Friday, November 27, 2020

Winter Storm Forecast: 8am Monday

Here is the forecast for the developing winter storm as of 8am Monday.

And, here is a forecast of the snow on the ground as of that time.

More snow will accumulate during the day accompanied by strong north winds. Please keep this in mind if you are going to travel in the region. 

Amen!

 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!!

We live in an amazing time: prior to COVID: the lowest level of extreme poverty in the history of humanity, famine nearly a thing of the past, no major wars. While there is still more to do, science is allowing us to get a handle on COVID. We have a tremendous amount about which to be thankful. 

Most of those blessings have borne fruit in the United States because of liberty, property rights and the free enterprise system. I bright young person can choose a career in whatever field he or she believes will bear the most fruit. So, we should always keep in mind:

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Heads Up: Midwest Winter Storm

While this is very preliminary, I want everyone to know there is a possibility of a major winter storm in the Midwest Monday and Monday night. Keep an eye on the weather if you are going to be traveling. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Flood Threat in the South

Southeast Texas, Louisiana and southern Mississippi have a risk of serious flooding developing late in the week and early next week. Please keep this in mind as you plan your travels and monitor the weather accordingly. 

12:45pm Tornado and Travel Weather Update

Snow continues to fall over much of Colorado from the mountains east to the Kansas-Nebraska border. It will gradually move east into this evening and will affect I-70 and I-76.

The red area is where a tornado will likely be issued this afternoon and evening. Thunderstorms are developing from southwest Kansas into the northern Texas Panhandle which will likely cause large hail and may cause a few tornadoes. Please monitor the weather in this area the rest of the day.

I will be updating on Twitter @usweatherexpert. 

Make America's Wasps Great Again!

The subject of this posting is the insect not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

The United States is in danger of losing the ability to produce anti-venom for wasp and other insect stings. As usual, the government seems to be part of the problem. Even though the United States and Europe now have effective treatments, if we brought over Europe's anti-venom across the Atlantic this fascinating article states:

...The FDA would likely require “multimillion-dollar clinical trials involving sting challenges,” says Golden, referring to the act of intentionally stinging people by holding a yellow jacket, for example, on the arm of a volunteer until it stings them, which comes with the risk of anaphylaxis. “So, we’re stuck,” he says.

I recommend reading the entire article if you or someone who know has allergic reactions to insect bites.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Instead of a Climate Czar, Here's What America Really Needs...

So you know where I am coming from, I am a Reagan conservative. That means:

  • Liberty, free enterprise, and the rule of law are paramount.
  • Our huge government is failing us in many ways. We need much smaller, and more effective, government. 
But I make one exception pertaining to smaller government: The United States needs a National Disaster Review Board (NDRB) modeled on the National Transportation Review Board. The NDRB would focus on natural disasters and, yes, would include responses to disasters caused by extreme weather whether related to changes in climate or not. 

I have written a great deal about this topic. 
  • Part One is here
  • Part Two is here.
  • Wired calling for a NDRB is here.
  • You can find many other of my postings on the topic by doing a Google search.
The National Transportation Safety Board, an independent agency, has been an amazing success at making all forms of transportation, especially aviation, far, far safer. The NDRB, if constituted in accordance with the recommendations, would likely achieve similar success. 

Assuming President Trump's court challenges fail, the Biden Administration has a chance to take a real step forward for the nation by creating a National Disaster Review Board. It is something non-political that would be a major step forward for Americans of all stripes. 

Climate Czar: Starting Off With a Bad Decision

This just came across my news feed.  

While one can debate the merits of whether we need a "climate czar," Mr. Kerry is a poor choice. He is not an original thinker nor has he demonstrated original thinking during his career. He will be a mouthpiece for Big Climate. 

So, we can expect more windmills and other failed solutions to the problem. What we need is next generation nuclear and innovative solutions that will emit little or no greenhouse gas while bringing prosperity to the developing world. 

Precipitation For Thanksgiving Week

Please note the heavy rain forecast in the South. Flooding may result. 
 


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Why We Need Gap-Filler Radars

Today, the Washington Post published an article pertaining to a number of serious gaps in weather radar coverage across the United States. I have spent considerable time on this topic and I thought it might be helpful to place the locations of the gaps and, as I see it, the priority for filling them. 


The two thin circles represent the range of two non-federal radars. The numbers represent the location of gaps and the priority for filling them. I take into consideration,
  • The severity of the gap.
  • Population density.
  • The likelihood of tornadoes and flash floods. 
To save money, the gap-fillers can be the far less expensive C-band radars rather than S-band like the primary network radars depicted by yellow on the map. 

