Sunday, March 29, 2020

Thoughts on Yesterday's Tornadoes

The fact there were violent tornadoes and zero fatalities was a testament to the value of our tornado warning system. 

As long-time readers of this blog know, I like to review events where we've made forecasts of high-impact weather.

A violent tornado struck northeast Arkansas yesterday, including a strike on the City of Jonesboro.
There was extensive, severe damage. This violent tornado is rated EF-3 and, maybe, EF-4 intensity. [Note: the damage survey has been finished and it was an EF-3.]
Why you should be in indoor shelter during a tornado. Imagine
one of those pieces of metal slicing through you at 150 mph!
Take a look at what happened to this USPS truck after the tornado flung it through the air.
Via Twitter
In spite of the violence of this tornado, there were only six minor injuries. 
Some are pointing out the sheltering-in-place for the coronavirus helped. Undoubtedly it did because people at home can more easily, and quickly, monitor the weather and then shelter than those in a car or in an unfamiliar business or shopping mall.
That said, the NWS's excellent tornado watch and warning along with radio and TV meteorologists' live broadcasts showing the tornado in progress were key factors in people being able to prepare and then shelter when the moment came. 

This wasn't just true in Jonesboro, it was true throughout the region stricken by the many tornadoes.
Via Twitter
Above is Wayne Hart warning of the tornado(es) that struck in the lower Ohio Valley (don't yet know how many there were). The photo below is of the damage in nearby Henderson County, Indiana.
Indy Star
The National Weather Service is the very best bargain in the entire federal government. And, private sector meteorologists worked tirelessly yesterday.

While the above is congratulatory, I do need to state that my forecast of overnight tornadoes Friday night was inaccurate. While there were destructive hailstorms, as far as I know, no tornadoes occurred. I apologize for the inaccuracy.
Jefferson City Hailstorm, photo: KOMU TV
There is a lot of the 2020 tornado season remaining. Those who have not set up my tornado alarm - using your iPhone or Android - should do so. It can play a major role in keeping you safe. Via Twitter, here is a happy user in Nashville (read from the bottom up), after I suggested yesterday evening he use the alarm.
You get a subtle sound for a severe thunderstorm warning. For a tornado warning (or a tsunami or other life-threatening storm), you get a loud scream that will awaken you. The great thing about this warning tool is that GPS allows you to be warned at your specific location (whether you are at home, office or camping) with a minimum of false alarms.

There's more tornado season to come. Make sure you are prepared. And, we'll keep applying meteorological science to give you the information you need to keep you, your friends, and your family safe. 

Sunday Fun: "Stayin' Inside"

This is really well done. 

BTW, if you like single artist covers of songs, I found this version of Frankie and the Four Seasons' December, 1963, to be very well done, also.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

3 Tornado Watches in Effect

There are three tornado watches in effect as of 4pm CDT.

If you live in this region, please keep up on the latest weather information.

Note: this will be my last forecast pertaining to this situation. Please continue to follow me on Twitter @usweatherexpert . 

"Particularly Dangerous Situation" Tornado Watch

This tornado watch is in effect until 9pm. According to the NWS SPC, there is a "high" risk of strong tornadoes. As discussed earlier, the tornadoes will move rapidly, especially in Missouri and Illinois.

There is also a conventional tornado watch for much of Arkansas along with parts of the Missouri Bootheel.

If you live in these areas, now is the time to start monitoring the weather. 

Update on Today's High Tornado Risk in Midwest

Forecast Update 11:45a
The forecast tornado risk has been increased for eastern Missouri.
Otherwise, the Midwest forecast (below) is the same. 

-- original posting --
Here is the SPC's updated tornado forecast for today and this evening. Here's what the colors and hatching mean:
  • Hatching = risk of violent tornadoes. 
  • Brown = significant risk of tornadoes.
  • Yellow = enhanced risk of tornadoes.
  • Red = high risk of tornadoes. 
These tornadoes will be fast-moving, so you will need to move quickly if a tornado warning is issued. The tornadoes may move as fast as a mile a minute. 

