Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Genuinely Hate to Say, "I Told You So"

No one likes to read someone else's boast but this one is scientifically important: A new, peer-reviewed, study shows the earth is warming slower than expected and that the climate models have been running too warm

Of course, that has been the theme of our global warming coverage all along. The science simply didn't, and doesn't, indicate that global warming is an immediate catastrophe as Al Gore and others would have us believe.

That said, global warming is a problem. I just posted an interesting, and worrisome, study pertaining to plant nutrition and greater concentrations of CO2.

With a tornado risk and hurricanes today, I do not have time to recap my global warming recommendations.   I'll try to restate those when the weather is less active.

Serious Tornado Risk in the Northern Plains

It has been a while since I have to post about a tornado risk. There is one today in the northern Great Plains.
Keep in mind the brown (5%) is the significant tornado threshold. Yellow (10%) is an enhanced risk. Please keep an eye on the weather in this area today.

More are Getting on Board With a National Disaster Review Board

There is an article boosting the concept of a National Disaster Review Board in the new issue of Slate. It is an important concept and I hope you will support it. How about emails to your congressional delegation?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Maria Now a Category 5 Headed Toward Puerto Rico

Please make sure your friends and relatives are aware of this catastrophic hurricane closing in on the island. Wind speeds are now 160 mph!

My Professional Speaking Engagements

As many of you know, I do professional speaking on a number of topics.

If you are interested, I am presented by Baron Ridge Speakers Agency.  Please contact: mindy@baronridgeproductions.com or (316) 409-6498.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Major Hurricane Headed for Puerto Rico

Maria is strengthening rapidly in the Atlantic. The M = major hurricane. It may be Cat 3 or 4 intensity by the time it arrives.
It is far too soon to speculate on what effect, if any, Maria may have in the United States.

Sunday Fun II: The Amazing Technology (And Its Cost) of Smartphones

When we complain about the cost of smartphones, I recommend this article to put things in perspective.

The Lightning Delay in Denver

There is a lightning delay in the Denver - Dallas game at Mile High Stadium. Below is the radar at the time the delay was declared.
If you click the image, it will enlarge and you can see the "zot" symbols. The announcers and former ref in the booth discussed the 8-mile rule which says they have to suspend the game when lightning gets within eight miles.

At AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, we have a superior system called Minutes, Not Miles. For example in the early spring, it is not uncommon for storms to have a forward speed of 60 mph. That means that eight miles only give you eight minutes warning -- not enough time to evacuate a stadium.
Or, in summer, it is not uncommon for storms to move at ten miles an hour or less. Which means that there is too much time during which the storm may dissipate.

AccuWeather also has a patented system which allows us to forecast lightning before the dangerous "first bolt" occurs.

If you want the state-of-the-art in lightning protection, give us a call.

Sunday Fun: Visitor's Guide to Wichita

Yesterday evening's Wichita sky. KSNW TV.
From the Alaska Air inflight magazine.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Role of Faith-Based Groups in Hurricane Recovery

Please take a look at this. I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Blog Note

I have had to temporarily restrict comments to blog followers only because of the barrage of spam comments that have made it through the normal filters recently. When I think it is "safe" again, I will make the comments less restrictive.,

Well Worth Your Time!

A review of the Cassini's mission highlights. It is here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Warnings: Limited Supply Available

Want to read a gripping (written in the form of a novel) story that takes you behind-the-scenes as meteorologists warn of hurricanes and tornadoes and keep airliners from crashing? And, takes you into courtroom during the one of the most important trials -- ever -- involving weather and what was once the #1 cause of airliner crashes unfolds?

All of that, and more, is the topic of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the WeatherThe link will take you to the Kindle version of the book. The Nook version is here.
The most recent Amazon customer review, posted hours ago. Please don't
let the reference to "technology" scare you off. The book is
written in the form of a novel and completely non-technical. 
As you will learn when you click the green link (above), the book is officially out of print. Amazon is offering only used copies of the hardcover version. However, I have a couple of unopened cartons of book that I purchased from Greenleaf Book Group (the publisher) for a special sale that fell through. So, I have worked with Wichita's renowned Watermark Books to put those brand-new copies on sale. I've autographed each copy turquoise ink to match the cover art. You can purchase them for $24.95. If you live out of the area, they will ship anywhere in the United States for $2.99.

