Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Two Dead in Kansas Flooding

Tragedy has struck again; this time in my home state of Kansas last night. Yet again, a car has been swept off the road in flash flooding and two died.

By far, the #1 cause of deaths in flash floods is automobiles.

"Apparently what happened, they hit the high water, the vehicle probably stalled. It was found in park with the engine shut off and, we believe, high water came and just swept the vehicle off in a high ditch," Dierks said.

It happens over and over, people who are safe one minute make the fatal decision to drive into a flooded area and are swept away to their deaths. Or, emergency response personnel risk their lives to make a swift water rescue.

When driving, you do not know if the roadway has been washed away when flash flooding is in progress as this photo from Twitter reveals.

And, from KOCO-TV's helicopter:
Can you imagine what would have happened to any driver who drove into that rapidly flowing stream without knowing the road beneath was gone?
Don't Risk It:
Please, please, please: "Turn around, don't drown."

To My Readers From a Catholic

The news pertaining to the Catholic Church the last few weeks is beyond sickening. I don’t believe my vocabulary is adequate to express my revulsion. 

The Catholic Church is a divine institution run by humans. We “cradle Catholics” were educated to believe the leaders of the Church were chosen because of their holiness and devotion to helping their flock attain Salvation by striving to live lives worthy of Christ. 

The faithful now know we have been betrayed in the most evil possible way. And, we have learned it wasn’t a few rogue priests or that the press has been libeling the Church (as the Church’s leadership wanted us to believe) but that the rot exists throughout. Even Pope Francis doesn’t seem to fully grasp or want to grasp the seriousness of the problem both in the United States and internationally.

There are far too many -- to this day -- in positions of leadership in the Church who seem to think if they ignore the problem it will go away. My diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Advance, has a "latest news" column. Not a word.

I am also disappointed by priests on social media writing truisms this morning such as, “holiness is the answer.” While that is ultimately true, it is not nearly sufficient. To any priest or bishop or cardinal who might be reading this: If you are aware of any member of the clergy who has or is engaged in these activities and you have not called in law enforcement, you are acquiescing in evil!

I call on every priest and every bishop this Sunday to condemn these gravest of sins, beg our Lord to forgive the Church, and pray to give the good members of the clergy the strength and courage to do what is right in the eyes of Christ. I also ask them to consider that their vow of obedience must be obedient to Christ above all else. If they know of “hush orders” or any such obstruction of justice they must go to law enforcement. This must not and can not continue. 

While Catholics do not believe one has to be Catholic in order to attain heaven, we do believe that Christ founded the Church to make the often challenging path to Heaven easier to follow. I still believe that to be true with all of my mind, heart and soul. But, I also know it must be extraordinarily difficult for those outside the Church to see at this time. As a member of the Church, I'm so sorry that is the case. 

To those who may happen to be considering conversation to Catholicism, please continue your study and prayers. 

I will have more to say on this subject
 as events unfold. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

Climate Silliness -- As Only the New York Times Can Do It

The New York Times has published a piece of climate fluff regarding the recent tornadoes in New York City and New England. The article is here.

The two scientists the author consulted did not provide support for the author's hypothesis but that didn't stop her from writing the article or the Times from publishing it.

Let's look at the facts. Here are world temperatures since the 1880's.
Current temperatures are circled. I've placed an arrow at 1953's temperatures, which I will come back to. Please note that temperatures are significantly warmer now than they were in the 1950's.

Yet, as temperatures have risen, the number of significant tornadoes is strongly down.
So, if anything, warmer temperatures means fewer strong tornadoes across the country. 

The worst tornado outbreak in New England history occurred in June of 1953.
The Worcester tornado, which was on the ground for 48 miles, killed 94. Six more died that day elsewhere in New England from other tornadoes. Is there any doubt that if this occurred today it would be blamed on global warming?? Note that this tornado outbreak occurred with global temperatures much cooler than they are today.

This is inaccurate climate advocacy published as news. It is highly unfortunate.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Good News: The World Has NEVER Been Better Than It Is Now

While there are unquestionably problems in our world, it is vitally important to keep things in perspective. Here are some graphics that help make the point that right now -- 2018 -- is the best time in the history of the world and that things will almost certainly get even better.
click to enlarge
Diseases Are Receding. Polio has been nearly wiped out thanks to Rotary International and the Gates Foundation.
HIV deaths are also decreasing.
Child mortality is improving.

