that Tulsa is just as vulnerable as Moore, OK or Joplin, MO to a devastating tornado. As the 2013 severe weather season wound down across the great plains, I thought back about the events of this past spring and years past and couldn’t help but think, “There’s no reason why those devastating events can’t happen here.” Reading the article brought back a flood of great memories. If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share some with you.

My first visits to the Tulsa NWSFO were back in the mid 1970’s when it was still located at the southwestern portion of Tulsa International Airport. By today’s standards, the equipment was primitive. Upon entering the main forecast room, I felt like I’d entered a “nirvana” of sorts. Looking back, I wonder how, in such cramped conditions, they managed to crank out forecasts and handle the mayhem and multi-tasking that probably took place during many severe weather events. One wall held countless weather maps, most transmitted by facsimile, others carefully drawn with hand analysis. To the right was the teletype room that so often was filled with the din of machines banging out various weather products. The smell of the oil, ink, and heat from those teletypes is still so vivid to me. Across the hall was the radar room. Always darkened, the radar sat with its WSR-57 scope softly glowing. Rain showers and thunderstorms appeared like ghostly blobs on the screen. Farther back were the Meteorologist In Charge office and another separate room. Overall, the working conditions were cramped, dated, and lacking any creature comforts. Yet for 365 days a year and 24/7, the Tulsa meteorologists worked diligently at forecasts, hourly observations, and quite often, life saving warnings.

I’ll never forget the meteorologists that took me under their wings and patiently answered the incessant questions of this wide-eyed 14-year-old weather geek. Ben Barker was the Meteorologists In Charge (MIC) and he, along with Lloyd Spyres and Jim Irwin, were never anything but gracious and welcoming to me on the countless visits I made there over an eight year period. Ben Barker helped me with a career planning project for my 8th grade Civics & Economics class and gave me my first radiosonde…which I still treasure with a great deal of sentiment. Jim Irwin was always happy to help explain the technical side of things. I vividly recall him taking 30 minutes of his time to explain to me how to understand and interpret SKEW-T data. Lloyd Spyres was also such a gracious mentor in so many ways. On one of my last visits with Lloyd, he listened to my vivid account of the damage from the Mannford and Morris, OK tornadoes of April, 1984. After patiently listening to me, he smiled and agreed that severe weather is indeed interesting but if tornadoes and severe thunderstorms were the only part of the atmospheric sciences that I was interested in, I was selling myself short and missing out on the main point of meteorology…the entire planet is covered in this fantastic ocean of air we live at the bottom of…and there’s always interesting weather going on. “It’s all interesting, everything about the physics of the atmosphere is fascinating. It’s not just about storms, that’s not the point.”

It’s all interesting. Those words have stuck in my mind for almost 30 years. On rare occasions, I have to remind myself of the sage wisdom that Lloyd shared with me that day. I very subtle ways, Ben Barker and Jim Irwin also conveyed the same message to me. All too often in social media, I’ll come across folks who mean well, but whose entire interest in weather encompasses little more than severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. It’s not my place to “correct” them, but I have to bite my tongue and realize that I was like that as a young teenager. Still, if a person’s only interested in severe weather, they’re missing the point. All weather is  interesting.

My thanks to Tulsa World for a nice article about the hard-working folks at the Tulsa NWS and @FredOrth for sharing this article with me.

I’m looking forward to a rainy Friday tomorrow and a pleasant warm-up for the weekend. Why? Because it’s weather…and all weather is interesting.



Tornado Quest Gee-O-Science Links for June 9 – 22, 2013

Across the great plains of North America, signs of the “death ridge” are settling in as severe weather events across the southern plains become less frequent. After the incredible & violent spectacle of May, a ridge of high pressure is a welcome relief to many. While we (specifically Oklahomans) are licking our wounds, lets take a look at the past two weeks. A few articles go back to January, 2013…all still relevant and timely…I simply didn’t have the time to include them in previous posts. Enjoy!


A very enjoyable episode of “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” where the relationship between humans and chimpanzees is explored.

The U.S. science fleet is on the budget chopping block and, in just a little over a decade, will be half its current size.

Should parents worry about energy drinks? Consider the fact that caffeine is an unregulated drug with behavioral & physiological ramifications…

Summer solstice is here. Find out where our solstice traditions come from.

Speaking of summer, it’s a great time to get outdoors with your kids and explore nature. From plants to insects to clouds, there’s always something interesting.


