Wednesday, May 31, 2023

2013 Tornado Anniversary Dates

There were two important tornadoes for which today is the tenth anniversary. 

El Reno, Oklahoma
National Weather Service, Joseph Brennan
The National Weather Service in Norman has a comprehensive write-up here. This was the largest tornado in recorded history and, per Doppler radar wind measurements, one of the strongest. Between the tornado and flooding, 21 people died. 

St. Louis Area
This storm was very tricky for warning purposes but the NWS and local broadcast media did a great job. No one died in spite of extensive damage -- more damage than occurred in Oklahoma -- as the storm was a long-track F-3 tornado as it went across the densely populated North County area.
In addition to it being a more difficult than average tornado warning situation meteorologically, the Weather Channel and others were ignoring the St. Louis threat in favor of the Oklahoma City area where they had a "Tornado Tour 2013" crew. They were rolled by the tornado.  

If you wish to read my real-time storm coverage, it is here. After storm info about this unusual storm is here

Today's Tornado Outlook

The brown area of eastern New Mexico has a significant risk of tornadoes. Please keep up on the latest weather information in this region this afternoon and evening. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

May Rainfall

Here is a map of rainfall for the past 30 days.

And, here is a departure from normal map.
The drought in the High Plains has been nearly wiped out in some areas. 

High Plains Damaging Winds Developing

The area of thunderstorms (indicated by arrows) in the High Plains has the potential to cause widespread damaging winds. The NWS is forecasting 80 mph winds with these storms as they congeal and move to the east southeast. Power failures are possible. 

Hail to 2" in diameter is possible.

A tornado has occurred near Lamar in southeast Colorado, but I do not believe the tornado risk is high in this situation. 

Please follow me on Twitter @usweatherexpert for additional updates. 

Getting Sucked Out of Building in a Tornado

Why, if you don't have a basement, you should be in a bathroom or closet in the middle of the house when under a tornado warning.


The woman was sucked out of the building amidst all of the flying debris and other hazards. She is lucky to be alive. 

This year is already more active than than any since 2020. Please make sure your family and friends follow the best procedures to secure their safety in tornado situations. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Sunday Fun: Look at the License Plate

I try not to take up the "Florida Man" meme very often but this is a screen capture of a (yes) man driving rather fast down the roadway with the door open and some package sticking out of the back seat. 
My advice: As this is a holiday weekend, don't have a few beers and then go shopping!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

"It Takes a Flood to Break a Drought"

Meteorologists have long said, "It takes a flood to break a drought." Unbelievable rainfall amounts from the High Plains after suffering from a serious drought the past three years. 

Three Day Rainfall
Yes, that is more than a foot of rain near Clovis, NM. That is two-thirds of their average annual rainfall! Interstate 27 between Amarillo and Lubbock has been closed due to flooding. 

Seven Day Rainfall
Heavy rains have fallen in around Denver and throughout the Colorado and southwest Nebraska High Plains. The heavy rain in southwest Nebraska caused Amtrak's California Zephyr to be rerouted from BNSF at McCook to North Platte on the Union Pacific. 

Here is the forecast rainfall for the 5-days beginning at 7pm CDT this evening. 
More flooding is likely. 

Tornado Forecast Until 7am Sunday
And, if that wasn't bad enough, there is a significant risk of tornadoes in the brown area -- which is part of the flooded region. Stay well way -- otherwise, you could be trapped.

The Journalistic Pathology of Climate Reporting in the United States

Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., an outstanding researcher at the University of Colorado, has written a must-read essay at his Substack site pertaining to all that is wrong (and it is a lot!) with reporting on climate in the United States. 

While this is a must read in its entirety, my favorite part is what I frequently mock as, Global Warming: Is there anything it can't do?!" Samples from Roger below.
Of course, all of the above is nonsense. 

Today's journalists find it essential to be part of the "progressive team" rather than accurately reporting the news. 

Friday, May 26, 2023

Summer is Peak Flash Flood Season

Turn around, don't drown!
The number one cause of fatalities in flash floods is people, who were perfectly safe, driving into flooded areas. The car then gets swept away with sometimes fatal results. 

Although not fatal, that is what occurred with each of the autos pictured below.

Yes, I know you might save five minutes trying it, but why take the risk?  

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Rainfall Forecast for Memorial Day Weekend

Note the heavy rains forecast for the Carolinas, Virginia and coastal Georgia. There is a slow-moving non-tropical weather system off the coast that is forecast to move inland. It is not expected to develop into a tropical storm. 

