Thursday, April 30, 2020

Locations of Category 5 Hurricane Landfalls

click to enlarge
Monday, I wrote about F-5 tornadoes. Today, with hurricane season a month away, here is a map of the location of landfalls of Category 5 hurricanes. I found it interesting. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Review of Yesterday's Forecast

I thought it was important, after the strongly-worded forecasts of yesterday that I review them. 
On the left is a map of storm reports. Additional reports will be added today but they are enough upon which to base an assessment of the forecast. Greens are large hail. Blues are winds. On the right was the forecast. The geography aspect of the forecast was quire good. It gets an A.

The intensify aspect was overdone. There were many reports in the 60 to 65 mph range. Those caused some scattered power outages and other damage. But, wind force (the power in the wind) is a square function. So, the 75-85 mph wind gusts I was expecting would have caused much more damage to the grid. I give myself a C-.

Thank you for reading.

Free Respirator With Every Purchase of a Toaster!!

Please read from the bottom, up. Pete Gaynor is the head of FEMA.
Where's Art Fern when we need him? He'd move the merchandise!

Monday, April 27, 2020

More on the Stunning Success of Weather Science

The National Hurricane Center has finalized its report on the catastrophic Hurricane Dorian. As a result, here is a ranking of the most intense hurricanes to strike the Atlantic Ocean Basin (Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico). The chart is below. You will, I'm sure, have to click on it to make it fully legible. One-hundred sixty knots = 185 mph sustained winds.
As I was researching this post, I went back to look up the number of deaths associated with Dorian. I was flummoxed to learn, according to Wikipedia, 70 were killed. The second strongest hurricane in history in the Atlantic Basin, $5 billion in damage, yet just 70 confirmed deaths (there are a number still missing). While each of those is a terrible tragedy for the families involved, that number is so low as to take your breath away. Original estimates were in excess of 2,000.

While I am certain there were other factors involved, this is another "miracle" of weather science. Had this storm struck without warning, I'm certain the deaths would have been in the thousands, if not more. Weather science in general, and the National Hurricane Center in particular, deserve tremendous appreciation.

I want to return to the 1991 Wichita - Andover Tornado for a moment, the 29th anniversary of which was yesterdayPlease also see article below.

That tornado, the warning of which I was intimately involved, was the 5th strongest tornado since 1950, when reliable tornado statistics began. Click on the video above to see its violence when it struck McConnell Air Force Base. You will then see a police car driving through the Golden Spur Mobile Home park to help warn the residents.
The path length of the Wichita-Andover Tornado was nearly 50 miles.
Given roughly 86,000 tornadoes have occurred in the USA since 1950 and this tornado ranks #5 -- and given the Andover tornado went through a densely populated area -- including a large mobile home park -- one would have expected the death toll to have been, easily, in the three figures had the tornado been a surprise.

Fortunately, the mobile home park complied with Kansas law and had a large underground shelter. The tornado warnings gave residents plenty of time to get there. Shortly after, the Centers for Disease Control did an extensive study (200+ in-person interviews) and determined the advance warnings saved more than 70 precious lives. If the mobile home park hadn't had a shelter, at least another couple of dozen people would have died there if the tornado had struck without warning. So, it is highly likely, in total, more than 100 lives were saved.

Overall, weather science has cut the tornado death rate (deaths per million population) by 97%. That fact is staggering. The USA's tornado warning system is a Nobel Prize-worthy endeavor. It is especially amazing in view of the fact that weather science in the United States is "meagerly and begrudgingly funded." Funding for the entirety of governmental weather science (satellites, radar, salaries, etc.) and the hurricane, tornado, blizzard, daily forecasts, etc., comes to about the cost of a McDonald's Happy Meal® for every man, woman and child each year. Compare that to the cost of a single trip to your doctor for each member of your family.

Per the map above, there is a chance of tornadoes tomorrow (a much better chance of large hail and damaging thunderstorm winds) and then a few days' pause. Then more tornadoes, perhaps violent tornadoes, starting again next week and through the rest of May. Hurricane season starts June 1.

So, when a tornado, hurricane, or other storm warning is issued for your location, I urge you to give it your full attention and to act accordingly. 