Kansas’ new science standards finally make evolution and climate change a key part of science education curriculum. Hopefully, many other states will follow suit very soon.


I use two browsers…Firefox & Opera…and no others. For both, Ghostery is a must-have add on. As you use Ghostery, you’ll be shocked at the numbers of trackers, ads, etc. that follow you online.

DuckDuckGo is a favorite search engine of mine. Read how a physicist made a search engine that doesn’t follow you.

This could easily fall under atmospheric science, citizen science, or technology. I decided to go with the latter. Smart phones can be used to gather weather data across the world.

The perfect length of a tweet? 140 characters? Wrong…71-100.


Twice the daily high/low temperature forecasting fun…but on Mars!

A fun read with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss about the origins of the universe.

Not all of the energy blasted toward the Earth in a CME makes it here. Some of that mass goes right back into the sun.


A tale of two arid cities. Phoenix has plentiful water. Tuscon, well, they’re a different story.

You can never start recycling too young. Read how school kids  convinced Crayola to start recycling their pens.


Take a look at the Americas on June 21…summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.

Rare noctilucent clouds have been appearing earlier and farther south than ever before.

Summer heat means summer ozone levels go through the roof in many metro areas. Tulsa is just one of many American cities that has a good website with beneficial info.

Here’s some citizen science & atmospheric science rolled into one. Join CoCoRaHS and become a part of  the largest provider of daily precipitation observations in the United States. CoCoRaHS also exists in Canada too!

NASA is taking part in a very cool research project to ascertain the role of Saharan dust in Atlantic tropical cyclone formation.

From Asia to Europe, several cities could be at risk of flooding induced by climate change.

As our climate changes, interactions with warming ocean waters are responsible for much of the ice sheet melting in Antarctica.

Researchers have traced the cause of vast melting of the Greenland ice sheet in the summer of 2012 to changes in the jet stream.

NASA is tracking greenhouse gases released as Artic ice melts.

Some climate scientists are wondering if a sleeping climate giant is stirring in the Artic. Chances are, the answer is, “yes.”

Some research shows global cooling (116 million years ago) was as significant as current global warming.

As of this writing, Alaska is in the midst of a heat wave with temps that would make southerners proud.

The amount of dust blowing across western parts of the USA is increasing. Judging by the number of dust storms/haboobs in recent years, it’s hard to ignore the upswing in frequency.

Long-term drought conditions in the southwest USA can have far reaching effects on forests around the globe.

Plants are amazingly sophisticated forms of life & can even help in detecting drought conditions.

Here’s an interesting read on the surprising role of CO2 in changes on the African savanna.

During mid June, Alaska had some record high temperatures. Take a look at a rare and almost cloud-free satellite image of the USA’s largest state.

Check out this fascinating time-lapse view of the birth of a supercell thunderstorm.

The Tulsa National Weather Service has issued their Spring 2013 edition of the Tulsa Tornado Tribune (12 page PDF file). From May snow to May tornadoes, the Tulsa forecast area had it all.

Broadcast meteorologist James Spann gets right to the point when he explains why Facebook is a horrible platform for disseminating life-saving severe weather warnings.  Twitter & Google+ are the ways to go.

Structural engineers have released detailed studies of the damage pattern from the 22 May 2011 Joplin, MO tornado. Much of the damage and deaths can be attributed to winds less than 135 mph. That should come as no surprise since construction (both residential and commercial) is largely substandard.

One month on…a look back at the severe weather in OK in May 19 and May 20 including the devastating Moore, OK EF-5 tornado.

Chuck Doswell chimes in on the recent events in storm chasing with a must-read essay: Storm Chasing’s Day Of Infamy

Dr. Doswell also wrote a good piece on a topic that will be around for some time to come: The EF-Scale Ratings Brouhaha


Surely the parties in question didn’t believe that any intelligent person would condone this racket…especially in the 21st century.

After taking in the above rubbish of dubious integrity, the inimitable Richard Dawkins has a concise reply regarding science in general.

Midsummer is upon us. Scandinavians, Swedes in particular, celebrate the longest day for the northern hemisphere in a big way and far better than anyone else.

A belated “happy summer solstice” for you folks in the Northern Hemisphere. Stay cool, hydrated, & enjoy the warmth. Each day from now until late December will be slightly shorter…and winter will be here before we know it. I’ll have a post out next week with more goodies, including a quick retrospective on the May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK tornado event.


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