Thursday, September 20, 2018

Of Course They Do

A Google search or a Facebook account is not "free." YOU are their product.

The only way these gargantuan and (to put it mildly) misbehaving companies are going to be forced to reform is by people ceasing to use their services. I'm off Facebook completely. I use DuckDuckGo for web searches. Bing is my backup.

Recommend you do the same.

Danger! Danger! Fire Ants Spreading in Florence's Floodwaters

The creepy story is here.

Hurricane Maria: An Accurate Death Toll

With Florence last week, I didn't get a chance to put up the information about Hurricane Maria's revised death toll. You'll find it here.

The Wall Street Journal has a comprehensive article about the effects of Maria on Puerto Rico, here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Some Final Thoughts About Hurricane Florence

I want to begin by acknowledging to everyone what a great job the National Weather Service did with Hurricane Florence. 

And, the forecasts and messaging for Florence from the entire meteorological community represented a huge step forward. 
Florence also demonstrated the minority of people who believe we can take human meteorologists out of the process are wrong, very wrong. Some of the computer models were way off early in the process yet human forecasters knew how to correct for those issues. We are going to need human forecasters, especially in storm or unusual circumstances, as far into the future as I can see.

Regardless of that huge step forward, there were a vocal few people who were upset -- some very upset -- about the television, WEA, and Twitter warnings for Hurricane Florence.
Those are a couple of the civil tweets. Some were downright mean.

While I know we cannot please everyone, I'm not sure these people people want. The forecasts, including that it would take days for all of the rivers to crest, were excellent. See here and here.

The issue I have is that first responders have to go in, risking their lives, to rescue these skeptics.
I believe it is immoral to ask people to risk their lives to save a person when that person ignores mandatory evacuation orders. I suggest local governments begin fining people who are rescued in that way:
  • A fine of $500/household if rescued by boat.
  • Fine of $1,000 if rescued by a helicopter.
The death toll of 33, while tragic, is tiny when compared with the Florence's potential. Combine that number with the 900+ rescues so far plus the fact that most people evacuated and you can easily imagine a death toll of 1,000+ had the forecasts been off.

Weather science likely saved 1,000+ deaths in Florence. Regardless of location, go buy your favorite meteorologist a beer or send them a congratulatory note. It will be greatly appreciated.

Note that I am not congratulating the climate community. The behavior of some during Florence was disgraceful: trying to politically tie Florence to President Trump or global warming. Dr. Judith Curry -- an expert in the field -- published a piece on her blog yesterday agreeing that there is little evidence to tie Florence to global warming. Her conclusion is below. Her entire piece is here.

I’ve scratched the surface of the complex issues surrounding the weather and climate dynamics of Florence, but the take home point is that convincingly attributing any of this to human caused global warming is very challenging, and the strategies used by the mainstream climate community to do this ... are woefully inadequate and misleading to scientists, the public and policy makers.

Dr. Curry is not the only one. Here is an excerpt of a Letter to the Editor of Nature which was part of the "global warming caused/made worse Hurricane Florence" crowd. This will get a tiny fraction of the publicity than the original, unscientific claims.
Global warming has contaminated the field of atmosphere science, to which I have given my career, and it saddens me greatly.

Yours Truly On This Week's AccuWeather Podcast

Hi everyone. The topic of the AccuWeather Podcast this week is podcast (free) the Joplin Tornado and my book, When the Sirens Were Silent. I hope you'll take a listen.
The Joplin tornado was the deadliest single tornado since the storm warning program begin in the 1950's. Why? We answer that question in the podcast. And if you would like more information, please check out my book.

Generators & Hurricane Florence

A great story from Popular Mechanics

"Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather"

With all of the hard work and lack of sleep this week, I was delighted to find this on my Twitter feed earlier today:

click to enlarge
I appreciate all of the people who have read Warnings during Hurricane Florence!!
Written like a novel (but all true), my book has a 5-Star rating from both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

If you have benefitted from or enjoyed the hurricane coverage this past week, I'd really appreciate it if you would pick up a copy. You will be glad you did. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

We Need A Moment of Nature's Beauty

After all of the death and destruction of the last week, here is a photo that is exhibits the beauty of nature.
Peak One, Breckenridge, Colorado
Mark Smith, Taken This Morning

How Bad or Good Were The Forecasts for Florence?

Charlotte Observer
The quick bottom line as to the quality of the forecasts of Hurricane Florence presented on this blog:
  • The forecast location of landfall of the eye of Florence was extraordinary. Incredibly good; a major step forward for weather science.
  • The forecast of the record flooding rains. Again, excellent.
  • The forecast of maximum wind speeds was "fair." Yes, it was a significant hurricane but the initial wind speed forecasts were too high. 
  • The forecast location and magnitude of the storm surge forecasts were good to very good. 
So far there have been seventeen reported deaths and "900 lives saved" due to rescues. The latter suggests the evacuation orders and the forecasts were not as effective as they should have been.

It also suggests that, without good forecasts, the number of deaths could have been 1,000 or more!!

Now, the details. 