Given that one-in-four homes in the Florida Keys was destroyed by Irma (a fact not well covered by the media) and that the storm did $100 billion in damage, weather science clearly saved thousands of lives as compared to if the hurricane had struck without warning.

The story of the people behind this scientific triumph is uplifting and fun. I hope you'll purchase a copy.

Completely Off-Topic

At left, Bob Gaudio. Top is Nick Massi. Bottom Center is Frankie Valli
and at right is Tommy DeVito
After all of the hurricanes, etc., how about something that is completely off the topic?

On this day in 1962, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons released their chart debut 'Sherry'. In four weeks the single climbed to the top of the Hot 100, making an impressive leap from #11 to #1, where it spent five weeks at the top. On writing the song, Bob Gaudio said: "Sherry took fifteen minutes. I was ready to leave a rehearsal we were having, and I sat at the piano and it just came out. Not having a tape recorder in those days, the only way I could remember it was to put a quick lyric to it and remember the melody and the words together. I had no intention of keeping the lyrics. To my surprise, everybody liked them so we didn't change a thing!"

 Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are my favorite group.

Is Global Warming Causing Some of Our Plant-Based Food to Become Less Nutritious?

Actually, it is not global warming, the hypothesis is the higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing the plants we eat to have to much sugar and a decrease in other nutritious. The article is here. I recommend it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Thank You "Los Angeles Times"...

...for a story thanking meteorologists for the low hurricane death tolls. At last, some much overdue recognition for our field.

Replay of "Jim Bohannon Show"

If you would like to hear a replay of my appearance on the Jim Bohannon show, click here. Go to the 9-11-2017 show and my appearance begins about 11 minutes in.

I want to thank Jim and his staff. I really enjoyed the hour.

Hurricanes Are NOT Getting Worse: These Articles Are Unfortunate

Whether it is Leonard Pitts or New Republic, the misinformation about global warming and its connection, if any, to U.S. hurricanes gotten really silly. Because the genuine science doesn't support the contention, their argument is reduced to this:

"And the timing of them, combined with the historic awfulness of them, feels more sinister than simple coincidence, does it not?"

"Feels more sinister"? -- The arguments for catastrophic global warming have jumped the shark.

Fact: Until August 25, 2017, when Harvey came ashore, the United States (including Hawaii) went a record 11 years and 10 months without a major hurricane. The period of record is from 1850 to the present. The former record was from 1900 to 1906, so we nearly doubled the previous record -- very good news. 

Fact: Worldwide, there is no upward trend in hurricanes. See the data for yourself (below).
Both graphs courtesy Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., click to enlarge
Fact: Worldwide, natural disaster costs are lessening.
Is global warming an issue? Yes, it is, as I have stated many times. But, exaggeration or appeals to feelings do far more harm than good. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Commentary: The Lack of Understanding of America's Storm Warning System

What I believe to be an unfortunate comment was left on this blog this morning. Here it is.
This wasn't the only comment along these lines. The comments below were left at the Washington Post after an article about meteorologists staying behind in Key West (as the storm approached) to do their jobs gathering meteorological data and issuing storm warnings for Irma. A sample of those comments:



On a personal note, after hours and hours and hours of 'round the clock, exhausting work to warn of Harvey and Irma, you cannot imagine how discouraging this is. Similar thoughts were expressed on Facebook this morning in a group for meteorologists. But, that is not the point I want to make, which is:

These comments illustrate the utter lack of understanding of the critical service 
meteorologists provide to America. 

First, let me comment on September 11th. While it was a catastrophe, a better word to describe it would be "atrocity." The official toll was 2,996. It was a determined act of terror against innocent civilians. As such, it is inappropriate to compare it to a natural hazard.

What our commenter, Mr. Citizen, and the others do not realize is that without modern weather science and the dedication of meteorologists working around the clock in difficult conditions, Irma would have killed at least as many as lost their lives on September 11. Want to know how I know? Florida's SunSentinel gives us part of the story:

But the survivors of the Great Okeechobee Hurricane of Sept. 26, 1928, know better. They know that whole towns can be washed away in a matter of hours, wiping out generations of families with no one left to identify the dead. They know a storm that killed half the population of western Palm Beach County and left every corner of the county tattered and broken.
They know a hurricane that exacted $16 billion in damage in today's dollars, enough to pitch South Florida into the Great Depression a year before the rest of the country. But it is the loss of life that separates this storm from almost any other. Between 2,500 and 3,000 county residents died that day, making it the second-deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, behind the Galveston, Texas, hurricane of  [September 8] 1900.
If you estimate the number of people killed by the unwarned 1928 Category 4 hurricane to be 2,700 and multiply it by the change in Florida population from 1928-2017, you would have a death toll of more than 38,000! Impossible, you say? Why? The unwarned Category 4 Galveston Hurricane killed about 8,000 (some estimates say as high as 11,000).