F-5 Tornadoes: Ranking the Highest of the High

Violent Oklahoma Tornado. Courtesy of Dick McGowan
I wish to direct your attention to a fascinating list ranking the intensity of the 59 tornadoes since 1950 that have been rated F-5. You can access the article, here.
The reasoning is very sound and the timing is excellent. Yesterday was the anniversary of the Wichita-Andover Tornado (5th strongest tornado since 1950). Today is the 9th anniversary of two of the top three.
  • The #3-ranked tornado by intensity was the Hackleburg, Alabama, Tornado which occurred on this date in 2011.
  • #2 was the Jarrell, Texas, tornado of 1997.
  • #1 was the incredible Smithville, Mississippi, tornado of this date in 2011. 
Four tornadoes that have played a role in my life (Ruskin Heights, Udall, Andover, and Greensburg) are all ranked as average or stronger than average F-5's. You can read more about those in my book, Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather

The Joplin Tornado is ranked 21st and it is the topic of my second book, When the Sirens Were Silent

The 2020 tornado season has, tragically, been more active than usual. We have already had 75 deaths. As to the rest of the 2020 tornado season, there are solid reasons to believe that, starting next week, the above average trend will resume and will likely continue through the rest of May. Stay prepared. 

Scientific Analysis: Lockdowns Are Not the Way to Handle Coronavirus

Spiked published an article April 22 a scientific and statistical analysis of the lockdowns versus social distancing. It didn't come to my attention until yesterday. The money paragraph:

This piece tackles that question. As a professional political scientist, I have analysed data from the Worldometers Coronavirus project, along with information about the population, population density, median income, median age and diversity of each US state, to determine whether states that have adopted lockdowns or ‘shelter in place’ orders experience fewer Covid-19 cases and deaths than those which pursue a social-distancing strategy without a formal lockdown. I then briefly extend this analysis to compare countries. In short, I do not find that lockdowns are a more effective way of handling coronavirus than well-done social-distancing measures. [emphasis mine]

The statistical analysis looks solid and I urge you to read the article for yourself and form your own conclusions.

As to my state of Kansas (still locked down), also as of yesterday, the number of deaths is still below the lowered model forecast. As recently as April 7, the model predicted 640 death in Kansas. I'm using Kansas as representative of the central United States. 
Let's take those tragic 119 deaths and compare them to the latest model projection. Here is the wide view:
Now, let's drill down and compare yesterday's death total to the latest prediction from the model.
So, the 119 actual deaths is not only far below the 144 predicted, they are barely within the model's lower range!

You'll remember that the justification for the lockdown was to make sure the healthcare system was not overwhelmed ("let's flatten the curve"). Let's look at that.
The results are breathtaking in a bad way. Given the purpose of the lockdown and forbidding elective surgery was to insure the hospitals were not overwhelmed, the question was whether it was needed in the first place? Not only are Kansas (and other central U.S. states' hospitals) far, far from being overwhelmed, Wesley's Woodlawn Hospital in Wichita, a full service hospital, has completely closed for lack of patients (its ER continues in operation).

Here is CNN's county-by-county case map from yesterday.
The white counties have five or fewer cases. In Kansas, most of the white counties have zero or one case and I can't find any deaths in the white counties.

Here is the NYC area:
Yes, NYC and the surrounding areas (total 27 million people) are, unfortunately, having severe problems. Those problems are the focus of the media, based in NYC which is distorting the reporting of the situation of the nation as a whole and, I believe, distorting both policy and the response.

Per the NYT tracker, here is a comparison of NYC versus the Wichita.
Location                  Cases/100,000People                   Deaths/100,000People
NYC                          1837 cases/100K                              135 deaths/100
Sedgwick Co KS        65 cases/100K                                  1 death/100K
Sedgwick Co. (population 513K) is the county that contains Wichita.

Treating the South, Midwest, and Great Plains like NYC is both unscientific and destructive. Away from the densely populated areas on the coasts, the lockdowns should stop immediately. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Thank You

Photo of the tornado approaching homes in Andover
The time is incorrect. The tornado hit around 6:45pm
Today is the anniversary of a critical event in the history of south central Kansas -- the Wichita-Andover Tornado (and, the other less tragic tornadoes of that day). It was April 26, 1991.

I wish to thank everyone who contacted me today. I was just doing my job. The important thing was that more than 70 lives were saved.