Beyond the necessity of these radars for storm warnings, the radars can also sense the winds aloft which is a valuable contribution to more precise weather forecasting, especially in an era of mesoscale modeling. Assuming the land for radar towers can be donated (e.g., state park, large municipal parking lot, etc.), the acquisition and installation of the radars can be for $25 million or less (but Congress will have to appropriate additional, ongoing, funds for maintenance). That's a bargain as federal expenditures go.

There are many small areas with less than ideal radar coverage (e.g., the two in Kansas, see map). These could be handled by very inexpensive X-band radars which can go on top of buildings or even cell towers. Several counties could band together for the purchase then donate the radar to the NWS.


Is This the Approach You Want to Educating Your Children?

I just saw this commercial for public schools. See what you think.
Nothing about math. Nothing about science. Nothing about physical education. Evidently, public schoolteachers in Kansas don't care about those things. These rather intense individuals care about 'justice.' 

Perhaps if we give children a great traditional education (i.e., phonics, traditional math, great communication skills and how America's ideals are the greatest in the history of the world), the students would be able flourish on their own in our diverse society.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Drought Forecast to Worsen

Since September I have been updating our readers to the increasing probability of major drought over the western half of the United States. The National Weather Service and the National Drought Center have teamed up to make this rather concerning forecast. 
The brown areas are already suffering from drought. The yellow areas are where drought is forecast to worsen. The green areas are where dryness conditions are forecast to improve. 

The 2021 winter wheat crop has been planted and needs moisture. The developing drought conditions in Nebraska, Kanas, Oklahoma and Texas could be a serious challenge to wheat farmers. 

Over the next seven days, things may actually improve a bit. 
We'll continue to report on drought and moisture conditions. 

COVID - What Is the Way Forward?

What do we do to stop COVID suffering and economic disruption moving forward?

The scientific evidence is absolutely clear: closing schools is a terrible idea. It is past time we use scientific data -- not politicians CYA'ing -- to make vital decisions. Schoolchildren as a group have suffered the most in this pandemic due to have their crucial educations interrupted. This is particularly insane in places like NYC where schools are closed while restaurants, gyms, et cetera, are still open. The statistics show schoolchildrens' risk is a tiny fraction of older peoples.' 

Closing schools is just one of the many bad decisions. The doubling-down on masks is another (scroll down to postings below). So, what do we do to get us on the right track? I suggest going on offense.

While I am not a physician, there are some common sense things we can do to get us out of this mess sooner rather than later. These suggestions are a combination of my ideas and those of epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina.

  • For the time being, the high risk people (60+, immune system issues, etc.) would be better off by quarantining. Masks give a false sense of security. Get your groceries brought to your car. If you want restaurant food, use take out. If you want to meet or have lunch with someone in person, do it outdoors. If you are going to visit someone indoors, or they are going to visit you, both should quarantine for a week. If the news reports are correct, we are about two months from having the first doses of the vaccine available, so the quarantine defense and its inconvenience won't have to last that much longer. Yes, this is "defense." 
  • While we are waiting for the vaccine, we need to -- as quickly as possible -- implement use of the new home COVID tests. If you are virus-free you can safely visit the home of people who are also virus free. The airlines could test everyone before boarding (United is already doing this for some flights). This would be going on offense against the disease.
  • Congress should focus much less on micromanaging the economy and more on doing what is necessary to get every safe and effective vaccine (there are apparently three) out to everyone who wants them. Fast! I am a fiscal conservative but we should spend whatever is necessary to get past this. It is vital to put people back to work and resurrect our economy. Offense.
  • The Biden advisor, Zeke Emmanuel, whose advice to Mr. Biden is that the elderly should be the last to get the vaccine is both stupid and immoral. The elderly in group living and care homes have suffered the most and they are most vulnerable. Health care workers should receive it first. Then everyone should receive it on a more or less equal basis with, perhaps, some preference to older people. Why? With two of the three vaccines needing an initial and booster shot, it is much easier to quickly vaccinate people in a group living area than, say, remote areas. The goal is to get to "herd immunity" -- enough of the population has either had COVID or has been vaccinated -- that the coronavirus disappears from the population. The range of the population needs to be between 43 and 60% of the population for herd immunity to take effect. Offense. 
We can have the necessary conversations about the deficit and other issues when we can see light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Meanwhile, Our Humanity Is Taken Away

Skyrocketing suicides are just part of the problem with the COVID precautions. Some are arguing masks are taking away our humanity. 
While opinion, this important piece is here

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

More on Masks Not Working

 I wasn't expecting the hugely favorable reaction on Twitter to the posting (below) about the latest study that -- yet again -- demonstrates masks, social distancing, etc., don't work. 

