Saturday, July 31, 2021

Downburst and Spectacular Thunderstorm

The view from my home this evening. 
Nothing like the Kansas Sky!
This was right at sunset and the tall cumulonimbus cloud was catching the orange rays. In the foreground is a line of towering cumulus clouds along the outflow winds caused by a downburst near the Sedgwick - Sumner county line. 

Below is a closeup of the towering cumulus moving toward me. 

The towering cumulus were along the leading edge of a downburst's outflow. 
The curved orange line represents the northern edge of downburst winds at 8:27pm. The yellow polygon is a National Weather Service severe thunderstorm warning. 

2021's Northeast 'Tornado Alley'

I note that, as of today, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and eastern Virginia have all had more tornado warnings than the Wichita area of south central and southeast Kansas -- by a pretty big margin. The Philadelphia NWS office has issued 29 tornado warnings. Wichita has issued 10. 

In 2020, there wasn't a single tornado in south central or southeast Kansas. 

Extreme Flash Flood Risk in Colorado Through Tonight

The green areas represent flash flood watches. This includes the Denver Metro area, the Front Range and the Palmer Ridge as well as the mountains. 

Every component is in place for major flash flooding. The last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August, statistically, a period of high flash flooding. 

I strongly recommend curtailing outdoor activities and unnecessary travel into the mountains and high-risk areas until this threat has ended. Unfortunately, more heavy rain is likely tomorrow and tomorrow night. 

Update as of 12:45pm MDT:

The radar at 12:40pm MDT, shows thunderstorms developing over the Front Range southwest of Denver and near Colorado Springs. 

Please monitor the weather in these areas the rest of the day. 

Latest Palmer Drought Index

Above is the latest Palmer Drought Index with data through July 24. The drought had eased a bit in the Southwest and in Colorado. It worsened in the northern Great Plains. Meanwhile, wet conditions continue over the southeast quarter of the nation. 

Below is the "departure from normal" rainfall map for the seven days ending at 7am CDT yesterday. While it is not a perfect bridge between the end of the Palmer data collection period to now, it clearly shows the heavy rains in Arizona and adjacent areas had improvement. 
Unfortunately, the "departure" map shows that crop conditions worsened in the western corn belt. 

More drought-easing rains are forecast for the West the next five days.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Bensalem Tornado: Another Dangerous National Weather Service Warning Miss


As many of you know, The Washington Post on May 21 published an essay of mine that documented the deterioration in the National Weather Service's tornado warning program. Subsequent events, some documented in this blog, have confirmed this dangerous trend of the past ten years. 

Last night was one of the worst -- and most dangerous -- misses yet. It occurred with the Bensalem Tornado which struck a northeast suburb of Philadelphia with little warning. There were five injuries (severity unknown) and the damage was at least F-2 intensity (addition: NWS rated the tornado EF-3). Here is the sequence of events (all times EDT):

At 6:49pm, there was rotation in the supercell's appendage in the north Philadelphia suburbs. I was shocked a tornado warning had not been issued.
So, I outlined the rotation and advised people from there to Bensalem and beyond to keep an eye on the storm. Remember: it is the core mission of the National Weather Service to issue tornado warnings to the public, not individual citizens'.

At 7:03pm, the Doppler wind data shows a classic tornado signature (circled). Yet, there was no tornado warning at this time. [Note, the time on the image is Central time because I live in Wichita.]

At 7:07pm, the National Weather Service finally issued a tornado warning for Bensalem (see list of cities at the bottom). 
The National Weather Service's tornado warning was issued 18 precious minutes after the tornado's signatures first appeared on their radar. And, the warning was not issued until 3 minutes after the tornado was on the ground, doing damage. 

An experimental program (below) estimates this tornado was in the EF-2 to EF-3 intensity range. That seems consistent with the damage photos I have seen. I'm sure the NWS will do a damage survey and make a final determination. 

Other evidence says the tornado was a surprise. This tweet contains a video of the tornado as it moves in front of the driver at a toll booth. In the video, you do not hear the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) tones, meaning a tornado warning was just issued, until after you see high winds and a large electric highway sign blown about by the tornado. 

At a car dealership (see photo at top), this video shows the employees are having fun until the tornado strikes. With the intensity of the flying debris, it is a miracle no one was killed.

