Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Earth Hour" -- Whatever That Is -- Is Tonight

With a large sign that says, "what are you willing to do to save the planet?", tonight is something called "Earth Hour." 

Via WattsUpWithThat, Dr. Ross McKitrick has superb commentary.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Background on the Chevy Volt

Bob Lutz has an interesting Forbes column about misinformation pertaining to the Chevy Volt.  Recommended reading.  


Disclosure: While this is my personal blog, General Motors is a client of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions my full-time employer. 

What if All of These News Stories Are Factually Wrong?

The last day or so, there has been a deluge of articles alleging 

Outlet after outlet reported this story the last 24 hours. And, they are all wrong. That is not what the study says.

An comment on Instapundit prompted me to get a copy of the study itself (as opposed to a press release about the study). The paper can be downloaded here and I encourage you to read for yourself.  The question asked isn't about faith in science at all. It is about faith in scientists.  

Here is the pertinent part of the paper on p. 172, right-hand column:

"As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them [the Scientific Community]?"

The study asks about scientists as opposed to science. That is a huge difference! Fakegate, Climategate 1 and 2, "Hide the Decline," etc., etc., etc. gives well-educated people (according to the study, the most skeptical among conservatives) more than ample reason not to trust scientists! 

The news coverage would also lead one to believe that conservatives are the most skeptical. Again, the coverage is wrong. Here is the pertinent graph from the paper:

Since the start of the polling in 1974, "moderates" have been the most skeptical toward scientists, not conservatives. While the gap has closed in recent years, the differences are insignificant. 

The graph uses a technique known as the three-year moving average. The big drop in conservative views toward scientists occurs from 1986 to 1990. Guess what happens in the middle of that period? Yep. The phony Congressional hearing on 'global warming' in 1988

...former Senator Timothy Wirth (D., Co.), now head of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, revels in having engaged with Gore in precisely such ploys for the first “global warming” hearing, chaired by Gore himself, in 1988:

TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.


DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?


TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.


The wonderful Jim Hansen [NB: still Gore's advisor and cheerleader today] was wiping his brow at the table at the hearing, at the witness table, and giving this remarkable testimony.

Frontline then showed the desired shot of a sweaty Hansen that made the national news coverage of what Wirth laughingly calls “stagecraft”. That’s one word for it.

"Ploys." "opening windows" on the "hottest day." With this type of unscientific nonsense, it seems the conservative community is rightly skeptical of scientists and has more than ample reason.  

This type of lazy, ideological news coverage -- that misstates what is measured in the study -- does America a tremendous disservice. Regardless of your political views, the number one thing we should be able to expect in the news media is accuracy. Unfortunately, this is another example of advocacy masquerading as journalism.  

Winter Wheat Rainfall

Here is a map of precipitation for the last ninety days:

It is still too dry in the High Plains. Farther east, rainfall has been adequate to generous for this year's winter wheat. 

The wheat, due to its rapid development, is vulnerable to a late season freeze. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kechi Clouds

Happy to report that, so far, no tornadoes have been reported with tonight's thunderstorms. There have been a number of reports of large hail, including some more than two inches in diameter.

I took this photo of a hail shaft (behind the street light and radio tower) earlier this evening looking west from Kechi, Kansas. 

Watches in Effect

Strong thunderstorms are now occurring from southeast Nebraska to northwest Oklahoma.

The pink is a tornado watch between Topeka and Omaha.  The blue is a severe thunderstorm watch.

Please keep an eye on the weather in these areas this evening!

World's Largest Paper Airplane in Arizona Desert

Lifted aloft by a helicopter, the world's largest paper airplane was launched last week. It flew! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Storms Developing Rapidly

At 5:52pm, the top of the thunderstorms about 50 mi. WSW of Kansas City are visible from downtown.

AccuWeather regional radar shows three areas of strong thunderstorms that are moving slowly ENE.

and, the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the region until midnight. It includes Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan.