There is another peer-reviewed study out today that says masks do not work:

In this community-based, randomized controlled trial conducted in a setting where mask wearing was uncommon and was not among other recommended public health measures related to COVID-19, a recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, incident SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with no mask recommendation. 

One of my readers sent me a link to all of the studies that show the same thing. It was prepared by the Swiss Policy Institute. You can review them here

Also, there may be less to the number of cases of COVID we are experiencing in the United States than meets the eye. Details here

I want to be clear: masks would not bother me so much if there wasn't evidence they make the situation worse (again, see posting below). In some localities, they are forcing people to wear masks outdoors which is clearly nonsense. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Science Has Not Changed: Masks Do Not Work

With all of the governmental nonsense about restricting Thanksgiving and Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to review the latest science pertaining to masks, "social distancing" and their effectiveness at stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

Bottom line: The science continues to show the same results this autumn as it did over the summer and the spring: masks and social distancing do not work. 

The newest study was published November 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. JAMA is considered the "gold standard" of U.S. peer-reviewed medical journals. The study was conducted on U.S. Marines with the approval of the Marine Corps. The study of Marines using masks, social distancing, strict procedures (separate doors for ingress and egress, etc.) versus Marines who were not was surprisingly rigorous. In the words of the study...

During the supervised quarantine, public health measures were enforced to suppress SARS-CoV-2 transmission (Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this article at NEJM.org). All recruits wore double-layered cloth masks at all times indoors and outdoors, except when sleeping or eating; practiced social distancing of at least 6 feet; were not allowed to leave campus; did not have access to personal electronics and other items that might contribute to surface transmission; and routinely washed their hands. They slept in double-occupancy rooms with sinks, ate in shared dining facilities, and used shared bathrooms. All recruits cleaned their rooms daily, sanitized bathrooms after each use with bleach wipes, and ate preplated meals in a dining hall that was cleaned with bleach after each platoon had eaten. Most instruction and exercises were conducted outdoors. All movement of recruits was supervised, and unidirectional flow was implemented, with designated building entry and exit points to minimize contact among persons. All recruits, regardless of participation in the study, underwent daily temperature and symptom screening. Six instructors who were assigned to each platoon worked in 8-hour shifts and enforced the quarantine measures. If recruits reported any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, they reported to sick call, underwent rapid qPCR testing for SARS-CoV-2, and were placed in isolation pending the results of testing.

The study is at the above (gray) link. Most of the important information is in the "supplementary information" so be sure to look at that. 

The bottom line results are stated in the figure below.

Unfortunately, the figure is hard to read. The bottom line: 
  • The number of cases among the Marines who strictly wore masks, social distanced and quarantined? 51.
  • The number of cases among Marines who did not take the precautions? 26

In other words, the risk among people wearing masks, etc., was double the risk of those Marines who did not take precautions. If you think about it, this matches America's current experience. We are seeing skyrocketing numbers of cases even though just about everyone is wearing masks indoors. 

Even the politicians do not believe what they are selling. Both of these examples are from the past week: 
The politicians on the Hawaii junket, including from California and Washington -- two of the strictest states -- are disregarding what they are imposing on the rest of us. And, California Governor Lockdown, err, Newsom -- yet again -- was caught around strangers without a mask: this time at a birthday party

Based on what I have read, I would recommend the following Thanksgiving precautions:
  • If you have the slightest inkling you may be "coming down with something" or already sick, stay home and quarantine!!
  • Think twice about going to Thanksgiving dinner in the home of an elderly relative in questionable health or a person of any age with respiratory ailments. That is a high-risk situation. 
  • Self-Quarantine, as much as you can, before going to someone's home for Thanksgiving, regardless of their age. Go to the grocery store eight days before your trip. Work from home. Don't eat out or go shopping. I recommend at least seven days. On the road, try to limit fuel and restroom stops if driving. If flying, and you haven't already, see if you can book an airline that is doing tests immediately before boarding the fight. 
  • Wash your hands and use bleach wipes -- frequently -- on surfaces. The science on this is solid. 
If you want to wear masks indoors, I certainly won't say no even though they may be worse than nothing. I understand both the law and social pressure. 

However, the idea that masks matter outdoors in the wind -- unless people are tightly crammed together -- is preposterous. Even if crammed together, the COVID risk is low. 
Yet, no one got COVID-19 from storming the field. 
This leads me to what I think is my best suggestion regarding Thanksgiving dinner. If the weather at your location will allow it, try to eat outside. The sun and fresh air are good for you and your guests.