What is so perplexing about the lack of advance warning is that this tornado warning was straightforward, even easy. It presented itself as the type of tornado we learn about in college. Ten years ago, the National Weather Service would have issued a timely warning. 
ABC6, Philadelphia
As I said in my Washington Post piece, I don't know why the tornado warning program of the National Weather Service has deteriorated to the extent that it has during the last decade. It could be lack of training, retirements causing valuable experience to be lost, or any number of causes.

So, far the NWS has shown little interest in attacking or even acknowledging the problem. This is why the United States desperately needs a National Disaster Review Board. If you are so inclined, please forward this to your congressional delegation. Thank you. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Major Tornadoes in the Middle Atlantic Region

Pennsylvania Tornado Earlier Today
Via Twitter
While there will be much more data after damage surveys are completed tomorrow, I wish to bring you up-to-date on a significant tornado outbreak in the Middle Atlantic region. 

Preliminary Storm Reports
The red dots are preliminary tornado reports. For reasons I don't understand, the NWS in Philadelphia plotted the damage reports near and northwest of Trenton as thunderstorm wind damage rather than tornado damage (arrows). As you'll see below, it was a tornado.

Please also not the tornado reports in the OH-PA-WV region. 

Rotation Maps
Here is a map of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania with rotation tracks plotted on it. Where the colors are while/blue, a tornado is nearly certain. There may also have been tornadoes in other area. The worst damage reported, so far, was in Bensalem (northeast Philadelphia suburb). It appears to be at least F-2 and, possibly, F-3 intensity. Five injuries are reported. 

Other significant tornado damage was reported near Trenton with a large tornado. Severe tornadoes were reported in central and southern New Jersey as indicated on the map. These tornadoes were spawned by supercells -- the type of storm that causes major tornadoes in the Great Plains and South.

Pertaining to the tornadoes farther west, there were two primary rotation tracks. 
There has been some damage with tornadoes along those paths but the extent is unclear at this hour. 

I will likely have more on these storms tomorrow. 

"The Most Terrifying Map in the World"

We rarely write about economics, but this is worth including. It is from an article, The Most Terrifying Map in the World.  

I completely agree this is terrifying: The political implications for freedom and prosperity for the people of the United States and world are profound. 

There are many who are, correctly, concerned about wages and opportunity in our nation. I don't see how that can materially improve while our markets are shrinking across the world. 

But, on an even more profound basis, China is an "evil empire" (to borrow a phrase from President Reagan) under which people do not have basic rights. And, I don't see our politicians doing anything to arrest these disturbing trends. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

"Particularly Dangerous Situation" -- "Widespread 90 mph Winds"

NWS has issued a rare particularly dangerous situation severe thunderstorm watch. They are forecasting widespread 90 mph winds, 2" hail (destructive when driven by such strong winds) and a "couple of tornadoes." 

Please see the posting immediately below for last-minute safety suggestions. 

This will be my last update for the night. 

3:15pm Update on Forecast of a Destructive Derecho

Here is the latest on the destructive derecho forecasted to occur in the Upper Midwest. The storm seems to be starting its development now (see radar, below). 

The "red" and "orange" threats have been extended southeast into Michigan and Indiana+Ohio, respectively. With the derecho, the following is forecasted to occur:
  • Tornadoes
  • Wind gusts of 90+ mph (really). 
  • Large hail which, when driven by wind, could cause damage by itself. 
This is the forecast position of the derecho at 9-10pm this evening. It will be moving southeast.

You still have time: Here's what to do to prepare,
  • Please make plans to take care of infirm family members now. 
  • Fully charge laptops and phones before 3pm. Unplug them before the storms arrive due to the potential for power surge damage during the storms. 
  • Fill your car with fuel. Know how to disconnect your garage door opener if you have one.
  • Monitor local weather information. 
  • Tie down trampolines and bring lawn furniture in. 
  • Excellent additional advice is here
As of 3:10pm CDT the first storms of what will become the derecho are developing over the Minnesota Arrowhead. Please monitor reliable local sources of weather information.
Please take these forecasts seriously and prepare accordingly. 

