Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Review: "When the Sirens Were Silent"

A new reader review was posted earlier this month at Amazon. It was from a survivor of the Joplin tornado. In part, it says,

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Smith's timeline and reporting of the warnings received is spot-on. The book is a short read but it makes his points clearly understandable. My son and I are alive because of my own gut instinct that came from living in Joplin since I was nine. Joplin emergency management nor the NWS played any role...

This is a well written book and I encourage anyone who is concerned about the risks of tornados or who, like myself, is still trying to put together the pieces of what happened to us that day to read.
The full review is here.

Tragically, many people have had trouble coming to grips with what really occurred in Joplin that day, what went wrong, and how to make sure it never occurs again.

How to Recognize a Downburst on Radar

Classic downburst signature on radar at 1:24pm:
The greens are winds toward the radar and the reds are winds away from the radar. Before the work of Dr. Ted Fujita and Dr. John McCarthy (TDWR), this type of storm posed a mortal danger to commercial airliners. Because of their courageous work, we have not had a U.S. airliner crash in a downburst since 1994. It was once the #1 cause of airline crashes. Hundreds owe their lives to their work.

Want to see how the downburst developed? Here is a quick video I made of the storm.
You can see the winds hit the ground then spread out of town. That is the signature of a downburst on radar. We also had 1" hail at the Smith House from about 1:20 to 1:23pm.

Tornado Risk in Southwest Texas

There is a chance of tornadoes in southwest Texas later today.
The brown (5%) area is where there is a significant risk. Please keep an eye out on the weather in this region.

Sunday Fun: Hank Azaria Commencement Voices

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bonnie is an Official Tropical Storm

Unfortunately, Bonnie is going to make the weekend wet and gusty. AccuWeather has details.

Two Week Rainfalls

Rainfall has been abundant in the central and southern Great Plains the last two weeks, breaking a dry spell in a number of areas.

click to enlarge
Yes, there is a small spot of more than 15 inches southeast of Wichita.

In the southern area, that is a band of more than 20 inches northwest of Houston. Severe flooding has resulted in some areas.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Definition of a Landspout

We have a definitional problem related to tornadoes in Kansas. Law enforcement and at least one of our television meteorologists this afternoon proclaimed a tornado to be a "landspout." Unfortunately, they are using the terminology wrong -- and, that could get people into trouble.

A landspout is a tornado not associated with a thunderstorm. Specifically, it is not associated with a "mesocyclone's" circulation. When a TV meteorologist is pointing at a Doppler wind display of thunderstorms saying, "Circulation, here, here and here," by definition the tornadoes associated with them are not landspouts. They are tornadoes.

Why does this matter? Landspouts rarely produce damage. Tornadoes (what the meteorologist is pointing at this afternoon) do produce damage.

A (Serious) Tip From the Boy Scouts

I just read the terrible story of a person lost 26 days in the remote Appalachians. The person, while surviving 26 days, passed away before he could be found.

Back when I was a Boy Scout they taught us a simple rule. If you find yourself lost, walk until you find a stream. Then, follow the water downstream. It will, eventually, lead you to people. It is much better than walking aimlessly.

Flood Followup and Forecast

Last night, I forecast two areas of heavy rains and I thought you'd be interested in learning what did, or didn't, happen (scroll down to see the forecasts).

Southeast Texas
Severe flooding has been reported west of Houston where more than a foot of rain (click to enlarge) has caused the closure of schools and roads.

Northeast Kansas
Certainly, 4+" is heavy rain but I had expected more to fall.

5-Day Rainfall Forecast
More moderate to heavy rains are expected in both regions through the holiday weekend.

Today's Outlook

While there will be some storms with hail and gusty winds in the central Great Plains, no significant tornado risk exits today as far as I can tell.

There is a risk of locally heavy rains in the central United States which will cause flooding.

Finally, there is a significant chance of a tropical storm in the Southeast over the weekend. I'll update on that threat later today.

Note: Tropical Storm Formation is Likely

The forecast (scroll down) still looks good, unfortunately.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

End of Coverage for Tonight

That has to do it for weather coverage for tonight. Thanks for reading.

Flash Flood and Tornado Risk Update, 8:40pm

There are two areas of serious flash flood concern tonight, both are circled below:

In some parts of both circled areas, more than four inches of rain have already fallen. Serious flash flooding may develop during the night.

With regard to the tornado threat, the isolated storms you see from central Kansas to southwest of Ft. Worth have prompted a number of tornado warnings. One is still in effect near Shattuck, Oklahoma. While the chance of tornadoes is not high, one or two still may occur from these supercell thunderstorms.

6:45pm Tornado Threat Update

Here is the AccuWeather regional radar from 6:32pm.
There are current tornado warnings in:
  • Eastern Colorado
  • North of Dodge City
  • South of Dodge City
The strong low pressure system has just made it into the High Plains and I believe the storms will continue to develop during the evening. Please monitor local sources of warnings. 

3:40pm, Tornado Threat KC Area

Here is the radar from 3:34pm.

There is a tornado warning (red polygon) near Basher. People in the polygon need to take shelter NOW! I don't like the looks of the rapidly developing thunderstorm west of Lee's Summit. Keep an eye on this one.

Finally, the cell SW of Gower (also circled) looks suspicious.

Keep an eye on all three.