Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The 9th Anniversary of the Greensburg Tornado

At this time nine years ago, thunderstorms were weakening in northwest Oklahoma and meteorologists in the region were wondering if the tornado watch issued for there and for southwest Kansas was going to be a bust.

Unfortunately, the watch turned out to be an accurate forecast.

Between 9:55 and 10pm, the town of 1,500 was reduced to utter rubble. There are F-5 tornadoes like the Wichita-Andover tornado and then there are F-5 Tornadoes like Greensburg. Larry Schwarm game me permission to use the photo below in Warnings.
Larry, a native of Greensburg, noted the surreal feeling of being the tallest intact object simply by standing. 

Up to that time, the Greensburg tornado was the strongest ever observed by the WSR-88D network of radars. 

There were many heroes that evening: Mike Umschied and the warning team at the Dodge City National Weather Service; Merril Teller, Jay Prater, and Dave Freeman, the chief meteorologists of each of the Wichita television stations. 
Their work that evening was television meteorology at its very best.

Also to be thanked are storm chasers like Lanny Dean and Dick McGowan who pulled people out of the wreckage and summoned aid as well as earlier assisting in the warning operation.

The warnings that night saved more than 200 lives. It was one of the all-time pinnacles of achievement of weather science. 

United States Drought Update

This map shows, as of this past Saturday, the amount of additional rain (above the average amounts) needed to break a drought.
It shows the drought that was developing in the winter wheat belt was extinguished by the recent rains.

California is in better shape than it has been in quite a while with more than 4" forecast in the Sierra the next five days. The developing drought in Wyoming will see some relief during this period, also.

In the East, substantial rains have fallen the last four days (since the data cut-off for the drought map).
Unfortunately, I could only get the 7-day (including three days before the drought map cut-off) data. That map shows that helpful rains have fallen in many areas.

The Scientific Argument Against Catastrophic Global Warming

Since the weather has slowed down a bit, we'll cover some non-weather topics the next couple of days.

The linked-to (purple) concise article about why the catastrophic global warming hypothesis flunks the basics of science is very well written. This is my favorite paragraph:

Sound science produces predictions that come true. The science behind climate change does not. Indeed, the experts have been proven wrong time and time again. Around the time of the first Earth Day, scientists were predicting a coming ice age. Then, as global average temperatures rose in the 1980’s, global warming became the big threat. Al Gore in 2005 predicted that the polar ice caps would be gone by 2015, leading to a catastrophic rise in sea levels. But in 2015, the polar ice caps were not gone. 

NYC's westside highway was supposed to have been perennially underwater long ago. Forecasts are changed on the sly. Of those forecasts that were not changed, there is zero acknowledgement of the errors.

Night before last, we got this:

Except it isn't true. There is a temporary blip because of the El Nino (circled, below).
Calling the blip "faster than at any time in the last 2,800 years" is no more valid than citing the down blip (arrow) and calling it, "Sea levels are falling!"

None of this nonsense bears the slightest resemblance to science.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"Was Sad to Get to the End"

You know a reader liked a book when they write on Facebook,

Mike, I just read your book Warnings:The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. Wow! I really loved the book and was sad to get to the end. I've also read your book on the Joplin tornado. Thanks so much for your dedication to warning people and businesses of dangerous weather situations... My dad was staying at his grandma's farm near Falls City the night of the Braniff plane crash you talk about in your book. Small world...

It was written by Marc Gebhard of Dallas and posted here with his permission. You can read more reviews here.

Warnings is the perfect gift for Mom or for the graduate who is interested in weather or just a good non-fiction book. It is uplifting and fun to read.

I am also very proud of my book When the Sirens Were Silent, I do not recommend it as a gift unless you wish to pre-load it on a gift Kindle or Nook (Sirens sold out of the paper version within a few months of its release) and the giftee loves reading about tornadoes. Unlike Warnings, story about the failures of the warning system in the worst tornado in 50+ years is not a happy one.

The Anniversary of Another Tornado Outbreak

On May 3, 1999, there was a huge tornado outbreak in Kansas and Oklahoma. As if any more evidence was needed, it completely validated the National Weather Service's modernization efforts that began in the early and mid-1990s. The warnings would not have been anywhere near as good without the improved technology and training.

One of the most important pieces of data to come from that outbreak was the measurement of a 301 mph wind from mobile Doppler radar near Bridge Creek, Oklahoma.

For more on the Oklahoma storms, click here.

The Wichita NWS is "replaying" the Andover tornado today (scroll down), so they published this map of the three tornado tracks rather than a formal web page.
Then-WeatherData, Inc.'s (now AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions) Jeff House intercepted the tornado in Sumner County (south of Wichita) and his reports were helpful in getting the warnings out. This was especially true since the NWS Wichita radar failed during the storm. Because of the modernization, the radar from Vance, AFB, Oklahoma, still covered the southern Kansas region with high-quality data. One of the goals of the modernization was overlapping coverage for many areas.

To Prevent Confusion...

...this is NOT the commemoration of the Andover tornado from last week that had to be cancelled.

The Andover commemoration was cancelled as we felt the moment had passed for it. For those who have emailed me, my script for the Andover commemoration is here.

And, since it is May 3, happy birthday to my Dad and to Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons!!

Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Just Friday evening, five in Texas lost their lives when a car drove into a flooded area. Sixty-one have died in Texas in flash flooding since April, 2015. The vast majority were in automobiles.

Via Facebook comes this brief video of why you should not drive across a road with flowing water, regardless of depth. Turn around, don't drown!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Rainfall Next Seven Days

A Threat to America's Food Supply

We spoiled Americans too often think our food "comes from the grocery store." Here is a well written story from the New York Times about a threat to our food supply.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

And, They'll Probably Send Astronauts to the Sun at Night

An Air Traffic Controller's Nightmare

Tuesday evening, 26th, the night when more tornadoes were forecast than actually occurred, was an air traffic controller's nightmare. This, via Twitter, is a snapshot of the flights headed to and out of Los Angeles International Airport. All of them are having to go around the complex of thunderstorms in the Great Plains. The few flights in the middle are going to other airports in the region.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Oklahoma Supercell

There is a tremendous supercell south of Chickasha, Oklahoma, that has been trying to generate a large tornado with only partial success.
It has just crossed U.S. 81. The storm is moving ENE. Tornado watch continues for the region.

Third Tornado Watch

A third tornado watch for Oklahoma and the area around Wichita Falls, Texas. Also, until 10pm.

Tornado Watch: Ark-La-Tex

This watch is in effect until 10pm.