Dangerous Day For Wisconsin and Adjacent Areas

This has been updated at 3:15pm.
Please see the posting immediately above. 
This is going to be a dangerous period, especially in the orange and red areas. The dangerous storms will begin after 3pm and continue until 7am in Ohio. The hazards include tornadoes; destructive wind-driven hail, and wind gusts above 80 mph. A derecho -- an extremely destructive type of storm --  is likely to occur. 
  • Please make plans to take care of infirm family members now. 
  • Fully charge laptops and phones before 3pm. Unplug them before the storms arrive due to the potential for power surge damage during the storms. 
  • Fill your car with fuel. Know how to disconnect your garage door opener if you have one.
  • Monitor local weather information. 
  • Excellent additional advice is here
I'll update on this situation this afternoon. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Climate Experts: "Often Wrong...Never In Doubt"

UPDATED and BUMPED:
Below is a piece I posted Monday pertaining to yet another nonsensical story from Yahoo! quoting climate 'experts' that claimed the "megadrought" was terrible and it showed "no sign of letting up." 

After record rainfalls in the week after the Yahoo! story was published, the drought is "letting up." 

Since the tactic of trotting out the "drought is terrible" press releases blew up their faces, the 'scientists' thought they'd try the flash flood press releases this week since that is this week's weather in the news.
Who says "weather isn't climate"? 🙄 

--- Monday's original posting --
Pahrump, Nevada, earlier today

Well, that didn't take long. A week, specifically.

The drought in the West; the "this drought is the worst, ever, ever, ever and it is due to climate change and will last for decades" -- took exactly a week to be proven wrong. 

Some choice quotes from the July 19 Yahoo! News article (just one of a number of overwrought stories on this topic):

As the drought shows no sign of letting up...

Some climate researchers believe that climate change has pushed California into a "megadrought," an intense drought that lasts for decades... 

Berggren said the drought is “unequivocally connected” to climate change.

In the week after the "experts" told Yahoo! that there was "no sign of [the drought] letting up", parts of the Southwest had five inches more rainfall than normal since the article was published (purple). Today, even Death Valley (!) set a rainfall record. The heavy rains continue. 

In Arizona, purples = 4-5" more than normal
rain in the last seven days.

I wish to be clear: the drought continues and it is serious. But, we have no way whatsoever to make weather forecasts beyond about 4-5 days in summer and seven days in winter. Telling us the drought will last for "decades" is meteorological malpractice. 

Time For Candor From Federal Public Health Officials

Growing up in the 50's, I remember the terror regarding polio. My mother would not let us go to the swimming pool because "children who went to public pools got polio." We wanted to go because it was so hot and we had no air conditioning. Turned out, my mother and the others were right. Polio was overwhelmingly spread through minute amounts of oral fecal transmission. 

Once we got our polio shots (2), we were good to go. We were immune from polio. No one said, don't go back to swimming pools. Once vaccinated, no one got the disease, not even a mild case.

The above is background for my comments pertaining to the CDC's latest announcement. 
Federal officials have been acting more oddly than usual over the last ten days. For example, this photo of Dr. Jill Biden greeting American Olympic athletes in Tokyo. They are, 1) outdoors, 2) everyone in the photo is vaccinated, 3) there are no spectators in the stands; and yet, Mrs. Biden is masked. The photo virtually shouts, "I have no faith in the vaccines."

Then, take a look at the lead paragraph from this July 5 story I initially missed in the Wall Street Journal:
Almost half of the deaths have been among vaccinated people?! What?! If that is true, something is terribly wrong with one or more of the vaccines. Especially after we were assured the vaccines "are effective."

Among people who had the Salk vaccine, zero people who had been vaccinated died. Literally, zero. 

I compare the COVID vaccines to the polio vaccine because Dr. Fauci, keeps doing so.
If it is true that "half" of the people dying are vaccinated, then Dr. Fauci's comparison to the polio vaccine is completely invalid. This is especially since just last month Fauci and the director of the CDC were telling those of us who were vaccinated we didn't need to wear masks. Now, just five weeks later, they've flip-flopped again? 

I'm saying the following because I believe it is still true, to the best of my knowledge:
Unless Your Physician Says Otherwise, Adults Should Get Vaccinated 
And, yes, I and all of the adults in my family are vaccinated. 

