Friday, July 19, 2019

Unfortunately, The Derecho Forecast Was Correct

Including the forecast of widespread power failures. About 72,000 customers are without power.
That is about 250,000 people. It will be quite a while before they all have power again.

Dangerous Weather Forecast For the Upper Midwest

Tornadoes and a derecho -- which is a long-lived, destructive windstorm -- are forecast for the Upper Midwest.

Tornado Risk
The significant threshold is the brown, 5%, area. The 15% is a high risk of tornadoes. The hatched area is where violent tornadoes are forecast to occur.

Damaging Thunderstorm Winds
On this map, the significant threshold is the yellow (15%). The peak probability is 45%, which is high risk of damaging winds of more than 60 mph. The hatched area is where thunderstorm winds gusts of more than 75mph are forecast to occur.

Recommended Actions
  • In this situation, the tornadoes and thunderstorms will move quickly. So, you will need to begin monitoring the weather and gathering children and friends/relatives who need assistance getting to shelter when a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch is issued. 
  • Power failures are likely and some could last an extended period of time. Charge your phone and computer throughout the day but take then off the charger before the storms arrive. 
  • Get some extra cash from the ATM and fill your fuel tank (especially if you have an EV).
  • Make sure your shelter area is ready for people. 
  • Remember to wear shoes into shelter. 

Think About FaceApp: Is This Really a Good Idea??

Hat Tip: Instapundit.
Read this cautionary tale from Marketwatch here. Especially given the ability to edit photos in a nearly seamless way, I think anyone who wants to have a future in public service or management would be crazy to use this app.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The National Weather Service To Further Complicate Flood Warnings In the Name of Simplification

I can hardly believe what I just read: the National Weather Service (NWS) is going to extend its awful 'impact-based' tornado warning concept to its flash flood warnings. There is so much wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin.

Before we go further, I am basing what I am writing about the new flash flood warnings on NBC News' and The Washington Post's coverage of this announcement.

"Impact-Based" (paraphrasing: 'you will die if not in shelter') tornado warnings (IBW) were/are designed to scare people into taking action (since their introduction, they've toned down the language just a bit). The motivation for IBW was the National Weather Service's failure to grasp what actually went wrong in the Joplin Tornado catastrophe. In the wake of the worst death toll in more than sixty years, the worst of the tornado warning era, the NWS issued a highly flawed report (and that characterization is giving them the benefit of the doubt) about the disaster which has misguided them ever since. What really went wrong in Joplin was the subject of my second book.

With IBW, the NWS went from one type of tornado warning to three.
  • 'Ordinary' tornado warnings 
  • Particularly dangerous tornado warnings
  • Tornado emergency (the 'you will die'-type)
The problem is that we did not, and still do not, have the scientific skill to do these with any consistent quality. Plus, in may opinion, all tornado warnings are emergencies and should be treated accordingly. By creating unreliable sub-types of tornado warnings, it is possible we are training people to, at their peril, ignore 'ordinary' tornado warnings. 

And, as some of us predicted, with the added complexity, NWS tornado warnings have become less accurate.

So, with the new flash flood warnings, a lot is going to change. We will have,
  • 'Ordinary' or 'base' flash flood warnings. 
  • 'Considerable' flash flooding.
  • 'Catastrophic' flash flooding. 
Keep in mind, these are on top of areal flood warnings, flood warnings, arroyo flood warnings, urban and small stream flood warnings, et cetera. 

As NBC News reported, 

The impact-based warnings will fall into three categories: base, considerable and catastrophic. The latter two, considerable and catastrophic, which warn of floodwaters that could severely impact lives and property, will be the approximately 20 percent of warnings that the NWS will push out to people’s phones.

Question #1: if the flooding isn't expected to affect property or lives, why is a flash flood warning being issued in the first place? This is the root problem: the NWS issues way too many flood warnings under too many classifications (no one knows what an 'areal' flood warning is). And, this problem is exaggerated by the fact there is little or no consistency in warning thresholds between NWS offices when it comes to tornado or flash flood warnings. For example, what prompts the Springfield NWS office to issue a tornado warning is quite different from what prompts the Wichita office. And, while there should be, there are no "best practices" or quality standards.  

So, to 'fix' the "overwarning" and confusion issues, the NWS's plan is that only the "considerable" and "catastrophic" flash flood warnings will be pushed out to our smartphones under the, often flawed, FCC's WEA ("wireless emergency alerts") system. This is doubling down on failure rather than fixing the root problem. 
Question #2: Given it has taken decades to educate the public on the difference between watches and warnings, how does the NWS possibly hope to immediately educate people on the difference between these new types of warnings? Time is of the essence given the life-threatening nature of flash floods.