Landfall Location
Here is the Sunday forecast of landfall presented on this blog. In this case, it is the NHC forecast. 
That is essentially a perfect forecast except that it was about six hours early. I was essentially using their forecasts with some slight damping out of changes due to model overcorrections at times.

There is a 15+ year old estimate that each mile of coast under a hurricane warning costs $1 million  (doesn't account for inflation). So, if a hurricane warning takes up 50 miles of coast, the preparation cost is $50,000,000. The actual hurricane warning was small enough that perhaps a $100,000,000 in unnecessary precaution costs were averted compared to the width of the hurricane for a similar storm 20 years ago. Please see my post, The 700,000,000 Forecast, for more on this topic.

Flooding Rains
On Sunday afternoon, I posted the item below forecasting record rain and flooding. I was sticking my neck way out but I wanted to give my readers time to prepare. Nearly ten thousand read it. 

Here is the forecast presented on this blog Sunday morning (9th):

Here is the actual rainfall (note: this was updated Tuesday, 18th, with later information).
click to enlarge
I believe you will agree the match is excellent, especially with a forecast made four days in advance of the beginning of Florence's rains. The forecasts got better from here. 

The flooding has been extreme. Below is an image of Interstate 40 taken earlier this afternoon. 

Florence's Wind Speeds
Here is the forecast I posted Monday.

Here is Tuesday's wind speed forecast. I revised it down but not enough. 

Here is the forecast I posted Thursday (day before landfall) that was quite good. There was a 119 mph wind gust reported right off the coast. 

Here is an analysis of the actual wind gusts from Florence.
You can compare this to the wind gust forecasts (above).

Florence weakened more quickly than expected which accounts for the overforecast of wind speeds. Wind speed forecasting is the weakest part of meteorology's forecast abilities when it comes to hurricanes.

Storm Surge
Preliminary indications are that the storm surge forecasts were good. The USGS and NOAA are out measuring that now.

Weather science has done an amazing job the last 15 years when it comes to improving both the accuracy the utility of storm warnings. The beneficiary is the people of the United States and our economy.

ADDITION: My friend, Dr. Bill Hooke, wrote about this same topic on his blog this morning. It is here

Hurricane Florence Total Rainfall - Updated

This posting has been removed. The updated information is here.

Global Warming: Is There Anything It Can't Do? XXXVI

Okay, then.

Turn Around, Don't Drown

I'm very glad the truck diver is okay. Yet another case of driving into floodwaters and the pavement being undermined.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Memo to My Readers

This concludes the coverage of Hurricane Florence and 
subsequent flooding. 

Because of the historic nature of this storm, I will keep my coverage on the blog for the rest of its history in case it might be useful to some researcher.

I will also, tomorrow or Tuesday, write a post comparing the accuracy of the forecasts versus what actually occurred.

Hurricane Fran: Is 'Price Gouging' A Good Thing?

Here is a point of view you probably will not read elsewhere:

A state law that forbids pricing based on conditions on the ground — and backs that up with threats of fines and being taken to court! — makes it harder to bring in fresh supplies after that same state law helps us run out of existing supplies.
But what about people being “taken advantage of”?
The thing is, when the government dictates prices to prevent consumers from being “taken advantage of” by higher prices during a natural disaster, it’s telling suppliers they’re going to be taken advantage of. Laws against “price gouging” are laws that tell suppliers they can’t break even.
I urge you to read the entire article.

Florence Flooding: The Rains Aren't Over Yet!

As of 10:45am Sunday, heavy rains will continue falling for another 18-36 hours. 

Here is the flash flood forecast from now through 8am tomorrow morning. 80% of all flash flood deaths occur in "high risk" areas.

And, from 8am Monday to 8am Tuesday.

Addition as of 11:10am:
click to enlarge
Per a bulletin from the NWS, the area outlined will experience extreme rainfall during the next six hours. As much as eight inches in spots is not out of the question.


Waters are still rising in many areas. Here are my safety suggestions:
  • Put together a "go kit" with passports, current utility bill (to establish residence), birth certificates, family heirlooms and other vital and difficult to replace material so you can leave at a moment's notice.
  • Be able to shut off gas and water to your home at a moment's notice. 
  • Keep your car filled with gas. 
  • If you are in a flash flood warning, climb first rather than than just driving away.
  • Turn around, don't drown! Do not try to drive through flooded areas. 
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, evacuate now. 
  • There will be mudslides in/near the mountains and foothills
Please evacuate if ordered to do so. 

Now, the meteorological details:

Regional radar at 10:30am.
Yellow is heavy rains. Red is torrential rain. Bright green polygons are flash flood warnings. Note the heavy rains and warnings now extend into western North Carolina.

Here is a forecast of additional rainfall for the next 48 hours. The dark browns are more than ten inch amounts. Please note the ten inch amounts extend into the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia
where landslides and flash flooding will occur.

Below is a map of how much rain has fallen as of 8am this morning.

So, this continues to be a record situation with unprecedented flooding in many areas. Some of the larger rivers will be in flood for another week or more.

