Wednesday, June 26, 2019

With All of the Storms This Year.... might be interested in the story of how meteorologists have saved so many lives through storm warnings.
You can read the first chapter, free, by clicking here.
Whether at Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or Amazon, readers love this book! Because of its upbeat nature, it make a great summer read. Check it out!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Heads Up: Central U.S. For Damaging Storms

There is a significant risk of tornadoes and an enhanced risk of destructive hail, possibly driven by high winds, in the orange area. This includes: Lamoni, Kansas City, St. Joseph, Lawrence, Manhattan Pawnee City, Topeka, Lawrence, Salina and Beloit.

Put your smart phone and laptop on a charger, now.

Here's what I recommend: listen for a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch. If one is issued for your area,
  • Put your car in the garage.
  • Bring in lawn furniture or other items that could be blown about.
  • Take your phone and laptop off the charger so any power surges do not zap them. 
And, most of all, make sure you and your children are ready to move indoors as thunderstorms approach and take shelter if a tornado warning is issued. 

Congratulations, Wichita!!!

All-America City For 2019.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Lightning and Major League Baseball

Following up on the posting below, this is how bad it is. By the way, you'll see a clip of the Twins at the Rangers. We (AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions when I worked there) had a lightning warning (40 minutes in advance!) for Six Flags Over Texas at the time which was directly across the parking lot.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Criminal Liability For Failing to Take Proper Action During a Weather Threat?

The Critical Nature of Expert Weather Warnings 
For Event Organizers

Two items have come together during the last four days that I want to bring to the attention of our readers. We begin with a video taken Saturday evening at the Country Stampede, a 3-day outdoor concert and event held this year in Topeka, Kansas.
Video via Twitter and WIBW Radio's Shawn Wheat

People in attendance talked about the ineffective efforts of the organizers to alert attendees to the threat of lightning and get them to safety (their cars).

Since the video and comments were posted on Twitter, I have been trying to get the facts as to what occurred and, as I write this, I still do not have all of them. But, they aren't needed to make several important points about this type of event.
  • The National Weather Service does not explicitly forecast lightning. They do not have the second-by-second lightning data nor do they have the patented techniques we had (and, I'm sure, still have but I retired 15 months ago) at AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions. There are other commercial weather companies that forecast lightning but I do not know what they use, so I cannot comment on the quality of their efforts. 
  • The job of the National Weather Service is to provide storm warnings and forecasts to the public-at-large, not to tailor products for specific businesses (which is what these outdoor events are). And, while I do not do for-fee forecasting any more, I have deep experience in helping plan weather response and communications for emergency situations. [I am available for this type of assignment, if you are interested.] Here is one example of the type of knowledge required to create an effective warning system: if you provide a storm warning announcement but the band continues to play, you have provided a mixed message to your patrons. Few will evacuate at least until the storm is unmistakable to the eye, which by then, may be too late. 
  • At least three on Twitter (one shown below) commented that event organizers "shouldn't have to pay" for weather information. Why not? It is an essential cost of doing that type of business just like paying the bands, paying for security, renting the venue, et cetera.
For many decades, meteorologists and others who actively use weather information have relied on U.S. Supreme Court rulings, on three occasions, that meteorologists could not be held liable for weather forecasts because (paraphrasing) "everyone knows weather forecasting is an inexact science." However, as forecasting as gotten better and better, that legal protection may be eroding. 
Springfield News-Leader
The entire news story is here. Here are pertinent excerpts. 