But, the constant mocking of the unvaccinated is getting us nowhere. Their position is logical: when the vaccinated First Lady wears a mask in a situation where there should be no risk, it is easy for people to surmise, "she must not have faith in her vaccine." If the vaccines work as advertised, "half" of the people dying wouldn't be vaccinated. 

Right now, we can't even get consistent guidance on masks. 
Below is a July 1 headline pertaining to a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that was retracted just two weeks later. If it was indeed incorrect, how did it get through peer-review?
Public health officials' credibility is shot. For ordinary Americans, this has morphed into a confusing situation where we don't know what, or whom, to believe. People are dying and this cannot go on. 

Rather than telling people they are "not...smart," if I were President Biden, I would do the following:
  • Dismiss Dr. Fauci as his credibility is shot. This is especially true since he evidently funded 'research' that might have helped to get us in this mess. 
  • Find a small team of experts: practicing physicians, epidemiologists, public health. I'm talking about 4-5 of the least political and most expert people he can find. If there is a problem with one or more of the vaccines (I'm not saying there is) or we need a different strategy, fine. As a great boss of mine once said, "facts are friendly!"
  • Have one, non-political, spokesperson for this team announce the results. 
  • The findings, whatever they might be, should be conveyed in a humble, "this is the current state of our knowledge" way without any mocking of anyone. 
  • Booster shots? Okay, if we must. Cross vaccination (i.e., people who got the Pfizer shots, should get a booster of Moderna, whatever)? Fine. Whatever is best to get this under control as best we can with the, perhaps limited, knowledge that we have. 
President Reagan formed a group to go around the federal bureaucracy to help him formulate policy pertaining to the Soviet Union. It was extremely successful. I believe it is time for President Biden to do the same. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Return of Father Emil Kapaun to Wichita

Father Emil Kapaun was a hero of the Korean War (Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart). Fr. Kapaun was an Army chaplain who not only was highly respected by his troops, he performed heroically -- saving his men -- after being captured by the North Koreans. His story is here. That story includes his period as a parish priest in Pilsen, Kansas, just north of Wichita and part of the Diocese of Wichita. An excerpt of his story is below:

Bishop Carroll received Chaplain Kapaun’s last report and letter along with a package of Korean War mementos in October of 1950. There was lit- tle hint of what was to come: after weeks of making great progress, many of the U.S. soldiers thought the war would be over by Christmas. However, just as they had the North Korean Army on the run and almost defeated, the Chinese decided to enter the war. Father Kapaun and the men of the 8th Cavalry Regiment were the first to encounter the Chinese. On the night of November 1, 1950, while protecting the town of Unsan, Chaplain Kapaun’s outfit was attacked from all sides by the combined Communist forces. A fierce battle ensued, and Fa- ther Kapaun went about anointing the dying and dragging the wounded to safety. Captured once, Father Kapaun escaped when his captors were shot by U.S. soldiers. Offered a last chance to retreat to safety, Father Kapaun and an Army Medic, Doctor Clarence Anderson, decided to remain and look after the wounded. 

Deep in the day on November 2, the group was captured by the Communists. Seeing a wounded soldier about to be shot by a North Korean, Father Kapaun rushed over, pushed the gun aside, and picked up the wounded GI, Sergeant Herbert Miller. In disbelief at the chaplain’s bravery, the North Korean let the two live. After a few days, Father Kapaun and the other prisoners of war were marched between 60-100 miles to a prison camp at Pyoktong. Many had difficulty walking because of frostbitten feet and battle wounds. Those who tarried were often left for dead or shot, but Father Kapaun went along the line encouraging the soldiers to help carry those who couldn’t walk on their own, all the while doing his own part to carry the wounded. Because of his example, many soldiers lived who would have otherwise died.

Once at the prison site, the officers were separated from the enlisted men and were kept in huts located on a hill above the rest of the camp. During the next seven months this modest priest from Pilsen became the saintly hero of Prison Camp No. 5. Even though he himself was forced to undergo the same daily sufferings as the other prisoners - and often was treated far worse - Father Kapaun selflessly dedicated himself to serving both the spiritual and physical needs of the other men in the camp. 