Stormy Night in the Missouri Valley?

Looks like it. 

I took this photo of the thunderstorms approaching downtown Kansas City just a few moments ago. 

[caption id="attachment_8106" align="aligncenter" width="1565" caption="Thunderstorm approaches Kansas City 4:40pm CDT"][/caption]

AccuWeather regional radar shows the thunderstorms depicted above at right, new thunderstorms rapidly developing in Kansas' Flint Hills (center), and a strong cluster of storms in southern Nebraska (upper left). 

[caption id="attachment_8107" align="aligncenter" width="913" caption="AccuWeather Regional Radar 4:40pm CDT"][/caption]

Stay tuned. I believe there will be strong to, possibly, severe storms scattered over the area during the night. 

Are Tornadoes Increasing?

Last week, here on the blog, I answered the question of whether tornadoes are "getting worse." The answer is clearly no

At today's AccuWeather B2B tornado seminar in Omaha this morning I was asked if all tornadoes are increasing. I explained the answer is a very qualified no but I am less certain about that answer. 

Here is a brand new graph from the National Severe Storms Laboratory's Dr. Harold Brooks. It shows all tornadoes from F-1 to F-5 intensity from 1950 to 2011. It would tend to indicate an increase. This graph does not include the very weak F-0 tornadoes which have clearly increased due strictly to storm chasing, i.e., if chasing didn't exist very few of those would ever be reported. 

Here is why I conclude the correct answer is "no" in spite of the opposite being indicated by the graph.

First, as I learned when I was researching Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, the numbers from 1950-54 are imprecise and many were collected after the fact. I suspect those numbers are too low. 

So, I have added an orange box to the graph for the years 1955-2010. I eliminated 2011 because it is such an outlier that it distorts the end of the graph (as a graph from 1955-1974 would have lead one to conclude a rapidly rising rate that didn't really exist). 

If you focus on the graph within the orange box, the rate of rise is so small it may not be significant from a statistical point of view. This is especially true when you consider that both storm chasing and Doppler radar might have tended to inflate the numbers during the last 15 years.  


Latest Game Gastronomic News

Last summer, I told you about the giant pretzels at the Texas Ranger's games. I can tell you, they are wonderful!

Now, we learn, for the 2012 season they are going to serve two-foot long hot dogs. If I get a chance to sample one, I'll write another review.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pro-Global Warming Behavior Exactly As Forecast

This is was posted last week in a comment pertaining to Fakegate (I do not know the name of the commenter):

On the whole AGW theory supporters will do anything but talk about the science. They do make broad sweeping claims that are not reflected by the data. They don’t just stop at ‘it’s bad’ but insist on ‘it’s rapidly getting worse’. It takes but a few minutes for a sceptic to prove that by any metric you can think of, save maybe Arctic ice, it is not getting worse. If they’d lie about something so easy to prove, one is left with the only conclusion that they’d lie about the lot. Claiming cold events as proof of AGW has to be the lamest and most credibility busting act of all. They could just say that cold events are still to be expected under natural variation but no, they have to kick their cause into the long green grass of loony land.

Bolding mine. 

I thought about the above assertion when I was tweeted this story by an environmental journalist today that ties the recent warmth in the U.S. east of the Rockies to -- what else -- global warming. 

Daily record highs have been falling in droves across the region, with some remarkable occurrences. One weather station in Michigan hit 85°F, breaking the previous daily record high by an unheard of 32°, which is also 48° above average. Two stations recorded low temperatures that beat the previous record high, something that experienced weatherman Jeff Masters had never seen before. This record warmth is not confined to the United States. Several Canadian cities surpassed both their all-time March and April records this week, an amazing feat considering the vast differences between March and April during a normal spring.

This historic heat wave was also associated with the most humid air ever observed this early in the year in the Midwest. An increase in high-humidity heat waves is undesirable because the humidity increases the heat index and prevents nighttime cooling, both of which increase the health impacts of heat events.