Curtis P. Lanham, 36, of Galena, and Charles V. Baltzell, 76, of Kirbyville, were each indicted on more than a dozen felony charges.
A news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri says Lanham was the general manager of Ride the Ducks Branson, and Baltzell was the company's operations supervisor.
Baltzell, who was in charge of monitoring the weather, checked the radar that evening and told McKee and the duck boat’s road driver at 6:28 p.m. to start the tour with the water portion and then finish with the road portion since a storm was on its way, according to the indictment.
Four minutes later, the National Weather Service upgraded the severe thunderstorm watch to a warning, with language about 60 mph wind gusts. United States Coast Guard regulations state the duck boat vessels shouldn’t be operated in winds exceeding 35 mph.
The duck boat embarked on its scheduled tour, anyway, and went into Table Rock Lake. McKee allegedly told the passengers they would not need their life jackets.
As the severe weather was moving closer, Baltzell was allegedly performing his “close out duties” at Ride the Ducks Branson, related to sales and the cash drawer, and not closely monitoring the weather.
The weather conditions got progressively worse as the duck boat was out on the lake, but the indictment says the defendants failed to act properly.
In the three minutes before the duck boat sank at 7:09 p.m., the indictment says McKee said nothing to the passengers, despite the concerning weather conditions and the bilge alarm on the vessel going off twice.
I am not an attorney and I have no comments on the merits of this particular case. I also want to emphasize that the defendants should be considered innocent until proven guilty in court. That said, I can make some generalized comments:

If the Duck Boat officials are convicted, it sets a precedent that if you are responsible for weather safety and something goes terribly wrong, you could be facing jail as well as severe financial loss. 

Incidents like the Kansas City Royals continuing play while lightning is directly above the stadium and thunder is roaring through the stands need to stop. Now! Umpires using apps (as in last week's example, below) doesn't cut it.
While I believe that, in general, criminal prosecution for mishandling weather is a (net) bad idea, it might motivate event organizers to get their acts together and hire commercial meteorologists who have experience and know what they are doing when there are large numbers of people to protect.

It hasn't been that many years since event organizers in Indianapolis (using smartphone apps according to reports) overruled their on-site meteorologist and continued the event. The fatal results are shown below. 

You wouldn't go to court without an attorney. You would not go to a tax audit without an accountant. It is irresponsible to conduct mass outdoor events without expert meteorological planning and guidance. 

Sunday Fun: Flying Today

A slice of flying these days. Every one of these things has occurred to me except the tripping of the drunk guy.

Addition: My brother and sister-in-law were on my our least favorite airline, United, coming back from Europe yesterday. Their flight was 1.5 hr. late leaving Brussells, which caused them to miss their connection in Newark. So, they were sent to Denver (overflying their destination of Kansas City). Of course, since it was United, the plane they would take from Denver to KC was 2.5 hours late coming from California to Denver. So, they arrived in KC at 2:37am, which was 3 hours and 15 minutes late. And, of course, United lost their bags.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Great Plains Storm Threat Through 11pm

This is the region where I am most concerned about the weather the rest of the afternoon and evening. Within the red area is where there could be spots where hailstones could exceed 2.5" in diameter. Thunderstorm wind gusts could exceed 60 mph. 

In the purple area there is a chance for 2-4 tornadoes although this does not seem to be a day with a major tornado threat. 

Please keep an eye on the weather through 11pm. After that time, there is the possibility of serious flash flooding developing. I'll update on that topic later this afternoon or evening. 

Heads Up: Central Great Plains

There are serious weather risks to deal with this afternoon through tonight.

There is a significant risk of tornadoes in the brown area from Wichita and Hutchinson southwest through Woodward, Elk City, and Childress.

Damaging Winds and Hail
The yellow area is a significant risk of damaging winds and hail. The red+hatching is a high risk of hail with sizes (in the hatching) larger than 2" in diameter. 

Flash Flooding
The yellow areas have significant risks of flash flooding. As much as eight inches of rain fell near Peabody, Kansas, last night which is an indication of what could happen tonight if thunderstorms move slowly.

There will also be a risk of severe thunderstorms and flash flooding tomorrow. I'll update tomorrow morning.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Lightning at 11:30pm

A Preview of Things to Come

I'm concerned about the weather in Kansas and Oklahoma tomorrow (scroll down). These thunderstorms didn't start to form until around 9:30pm which shows how much energy exists in the atmosphere over the region.
The storm that is producing the lightning was so tall the top of the storm was so far above the horizon that it was catching the sun at 9:55pm.
Via Twitter
Here is the radar at the time the lightning was captured.

Please closely monitor the weather Saturday in Kansas and Oklahoma.