Long before the normal day began, Father Kapaun was up at 5:30 a.m., even in the -20 °F temperatures of winter, gathering sticks for fires. These he would use to melt snow into clean water for the men to drink. Using a talent he had perfected on the farm, he fashioned vessels out of old iron sheeting so he could have containers to launder the clothing of the sick and wounded and have a place to store purified water. Father Kapaun would slip out of the camp to scrounge for corn, salt, millet, and soybeans for the starving POWs, praying to St. Dismas, the Good Thief, before every one of these missions. He would travel around to the huts of the other prisoners to give aid to the sick and wounded, pick lice off of men, wash the clothes of the weak, incontinent POWs, and even bathe those too ill to do so themselves. When men died, he often volunteered for the burial duty so he could say a few quick prayers over their grave.

As a result of the care his gave the soldiers under his care and his heroism, Fr. Kapaun has been made a "Servant of God" by the Vatican -- the first step to canonization as a saint. Each of my children attended Kapaun High School. 

Earlier this year, some amazing news -- after 70 years, his remains were identified. They will be returned to Wichita in September and he will be interred in a crypt under construction at the Wichita Cathedral. The full program and other information is here. People are expected to attend from all over the world. If you are interested but not able to attend, the funeral and attending events will be televised on ETWN.

I'll have more as the date approaches. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Another Dangerous Flash Flood Day: Arizona and New Mexico

1pm MST updated flash flood risk forecast until 7a Sunday.
Be especially vigilant in the yellow and red areas. The red area (greatest danger) includes Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff. 

-- original posting -- 
Radar at 10:45am MST/11:45a MDT

National Weather Service says, 

Normally dry washes will quickly flash flood with relatively low amounts of precipitation, and many creeks remain elevated well above normal levels. Burn scars and metropolitian areas should be close attention to flood potential, as well. 

Three-day rainfalls to 11a MDT exceeded six inches in a few spots (below).


Radar (below) and other meteorological data as of 11:30a MST indicates things should be relatively quiet for another hour or two in Arizona. Then, widespread thunderstorms should develop with heavy to torrential rains. 

In New Mexico, thunderstorms are developing rapidly west of Albuquerque due to a westward-moving low pressure system. 

Please monitor local sources of weather information the rest of today. 

"Warnings" -- A Book Everyone Enjoys

Newest Goodreads review:
A great read from cover to cover, brimming with Tornado knowledge and dispelling the myths born in Hollywood blockbusters (you know which one).

The latest Amazon review:
There's still time to pick up a great book for your late summer vacation. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

High Flash Flood Danger in Arizona and New Mexico

Radar as of 10:35am MST

There is an unusually high flash flood risk over most of Arizona and west central New Mexico including Phoenix, Flagstaff, Winslow and Gallup. Moderate to heavy rain has been falling on the Phoenix metro area all morning. Strong thunderstorms are likely in the purple-outlined area through 10pm tonight Mountain time. 

Whatever you do, do not drive through flooded areas or cross water crossings that look wet. This is a dangerous situation. 

Bad Science: Meteorology's "Onesie" Problem

[this posting is addressed to meteorologists and weather geeks]

Union City Tornado

Meteorology in general, and the National Weather Service in particular, have a problem that has been around for at least 49 years: the "onesie." My definition of the onesie problem: to make major changes in procedures based on a single example. 

To my knowledge, the first person to point this out was Dr. Chuck Doswell over the influence the Union City, Oklahoma, Tornado had on storm warning technology. That 1973 tornado was the first-ever success for the storm chasing program (begun in 1972) combined with the experimental Doppler program. Unfortunately, because of that onesie, it was assumed all tornadoes formed that way. Problem? They don't. Some of that incorrect science is still being practiced today. 

Although there are other examples prior to 1999, let's start there. On May 3, 1999, the NWS in Oklahoma City issued the first-ever "tornado emergency" warning. It spread like wildfire even though Dr. Patrick Marsh's (NWS SPC) research later showed only 16% of them turn out to be correct. Even though they are terribly inaccurate scientifically, they continue to be issued. Onesie.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley struck southwest Florida. The inland wind speeds were underforecasted. So, rather than directly address the underforecasts, the NWS created the Inland Extreme Wind Warning for 115 mph winds. Onesie.