Finally, if you believe you can "get away with" driving through a flooded area, I urge you to watch this video.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

11:10pm Note

No reason to update the posts below.

6:40pm Florence Forecast: MORE CATASTROPHIC RAINS

The Death Toll in North Carolina is Now 11
In South Carolina One Has Died

Here is the output of several reliable computer models that I have been weighing and considering along with other data during the last hour. They show the already record flooding is going to continue to worsen. Both I-95 and I-40 are closed with more roads closing by the hour.

Here is the amount of rain that has fallen up until 5pm EDT. The area of 20 inches or more is huge.
click to enlarge
If the rain stopped now, many rivers would set records and some areas would flood that have never flooded before.

Forecast of Additional Rainfall
This is a very high-resolution model that forecasts the rainfall from 2pm today to 8am Sunday.
It is forecasting an additional 25" during that period of time (white circle).

Here is a little longer range forecast from 2pm EDT today through 2am Tuesday morning.
Now, this forecast overlaps with the one above. What it is showing is a storm total (this 31" forecast of additional rain plus what has already fallen) of around 50 inches!!

As the storm moves west the Appalachians come into focus.
That is 16"+ in the higher elevations. That will cause liquification and mudslides.

What now? Absolutely, positively do the following:
  • Put together a "go kit" with passports, current utility bill (to establish residence), birth certificates, family heirlooms and other vital and difficult to replace material.
  • Keep your car filled with gas. 
  • If you are in a flash flood warning, climb first. 
  • Turn around, don't drown. Scroll down to see what it looks like to nearly die in flash flooding.
  • If you live in a known flood-prone area, evacuate now. 
There are enough wind gusts left in Florence to uproot trees in areas with saturated soils. There will also be additional tornadoes.
"Charlotte Observer"
If a tornado warning is issued, go to a closet or bath in the middle of the home. Do not go to the basement given the current flash flooding risks.

TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN

According to news reports, four people have
been killed in flash flooding in separate automobile 
incidents this afternoon in North Carolina

If you believe "it won't happen to you," please watch this video courtesy of Chris Novy.

The only reason Chris was able to escape is because there was a concrete liner and his windshield shattered (you see it in the video and the water rushing in). Had it not shattered, Chris would have died.


This a screen capture from a few minutes ago. It is from a live video from Mike Scantlin. You see Reed Timmer photographing a hole next to U.S. 17 in North Carolina. That hole (purple) was created by erosion from the floodwaters across the highway. Mike and Reed are talking, "This road should be closed!"* Why?
But, look at the red arrow. That is pavement being washed away. Usually, the washing out occurs under the pavement and toward the top. It is possible that large parts of the highway could washout at any time.

That is why it is so dangerous to drive into a flooded area with flowing water. You don't know whether there is pavement under you!

Don't end up like the driver below (photo courtesy WJLA TV).

*I'm sure the road will be closed as soon as North Carolina officials can get to it. There is major flooding all over the state (scroll down). 

Florence Flood Update, 3:30pm Saturday

Below is the 3:20pm radar of Tropical Storm Florence.
Tragically, the Florence Flood Event is just beginning. The storm is moving slowly west and continues to dump torrential rains which is leading to catastrophic failures. Both I-40 and I-95 are already closed. Areas are flooding that have never flooded before. More major highways will be closed with travel increasingly hazardous -- especially tonight.

Details below:
Forecast Additional Rainfall though Tuesday

Below is a map of how much rain has already fallen. A few weather stations are reporting more than 30 inches.
The white areas are more than 20 inches. A few spots within the white area have had more than 30 inches.

Below are the flash flood forecasts. Keep in mind that 80% of all flash flood deaths occur in "high risk" areas.
Until 8am Sunday

8am Sunday to 8am Monday

8am Monday to 8am Tuesday
A few vital points:
  • Put together a "go kit" with passports, current utility bill (to establish residence), birth certificates, family heirlooms and other vital and difficult to replace material so you can leave at a moment's notice.
  • Be able to shut off gas and water to your home at a moment's notice. 
  • Keep your car filled with gas. 
  • If you are in a flash flood warning, climb first rather than than just driving away.
  • Turn around, don't drown! Do not try to drive through flooded areas. 
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, evacuate now. 
  • There will be mudslides in/near the mountains and foothills
Please evacuate if ordered to do so. 

Hurricane Florence Donations

Based on the research I have done, the best organization for storm donations is The Salvation Army. I urge you do donate to them.

While you may have another opinion, I am not a fan of the Red Cross for disaster donations. There have been too many examples of diverting disaster donations to other purposes and similar irregularities for my taste. RC has a B+ rating from CharityWatch.com which, while not bad, is lower than some of the other charities I prefer.

Florence Flood Status, 11:20am Saturday

Record rainfalls are leading to record flooding. Areas will flood that have never flooded before. More evacuations are being ordered. Please leave if ordered to do so. 
Tropical Depression Florence at 10:07am
Here is the amount of rain that has fallen, so far.

Tragically, still more torrential rain is likely.

And, the threat of tornadoes still exists.