This is the most ominous tornado forecast for Chicago in at least six years.

If you have friends or relatives in this area, please make sure they are aware of the threat. You will need to respond quickly tomorrow if a tornado warning is issued.

Where should you shelter?

Things to do now to prepare:
  • Turn your television to a trusted meteorologist and leave it there. Don't channel-hop. That might cause you to miss essential information. 
  • Turn on your NOAA Weather Radio and make sure it has adequate batteries. 
  • Set up a tornado alarm
  • Clear out your shelter or other safe space. Put in a couple of bottles of water and, if appropriate, a couple of diapers. 
  • Make sure you are wearing shoes when you enter the shelter and have a way to protect your head.
  • Now, put your car in the garage along with any items that can be blown about.
  • Take surgical masks, if you have them, into a public or semi-public shelter since you may be crowded together. 
Please note: I do not live-blog tornadoes. I do provide additional information on Twitter:@usweatherexpert. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

- High Tornado Risk For Saturday and Saturday Evening -

This situation is the most ominous in several years 
in this region. 
These tornadoes will be fast-moving, so I am providing this preparedness information tonight. If you have friends or relatives in this area, please make sure they are aware of the threat. You will need to respond quickly tomorrow if a tornado warning is issued. The tornadoes may move as fast as a mile a minute. 

Where should you shelter?

Things to do now to prepare:
  • Turn your television to a trusted meteorologist and leave it there. Don't channel-hop. That might cause you to miss essential information. 
  • Turn on your NOAA Weather Radio and make sure it has adequate batteries. 
  • Set up a tornado alarm
  • Clear out your shelter or other safe space. Put in a couple of bottles of water and, if appropriate, a couple of diapers. 
  • Make sure you are wearing shoes when you enter the shelter and have a way to protect your head.
  • Now, put your car in the garage along with any items that can be blown about.
  • Take masks into the shelter since you may be crowded together. 

Updated Tornado Forecast For Friday Night

The red area has a significant risk of tornadoes between 9pm and 6am. I have revised the forecast to eliminate Oklahoma and the parts of Kansas west of the Flint Hills.

It is important, if you are in the red outlined area, to have fresh batteries for the weather radio and to implement the "tornado alarm" and take both to your bedroom so you will be awakened if a tornado warning is issued. Note: these storms will be fast-moving. So, act quickly if a warning is issued.

Serious Tornado Risk in the Midwest Saturday

This forecast, by the NWS SPC, looks like it is -- unfortunately -- right on the money Saturday and Saturday evening.

The tornado risk is designated by colors and hatching. Let's break it down:
  • Brown = significant tornado risk. This includes St. Louis and Indianapolis. 
  • Yellow = enhanced tornado risk. Hatched area = violent tornado(es) possible. This includes much of Chicagoland. 
  • Red = high tornado risk with violent tornado(es) possible. This includes Peoria and the Quad Cities. 
Especially in Missouri and Illinois this is an all-day tornado risk (i.e., there could be tornadoes in the morning). Now is a great time to make sure your weather radio is working and/or you have your "tornado alarm" set up. 

Also, please make sure your shelter area is ready to go. You may wish to move any vital family keepsakes or data into it. Prestock it with a couple of water bottles and, if necessary, diapers. 

Note: It is the official opinion of public health officials that, if a tornado warning is necessary, worry about the tornado first (the immediate threat) and then coronavirus. So, if you have a friend/family who lives in a mobile home or doesn't have a basement, it is better to let them share your basement than to strand them in a dangerous tornado situation. 

Addition. Below is a close-up map of the highest risk area.

Tornado Forecast For Tonight

Forecast Cancelled. Scroll Up
For Update
This is one of the most difficult forecasts I have made in several years. The ingredients seem to be coming together to support the chance of nighttime tornadoes in the area I have outlined.