Sanitation is often overlooked but it is a vital part of the public health. India, in particular, is making rapid progress.

Starvation is disappearing.
click to enlarge
And, not only are fewer people malnourished, the quality of our diets is improving.
You can go here for the entire story of our rapidly improving world.

Finally: Did you know that is you make more than $35,000/year (US) you are in the world's top 1%? 

So, let's keep our issues in perspective.

Sunday Inspiration: A Little Kansas Boy Inspires People Around the World

Sunday Fun: The Humanity of the California Firefighters

There is very little good news to come out of the grim stories of the California wildfires. But, here is some, via Twitter.
An enlargement of the letter:
Let me add my thanks to the brave California firefighters.

Sunday Photo: Lightning Hitting Tucson Radar

From Twitter:
The radar was knocked out Friday afternoon.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Putting Your Life at Risk -- For Golf

While I was posting this in Kansas yesterday, two young people in Arizona were hit by lightning; and it was caught on video yesterday. You can see it here. They were in a less open area than the golfers I wrote about below.  One of the teens is in critical condition and the other has second degree burns. Hopefully, it won't be the case here, but many who survive lightning strikes are permanently impaired. 

It is just not work the risk. Please continue reading below. 

-- Original Posting -- 

Today is a big (for me, I don't play) golf day at The Smith House. My brother, Mark, scored a hole-in-one for the first time (he plays a lot). I spent a good part of the day watching the PGA Tournament because I enjoy watching the majors and I'm hoping Tiger Woods can continue his comeback.

After the PGA correctly suspended play when lightning moved through St. Louis County this afternoon, some Wichita golfers pulled a really stupid move about an hour and a half later.
Radar 5:59pm CDT
With nearly continuous thunder sounding and with the corresponding lightning less than four miles away, the people in the golf carts (circled, below) continued to play their game.
The thunderstorm and its rain shaft were clearly visible as they are in the photo above. Heck, we could hear it well from inside our house with the air conditioning going. While an automobile is good shelter from lightning, golf carts are dangerous.

I doesn't matter if you've scored a hole-in-one or have spent all of your time in the sand traps. This was too dangerous. Remember: If thunder roars, go indoors!

Dilbert Without Comment

click to enlarge

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Climate Engineering = Terrible Idea

I give Big Climate credit for finally figuring some of the many dangers in attempting to engineer the climate before the scheme was deployed. From Watts Up With That...

Unfortunately, the article continues the implication that wildfires in the United States have increased. They have not.

Highly Recommended Article About California's Horrific Fire Season

It is from the Capital Weather Gang and you can access it here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Congratulations, Lisa!!

Lisa Teachman, chief meteorologist of KSN-TV in Wichita, has been honored for having the best weathercast in the state. The selection was made by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

The honor is richly deserved. Congratulations, Lisa.

Something That May Be of Concern

Asbestos may be making a comeback. As I am not an expert in this area, I'm posting the article without comment.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

And, While We Are on the Topic of Sleaze,

Mark Zuckerberg
Photo by Media Matters
...the censoring of various people and groups deemed "politically incorrect" must stop. While the First Amendment gives us some protection from federal government censorship, the giants of Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., need to stop their fascist-like behavior.

I am writing this post using an Apple MacBook Pro and I have, personally and as a businessman, spent well over one-hundred thousand dollars on Apple's products. But, I certainly do not like Apple's recent behavior. Hollywood's Roger Simon puts it well:

  Fascist is a big word not to be bandied about (though it too often is these days), so let me make myself clear.  I've spent about ten minutes of my life on InfoWars and think Alex Jones is a boring blowhard of little interest except to those who want to spend their lives worrying about whether there was a second gunman on the Grassy Knoll.
  Nevertheless, the group censorship of Mr. Jones, led by our friends in Cupertino, the makers of the ubiquitous iPhone -- I've had a half-dozen myself and am typing this on a MacBook -- is one of the scarier developments of our time, if not potentially the scariest.
Apple is one hypocritical organization banning the puny Jones.  They -- the first trillion-dollar company -- are the people who are genuflecting to the Chinese, kowtowing (that is definitely the proper word) to Xi Jinping and Co., and making all kinds of accommodations to that totalitarian regime for access to their giant market.
  China is, as most of us know and Apple CEO Tim Cook prefers to ignore, the nation that has for years put their political dissidents in jail, completely censored the press and the Internet, stolen our intellectual property, brutally oppressed Tibetans and other minorities, and, lest we forget, mowed down the democracy demonstrators at Tiananmen.  Alex Jones -- to my knowledge -- has done nothing anyone near as monstrous.
  So what Apple is doing picking on the basically irrelevant Jones is a form of corporate virtual signaling, a particularly dangerous form if you believe in the Bill of Rights.