Sunday Fun: Fungi Boat

You'll have to excuse me if I do not think "fungi boats" is the solution to global warming.

If You Wish to See Michael Moore's Movie That Strongly Criticizes Green Energy... may need to act fast. I understand it is being taken down due to the furious reaction from Big Climate. The movie strongly criticizes 'green' energy. Here is a link that was working as of 8:55am CDT. My review of the movie, posted Tuesday, is here.
As I say in my review, I never thought I would agree with Michael Moore on anything.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

New Yorkers Seem to Have An Odd Perception of "Flocking"

From, the definition of "flock."
From the New York Post:
There were nine photos to illustrate people "flocking" (crowding) the beach but none of them show that. New Yorkers appear to have self-hypnotized themselves into thinking the rest of the nation are a bunch of irresponsible fools when the evidence -- right before their eyes -- demonstrates the opposite. The media, based in NYC, suffers those same self-delusions as does their sister media in the District of Columbia.

In NYC of the west, here is a photo of the beach in Southern California today along with an urgent plea:
Look closely at the photo: Most everyone is maintaining social distancing. Plus, they are outdoors. With any kind of distancing, there is effectively zero chance of catching the virus.

I agree with the Washington Post. We should wise up and think for ourselves.

The same issue of the New York Post contains this nugget.
Does anyone realize the implications of the destruction of 40% of the U.S. economy?! I don't know whether that number is correct or not. While I would never minimize the pain of losing a loved one, for society as a whole, anything close to that number will cause far more suffering than the disease.

Put another way, (via Wikipedia) the median per capita income of the United States would drop from $38,000 to $22,800! The corresponding increase in U.S. poverty and hardship would be both immoral and unacceptable. Can your family afford a 40% pay cut?! This is not to mention the increase in taxes that must occur to deal with the overall deficit and the increasingly acute social security deficits.

To be completely clear: I urge those with compromised immune systems and over the age of 60 to continue to isolate for the time being. I also want everyone, when things reopen, to practice good hygiene: masks, globes and disinfectants.

Now that we know coronavirus is far less lethal than first thought, the risk clearly does not support "destroying 40% of the U.S. economy."

This Week's Rainfall in the Winter Wheat Belt

While winter wheat is grown in other areas, this is the region of the greatest concentration in the United States.
Rainfalls fell in generous amounts several different times so there was no major flooding. For those that are not aware, most of the winter wheat in this region is planted in September and harvested in May and June.

I Wish I Had Thought to Frame the Shutdown Issue In This Way

While they started out with the best of intentions, the COVID-19 shutdown has degenerated into a non-scientific mess. While it is still essential that people -- especially people over 60 and with compromised immune systems -- take isolation precautions against coronavirus, the near-total shutdown of American commerce needs to be reversed as quickly as possible. If you need more evidence, please read this piece from an MD.

Dennis Prager puts things in perspective in this manner:

Imagine that Georgia and North Carolina -- two contiguous states that, like the New York metro area, have a combined total of 21 million people -- had 18,690 COVID-19 deaths, while metro New York had 858 deaths (the number of deaths in North Carolina and Georgia combined).
Do you think the New York metro area would close its schools, stores, restaurants and small businesses? Would every citizen of the New York area, with the few exceptions of those engaged in absolutely necessary work, be locked in their homes for months? Would New Yorkers accept the decimation of their economic and social lives because North Carolina and Georgia (or, even more absurdly, Colorado, Montana or the rest of what most New Yorkers regard as "flyover" country) had 18,960 deaths, while they had a mere 858?
It is, of course, possible. But I suspect that anyone with an open mind assumes that New Yorkers would not put up with ruining their economic and social lives and putting tens of millions of people out of work because of coronavirus deaths in North Carolina and Georgia, let alone Montana and Idaho (and, for the record, I would have agreed with them).

In Prager's article, he makes a reference to the perfect cover of The New Yorker titled a "New Yorker's View of the World From 9th Avenue." 
Click to Enlarge
The idea other 99% of America (by geography) should stay shut down because of the high rate of cases in NYC is absurd. 

Yes, by all means, take precautions (masks and gloves and frequent disinfecting of common surfaces). Let's go back to our history class and think about London's indomitable spirit during The Blitz. Then, open up America. 

