Sunday, August 18, 2019

Classic "Hook" Echo Over the Flint Hills

Several tornadoes occurred in the Kansas Flint Hills Thursday evening. I was so busy I didn't get the chance to post this at the time. On the left is one of the most classic "hook echoes" (a radar signature of a tornado) you'll ever see. On the right is the Doppler wind data. There is a "couplet" that reveals the concentrated, rotating winds of the tornado (circled).

Both the hook and the tornado it represented came and went quickly.

Friday, August 16, 2019

$5 Credit on "Warnings"

Amazon appears to be offering a $5 credit that can be used on the ebook version of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. With the coupon, it is only $4.50. The ebook version has additional photos we were not able to get into the hardcover version.
You do not need a Kindle to read the ebook version. You can read it on your iPhone or iPad with their Kindle app or on your laptop or desktop with the free Kindle Cloud Reader.
Upload it now and you can read it this weekend. 

One More Time: Hurricanes Are Not Getting More Frequent

Here is the definitive presentation as to tropical storm and hurricane frequency since the beginning of the satellite era (i.e., so that all storms, even in remote areas, are detected).
As you can see for yourself, there simply is no upward trend.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Update: Kansas Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Threat

click to enlarge
If you live in the yellow area, please keep up on the weather after 5pm. Within the orange area any thunderstorms could produce a tornado, giant hail and thunderstorm-generated wind gusts up to 75 mph.

Power failures are possible in the orange area so I recommend charging you laptop and smartphone now. If your car is super low on fuel and/or you want to obtain some cash better to do it now than after power fails.

For additional information, please follow me on Twitter @usweatherexpert.

Great Plains Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Threat

For our many readers in this area, there is a threat of tornadoes, large hail, and damaging thunderstorm-related winds in the outlined area through 3am. 

UPDATE: 11:40am. The NWS's Storm Prediction Center evidently is now seeing the same things I have been.
Orange is the highest probability area for giant hail and thunderstorm wind gusts of 75 mph or more. The yellow area may have hail greater than 1" and gusts to 60 mph or more. There is also a chance of tornadoes, especially in the orange area.

SECOND UPDATE, 7:20A Friday. There is a video of some of the tornadoes here. My forecast was too far west. It would have been much better if it had been shifted ~50 miles east. I'd give this one a C+. Actual reports are below. Unfortunately, some of the tornado reports are missing. 

More And More, Eisenhower's "Second Warning" Is Coming True

Ike and Mamie Eisenhower at the White House
Via Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas 
In his farewell address, President Eisenhower gave our nation two warnings. Although we usually only hear about one of them, both have proven prescient:
  • The caution about the "military-industrial complex" becomes more dire all of the time. We are far overextended in the Middle East. From what I can tell, many in the military like it that way (people in combat tend to get promoted more than during times of peace) and the weapons suppliers grow their already-large businesses (even though some of those weapons are extraordinarily expensive and are of dubious value). The media periodically mentions this warning from Eisenhower, so at least the citizenry is aware. 
  • The far less well known warning is the one about what I call "Big Science." We almost never hear of it. 
As a technology publication put it last year:

President Eisenhower surrounded himself with brilliant academics, he knew that science ended World War II without costing another million American lives, but by 1961 he also knew “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”
He worried about that government control over funding would change the nature of the “free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery.” And it has. If you want to find happiness in an academia, find a humanities professor at a small college. If you want to find pressure, go to a biology lab at Johns Hopkins, which needs $300 million a year from the NIH if it’s going to put up new buildings and recruit key names who can then raise more money from NIH.
I bring this up because more and more are noticing what is a serious issue for the future of our children and grandchildren. Without innovation, it will be nearly impossible to maintain or improve the standard of living for them and for the rest of the world. More than that, these days, scientists themselves are actively calling for censorship and muting of dissident voices

With this in mind, I have two thoughts that I believe are worth sharing.
  1. From a policy standpoint, how do we encourage entrepreneurs, especially in science, technology and engineering? I am not talking about another silly iPhone game app. I'm talking about things that will matter. 
  2. How we do fund large projects other than directly through government (e.g., National Academy of Science)? 
Regarding the second thought, some universities seem reluctant to obtain funding from large companies, the obvious source of funding for large projects. Okay, that's fine, I suppose. 