Roger's entire piece is here. He also makes the point that people like Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has more money than sense. He made his money so young and is so insulated that all he knows is virtue signaling and doesn't even understand the wider implications of his actions.

Steve Jobs, for all of his faults, never would have done this.

Google (real motto, "Don't Be Evil") has allegedly tweaked its search engine to make it more difficult to find conservative sites. Facebook...well, go to the posting below.

Microsoft used to believe it was invincible. So, did most economists and analysts. That certainly wasn't the case.

There is a pretty good case that some of this may be a violation of anti-trust laws. But, I'd rather the companies re-think their anti-American values positions and rescind them voluntarily.

This Type of Sleaze Is Why I Closed My Facebook Account

Not only banking information, Facebook has been accused of sending employees disguised as physicians into hospitals to obtain confidential information about Facebook's customers. I no longer wanted to be associated with such sleaze.

Monday, August 6, 2018

I Fell For Fake Weather

Thanks to Dr. Marshall Shepherd, I learned this is a photo of a Hawaiian sunset reflecting off the clouds, not a California wildfire. I fell for "fake weather."

It is a California wildfire as seen through an undercast of altocumulus clouds.

It's About Time!!

Ever sit on a hot plane for hours? I certainly have. This measure is about twenty years too late but I certainly appreciate that it is finally being done. 
The full story is here.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

President Trump, Please Stop This Outrage

This is an utter outrage. And it continues week after week. President Trump, please nationalize the Illinois National Guard. Have them patrol the streets since the Chicago PD either cannot or won't stop it. You can put an end to this.

I don't ever want to be accused of lightly commenting about race but if this were white people, I believe this wouldn't be tolerated. Every life has value. Let's act accordingly and stop the slaughter of our brothers and sisters.


Using 'skeptic' to denigrate scientists that don't pledge allegiance to a consensus that has been manufactured for the convenience of policy makers reflects a perversion of the scientific process.

Amen! Amen! Thank you, Judy.

Sunday Fun: Donald Trump Controls the Weather!

Noted climate scientist Bette Midler chimes in and blames, who else?, President Trump for...whatever. 
For the facts --disasters are becoming less frequent -- scroll down. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Wildfires -- And Other Disasters -- Are Way DOWN In the United States

The amount of just plain fake news on this subject the last few days has been amazing. The facts are below; via Twitter.

ADDITION: I sat down to lunch, opened today's Wall Street Journal and on op-ed page there is an article by Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. that makes exactly the same point. Natural disasters are DOWN, not up, in recent years. 

ADDITION II: Below is an updated graph of Roger's showing the decrease in natural disasters. 2018 is on pace to have record low natural disasters. 

How True

Worcester, Mass. Hit By Tornado

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
A tornado struck Worcester, Mass. this morning. The extent of damage and injuries is unknown at this point. Worcester was struck by one of the trio of extreme tornadoes in 1953. It killed 94 and did an amazing $465 million in damage (2018 dollars).

Full coverage of today's tornado, which occurred in the Webster area, is here.

About Time!

click to enlarge

Friday, August 3, 2018


Some of the computer models are showing Hurricane Hector moving near the Island of Hawaii. Of course, that is the location of a major volcanic eruption from Mt. Kiluea. Rain falling on lava creates a serious air pollution hazard due to a glass-like substance that occurs when the water comes in contact with the lava. This could get interesting.

No New Posting Today

There is so much to consider in the four postings below, plus I am behind on projects, so there will be no new posting today. See you tomorrow!!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Likely Downburst Crash Tuesday in Durango, Mexico

After posting about the downburst-caused crash of Delta 191 on this the 36th anniversary of that terrible event, Brad Ketchum of the NWS in Wichita brought to my attention a likely downburst-related crash in Mexico two days ago. The plane was attempting to lift off on a flight from Durango, Mexico to Mexico City.