Some Comments on Tornado Season 2020, So Far

The map below is of the reported tornadoes for this year as of 7am this morning.
You'll notice something highly unusual: California (1) and New Mexico (3) have more tornadoes than Kansas (0) or Nebraska (0). In tornadoes have been rather sparse, compared to average, north of Interstate 70.

What is tragic about this year is that we are up to 75 fatalities. This is, by far, the worst since the awful year of 2011.

Ted Fujita wrote a paper around 1970 (I don't remember the exact year) noting that major tornado events (he want back to 1916) tended to cluster the the Great Plains, then the Midwest, then Dixie Tornado Alley. Certainly the last two years have seen far about normal numbers of tornadoes in the South.

For the foreseeable future (in meteorology, about seven days), most of the tornadoes will be in the South.

Friday, April 24, 2020

An Enhanced Tornado Risk Again Today

The 2020 tornado season has been especially active and, based on the SPC forecast, today is no exception. 
The Ark-La-Tex region has an enhanced risk of tornadoes. This includes Idabel, Arkadelphia, Shreveport and Tyler. The brown area has a significant risk and it includes Tulsa, Little Rock and Lufkin. 

Please keep up on the weather in these areas today. 

The Insanity of the Mainstream Media

These two headlines in the last 24 hours illustrate the innumerate and ignorant mainstream media from which we suffer.
Look at the photo. How many will catch COVID-19 in this manner? None. Literally none of the people on this beach will catch COVID-19. Per my board-certified immunologist:

I think being outside with someone is certainly safer than inside. The droplets and aerosols would disperse more quickly and widely. I guess you could walk thru someone's vapor cloud, or have it blown into you if downwind. Ambient factors such as UV light from the sun, temperature, humidity, wind, would all make a difference. 

When you combine the fact that people are staying well separated, it is an absolutely stupid illustration. Does the NYT not understand the very basics of how any virus is spread?!

It is incredible they are still relying on the completely discredited epidemiology models. They have been shown to have no skill at forecasting even two weeks in the future.

Ahhh, NYT, just about every knowledgable pundit west of the Hudson has been saying this for at least two weeks.

To use this blog as an example of the message: it is critical that rural America be
opened up or terrible food shortages may develop. We don't know for sure -- but does America and the world really want to take that chance?

Instead, the NYT and MSM mock agricultural areas for wanting to open up (see yesterday's photo at the top of the blog) even though areas outside of NYC have a tiny percentage of the originally predicted COVID-19 cases. Consider this stark statistic:

During a press conference Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis noted that health experts initially projected 465,000 Floridians would be hospitalized because of coronavirus by April 24. But as of April 22, the number is slightly more than 2,000.

By what measure is 2,000 hospitalizations in a state the size of Florida a crisis, let alone a catastrophe? We have many counties in Kansas that don't have a single case of COVID, let alone deaths.

There is absolutely no reason that these agricultural and food businesses, and many others, cannot be reopened with proper precautions (masks, gloves, etc.). It is growing season! We get just one each year. The United States is playing with dynamite: the possibility that the shutdown will cause far more damage than the disease.

If this essay seems emphatic, it is. The indefinite shutdown cannot and should not continue. The politicians seem far more worried about seeming to be uncaring (with their eye on unfavorable news coverage prior to the next election) rather than the overall good of the nation. We should be encouraging our government to behave responsibly (e.g., the overall good of the nation). Let them hear from you.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thunderstorm Approaching Wichita

At 7:10pm, looking WNW from my home, I took this photo.
There is nothing like the Kansas Sky in springtime. Yes, that is cloud-to-ground lightning at left. Enjoy.

The Increase in Storm Forecast Accuracy

One of at least 20 similar comments. They were
part of a thread that began a week ago, today. 
You might have seen the controversy that began a week ago today on Twitter and other social media pertaining to weather forecast accuracy.

I understand that some forecasts bust. And, if you have an outdoor event and the forecast is wrong, it can be extremely frustrating. I get it.

But, the idea that weather forecasts are usually wrong is incorrect. And, the progress weather science has made in warning of storms is stunning.

Because of that on-line discussion, I thought the forecasts of flash flooding and the violent, long-track tornado of this past Sunday in the South would make a good example of the progress weather science has made (hat tip, Greg Carbin).