Unfortunately, global warming is loading the dice in favor of events like this.

So, how long does it take to use the science to prove the above is patently false? Less time than it takes me to type this. 

The central and eastern U.S. warm weather started in February when world temperatures were below normal.

[caption id="attachment_8087" align="aligncenter" width="108" caption="If world temperatures are colder than normal there cannot be "global warming""][/caption]

Here is a map of world temperature departures from normal in February, 2012:

[caption id="attachment_8089" align="aligncenter" width="462" caption="From Danish Meteorological Bureau"][/caption]

Note the extraordinary cold from Europe to Russia. The warming in north central Asia is likely overstated as there are very, very few measuring stations there. This data agrees with the worldwide temperature graph that -- over all -- the world was cooler than normal in February. 

The March numbers are not available yet, but I expect them to be cool, as well. Why? Because temperatures, just about everywhere in the world except the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., have been colder than normal.  The weather pattern is essentially the same as for February. 

So, here is yet another pro-global warming panic story that could be proven false with less than five minutes of work.

Oh, and by the way, even sea ice is getting better (see below):

The bottom line: The people at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions wrote about global warming that didn't exist causing conditions that were highly localized -- not global. Their posting was advocacy, not science. Exactly the behavior the commenter described.

Is this the behavior of people confident the science is on their side?

More on Storm Chase Touring Companies

Last week, I was quoted in an article at about the safe way for novices to see storms which is signing up with a reputable storm chase company. Here is an article about Tempest Tours, one of several companies offering to take you to see the storms. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Federal Government: Injecting Itself Where It Is Not Needed

We have completely messed up agencies, the DHS and TSA. The National Weather Service budget is being cut in a way that could cause accuracy of aviation and extreme weather forecasts to lessen.

So, what is the federal government working on? Making valuable in-vehicle navigation systems -- which I believe make us safer -- less practical to use. This is a classic case of a bureaucracy finding non-problems to occupy its time. This seems like an agency that should have its budget cut rather than the National Weather Service.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

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

Now it is hurting penguins' sex lives.

Guess we have to add another item to the list of things caused by global warming



Ken Reeves

The AccuWeather family tonight is grieving the loss of Ken Reeves.

Ken passed away this afternoon as a result of an accident at his home. He had been with the company for 29 years and was Vice President of the AccuWeather Television Network. He was well known though out the commercial weather industry.

We will all miss him.  


There is additional information here

This Tornado Video is Fascinating

There is a lot of tornado video out there these days, which I view as unfortunate due to the now four incidents in the last twelve months where people have been injured or killed shooting video of storms. A lot of the video -- including much of it labeled "incredible" -- is not very good. So, it is infrequent that you see video that is worth viewing. These are worth viewing.

I'm posting these videos because I believe they make an important point: You will likely be injured if you stay outside as a tornado approaches, even if the tornado appears not to be on the ground. The first video of the West Liberty, KY tornado (March 2) shows good rotation but the tornado, at least at times, does not appear to be on the ground. You can hear doubt about whether they are in danger expressed by the male voice.

At least part of the reason there is confusion is because the cloud does not seem to extend all the way to the ground. FYI: That doesn't matter. If the rotating winds reach the ground, it is a tornado. You can even hear the sound of the tornado (loudly at :55) yet some of them seem to perceive they are not in danger!

Here is the video of the tornado doing damage, even without much sign of the condensation cloud. These are from security cameras. 

Even though things appear "clear" (i.e., it is not particularly cloudy or ominous-looking), debris that would seriously injure you from an F-3 tornado goes flying through the air. 

If you watch long enough (there are multiple scenes), you see a home set on fire by the tornado. 

[caption id="attachment_7996" align="aligncenter" width="395" caption="House on fire with smoke billowing can be seen at upper left."][/caption]

The lesson from all of this is to take shelter during a tornado warning. 


 Congratulations to Bill Self and his team!!!