Here are four screen grabs from a Mexican webcam overlooking Durango that gives some insight into the weather at or near the crash scene. There were two rainshafts that contained downbursts. A rain toe is the signature of a downburst that has struck the ground.

I don't know if either of these was the "culprit" in the crash or whether a different downburst might have been involved. However, the circumstances were very similar to those surrounding the crash of Continental Airways Flight #426. It crashed at the end of the runway attempting to take off in a downburst enroute from Denver to Wichita in 1975. Like the Durango crash, no one was killed.

Airports in Mexico have neither the Low Level Wind Shear Detection System nor Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, the two systems that, along with advanced training, have eliminated U.S. downburst accidents since 1994.

Again, for more information on aviation and downbursts, please scroll down one post.

Commemoration of the Crash of Delta 191

This evening is the commemoration  of one of the worst aviation crashes in history. The crash of Delta Flight 191 at DFW International Airport in 1985. 
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, used with permission 
It crashed in a downburst -- then, the cause of airline accidents or incidents every 18 months to two years. The crashes occurred on take off or landing (not enroute) as indicated in the diagram below. 
click to enlarge
Airplanes rely on air flowing over the wings to stay aloft. If the airflow increases, the plane lifts. If it lessens or stops, the plane drops or even crashes. 

Pioneering meteorologist Dr. Ted Fujita discovered downbursts in 1977, but the scientific consensus said he was wrong. So, planes kept needlessly crashing. It wasn't until the Delta crash that things changed. 
In a case that involved some skill and a lot of luck, my friend meteorologist Steve Amburn and were out storm chasing in 1978 and I photographed the first ever sequence of downburst photos which helped confirm Dr. Fujita's hypothesis. One of the series of photos is above. You can see the curling motion as raindrops ascended. 

In July, the National Weather Service in Las Vegas made the video below available. The air motions are completely visible and fascinating to watch with the primary downburst and two secondary downbursts.
In Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, I tell the entire story of the conquering of the downburst (the last airliner crash was in 1994) including the subsequent litigation that resulted in making air travel much safer. If you are a weather fan or have any interest in aviation, I believe you will find it to be a fascinating read.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"Where Was AccuWeather When 200 and Something Mile Per Hour Winds Were Churning Though An American Town [Joplin], Killing People?!"

The answer to Michael Lewis' accusatory question in his The Coming Storm is: AccuWeather accurately and explicitly warned its clients in Joplin the tornado was coming in time for them to move people and equipment out of harm's way! That is much more than can be said for the National Weather Service's inadequate performance that terrible day. The citizens of Joplin would have been far better off with AccuWeather's tornado warning on May 22, 2011, than with the National Weather Service's. The tornado killed 161 people. 

If you wish to hear Michael Lewis (in his own voice) level the false accusation against AccuWeather, it is below. His words are from his political polemic, The Coming Storm, published today. This morning, I posted about the audio book. But, I had not heard the slanderous charge that AccuWeather was not doing its job during the Joplin tornado. 

The book casts former NOAA Director, Dr. Kathy Sullivan, in the role of hero who was trying to pick up the meteorological pieces after the tornado. However, in Lewis' telling, the reason there was an unprecedented number of deaths was due to the citizens of Joplin not heeding the warning because the warnings were "better than they usually were." Lewis gratuitously casts AccuWeather in the role of devil regarding the tornado -- when the opposite was true. 

The Truth

As I indicated in the blog posting below, Mr. Lewis has no commercial meteorology background or knowledge. Apparently, the information he received on the Joplin Tornado came from Sullivan. The issue is that Dr. Sullivan (who is also not a meteorologist) knows better than her contention that the NWS did well that horrible day. How do I know?

I personally offered her a copy of When the Sirens Were 
Silent, my book about the Joplin Tornado at a meteorological meeting.
It was inscribed with "Let's work together to make sure nothing like
this ever happens again" and I signed it. 

Instead of saying, "thank you," or something similar, she replied, "I've heard about this book!", grabbed the copy out of my hands and stomped off. 

So, since Lewis chose to highlight the NWS's supposedly better-than-usual performance and AccuWeather's alleged non-existent performance pertaining to the Joplin Tornado in the book, let's review the NWS's performance and compare it to AccuWeather's. Keep in mind the role of the NWS is to warn the public-at-large and the role of commercial weather companies is to warn their enterprise clientele. 