Consider this: When Irma was Category 5 or 4 strength and moved across the Caribbean Islands, the death toll (at the moment) stands at 37. While each of those deaths is a tragedy to the friends and families of the victims, that number is almost unbelievably low. The reason? Hurricane warnings.

In the mainland United States, the Irma death toll is seven. 7! That is fewer than an average day's traffic deaths in Florida!
Irma's Storm Surge Floods Miami Streets
The weather satellites, Hurricane Hunters, weather balloons and the rest of infrastructure of the United States' world-leading storm warning system didn't get there by accident. It got here because of the dogged determination of a handful of visionary meteorologists who believed that, with the right tools, highly accurate storm warnings and forecasts could be made that would save lives and property. They have been proven right.

When I wrote Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, there were some, even in meteorology, that disagreed with the premise of the book; that storm warnings are the direct reason for so many thousands of lives saved in tornadoes, hurricanes and downbursts. Tragically, my point was made one year later in Joplin when the warning system broke down during an EF-5 tornado. For the first time since the civilian tornado warning system began, we went back to triple-digit (161) deaths in a tornado.

If the warning system had broken down during Irma's journey across the Caribbean, we would now be discussing a death toll in the thousands.

Weather science, while it has not "conquered" the weather, it has clearly "tamed" it.

Yet, this Nobel Prize-worthy endeavor is almost 
completely unrecognized by the public and by policymakers.

As two of the Washington Post commenters put it (addressing the writer, a NWS meteorologist who was issuing warnings for Irma):
  • "We don't need high wind updates, we know it will be very bad."
  • "You are risking your life for what? To come out of your bunker on Monday to report the sun is shining and it is 88°?"
Without meteorologists, how would you know "it will be very bad."? Normally, these sentiments would be of no consequence. But, with the administration proposing significant cuts in funding for weather satellites and for the operations of the National Weather Service, it is essential that weather science better make its case that meteorological infrastructure is one of the very best investments the federal government makes.

And, if you know a meteorologist in Texas, Florida or who has otherwise been working on these hurricanes, please buy him or her a beer or a Diet Coke and tell them how much you appreciate their work. 

Jim Bohannon Show Tonight

I will be on the Jim Bohannon Show tonight for the one-hour slot beginning at 10pm Eastern/9pm Central. You can find a list of stations, here. You can listen via the internet, here. If you want to call in with a question, please go here.

Behind the Scenes at AccuWeather During Hurricane Irma

If you would like to read what it was like in our State College forecast center during Hurricane Irma, please click here.

Returning the Conversation to Harvey

Here is a analysis of the insurance losses with regard to Harvey and Texas.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Housekeeping Post About Irma

As mentioned below, I've turned the forecasts for Irma over to my talented colleagues at AccuWeather.

I am still doing some tweeting @usweatherexpert.

For readers in Florida and the rest of the area yet to lose power, please see the posting below and be very patient. The huge power failures I was expecting was one of the reasons I was urging people to evacuate.

I appreciate all of your who have followed the blog's coverage of Harvey and Irma. If you would like to go behind the scenes and learn how meteorologists save literally thousands of lives in storms like these, I'd like to immodestly recommend my book on the subject.
While Warnings is completely true and accurate, it is written in the style of a novel as I take you behind the scenes while warning of these monsters.

The hardcover version is sold out. But, you can get the Kindle version at the link above or purchase a used book at Amazon. The Kindle version has many additional photos we could not get into the hard cover version. You do not have to have a Kindle or Nook to read the ebook version of Warnings. You can read it on the free Amazon Cloud Reader and it is formatted exactly like it is on a Kindle and it is in full color.

"Longest and Most Complex Power Grid Rebuild in U.S. History"

ABC News just had a spokesman for Florida Power & Light on and he made that statement. He talked about the huge effort needed to rebuild the grid. I know that trucks and crews from Westar Energy in Kansas left two days ago to be onsite to help.

Below is the radar from 5:35pm
I circled Marco Island and Naples. The storm is moving N to NNW. Peak winds are now around 110 mph and it has appeared to weaken just a touch in the last hour.

