Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Severe Weather Review

This blog is not intended to be a source of day-to-day weather information. For that, I recommend  which does a great job.

I do provide information when I believe noteworthy weather our readers need to know about is going to occur. So, back on Sunday, I wrote about what we meteorologists thought would be the first severe weather "outbreak" (defined by meteorologists as large numbers of storms with large hail, damaging thunderstorm winds, and/or tornadoes and over a relatively large geographic area) of the 2011 storm season.

We now know that nine people lost their lives in these storms which produced more than 1,400 (!) reports of severe weather over 48 hours.

On Sunday, the main damage was due to hail.  The insurance industry will be spending weeks writing checks for dented cars, shattered wind shields, and cracked shingles. This was especially well forecast.
Bluish colors = radar-derived hail tracks. The letter H indicates
ground truth report of large hail. D = wind damage, W = wind speed
clocked at 50 knots (58 mph) or more. Click to enlarge.
Courtesy: WeatherData Services, Inc.
Monday and Monday night featured widespread damaging winds and hail which, again, were very well forecast. It was these winds and tornadoes that caused the fatalities and injuries.
Courtesy Greg Carbin, NOAA. Click to enlarge. 
Here is a map of the individual reports Monday (24 hours from 7am Monday to 7am Tuesday). Blue is damaging wind. Red is tornado.

As recently as 15 years ago, we had little skill forecasting the type of severe weather that was likely to occur. Now, these big outbreaks are routinely forecast with a high degree of specificity. This allows businesses to both adjust their operations (an insurance company marshalling claims adjusters) and to protect their people and assets as well as improved warnings for the general public.

But, these improved forecasts and warnings do little good if they are not acted upon. With more severe weather forecast the next week, please pay attention to the forecasts and warnings. Your life and livelihood may depend on it.

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