The Tragic Lack of Effective Tornado Warning From the NWS

If, as Sullivan and Lewis contend, the NWS warning for the Joplin tornado was "better than usual," why did a local National Weather Service employee state one year later (in the Joplin Globe), "Joplin was essentially blindsided by the tornado"?
Except the tornado didn't "form over Joplin." That bit of propaganda was developed to shield the NWS from criticism for its lack of effective warning. 

Before I show you the inaccurate NWS products, let's review the warning as it unfolded on KSNF TV, the NBC affiliate in Joplin. You hear the meteorologist Caitlin McArdle and newscaster Jeremiah Cook speaking very calmly at the beginning. Why? Relying on NWS products, they had no idea the tornado was moving into Joplin. The sirens were not being sounded. Then, Caitlin realizes what the camera is showing in front of her eyes. Her tone and sense of urgency changes instantly. 

I interviewed Caitlin for When the Sirens Were Silent. She told me she was "shocked" the tornado was coming into Joplin. 

Here is the National Weather Service's attempt to warn Joplin. It was issued at 5:17pm. 
click to enlarge
Please note the NWS says the tornado was "moving northeast at 40 mph."

Here is AccuWeather's tornado warning, issued one-minute earlier, for Kansas City Southern Railroad which runs north-south through the center of Joplin. Other Joplin clients received warnings customized for their location and requirements. 
Note that it says, "Look for a tornado to move east though the area." 

The difference in those five letters was absolutely critical. The NWS meteorologists reported the storm was moving northeast from Riverton and then Galena, Kansas. A northeast movement misses the city of Joplin! The graphic below illustrates.
AccuWeather's predicted path was perfect -- across southern Joplin just south of old Highway 66. The diagonal arrow, the NWS's forecast path, missed the city completely. The NWS would go on and repeat its error several more times. When I was interviewing people for Sirens, I was told, over and over, "I thought it was going to miss the city." 

Below is an excerpt from Singing Over Me, Dannielle Stammer's book about the experience her
family had with the tornado. Ms. Stammer's family was perfectly safe but turned the car around and drove back into the path of the tornado (her husband was seriously injured) because they, too, were told the tornado was going north of the city.

On the other hand, AccuWeather's clients acted on and used the AW tornado warning. Here is an email from Tom Murphy of RailAmerica, which dispatches the Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad -- another railroad that runs through Joplin -- written two days after the tornado. At the time of the Joplin tornado, what has been AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions since August, 2011, was called WeatherData Services, Inc. 
click to enlarge
Approximately 1-hour before the devastation, WeatherData's advanced weather warning system (referring to AW's first warning of a dangerous storm) alerted the train dispatcher that the ensuing storm would hit the community of Joplin, and directly impact the MNA. RailAmerica's dispatcher immediately took action and ceased all [train] movement in the area and informed all employees to get into a position of safety...

I can provide much, much more information. If this is topic of further interest, I would like to direct you to When the Sirens Were Silent.

The Lewis audiobook also makes other questionable contentions, such as it was somehow the fault of the people of Joplin for not heeding the tornado warning. The fact was the NWS Office in Springfield, MO (the same one I praised last week after the Duck Boat incident) at the time was terribly over-warning of tornadoes. The NWS has 132 "forecast offices" which have warning responsibility for a number of 
counties in their region. The two counties immediately southwest of Joplin are Craig and Ottawa counties in Oklahoma. Their warnings are issued by the NWS in Tulsa. From 2008 to 2011, those counties had just 7 tornado warnings, each. Jasper County (Joplin), Missouri, handled by the Springfield NWS had an incredible 34 tornado warnings! All but two of those were false alarms. The terrible over-warning had "trained" the people of Joplin not to pay attention to tornado warnings. This, too, is in the book I gave Dr. Sullivan. She also could have learned that herself if she had bothered to research the subject. 

I retired from AccuWeather in March. I can state that the people of AccuWeather worked extraordinarily hard and with great dedication to provide the finest tornado warnings in the industry -- government or private sector. With Joplin and on so many other occasions, they succeeded. And, as Lewis himself is forced to acknowledge, "at least one" independent study has shown AccuWeather's forecasts to be more accurate than those of the National Weather Service. 

If it wasn't clear after reading this morning's posting about The Coming Storm, then the details above should remove any doubt: Mr. Lewis' book is a poorly researched polemic apparently designed to derail Barry Myers' nomination to be administrator of NOAA.