This is going to be my last update on this storm. 

There is not much more I can do in terms of weather forecasting. Please switch over to accuweather.com for the latest information.

4:55pm EDT Irma Update

Hurricane Irma is over Naples and its eye will be moving north along I-75 the next couple of hours. Wind gusts of 142 mph have been reported at the Naples airport as the eyewall passed.
Water level in Naples has risen 3' in 18 minutes and still rising rapidly.

Communities to the north northwest of Naples should prepare for extreme conditions as the evening progresses.



Sunday Fun: The Dentist's Final Message...

...before fleeing Hurricane Irma.
Via Twitter and I love it!!

130 mph Gust at Marco Island + Flash Flood Emergency

See info about flash flood EMERGENCY below 

No sooner did I hypothesize the eye had strengthened than we received a report from the Marco Island (circled)  Emergency Operations Center (via NWS) of a 130 mph gust measured there.
click to enlarge
At left is the 3:05pm EDT reflectivity data which is the type of radar you routinely see on TV. At right is the Doppler (wind) data. The 130 mph gust is in the darkest brown area which is where you would expected it to be -- in the eyeball which is where the strongest winds in a hurricane are located.

Extreme winds are now in the Naples area, moving slowly north. 

3:10pm EDT. NWS has issued a flash flood EMERGENCY below for the area in green due to the extreme and rapidly growing storm surge. This is a life-threatening situation!
At 3:20pm, radar is measuring (right) 136 mph winds. 

See below (3:32p Eastern). Winds will increase in Naples.

3pm EDT Sunday, Quick Irma Update

Eye of Hurricane Irma is moving north into the Naples Metro area. Winds of 115+mph likely along with a cloud-to-ground lightning threat. Shelter in place NOW!!

1:25pm EDT Sunday: Quick Irma Update

Radar from 1:19pm EDT. Extreme winds have begun in Marco Island. Naples has already had a gust of 103 mph. Both areas, Marco Island and Naples, will experience winds gusts to 115mph or higher during the next three hours. Extreme storm surge risk. There is cloud-to-ground lightning in the eyeball.

Storm still moving north.

Twiter: @usweatherexpert

If you want the entirety of my storm coverage, please follow me @usweatherexpert on Twitter.

Tornado Watch Issued and Anti-Storm Surge

Many tornado warnings are being issued right now. An additional tornado watch was just issued.

Lots of pictures coming in from people at beaches where the anti-storm surge is occurring,
When the hurricane approaches, the water will rush back and rise to above normal levels like in a tsunami very quickly. This is very, very dangerous. Stay away from these areas!

11:29am EDT Sunday, Quick Hurricane Irma Update

11:24am EDT radar image. I have circled the area of strongest winds.
I have also circled Marco Island, Naples, Key West and Miami for reference. The eye is moving N to NNW at 9mph.

11:10am EDT Sunday: Hurricane Irma Update

There is so much to say that I can hardly cover it all.

  • More than 1.35 million customers across 24 Florida counties are without power, Florida Power and Light says (H/t = CNN)
  • Large construction has collapsed in downtown Miami (H/t, WPLG-TV)
  • The eye has made landfall at Cudjoe Key about 20 mi. ENE of Key West with measured wind gusts to 120 mph. Landfall was 9:10am EDT. This is the first time since 1851 that two category 4 hurricanes have made landfall in the USA in the same season.
  • The NWS radar at Key West has failed. Radar is back up!!
  • There is 5.2' storm surge in Miami's Biscayne Bay
The current position of Irma is 80 mi. SSE of Naples, Florida, headed toward Naples. Satellite at 10:50am EDT.

Naples - Ft. Myers are next in line. Tampa has not taken a direct hit in nearly a century. 

Maximum winds are still around 125 mph. Storm surge will be vicious and life-threatening. The storm is moving north at 8pm. Here is the NWS wind forecast.

Below is the general threat map for tornadoes and thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts (outside of the storm's eye):



That is the best information I have for now. 

1:50am Hurricane Irma Quick Update

Here is the one hour movement of the eye ending at 1:48am CDT.
Key West is circled. The significance of this is that the eye will likely pass over or just east of Key West. This indicates our forecasts for the western coast of Florida (scroll down) are likely correct.

Housekeeping Post

All blog content is (c) 2017 Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC.