But how about this? The large universities either directly fund research from their (tax-free) endowments or those endowments become taxable? Otherwise, what are they for? 

The top four university endowments total more than $100,000,000,000! You can fund a lot of research with that kind of dough. 

In my perfect world, to encourage outside the box thinking, the universities would appoint a committee of independent business people and innovators who would make the grants so, to the extent possible, they money would go to genuine innovation and not be subject to the intense pressure toward the "political correctness" large universities seem to enjoy applying to themselves.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Big Climate Publishes Its 'Enemies' List

Many of us have been expecting this. 
Over the last six months, I've written a number of articles (here and here, for two of them) about how the field of climate studies is no longer primarily about science and is thus not worthy of that moniker.

Now Nature, which claims to be the world's premier scientific journal, has referenced a list of climate enemies, err, "contrarians." My [sarcasm] favorite words [sarc off] in the article are,

A third decisive technological factor is the paradigm of new media and the nearly boundless scalability of content distribution across the internet. Even in the case where individuals have complete control in choosing their sources of information, they are nevertheless susceptible to significant disparities in content production in addition to being susceptible to media coverage that is disproportionate to the authority and number of scientists holding the consensus viewpoint. ...

[I guess they view freedom of speech as a bad thing.]

These results [that skeptics, including those with PhD's in climate, are getting informally published] demonstrate why climate scientists should increasingly exert their authority in scientific and public discourse, and why professional journalists and editors should adjust the disproportionate attention given to contrarians.

Really? Think about the totality of what you have read about climate recently: You aren't sufficiently informed as to what "consensus" climate opinion says?

Later the article says,

To address this literature gap, we focus our analysis on a group of 386 prominent contrarians, denoted both individually and collectively by CCC.

The link to the "group" is not in the article itself. Here is the list. It was compiled by, published on Twitter, and is courtesy of Dr. Ryan Maue. I now understand why Nature didn't directly link to the list: it is hilarious. On the same list as distinguished scientists like Dr. Ross McKitrick, Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr., and Dr. Judith Curry are Vice President Mike Pence and Alex Jones (Alex Jones??).

Evidently, Nature cannot tell the difference between politicians and genuine climate scientists. And, to be in its climate clique one must toe the party line and at least profess to believe that global warming is the functional equivalent to a moon-sized asteroid striking the earth (by the way, we foolishly spend far more on global warming than asteroid defense). The fact that the PhD's listed have hundreds of peer-reviewed papers about climate in prestigious journals apparently does not matter to Nature.

This is not how a legitimate science behaves. Not even close. 

Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., has already sent a demand for correction:
Via Twitter
I don't see how this will get any better as long as Big Climate dominates the field. There are far too many institutional forces that depend on global warming panic to keep their funding. What possible incentive does a university's 'climate science institute' have to disprove the "consensus," given that doing so will, a) create ridicule, b) lead to ostracism, and, c) kill the funding of the institute?

So, since we are told, "the science is settled," I recommend the U.S. government cut its funding of the study of climate by 80% and the remaining 20% (still a large number) be directed by an independent board composed of prominent members of the climate study field with a wide variety of views.

When Are We Going to Get Serious About Asteroid Defense?

Jupiter was hit Wednesday.

Those Huge Yachts Really Cut Your Carbon Footprint!

More and more whole point of the global warming movement, as another person tweeted last week, is for extraordinarily rich people to flout their carbon footprints at the best of us.

Monday, August 12, 2019

One More Time: Hurricane Names

Now that we are, statistically, getting into the thick of hurricane season (until mid-October) we have to wade through what seems to be the inevitable annual silliness regarding hurricane names.

From last week's Wall Street Journal:
entire article at the purple link, may be behind a paywall
The gist of the article is that hurricanes should be named after men rather than after women. The author writes,

I started to wonder if the unimposing names we give hurricanes might be inadvertently causing people not to evacuate. 
Sure enough, a 2014 National Academy of Sciences study found the death tolls from hurricanes with feminine names tend to be higher than from those with masculine names. The scientists hypothesized that male names are scarier than female ones and tested it by asking subjects to estimate the intensity of hypothetical storms. Sure enough, they expected Dolly to be weaker than Omar. 
Okay, I'm not sure that Hurricane Mata Hari would be viewed as less dangerous than Hurricane Bruce but this is well-intended and should be taken into consideration.

