Saturday, May 5, 2012

Amazing Day in Greensburg

Wow, what an amazing day.

Mindy and I traveled to Greensburg this morning for my 10:30 presentation. We were, to put it mildly, overwhelmed by the size and receptiveness of the crowd of more than 200.  It was the first time we've ever run out of books at one of my presentations. Thank you to all that ordered and they will be in the mail Monday. 

We discussed how the storm warning system that saved more than 200 lives that night evolved and why it worked so well. We also discussed some of the issues in Joplin that contributed to that tragedy. Finally, we talked about dual-polarization radar, Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, and the integration of the social sciences into the warning process so that we may convey threats clearly. There were visitors from as far away as British Columbia.

For nearly an hour after, we talked with the attendees and I wish to highlight a couple in particular: Lance Furgeson who chased the tornado at night, at considerable risk to himself to let Greensburg know, via KWCH TV, the town was in mortal danger. Also attending was Jeff Hutton of the Dodge City National Weather Service that issued the accurate, strongly-worded warnings.
From left: Aaron Barnhart, yours truly, Lance Furgeson and Jeff Hutton
After the presentation, Mindy and I had a tasty lunch at The Coffee Bean which was packed.

We then strolled around town seeing all of the new stores and construction.  A small disappointment was the new museum was not ready for the public. It houses the "world's largest hand-dug well" and a commemoration of the tornado. It will be dedicated Memorial Day weekend.

The town looks great with attractive, new, "green" construction.

A very pleasant surprise was to run into KSNW - TV's chief meteorologist Dave Freeman who was touring the city with his family. Dave was one of the meteorologist-heroes that night who stayed on the air

not only the entire night but into the next morning as the tornadic thunderstorms lasted until nearly 4am. The photo below is a screen capture of day telling Greensburg they had about eight minutes to get to shelter.

The people of Greensburg are extremely appreciative of what weather science did for them that night. Bob Dixon, the mayor, has previously told me that we not only saved lives, we saved the town.

It was a marvelous day and we again congratulate Greensburg on coming through the storm stronger and better than ever.

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