NASCAR Weather

It is going to be a challenge to finish this afternoon's NASCAR race at Fontana, California. AccuWeather regional radar at 2:20pm CDT shows showers approaching from the south southwest that will be arriving by the scheduled end of the race.

[caption id="attachment_8061" align="aligncenter" width="942" caption="Blue arrows are the direction of movement of the showers."][/caption]

"A Little Song...A Little Dance...A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants"

Since I was on the road, I didn't get to see Modern Family on March 14. The episode "Send Out the Clowns" was the funniest thing since The Mary Tyler Moore Show's "Chuckle's Bites the Dust." 

I am not usually a fan of this type of humor but you've got to see this episode (click here). Modern Family is the best-written show on television. 


Sunday Morning Funnies

Funny man W. C. Fields refused to work with children and I thought of him during yesterday's "human interest" moment during the coverage of the Arnold Palmer Golf Tournament on NBC/Golf Channel.  

They brought a young man on set whose life had been saved by the doctors at the Palmer hospital.  Things started fine as Arnold reaches out.

Mom decided to let Arnie hold her son.

In spite of saving his life, son was not happy to be away from Mom. What seemed like a good idea seconds ago was going downhill rapidly.

So, son goes back to Mom. Son looks suspiciously like he has "pulled one over" on them.

Finally, Mr. Palmer announces a lifetime exemption for the young man -- meaning he can play in any future Palmer Invitational without qualifying. That seems to make him very, very happy.



Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winter Wheat Belt Rainfall

Here is what this past week's rainfall across the winter wheat belt looked like. Given the much warmer than average weather the last two weeks, the wheat is way ahead of schedule. This makes it much more vulnerable to a late-season hard freeze. That said, the wheat around Wichita looks great. 

Richmond Now Under Tornado Watch

New tornado watch until midnight Eastern. It includes Richmond and Petersburg. 

AccuWeather Regional Radar at 6:50pm EDT shows strong thunderstorms over the region. The supercell southeast of Lynchburg has produced very large hail and has been tornado-warned several times. It is moving in the general direction of Richmond.

Giant Hail on Radar

Here is what very large hail (two inches or more) looks like on radar.

The orange oval is the area where hail was likely falling at 5:17pm EDT. The two orange arrows indicate a non-meteorological echo known as a "hail spike." There is no precipitation falling along the spike. It is an artifact of the way the radar senses the hail. Unfortunately, the Roanoke WSR-88D does not have dual-polarization as yet so I cannot show you what the hail would look like on that type of display.  

There is also a tornado warning (purple polygon) in effect on that storm. 

Update: Saturday, 9:15pm CDT. Via Facebook here is a photo of some of the hail from this storm.

[caption id="attachment_8047" align="aligncenter" width="899" caption="Hail in Franklin Co., Virginia. Exact location unknown."][/caption]


Two Tornado Warnings -- Tornado Threat Continues

There are now two tornado warnings (purple polygons) and several severe thunderstorm warnings (amber) in the NC-VA area where a tornado watch continues until 11pm EDT. The storms are moving northeast. 

[caption id="attachment_8023" align="aligncenter" width="907" caption="Radar at 5:08pm EDT"][/caption]



I am not going to live-blog this storm but I am posting this to make sure you are aware of the ongoing threat in the area.  

Tornado Watch in North Carolina and Virginia Until 11pm EDT

AccuWeather regional radar shows some very strong storms near the NC-VA border as of 4:10pm EDT. A tornado warning is out at the time of this posting for northern Patrick Co.

Keep an eye on the weather in these areas!

Exciting Way to Learn About Science

The Team America Rocketry Challenge has a contest for college scholarships and, by participating, you can learn a great deal about science and have a lot of fun. I loved shooting off rockets as a boy. However, you'll have to act fast as the deadline to sign up to participate is in ten days.

President Obama has supported this along with another science challenge for students recently and I want to congratulate him for doing so. It is vitally important to improve America's standing in science and math knowledge among our young people.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Indoor Clouds? Yes.