But, then, the article goes off the rails:

It’s high time the WMO updated its names. One solution would be to name storms after predators—say, Tiger or Shark. If Omar is scarier then Dolly, Shark is surely scarier than Omar. Or maybe the WMO can take inspiration from horror films. Tropical storm Poltergeist. Hurricane Slasher. Or Demon, Devil, Jaws, Chucky...
So naming a Category 5 storm with winds of 156 mph Annie is not a good idea. It’s a lot like putting a rose rather than a skull and crossbones on a bottle of poison.
I often wonder why people who write articles like this (he is an advertising person from Cleveland) don't bother to research the history of hurricane naming before they make these suggestions? Let me briefly recap:

During World War II, U.S. military meteorologists named hurricanes after their girlfriends. The naming was popularized in George R. Stewart's best seller Storm. It rapidly caught on because it was a lot earlier to remember "Hurricane Betsy" than "than hurricane located at 74.4°W and 19.1°N." Since all hurricanes were named after women, the "men's names are more scary than women's names" was not a consideration. The U.S. military, after the war, gave hurricanes names like "Dog" and they found those were less memorable than using women's names.

Jimmy Carter was elected President in 1977. He selected Juanita Krepps as his Secretary of Commerce (DoC). The U.S. National Weather Service is under the DoC. Like everyone else who seems to touch this topic, she didn't bother to research the history of hurricane naming. Either she was told or someone got the idea that "hurricanes are named after women because they, like women, are unpredictable." She then ordered that hurricanes must also be named after men.

While we weren't as good at forecasting hurricanes then as we are today, the meteorologists who did a fantastic job of forecasting monster hurricanes like Carla (1964) and Camille (1969) were shocked and insulted to learn the Secretary of the DoC Krepps (their boss) thought hurricanes were "unpredictable."

In spite of almost yearly suggestions to change the naming system, the naming system has remained the same since the 1970's.

So, what are the issues with naming weak hurricanes after women and strong hurricanes after men as the article recommends?
  • The names have to be decided years in advance (I won't go into all of the reasons why).
  • We don't know in 2019 whether the fourth tropical system of 2023 will be a weak tropical storm or a monster like Andrew. 
  • Most importantly, there is no such thing as a 'weak' tropical storm or hurricane. All genuine hurricanes (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) have dangerous, damaging winds. But, many tropical storms, while they have weaker winds (but often enough to cause power failures) produce serious flooding rains.  
As indicated above, there is, perhaps, merit in naming storms exclusively after men or women. 

Beyond that, meteorologists have an incredibly difficult task at trying to educate and reeducate a highly mobile population the differences between hurricane watch, hurricane warning, tropical storm watch, tropical storm warning, storm surge watch, storm surge warning, flood watch, flash flood warning etc., etc. Changing the naming system every few years (as the publications that publish these articles seem to desire, perhaps because they sell newspapers) to one that is supposedly correlated to storm intensity will make a very difficult job virtually impossible. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

"Particularly Dangerous Situation" In Northern Kansas and Southern Nebraska

This is an exceedingly rare type of severe thunderstorm watch.
So, tornadoes are possible along with wind gusts of 85 mph. Two inch hail driven by winds of that nature can cause severe damage. Power failures likely. 

Attention: Nebraska and Kansas

If you are in Nebraska along/south of I-80 and Kansas along/north of I-70, it could be a night of dangerous winds and large hail. Graphic via NWS SPC.

Here is the radar as of 9:20pm CDT. This cluster is forecast to grow in size and move east during the night.

UPDATE: 9:40pm, severe thunderstorm watch for wind gusts to 85 mph and a "couple of tornadoes" in effect until 5am.

Tornado and Damaging Wind Risk Late This Afternoon and Tonight

First, the two tornado risk areas (in brown).
Each area has a significant risk of tornadoes.

In addition, the hatched red areas have the potential for wind gusts in excess of 75 mph.
Please prepare accordingly and monitor reliable sources for storm warnings.