This is a perfect opportunity to make sure your weather radio is working with fresh batteries and to activate your tornado alarm.

In a bit, I'll have a forecast up for the serious tornado risk for Saturday in the Midwest.

Weather Update

As of 10a Friday, there is a risk of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms tonight in the Great Plains and again Saturday in the Midwest.

I will have updated information early this afternoon. Please check back.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Just Shut Up, Already!

National Geographic
Big Climate will never stop. It is relentless in its quest for power and money. And, the fact they are using children as propaganda tools demonstrates the lengths to which they will go to attain their goals. We cannot give them power.

Small Business and Washington

President Reagan knew that small business was the lifeblood of the economy and did everything he could to empower it. I started WeatherData, Inc., my highly successful commercial meteorology company, in the first six months of his administration.

After he left office, about all I, and my entrepreneur friends, got from Washington was request for donations. I remember one day, with severe weather in progress and as I was on the forecast floor, picking up the phone (after my assistant said it was urgent) and it my was congressman asking for a rather large donation.

You may not be aware of "party dues." It is the system where a new congressmen arrives at the Capitol, is sworn in, and is immediately in debt. The amounts of money are in dispute but I am told for the newest members is around $150,000/year. If you raise more, you get better committee assignments, et cetera. So, to a large extent, all of the fund raising calls are understandable.

In the current crisis, it is vital that small business bounce back 100%. I have my doubts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

One More Time: Don't Take Photos on Railroad Tracks

I am appalled that Associated Press published this photograph  yesterday. Those are active railroad tracks (you can tell by the polished rails). Over and over and over people die needlessly because they are on, or are very close to, tracks. Please don't be one of them!

Something an Enemy in a James Bond Movie Would Do

Don't these people ever watch James Bond movies?

Don't they ever watch a disaster movie that begins with a warning from a scientist not to do something?

Seriously: we don't know how to control the weather and I guarantee there will be serious, negative, unintended consequences if this is done. Decreasing earth's temperature seems to increase the amount of storminess around the world.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Upgrade to Tornado Risk This Afternoon and Tonight

NWS SPC has upgraded the tornado risk area and sharpened it a bit. The yellow area is an enhanced risk of tornadoes and the hatching means strong tornadoes are possible.

The brown is a significant risk of a tornado.

Please keep up on the weather across this area the rest of today and tonight. 

Please follow me @usweatherexpert on Twitter for updates.

Today's Tornado Risk

The brown area has a significant risk of tornadoes. Please monitor the weather as the day progresses in this area.

Thank You, Thank You!!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Severe Storm Outlook

Update: Please cancel the forecast below. 
Any threat of violent winds has ended. 

There is a marginal chance of thunderstorms with damaging winds and, literally, a brief tornado or two in the area outlined. The tornado threat will not occur until near and an hour or two after sunset.

There is a chance of scattered areas of large hail over much of Kansas tonight.

This is a Very Real Concern to Me

comment on Twitter about the coronavirus social isolation
Agree completely. Months from now, when all of this is over, President Trump will need to take a look at all of this nonsense, including the TSA, but now is not the time.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Stuck Inside? Two Great Books Available in E-Book Form

On top of the coronavirus raging, we are moving toward the peak of tornado season, with tornadoes forecast in a small part of the Great Plains Monday (I'll cover that on the blog tomorrow). Since your local bookstore may be closed, both of my books are available in print or e-book. If you don't have a Kindle, you can get the free Kindle Cloud Reader. With the Kindle Reader, you can use your computer to read the books just like paper copies. 
My book, Warnings, may be the perfect book for this crisis. It is the uplifting story of how heroic meteorologists risked their reputations and careers to build the tornado, hurricane and aviation warning systems that save literally thousands of lives each year. The link will take you to the e-book version which contains extra photos we couldn't get into the print version.

