Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why Little League Games Need to Be Called Off BEFORE the Sirens Sound

Sigh. Here we go again.

Over the years, I have found that little league umpires (baseball, soccer, football, doesn't matter) are extremely reluctant to call a game for weather no matter how dangerous conditions are. I remember getting into a shouting match with an umpire during son Brandon's little league game as extremely dangerous and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning was approaching and had gotten within three miles.

Now, we have a video of a little league game continuing as tornado sirens sounded last week. That is no surprise to me.
When the threat is major ("high" risk of tornadoes) or there is another substantial severe weather threat, and it is known eleven hours in advance, the games never should have been played. League officials should have called them off in plenty of time to notify players and parents.

My experience is there is a macho thing going on. Umpires and referees don't want to look like wimps by calling the games due to weather. Yet, lightning has been known to cause multiple fatalities in a single game.
Lightning is deadly serious.

Here is some lightning safety information from AccuWeather. NOAA has specific lightning safety information for Little League. Please take it to heart as we get into the heart of junior outdoor athletics.

"I'll Believe Global Warming is a Crisis When the People Telling Me It Is a Crisis Start Acting Like It Is a Crisis"

The title represents Instapundit's Glenn Reynold's sage comment from at least five years ago that highlights the extreme hypocrisy of the catastrophic global warming movement.

Unfortunately, President Obama is the latest example. After giving a speech which said told us -- those of us with the relatively small carbon footprints --
that we have to cut our carbon footprints and our dietary patterns to fight global warming.

Meanwhile, President Obama, when traveling to Italy to give his speech:

  • Took a private jet instead of flying first class commercial.
  • Rode in an SUV.
  • Had a thirteen vehicle (!!) motorcade.
  • Used 22 hotel rooms
Somehow, former Presidents Bush and Carter get along without 13-car motorcades.

The Wall Street Journal's HeatSt put it this way,
In just his trip back and forth to Italy, for his presentation and his vacation, Barack Obama has emitted more than 16 metric tons of carbon – just shy of what an average American emits in a yearAdd to that the motorcade, the internal travel in Italy, and, of course, the villa, and Obama and his wife have easily emitted more carbon in one single week than most Americans will in 2017.

Look, I don't begrudge anyone the use of a private jet. If I could, that is the way I'd travel long distances. I just can't afford it, which is fine. But, then, I don't circle the world on private jets (the most carbon-spewing mode of travel) telling everyone else to cut their carbon footprints. 

There is one word for high profile leaders (Gore, DiCaprio, Obama, Pachauri, etc.): Hypocrites

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sixth Anniversary of the Joplin Tornado

Please take a moment to say a prayer for those who were lost in the Joplin tornado and for those that have done the hard work of making the city's marvelous recovery a reality.

Today is the sixth anniversary of the horrific Joplin tornado. Since we have literally thousands of new readers as a result of last week's tornadoes, I would like to make you aware that my second book was about what went terribly wrong with the warning system that day. Like Warnings, it is written in the
form of a novel but it is an entirely true account of what occurred. If you go to Sirens' Amazon site, you'll see a lot of vitriolic 1-star reviews. Those are from people with or associated with the National Weather Service, which has never come to grips with its institutional role in the the tragedy. Please note: the names of the people associated with the warning system that day are withheld. My goal in writing the book was to fix the problems with the warning system, not embarrass people nor to make them feel worse than they likely already did.

Unfortunately, things have not improved in the ways that I wished after Joplin. The fact is, as the Washington Post documents, NWS tornado warnings have become less accurate since Joplin. Earlier this month, the NWS completely missed a damaging tornado outside of Savannah, Georgia.

If you wish to purchase Sirens, it is available as an inexpensive ebook for Kindle or Nook or the free Amazon Cloud Reader. The latter allows you to read Sirens easily without having a Nook, Kindle or other e-reader device. I intentionally priced the ebook very reasonably at $2.99 because I it to be affordable for people to read. It comes with sets of tornado safety rules for home, schools and the office.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Warnings": The Countdown Continues

While wholesalers like Ingrams may still have a few copies in their warehouses -- so your local bookseller can still order it for a short while longer -- the publisher of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather has run out of copies of the book. So, it will be officially "out of print" shortly.
Here is an excerpt of a review posted on Facebook just twelve hours ago:

To say I enjoyed this book and found it educational would be an understatement!

As of a few minutes ago, Amazon said it was down to eight copies.
If you want to order a copy for a graduate, or for Dad, you may want to order now while hardcover copies are still available. 

Note: The ebook will remain on sale. It has eight extra photos we were not able to get into the hardcover version.

Second note: I still have a couple of boxes of the book. If you want an autographed book, they are available at $25/copy, including taxes and shipping. Email me at  mike at mikesmithenterprises.com and I'll give you the details.