Rainfall Amounts
Below are NWS forecast rainfall amounts from 7am Sunday through 7am Monday. The forecast was published at 3:41am Sunday morning. Because of the already wet ground, the forecast rainfall, up to 4" in Alabama, was forecast to cause major flash flooding.

Here is a map of the actual rainfall amounts.
The correlation between the two is amazing. And, yes, serious flash flooding occurred.

Violent Tornado in Southern Mississippi
A second example: There was a violent, long-track (52 miles) tornado Sunday evening in southern Mississippi. It was more than a mile wide in places and it was rated EF-4 intensity. It passed just south of the city limits of Hattiesburg.
Note the tornado first touched down at 7:10pm.

At noon, I tweeted this forecast of the most likely area for strong tornadoes.
Updates for this geographic area were sent later in the day. The violent Mississippi tornado occurred entirely within the rectangle.

At 5:40, I sent my first tweet calling attention to this storm (90 minutes before the violent tornado touched down). There is no "hook echo" or other typical signatures of a tornado, let alone a violent storm in progress. But, because of the progress we have made in weather science, I was able to outline the area of concern as well as to say the atmosphere was in the immediate area was "favorable for tornado development. If you live in this area, PLEASE monitor for possible warnings."

This was at 6:23. The rotation was strengthening and moving east northeast.

After multiple updates explaining the likelihood of a tornado developing, here is a specific tweet warning of the tornado three minutes before it touched down. Given the advance notices to prepare, three minutes was plenty of time to dash into the closet, basement, or bathroom.
Five minutes after the tornado touched down, thanks to the NWS's investment in dual-polarization radar, I was able to inform readers the tornado was both on the ground and violent even though the sky was dark (per photographs, not shown).

There were detailed path forecasts.
Weather science would not have been able to do all of this even a decade ago.

I'm using my forecasts and warnings not to boast but because they are easy for me to obtain. The NWS did a fine job warning of this tornado, also. Even though an EF-4 is in the most violent 2% of all tornadoes, there was just a single fatality. Amazing.

The next time someone claims the forecasts are wrong for "three weeks straight" or there were three days of sunny and warm when it was supposed to be cold and rainy, please send them a link to this essay.
(c) Copyright 2020, Mike Smith Enterprises, LLC

Extreme Video Yesterday's of Madill Tornado

I am of two minds when it comes to extreme chaser videos. I don't want to encourage being close to tornadoes. I'm posting this video because, 1) it shows how a tornado causes its destruction and, 2) it shows the visible funnel does not have to be in contact with the ground for a tornado to cause major damage.

Pecos Hank, the storm chaser who took this video, is amazingly talented as this video demonstrates.

Today's Tornado Risk: Southeast

There is an enhanced risk of strong tornadoes in the hatched yellow area. This extends from Mobile to Savannah and Jacksonville. The brown area has a significant risk which extends from Nashville on the north to Orlando and Tampa on the south.

Please keep up on the weather in these areas today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Today's Tornado Reports

This map indicates the tornado reports (red) and wind damage (blue) reports as of 11:25pm Wednesday. There will be many, many more tornado reports added when field surveys are completed. The amazing thing is the purple arrow. It represents a supercell thunderstorm that developed near College Station, Texas, and disorganized in far southwest Mississippi. Many reports of damage from the tornadoes it spawned.

We know of one fatality in Texas and at least two in Oklahoma.

Tornado Watch: North Texas and Southern Oklahoma

The tornado watch is in effect until 9pm
The watch includes Dallas and Ft. Worth as well as northern portions of the Metroplex, such as Denton. It is my opinion that strong tornadoes will occur in the outlined area. Giant hail is also possible.

Please keep up on the weather the rest of this afternoon and evening.

Serious Tornado Risk This Afternoon and This Evening

I'm very concerned about violent tornadoes in the outlined area. I believe supercell thunderstorms will develop during the early afternoon and move toward the eastern part of the outline by evening.

Now is a good time to prepare. Make sure you have at least two sources for receiving a warning in addition to sirens and television (you can lose power before television can get the warning to you).
Please test your weather radio. Set up a "tornado alarm." The tornado alarm will alert you wherever you are and will minimize the false alarms.

In addition, a tornado watch has been issued for south Texas and west central Louisiana.
Note there is a "moderate" chance of strong tornadoes. This does include the northern suburbs of Houston.