When the Sirens Were Silent is the story of the 2011 Joplin Tornado and how the rare failure of the tornado warning system. That failure caused the storm to become the worst killer tornado in the modern era.

If you like this blog, I think you'll like these highly rated books. 

From Twitter: Two Perfect Responses

And, the second...

No, That's Not How It Works

No, Daily Mail, in the United States, generals do not govern the nation if something happens to the President and Vice President. There is -- in law -- a succession list if something were to happen to President Trump (e.g., he died from COVID-19). Here is the list of Presidential succession.
For years(!) I have been advocating dispersing the federal government (see here, among many others). The abundance of good reasons for doing so is only enhanced by  COVID-19. For example, Sedgwick Co. (which includes Wichita) has a population of 513,289 and yet has just a single case of COVID-19 while, at the same time, hospitals are seriously threatened from Washington to New York. If the Department of Agriculture was here (as I propose), the Secretary of Agriculture, who is in the line of succession, would be able to function more easily than his counterparts in the District of Columbia as it is unlikely a crisis would affect all locations of the United States simultaneously.

Finally, this type of headline plays into the (inaccurate) stereotype of President Trump.
I seriously doubt the President has even seen this proposal. If it is anything like what is described in the article, Attorney General Barr needs to shoot it down, immediately.

Sunday Fun: A Terrific Book

Looking for a great book while you are avoiding people?

In this situation where we are trying to ramp up production of medical equipment, the story of how we ramped up production during World War II is not only pertinent, it is fascinating. When Freedom's Forge came out in 2003, it was one of the rare books I couldn't put down.

You probably think, how could a story about industry during a war be fascinating? Author Arthur Herman did a great job of weaving in the people (especially Bunky Knudson) who used their ingenuity to not only produce the greatest military force the world has ever known yet still produced a reasonable number of civilian washing machines, automobiles and other goods.

Five Stars!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Stay Home Tonight!

What The Heck Are These Tax-Free Endowments For?

Bumped and updated:

The endowments of Harvard+Yale+Stanford+Princeton = 
More than a Quarter of a Trillion Dollars (before market crash)
There will be many, many losers in all of this but universities and other 'non-profit' institutions will be among the top. While there are dozens of stories about taxpaying businesses performing heroically, institution after institution has behaved abysmally in this critical situation. I came close to posting a quote from a university administrator who "laughed out loud" when asked if he would be giving refunds for unused room and board this semester. 

Given the fact their students are going to get a taste of distance learning, their awful behavior (which has been going on the last two decades behind the scenes) will be out in the open for all to see. 

It is way past time for Congress to start taxing the endowments and to begin setting limits on them. 

-- original posting -- 
What?! The Met has a tax-free endowment of $3.6 billion! Why can't it spend a tiny part of that endowment to keep its people on staff?

The exact same thing is true of universities. Harvard has a tax-free endowment, the last time I checked, of $55 billion [unknown given market crash]. I don't know whether they are planning any layoffs but other universities are. If this isn't the type of situation where endowments are tapped, why are these tax-free endowments allowed?

While You Are At Home With Your Children...

...have you thought about a model train set? Lionel, and others, make some incredible sets that require little wiring and zero technical expertise. If you purchase a set, get enough extra track to have a switch and siding. It greatly increases the play value.

Just to let you know, most of the train and hobby shops are small businesses that could really use your support right now. And, almost all of them ship.

Of course, some of us have gone far beyond a basic train set.

'Nuff Said

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Update on Today's Tornado Risk

There are two areas of tornado risk.
  • The yellow is the area of enhanced risk. 
  • Brown is the area of signifiant tornado risk.
If you are in either area, please keep up on the weather the rest of the day and this evening. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


This is a perfect illustration of why "social distancing" is vital!
Please, please follow this advice and we'll be through this much faster with a much better result. 

Thank you, Dr. Oz. 