Sunday Fun: Only in Florida

Wacky Florida.
The full story is here.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

What Is Really Behind the Mass Shootings?

I'm not much of a philosopher but this is essential reading: America's Nervous Breakdown. I agree with the hypothesis that the collapse of Christianity is behind many of the issues in contemporary America.

I'd take it a step further: The Judeo-Christian ethic is essential for liberty and free enterprise to work properly. Today, we live in an era without shame. I've long argued that public company executive compensation is way too high. The same is true with some cases of essential drug pricing. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be done.

Free enterprise and liberty cannot work if everyone lives only for themselves. We need community and a feeling that we are something more than just ourselves.

And, as was published on Twitter yesterday:
Want to better yourself? Read a book. 

Additional Note: More essential reading published just a few hours ago. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

The First Chapter of "Warnings"

If you are interested in learning more about my book, Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, you can read the first chapter, free, here.

If you have a Kindle, here is a link to the ebook version. You may wish to consider it because it has extra color photos that we were not able to get into the hardcover version. Whichever you choose, you'll find it is a great read.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Mess That Is the FCC's WEA Storm Warnings

As a person who spent 47-years working to create improved
life-saving storm warnings, incidents like this morning's 
are inexcusable. 

I had dental surgery today and as we were headed home my iPhone began screaming as the "Emergency Alert" appeared. The Emergency Alert is part of the FCC's WEA system.
Only one problem: there was no rain falling in the area and there was obviously no flooding threat. These FCC relays of National Weather Service warnings are allegedly site-specific (note the "this area" wording). There was obviously a big problem because there was zero threat of flooding in my location. 

I was confident the National Weather Service wouldn't have issued a frivolous flash flood warning and that the problem was elsewhere. So, I decided to investigate.

The first clue was the AccuWeather was not displaying the flash flood warning, just an earlier special weather statement for Wichita (under "notification center") on my screen. AccuWeather displays NWS warnings as fast or faster than the WEA, so the fact there was no flash flood warning for my location indicated the error was with WEA.

AccuWeather uses the National Weather Service's "polygon" warnings which are more specific and have fewer false alarms than the old county warnings. The false WEA flash flood warning was also not being displayed on AccuWeather's app.
No flash flood warning displayed
So, where was the flash flood warning? It was for Butler County, Kansas. I was in Sedgwick County and the closest I got to the west edge of the warning was 4 miles.
This was yet another false alarm generated by the Federal Communications Commission's WEA. The WEA system has been plagued with problems from the day it was rolled out.
WEA was and is a government 'solution' in search of a problem. Private sector companies like AccuWeather and WeatherCall provide a far superior storm warning product (site-specific relay of NWS warnings with minimal false alarms) than the WEA system.

The issue is that every time phones scream for no reason, the credibility of the vital warning system takes a hit.
Either the FCC needs to fix this system 
or it needs to go away. 

Tropical Rains Across Kansas This Morning

More than ten inches of rain have fallen in parts of eastern Kansas including the closure of U.S. 160 south of Cherryvale.
Via Twitter
Radar-measured rainfalls in southeast Kansas depicted below. Maximum measurement is around 11 inches. the area of the above road closure is below the "flash flood warning" label.

Rainfall map over a wider area of eastern Kansas and western Ozarks.

Here at the Smith House, heavy rains have been falling since shortly before 8am.
Unfortunately, more rain is forecast for eastern Kansas and the Ozarks from now until Saturday morning. That orange area is an additional four inches.

Update: 8:45a, South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad tracks washed out at Cherryvale. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Worst Case of Hypocrisy in the History of Humanity?

In the immortal words of Dr. Glenn Reynolds, 
I'll believe global warming is a crisis when the people 
telling me it's a crisis start acting like its a crisis.
Some details on Google's completely unnecessary global warming "camp" that occurred last week at a swanky Italian resort:
Google founder Sergey Brin doesn't fly a Cessna Citation or similar business jet, he flies his own Boeing 767 jumbo jet -- the kind that can fly 370 normal people. 
Sergey Brin's 767
All of this perfectly leads to this tweet:
 The "global warming is a crisis" crowd may be the worst case of hypocrisy in the history of humanity.