For additional storm coverage, follow me on Twitter @usweatherexpert .

1:10am CDT Sunday BULLETIN on Hurricane Irma

Irma is clearly strengthening. 
The National Hurricane Center says it has reattained
Category 4 Wind Status

The highest winds are about 6-7 hours from Key West (circled) and the rest of the Keys. If you have decided to stay in the Keys (I hope you didn't) please hunker down immediately!
The "danger" area is consistent gusts of about 80 mph (a person cannot stand in winds of that speed) with much stronger gusts and extreme is where the sustained winds are above 100 mph. Storm tides are already about +1 feet in the Keys. They will rise the rest of the night.

The latest Hurricane Hunter report measured sustained winds of 130 mph near the eye (with stronger gusts) which is consistent with Doppler radar measurements.

If you did not evacuate and are in the Keys it is much too late. So, I suggest the following:
  • Close all of the doors in your home or apartment. 
  • Shelter in the interior of your dwelling. For example, a bath or closet.
  • Unlike in a tornado, do not go to the lowest floor because of the severe threat posed by the storm surge. Stay at least on the second floor. 
Map of forecast wind field in knots. 100 knots = 115 mph.
click to enlarge
Speaking of tornadoes, a tornado watch continues until noon Eastern time.
For now, if you are on the Florida Peninsula and a tornado warning is issued, shelter on the lowest floor. That advice will be invalid as the storm surge advances.

For my complete coverage, please follow me @usweatherexpert . 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Saturday, 10:50pm: Hurricane Irma Update

Note: This posting has been updated, please scroll up. 

Satellite image at 10:40pm.

The hurricane stalled for a time and is now creeping to the northwest as this plot of the center indicates. I've circled Miami and Key West.
click to enlarge
The image below shows:
  • Brown is the diameter of hurricane force winds (sustained winds, as opposed to gusts, of 75 mph or stronger).
  • Orange is the diameter of tropical storm force winds (sustained winds of 39-74 mph).
  • Reds are hurricane warnings.
  • Blue is a tropical storm warning.
  • M = "major" hurricane. H = Cat. 1or Cat. 2 force winds (refers to wind speeds only). S is tropical storm force winds. 

A couple of points I would like readers in Florida to know.
  • The first is that hurricanes strengthen in winds that are more or less that same direction and speed from the ground, up. That has been the case since Irma became a hurricane. Looks like that is going to change in about 24 hours. I agree with the Hurricane Center reducing the forecast speed on Monday. 
  • I do believe there will be some strengthening Sunday from maximum the 120 mph winds currently. Not everyone will be affected by the maximum winds. 
There is a serious threat of flooding. Rainfall amount forecast is below.
There is a risk of tornadoes and thunderstorms with wind gusts above 60 mph overnight.
The worst risk of tornadoes is along Florida's southeast coast from Ft. Pierce to Homestead. 

Quick Irma Update, 3:35pm CDT

Note: This posting has been updated, please scroll up. 

Irma is on its way to Florida.

After losing a great deal of strength, Irma is now restrengthening as shown by:
  • Lightning near the eye which is becoming more circular
  • Rapidly dropping barometric pressure in the eye now down to 935mb 
  • More distinct eye in visible satellite data
  • Cooling cloud tops in infrared satellite data
Here is the storm at 4:33pm EDT. Miami and Key West are circled. 

So, GET OUT of the storm surge forecast areas and the area where evacuations have been ordered. The Turn has been made and Irma is on its way to Florida. 

Saturday 1:25pm, Comprehensive Hurricane Irma Update

Wind gusts to 79 mph were reported at the Miami International Airport in the past hour. Here is the position of Irma at 2:08pm EDT. Power failures are being reported in a number of areas of southeast Florida and the Keys.

The weather satellite presentation of the storm seems to indicate that Irma is restrengthening. We do
not have a recent Hurricane Hunter report because they can't fly over Cuban air space (really!).

Here is the European model's depiction of winds as Irma moves north. The wind speeds are in knots.
One hundred knots = 115 mph. This will cause severe damage and a devastating storm surge.
Keep in mind that waves and tide are on top of the surge.

The forecast rainfall for the next three days. As you can see, there is a serious flooding threat.
Finally, a tornado watch continues in effect.

This was just tweeted. As a meteorologist, this is extremely disheartening. 
They are in mortal danger. 

Then, again, maybe this gives them the idea.
But, it is a small example of what the storm surge will do.