Elsewhere, localized flooding might occur with slow-moving thunderstorms in the band of rain from Texas to Montana. Unseasonal rains are forecast for the mountains in California. 

The Direction We Are Headed

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Today is NOT the 50th Anniversary of the First Doppler Measurement of a Tornado

NOAA has put out a press release, a video and other information claiming today was the 50th anniversary of the first time a tornado (specifically, the Union City storm) was measured by Doppler radar.

Except it isn't.

The 50th anniversary of the first measurement of a tornado by Doppler radar was June 10, 2008; which occurred when an experimental Weather Bureau Doppler radar based in Wichita measured the F-4 El Dorado Tornado. That storm killed 13 people on June 10, 1958.
1958 Experimental Doppler Radar at Wichita's
Mid-Continent Airport 
The peak measured speed was 206 mph. It is hardly as if that tornado and its Doppler measurement is a secret. It was written up in the peer-reviewed journals. 
Happy to correct the record. 

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

The article is so silly, I'm not linking to it. 

Lower income countries are also heavily affected, which Obradovich hypothesizes could be because of a lack of air-conditioning. But he plans to investigate further.

It, of course, measures people without air conditioning or room coolers. The latter can be purchased from Amazon for less than $100. Problem solved!

Heads Up: Georgia and Coastal Carolinas

There is a system that will drift into the Georgia and coastal Carolinas that will intensify a bit causing heavy rain and gusty winds. Keep an eye on the weather this weekend. 

The map is rainfall. 

Today's Tornado Risk

The area in brown has a significant risk of tornadoes. This includes Clayton, Tucumcari and Clovis. Please pay attention to the weather this afternoon and evening. 

Giant hail is also possible in the brown area. 

YES!! Move The Government Out of Washington, DC!!!

At American Greatness, Roger Kimball in a piece published May 20 writes to the next Republican president, whomever he/she may be:

Washington really is a swamp and it will consume you. And here are a few particular bits of advice: 

1) Have the inauguration in Mar-a-Lago (if it is Trump)

2) Govern from Florida as much as you can. 

3) If you decide to indulge in the theater of the State of the Union Address as it has evolved, deliver it from, say, Kansas. 

4) Disband the FBI. We should never have allowed a national police force to come into being. 

Move the bits of the government you can’t actually destroy to other parts of the country.

Do these things instantly—the day you take office. The deep state will howl. The bureaucrats will oppose you. The lawyers will sue you. Do it anyway. Act first, deal with the consequences later...

The focus should be on eclipsing Washington, D.C. as the seat of government. It has long been obvious to candid observers that there is something deeply dysfunctional about It is a partisan sinkhole.

That Washington is crippling the rest of the nation has been obvious for more than a dozen years. 

From this blog:


A Non-Partisan Plan to Improve America – Part II

The problem is that once your representative moves to Washington from Oregon, Alabama, or wherever, they “go native” once they are inside the Beltway. That is, they start worrying much more about what the Washington Post says rather than how well they are representing their districts and states.

So, here is my suggestion that would minimize this problem once and for all:

Disperse the government! Two hundred years ago, in the horse-and-buggy era, it made sense to have everything in the District of Columbia. Now, having everything in D.C. is a hindrance rather than a help. The people manning government departments and Congress increasingly tend to be out of touch.

So, move them outside the Beltway.

Some suggestions: Move the Department of Agriculture to Wichita or Kansas City.

Move the Department of Transportation to Chicago.

The Patent and Trademark Office should go to Silicon Valley.

The Department of the Interior should go to Denver.

Health and Human Services should be in Atlanta.

The Department of Homeland Security (which includes the Border Patrol) should move to Tucson.

Get the idea?

Move everything except Congress, Supreme Court, the White House, Defense, Justice, State, and CIA outside the Beltway.  This has several beneficial effects: Their employees would be more in touch with the average person and would care less about the Washington Post. Government employees (except in an emergency) should fly commercial. Make them deal with the TSA for their monthly cabinet meeting in Washington!

Taking the Transportation Department as an example, Chicago is the transportation hub of the U.S. There are many people with a high level of expertise that already live there. It would be possible to have a smaller department with a higher level of expertise in Chicago than it is in Washington.

There is an added advantage: In an age of terrorism, it would make it harder to deal a major blow to the government…too many geographic areas to hit at once.

Finally, it would dilute the effect of lobbyists:  After all, Trent Lott can only be in one city at a time. 