The ultimate irony is that the NWS is doing this under the rubric of "warning simplification" and it will begin in less than 90 days. 

I'd love to be able to end this piece on some type of "up note" but I don't have one. The NWS is an organization with increasingly serious issues that seems to have lost its way. 

The Heatwave Will Break Soon

click to enlarge
I'm happy to report the heat wave of 2019 will break soon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Bringing The Electric Grid into the 21st Century [Or Not]

The good news is that Saturday evening's power failure in NYC was relatively small. The bad news is that we are building windmills rather than upgrading and securing (from terrorism) the United States' electrical grid. In fact, renewables make the grid less reliable.

There is a good essay on the subject here. The bottom line: we need to get started.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

In Concordance With the Tweet Below...

Posted on Twitter a few minutes ago.
Notice how the tweet states that global warming will (no doubt expressed) make hot droughts worse. Yet, if you go to the actual Abstract of the paper, it states something very different.
Although the link between droughts and heat waves is widely recognized, how climate change affects this link remains uncertain. This seems hardly seems as certain as the tweet would indicate. The Abstract goes on to state:

Applying a statistical model that is based on pair-copula constructions, we find that anthropogenic warming leads to enhanced soil moisture–temperature coupling in water-limited areas of the southern Great Plains and/or southwestern United States and consequently amplifies the intensity of extreme heat waves during severe droughts. 

The above stated another way: during a drought, daily temperatures are raised due to baked soil (something every Great Plains farmer has known since day one) per another climate model study. The climate models have been shown to run warm and have shown no demonstrable skill in forecasting climate on a regional basis. Regardless, the hypothesis inferred from the Abstract is that warmer global temperatures tend to create worsening summer ("hot") droughts, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest. So, let's actually do some science. If there is a genuine link between global warming and summer ("hot") droughts, then droughts should worsen as world temperatures rise, especially in the Southwest and Great Plains. 

Here is the Palmer Drought Index (a widely accepted measure of drought) for July, 1934, 85 summers ago. You'll recall the Dust Bowl lasted through most of the 1930's. 

Here is a comparison of global temperatures in 1934 (arrow) versus 2019 (circle):
Obviously, world temperatures have warmed considerably in 85 years. So, if the hypothesis is correct, summer ("hot") droughts and associated temperatures should be worse or more widespread now than droughts of the era were when world temperatures were cooler. 

Here is the July 2019, current, Palmer Drought Index.
Not much resemblence to 1934, is there?

But, it is possible that this is a fluke. Let's look at 2018. 
Okay, that is a worse drought situation than 2019. Let's look further. 
One doesn't have to be a climate practitioner to read these maps and learn the much higher global temperatures of the late 2010's have not lead to droughts anywhere close to what was experienced in the 1930's Dust Bowl Era. That would refute the hypothesis, especially as expressed by NOAA's propagandistic tweet that indicates they are certain about future temperatures and droughts. 

Prince Charles: Another Global Warming 'Tipping Point'

The Biggest Bust in the History of Science??

Oh, good grief. Noted climatotologist, Prince Charles, tells us we only have 18 months to save the world. Yet another global warming "tipping point."

Six years ago, I wrote a piece for the blog called Tipsy From Tipping Points.
As that article documented, the global warming doomster tipping points go back to 1989. Yet, here we are:
  • Agricultural production sufficient for the world's population.
  • The lowest level of extreme poverty in the history of the world. 
  • Weather and climate deaths at the lowest level ever.
In the history of science, has there ever been a bigger bust than the forecasts of doom of the last 30 years??

Monday, July 15, 2019

Finally: President Trump is Dispersing the Federal Government

After the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is moving its agricultural research division from D.C. to Kansas City, the Bureau of Land Management announced today that is is moving its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado.
Western Colorado near Grand Junction
For many years, I have advocated dispersement of the federal government (the most recent essay is here). While these are small steps, I'm pleasantly surprised the Trump Administration is actually doing it.

Think about it: Why in the world should the people who research agriculture and interface with land-grand colleges be in DC? BLM manages land in the West; that is where it should be.

Now, if we can move Transportation to Chicago, Health and Human Services to Atlanta, the rest of Agriculture to Wichita, etc., we'll really be on our way.

Rainfalls From Hurricane Barry

Here are the storm total rainfalls from Hurricane Barry as of 7am.

The rains loosened soils when, combined with the winds, caused trees to topple into power lines. There are still about 150,000 people (44,380 customers where one customer equals one electric meter) without power.