Fast forward 2011, the NWS issued a terribly misleading report on the Joplin Tornado that primarily blamed the deaths on false alarms rather than the major flaws in its own tornado warnings that day. So, the NWS created "particularly dangerous" tornado warnings (not to be confused with regular and  "tornado emergency" warnings which are still around) to hopefully scare people jaded by "regular" tornado warnings into acting. Onesie. 

And, August, 2020, a dangerous derecho swept across five states and produced incredible damage with gusts above 120 mph. In spite of all the damage, the death toll was very low with just four (at least one was attributed to a traffic accident during the storm). From the time the derecho reached central and eastern Iowa -- when it was strongest -- the warnings were quite good. In spite of that success, the derecho was the justification for creating even more thunderstorm warning criteria (listed below). Onesie. 

Let's review where we stand. For tornadoes, we now have: 
  • Tornado Warning 
  • Particularly Dangerous Tornado Warning 
  • Tornado Emergency 
For winds, we now have, 
  • High wind warning (40 mph for one hour or more).
  • Severe thunderstorm warning (58 mph)
  • Considerable damage severe thunderstorm warning (70 mph) 
  • Hurricane warning (75 mph)
  • Destructive severe thunderstorm warning (80 mph)
  • Extreme wind warning (115 mph)
For hail, we now have,
  • Severe thunderstorm warning (1")
  • Considerable damage severe thunderstorm warning (1.75 inches)
  • Destructive severe thunderstorm warning (2.75 inches)
Of course, no member of the public will be able to keep these straight. And, they shouldn't have to. This is our misguided thinking. I cannot find any a priori scientific papers published before these changes. 

And, without any sense of irony, the NWS's press release for all of this includes this laugh,
The addition of [the new criteria] are part of the broader Hazard Simplification Project to improve communication of watches and warnings to the public.

There are lots of smart meteorologists in the NWS and, in the last decade, social scientists have been added for guidance on these issues. Yet, the onesie problem continues to complicate the storm warning system at an accelerated rate. 

We meteorologists are supposed to be scientists. Changes to the warning system should be made only based on solid science from multiple instances and even then only after balancing the issue of public education.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Today's Change Announcement on Wireless Emergency Alerts

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) for your smartphone was a great idea. It was supposed to be, 
  • Life-threatening emergencies only (tsunamis, tornadoes, etc., see billboard above), 
  • Geo-specific. If you aren't in the threatened area, you aren't bothered. 
  • A tone loud enough to awaken you at night, thus solving the "wake me up only if it is a tornado" problem that NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) -- because of its frequent annoying tones for 1" hail -- failed to solve. In spite of 5+ decades of vigorous promotion, NWR has achieved only about 3% market penetration. 
From day one, WEA has had serious issues, including failures to activate, slow activation, and lack of geographic
Multiple WEA tornado warning failures in May
specificity. The most recent time my phone sounded a wireless emergency alert, it was for a flash flood warning in a completely different county. Over the last seventy years in the USA, we've lost just one person to hail every decade. Hail is simply not life-threatening. 

So, it is with regret that I inform you that the FCC and NWS decided to change the mission of WEA and is adding 2.75 inch hail and wind gusts to 80 mph as of August 2

As stated in the above billboard, and elsewhere, WEA was sold as a life-saving service. 

My well-founded fear, based on the failure of NOAA Weather Radio, is that the first 3am hail alarm, combined with WEA's other issues, will cause people to begin to deactivate WEA. And, when they do, they might get sufficient notice of a 1am tornado such as the fatal storm that struck Nashville in 2020 .

The NWS has also further confused things by making thunderstorm warnings more complicated. Instead of just severe thunderstorms   ( ≥1" hail and gusts ≥ 58 mph), they are adding,
  • "Considerable damage" thunderstorms
  • "Destructive" thunderstorms 
Not to be confused with "high wind warnings" and "extreme wind warnings." No one in the general public will keep this straight. In the long run, all of this will cost more lives than the wind/hail warnings will save. 

Yes, there are a few people who may need alarmed-warnings of hail at 3am. For them, they can purpose a tone-alert NOAA Weather Radio for $27.45 (Amazon price from a few minutes ago). 

WEA should have stuck to its original purpose.