As long-time readers know, I am not a fan of politics or politicians. Yes, they are, or perceive themselves to be, under pressure to "do something" about COVID. And, there seems to be an authoritarian impulse among some of them. That is dangerous for American society. We need to press for quality science and for politicians to follow it. Authoritarian measures are not justified by the science nor are they in the American tradition. 


UPDATE: 7:45pm Wednesday. The situation is even more bizarre that I first thought. The birthday party Newsom attended was with -- wait for it -- employees of the medical association!
More here

If You Are Traveling This Weekend

Here is the forecast precipitation for today through Tuesday but most of the rain and snow will fall over the weekend. The band of snow will be across Colorado and northern Nebraska. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

March Sadness

The Indianapolis-based NCAA announced today that a single city -- likely Indy -- will be chosen to hold the entire tournament because of COVID. We in Wichita were certainly looking forward to again hosting the NCAA's men's basketball tournament in March, 2021. 

To me, this decision does not make sense. 

The health risk to healthy young men around the age of twenty is very low to begin with (see graph), I don't understand the need for a bubble. 

What about people older than twenty? People like me (60's) or older or in other high-risk groups should not attend until vaccinated.

As of today, the U.S. has registered 11,000,000+ cases. That is projected to be close to 20,000,000 by March based on current trends. 

Given two vaccines are supposed to be available by year's end, and that 80,000,000 are supposed to be able to be vaccinated by March, we have roughly 1/3rd of the U.S. population invulnerable to the disease with the number rising rapidly. If herd immunity is achieved at 43%, then the residual risk will be starting to dwindle around the time of March Madness. 

As far as I am concerned, the "single city" is not justified by the science or the statistics. 

But assuming it needs to be a "bubble" setting, why does the NCAA have to pick its home city? Seems like a form a nepotism. The NCAA made the questionable decision, why should its home city benefit? Why not have a random drawing among the cities that are being cancelled? After Wichita and twelve other cities have made plans and expenditures based on having the tournament in March. Have a random drawing to decide. 

I've read in the sports media that Indy is "ideal." That does not seem to be the case based on the reported criteria. Let me make the case from Wichita's point of view. 

For example, they are said to want a city that is "centrally located." There's no city more central than Wichita.

That matters because Indy would be a full extra day's drive from the West Coast. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is in Kansas and the population center of the U.S. is in southwest Missouri. In regard to "central," Wichita is the ideal choice. 

Indy, as Sports Illustrated points out, is not an airline hub. Neither is Wichita. However, we are served by every major airline and that was evaluated in the decision to have the first two rounds here. The participating teams fly their own aircraft. We have one of the best, most modern, airports in the nation.

Sports Illustrated says the NCAA wants two large arenas in the city it chooses. We have both Intrust Bank Arena (where the first two rounds were to be played) and Wichita State's Koch Arena.

I could go on but you get the picture. Other cities, I'm sure, could make their case. 

Please note: I am not saying the entire tournament should necessarily be played in Wichita. I am saying there are other choices beside Indy. Since the NCAA is pulling the rug out from under 13 cities that have made hosting plans, one of those should be selected if they meet the criteria rather than defaulting to Indy for the mere convenience of the NCAA. 

The Forecast That Caused Me to Recognize the Potential of Mesoscale Modeling

 [This posting is primarily for meteorologists and weather aficionados.]

Five years ago today, the HAZWX model (a company that was later acquired by AccuWeather) made one of the most amazing forecasts I have ever seen. It caused me to change my opinion as to the potential of mesoscale meteorological modeling. While I had seen some good forecasts, they seemed quite inconsistent. I thought the scale of observations available to feed the models was too course create forecasts at a 4 kilometer scale. This forecast caused that opinion to change. 

Major tornado outbreaks are rare in November. A high risk in the High Plains in mid-November would have been unprecedented. The 7am NWS Storm Prediction Center's (SPC) forecast (below) showed an enhanced risk of tornadoes near the border of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle with a significant risk (brown) farther north and south. 


The HAZWX model, which became available about 11am, forecast something stunningly different: a major outbreak of strongly rotating supercells, that were likely to produce tornadoes, farther northwest. 
If you look closely, you'll see there is almost no overlap between the yellow (enhanced risk) in the SPC forecast and the supercell/tornado tracks in the HAZWX forecast. I also knew that, if correct, this would be an unprecedented tornado outbreak. So, AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions began alerting its clients in the area that the tornadoes could be worse than originally forecast. 

Turned out the HAZWX model was amazing. Below is a map of tornadoes (red) superimposed on the SPC forecast.

SPC computed what a perfect forecast would have been and it is below, left. 
The peak probability was 45% near Liberal, Kansas. In other words, this should have been a "high risk" day and it should have been farther northwest than forecast.