This isn't Photoshop. Details here

I Like "Forecast the Facts" "No" Video

"Forecast the Facts" is an activist group that is attempting to "influence" television meteorologists to shill on behalf of global warming.  When you get to their home page they ask if the visitor believes that there is "solid evidence the earth is warming" (present tense).

Of course, the correct answer is "no." The graph below -- from the pro-global warming Hadley Center -- demonstrates unquestionably that no warming has occurred for the past fifteen years. If anything, there has been cooling in the last six.

[caption id="attachment_7981" align="aligncenter" width="646" caption="Temperature departure from long-term average from Hadley Center, Great Britain."][/caption]

So, I clicked on "no."

It then goes on to tell us that a growing number of people doubt global warming (correct!) and then it tells us 2011 was a "record year" for extreme weather. Since the topic is "global" warming and since they show hurricanes, let's take a look at that claim. Here is the global hurricane index for both all and major (lower line) through 2011.

[caption id="attachment_7984" align="aligncenter" width="1379" caption="Dr. Ryan Maue's Global Hurricane Index"][/caption]

Notice it isn't even close to a record for either category.  

So, I agree with its conclusion in the video that fewer people than ever believe in catastrophic global warming -- and, for good reason.

I congratulate "Forecast the Facts" for recognizing that fact. 

A Very Nice Storm Time-Lapse

From Bing. Click here

We're Number 4! We're Number 4!

In the quality of computer models used for weather forecasting says Dr. Cliff Mass of the University of Washington.

I generally agree with Cliff's analysis but want to put a couple of items into perspective. 

  • It is generally agreed the U.S. has the worst weather on earth. So, we have to spend more on radars, meteorologists to man the radars, etc., than other nations.

  • Canada spends less on launching weather balloons than other nations. The computer models cannot make forecasts that are more spatially accurate than the scale on which we measure the weather. 

  • The Obama Administration has proposed cutting out the wind profiler network altogether which is used to provide the data for the models. Again, you get more accurate forecasts than the scale on which we observe the atmosphere.

I am a big fan of the National Weather Service's and their mission of serving the public. There are many, many dedicated people in the NWS. But, I'm concerned about the direction of the NWS these days for a number of reasons. 

Two Reasons to Celebrate

International Meteorology Day. Details here

National Chip and Dip Day. Details here. I always ask for extra salsa.   

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Do You Call a Drive Through 'Car Wash' for Small Airplanes?

At the Newton, Kansas, airport (EWK). 

"Dying to See a Tornado"

From my colleagues at AccuWeather. Given the injuries sustained by some storm chasers last year and a fatality this tornado season, we discuss that photographing tornadoes is not worth your life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kill All Viruses? Not so Fast!

Details here

Are Tornadoes Getting Stronger Due to Global Warming?

There was very recently a story in the national media asking whether tornadoes have gotten stronger due to 'global warming.' The answer is "no" for two reasons:

  1. Global warming is not currently occurring and hasn't for a decade and a half.

  2. If anything, there is a downward trend in number of violent tornadoes. 

Let's start with #1.  

Here is the current chart of temperatures versus the long-term normal (vertical scale) as computed by the (pro-global warming) Hadley Center in Great Britain covering the last 15 years. There is no warming trend.

You cannot have stronger tornadoes in the last two years due to global warming if temperatures were cooling during that period. Note: I do not make any prediction as to future temperature trends. I don't know nor does anyone else. 

Second, there simply is no upward trend in violent (F-3 to F-5 intensity) tornadoes. Here is the official data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If anything, total numbers of intense tornadoes has lessened during the latter half of the period. However, because there are measurement issues plus the F-scale does not truly reflect tornado intensity (it reflects tornado damage, thus a strong tornado in a wheat field gets under-classified), all I'm willing to conclude is there is no upward trend.

So, the question is answered. At the present time there is no upward trend in tornado intensity due to global warming.