Sunday Fun II: From the Immortal Chuck Yeager

Sunday Fun: An Entirely New Color

The first new color in 200+ years. Details here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

60th Anniversary of the Ruskin Heights Tornado

Today is the 60th anniversary of the most important day of my life: The Ruskin Heights Tornado. I  some personal reflections.

If I had not experienced that tornado,
  • I wouldn't be a meteorologist.
  • I likely wouldn't have married Kathleen. Her home was damaged in the tornado. Ours only had debris in the yard. 
  • The entire course of my life would have been different.
My mother drove my brothers and me down Bennington Street (see below) and day after and I 
was hooked. At the age of five, I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist. Anything with that power had to be pretty interesting!

It was also was one of the most important tornadoes in history. It was probably the tornado that caused the (then) Weather Bureau to get into the formal tornado warning business, after resisting for years. 

My book, Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, begins with the Ruskin Heights Tornado. The red link will take you to that chapter which you can read at no charge. 

There is also a wonderful essay, here, that tells the story from another point of view (including that of some of Kathleen's relatives). Last, but not least, film of the damage and other information about the storm here.

The victims of that tornado did not die in vain because it let to the warning system that has saved many thousands of lives. 

Because of this important occasion, there will be no other blogging today. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

175 mi. Long Tornadic Circulation Across Kansas

While there were a number of tornadoes in Kansas today, there was one circulation that stands out. This evening, there were strong radar indications of tornado(es) in the sparsely populated Flint Hills. There were reports of tornadoes with it from northwest of Medicine Lodge to near Bushong and an unknown number in between.

Medicine Lodge tornado.

Bushong tornado. It is difficult to get a good photo of a tornado at night, the long exposures needed tends to blur them.

It is unknown whether the storm will produce an additional tornado.

It has certainly been a busy week for weather in Kansas.

Tornado Watch: Kansas and Oklahoma

A tornado watch for south central Kansas (including Wichita) and far northern Oklahoma is in effect until 10pm.
There is no chance of a violent (eg, Joplin, Greensburg) tornado but any tornado can be dangerous and destructive. Please keep an eye on the weather.

Significant Risk of Tornadoes or Large Hail, South Central Kansas

A tornado was just reported NW of Medicine Lodge, Kansas.
The area of thunderstorms west of Wichita is slowly strengthening and there is a risk of an additional tornado or two along with large hail as the afternoon progresses into evening. Keep an eye on the weather in the area.

Tornado Watch: Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas

This watch includes the Dallas and Ft. Worth.
This is in effect until 11pm.  Please keep an eye on the weather!

Tornado Watch for Much of Missouri

Please prepare accordingly!

How Good or Bad Was Yesterday's Tornado Forecast?

For consistency with what the general public is hearing, I tend toward using the NWS's tornado forecasts unless I have a significant disagreement like Tuesday, when I posted my own (with a post-forecast validation, like the one I am writing now). FYI: AccuWeather does not do tornado watches or warnings for the general public. That is the job of the NWS. Our warnings are for business and enterprise clients.

The way this works: I make a general severe weather forecast based on tried and true techniques and then I look at the computer models. My forecast indicated a generally high risk of tornadoes in Kansas and Oklahoma. The computer models in the pre-dawn hours Thursday were terrifying: huge, long-track tornadoes hitting population centers.

Still, there was some doubt. Some of the forecast models Thursday morning showed "too many" thunderstorms for many violent tornadoes. If there are too many storms, they "compete" with each other for unstable air and become less prolific tornado and hail producers. Here is a paragraph from yesterday's forecast.
So, SPC came up with a great compromise. A high risk but the lowest probabilities that trigger a high risk (they can go up to 60%). I was very confident there would be tornadoes, my question was severity. So, I (as always) tried to educate people what to do to prepare regardless of where or how strong the tornadoes might be. If your home is destroyed by a tornado, you probably don't care about its scientific intensity.

How was the forecast? The red dots are tornado locations.
While none of these were huge, violent tornadoes (think Greensburg or Joplin), there were many tornadoes in exactly the area where they were forecast, with the exception of the southeast Colorado tornado. Regardless we need to reach out to those who were affected by yesterday's storms. 
"Wichita Eagle" photo of Great Bend-area man looking at his destroyed home and car from yesterday's tornado.
I believe that my prayers and the prayers of many were answered yesterday. No widespread damage; no serious injuries. I regret that events were postponed in Wichita and OKC and throughout the region without a tornado occurring but it sure beats the alternative!

Update on Today's Tornado Risk

The good news is there were so many thunderstorms yesterday and overnight they drove the front south and there is a much weakened tornado risk today than we thought yesterday.

If you live in the 5% area, which includes DFW, OKC and Tulsa, please keep an eye on the weather if thunderstorms approach.

Later today, I'll have an update on yesterday's forecast and we evaluate its quality.

Well, As Long As Leo Says the Science is Correct...