Don't Second Guess the President At This Time

The above sign couldn't be more apropos. 

The "second guessing" has already begun. See this column by Dennis Prager. It is my opinion that column was written so he can point to it later and say, "I was right!" It is obvious that Mr. Prager has never been in a precedented (i.e., has never occurred in modern times) situation where there are dozens of unknowns.

Scott Adams, the creator of "Dilbert" has the perfect reply.
Are there dumb ideas floating around? Yes. The idea that Boeing should get $60 billion from the taxpayers to fix its incompetence  (like TARP did for the banks, we don't need to repeat that awful mistake) is ridiculous. There are, I'm sure, many others. That is why President Trump and his team are taking their time making these decisions. Will some or many be flawed? Certainly. But, that is the nature of war and we are at war against coronavirus.

As many know, I don't personally care for Mr. Trump. But, he is our President and we owe him our support at this difficult time. As Scott Adams says, we need to judge how he fixes things when more is known and how he implements policies to fix the rot at CDC, FDA and CIA (yes, CIA) when the crisis has passed.

In the meantime: Please support your fellow citizens and, especially, small businesses in your area. Maybe even consider how Christians helped their fellow man during Roman times.

Enhanced Tornado Risk Thursday

There is an enhanced tornado risk Thursday for the Ozarks and Middle Mississippi Valley. Please check back tonight and tomorrow morning for more specific forecasts.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Things Meteorologists Know About Storm Warnings That May Be Applicable to Coronavirus Warnings

Weather science has learned a great deal from social science pertaining to how people react in pressure storm warning situations. I'm listing the lessons meteorologists have learned, in no particular order, in case they are helpful in the cornonavirus (CV) situation. 
  1. Stop telling people, "don't panic." It is both patronizing and unhelpful. Social scientists know genuine panic is rare. When does it occur? Two situations: a) When people's lives are threatened and they don't know how to save them; and b) When something prevents people from taking the measures they know are needed to save their lives or things dear to them. Want to prevent panic? Then, tell people what they need to do and enable them to do it. 
  2. There seems to be a developing gap between what we are being told about CV and the actual situation. Last week, we were being told CV is 6-9 times more contagious than regular flu and 10 to 25 times more lethal. Various publications stated this would be the week where hospitals would be starring to overflow with cases. As far as I can see, outside of the Seattle area, this is not the case. It is too early in the week?
  3. In order for people to conduct themselves in a manner they do not prefer (e.g., crawl into a bathtub for a tornado warning and stay there for 20 minutes) to save their lives, the people advising them to do so must have credibility and that credibility can be easily lost. That is why officials need to be addressing #2. Are the forecasts off? Fine! Is the strategy to "flatten the curve" working? Even better! But, #2 needs to be explained. For all of our sakes, public health officials must keep their credibility high. 
  4. Finally, people will not take precautions without "confirmation." In tornado warnings, this means that once the meteorologist announces "tornado warning," people will look out the window, call a relative, or will switch to another television station. Until the "confirmation" requirement is met, they will not take shelter. Right now, we are putting businesses, especially small businesses, in mortal danger. Asking a small business to shut down for CV is like asking a person to crawl into the bathtub. The level of skepticism about the seriousness of the CV threat, as reflected on my Twitter feed today, has never been higher. A couple of tweeters, people I really respect, are claiming this is massively overblown. I don't think it is. But, our officials desperately need to show the overflowing hospital ER's or explain why they are not [yet].
Daily Mail
We are in completely uncharted waters and I do not envy President Trump, the governors and others who are making these decisions. But, if they want people to cooperate, for everyone's sakes, they need to immediately begin considering factors #1 to #4 and perhaps even contact some of the social scientists with whom meteorologists have been working to improve storm warnings.

                    (c) 2020, Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC

In This Time of Chaos

Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth. If you need a bit of beauty while you are stuck indoors, the link to the Yosemite Falls webcam is here.