Did the model's forecast have any practical significance? Yes!
  • The above photograph by Jeff Piotrowski depicts a stopped BNSF vehicle train near Pampa, Texas. Lightning made the photo possible. The train was stopped because of our tornado warning. Our clients received early and better forecasts of the tornado threat as a result of the model. If you look closely at the model's forecast, you see that there is a tornado track practically over the City of Pampa and the BNSF track. 
  • Given the early sunset in mid-November, almost all of the tornadoes occurred in darkness, meaning the earlier forecasts and warnings were important for public awareness. 
  • Our meteorologists knew that, even though this was a statistically rare event, they needed to get tornado warnings out early. They did. We received praise from our clients for our forecasts and warnings that day. 
From that day on I realized the tremendous potential of mesoscale models. When added to conventional techniques, they can be incredibly valuable. When tornadoes are threatening, for example, I go through my pre-mesoscale model process. If the forecast from that agrees with the model, then the mesoscale model is more likely to be correct. 

Congratulations to all of the meteorological modelers and those working on advanced (such as satellite and GPS) measurements that make all of this possible.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Tornado Watch: Ozarks to Central Missouri

This tornado watch is in effect until midnight tonight. Damaging winds are likely as well as a few tornadoes. 

Please keep an eye on the weather in this region through the evening. 

Below is the radar at 5:17pm.

Developing Thunderstorms Over Southeast Kansas...

....as seen from my back yard in Wichita. This was at 5:05pm. 

Damaging Wind/Tornado Threat Coming into Focus

Reed Timmer (@reedtimmer) just sent this photo of towering cumulus clouds over Pittsburg, Kansas, at 4:20pm.

At 4:25pm, the first two echos are showing up on radar (circled). I have outlined the area where I believe tornadoes/damaging winds are likely from 6pm to 10pm which includes much of the Ozarks.
It is possible tornadoes/damaging winds could occur after 10pm outside of the outlined area. 

So, please keep up on the weather in the area from central Missouri into the Ozarks through this evening.

Heads Up: Ozarks Region

The red arrows denote, as of 3:42pm, what will be a developing line of thunderstorms that has a good chance of producing damaging winds this evening and, perhaps, a few brief tornadoes in the Ozarks region. Please keep an eye on the weather to the east of the developing line. 

Today's Tornado Forecast

The brown area has a significant chance of tornadoes later today and this evening. Please keep up on the weather in that area. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Two Unusual November Storm Situations

 There is a significant risk of tornadoes in the Ozarks tomorrow afternoon and evening in the yellow area.

The threat extends includes Ft. Smith and Fayetteville as well as Muskogee. I'll have more on this tomorrow morning. 

In Central America, it is likely that Tropical Storm or even Hurricane Iota will develop and threaten Honduras or Nicaragua the first of the week. 
This has been the busiest hurricane season since the satellite era began in 1979. However, we now name storms that we would not have named twenty or more years ago. So, while this has been an active season there would not be as many named storms under the naming rules prior to Hurricane Sandy. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

You May Want to Order "Warnings" Early for Christmas

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather from Amazon for Christmas, I strongly recommend getting the order in now. 

Over the last five holiday seasons, with the exception of 2019, Amazon has run out during the holiday period. In 2020, they are starting out worse than usual. 

Amazon ran out last week, placed an insufficient order with the publisher, and are back down to a single copy this afternoon. I checked with Greenleaf Book Group, my publisher, yesterday and they, too, are concerned that Amazon will run out again. 

The problem isn't confined to Amazon. Watermark Books, a well-regarded independent bookstore in Wichita, sent an email this afternoon urging their customers to place any book orders for Christmas today.  

Part of this is COVID. Things are running much more slowly than usual are warehouses and with shipping. Part of it is that the economy is questionable and companies want to keep inventory as low as possible. 

Some Advice to Whomever Is in the Oval Office on January 21...

 ...pertaining to the U.S. Climate Assessment which, in recent years, has left much to be desired.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Midwest Tornado Risk Today

 Because it is out-of-season I wanted to post SPC's forecast for tornadoes this afternoon and evening. 

The brown (5%) area is the significant threshold. If you live in Hannibal, the Quad Cities, Chicago, Milwaukee or Madison, please keep up on the weather later today. 

The National Weather Service in Kansas published this tidbit today:
On this date back in 1915, a violent tornado struck Great Bend, killing 11 and injuring 75. Around 1,000 sheep were killed. Hundreds of ducks that were killed fell from the sky around 25 miles northeast of the end of the tornado's track.