It is time for outside-the-box thinking to solve America’s problems. Feel free to pass these on to whomever you wish. I don’t seek credit – I just want to leave an America for my children and grandchildren that is as great and full of opportunity as the one I’ve enjoyed. 
And, yes, absolutely abolish the FBI! They've had plenty of chances. They threaten our freedoms. The CIA needs to be completely reformed. 

Of course, the issue is whether the Republicans can grow the courage needed to do all of this. I am highly doubtful.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Sale and New Review of "Warnings"

I just noticed a new review at Amazon:
This gentleman liked Warnings so much that he purchased it as an ebook and then bought the hard copy book. 

As of 7:37pm this evening, the price was just $17.53. That is quite a discount!

Major Typhoon Headed for Guam

C = center of Super Typhoon Mawar which is headed straight for Guam. Peak gusts of 200 mph are forecast to occur later today. It will be the worst typhoon in at least 20 years. 

The radar image is from 5:27pm CDT.  

Outlook for Memorial Day Weekend

Here is a preliminary outlook for the Memorial Day Weekend. 

Temperatures will be seasonal with no areas of extreme heat or cold. Here is a map with Saturday's forecast high temperatures. 
Enjoy the holiday weekend but keep in mind the sacrifices made by the members of our military for us. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

12th Anniversary of the Joplin Tornado

An unfathomable tragedy occurred 12 years 
ago today. 
One of the worst tornadoes in United States' history occurred on this date in 2011. It was an EF-5 intensity storm and that ferocity, when combined with it striking a densely populated area, would inevitably lead to a huge number of deaths. 

But, it became the worst tornado of the tornado warning era because the tornado warnings and emergency management's siren activations were botched. Since the approaching tornado was behind a curtain of rain and could not be seen, the people of Joplin were sitting ducks. A total of 161 mothers, fathers, daughters and sons died, many unnecessarily. 

National Weather Service
What makes it even more frustrating was that this was a straightforward warning situation. A hook echo with increasing rotation produced by a right-moving supercell thunderstorm which formed in southeast Kansas and moved east across the city. See below. 

Yet, the NWS, time after time, misstated the direction of the storm and where it would strike. 

The situation began with NWS in Springfield MO (which handles the Joplin area) issuing a tornado warning because of a supposed funnel cloud near Carl Junction. That warning never should be been issued as there was no rotation in the area. Worse, the tornado sirens were sounded in Joplin even though there was no threat to the city. The television and radio told the people of Joplin not to worry as the tornado threat, such that it was, was to the north. 

Minutes later, an area of rotation developed and was increasing near Riverton, Kansas. As is the case with major tornado-producing supercells, the storm that Sunday moved straight east (to the "right" of the other storms which were moving northeast). Yet, the NWS in its tornado warning -- this time for Joplin -- said the tornado warning moving northeast. As the map below indicates, the northeast movement meant it would come nowhere near Joplin!

Then, incredibly, now that a tornado warning was in effect for the city, the tornado sirens were not sounded. The people of Joplin were going about their business, having been assured three minutes before by the media that everything was fine. The shoppers, people mowing their lawns, and leaving the high school graduation, had no way to know they were now in mortal danger.

The NWS two more times said the tornado was moving to the northeast -- missing Joplin. The sirens were not reactivated until the tornado was in the far west part of the city doing damage and causing the first fatalities. I tell the entire story here

The NWS's mess of the messaging even threw off the meteorologists providing storm coverage. Above is the storm coverage from KSNF-TV, the NBC station in Joplin. You hear the voice of meteorologist Caitlin McCardle nonchalantly describing the report of a funnel cloud (tornado aloft) near Galena, Kansas. Again, when they sent out the Galena funnel report, the NWS said the storm was still moving northeast -- which meant it would not hit Joplin. 

The KSNF's master controllman on his own initiative put the live cloud camera on the air. There were flashes which newsman Jeremiah Cook interpreted as lightning. Being a meteorologist, Caitlin knew better. Her entire tone of voice changed when she suddenly realized the camera was showing the tornado. She and Jeremiah begin shouting, "Take cover!" The NWS had led her to believe Joplin was okay. When I interviewed her for my book (red link above), she said, "I was shocked there was a tornado in that location [southwest Joplin]!" 

The TV station's camera was able to briefly see the tornado because it was looking from north to south. But, along the storm's path, it was completely invisible. Below is video and audio taken by a van with "Silver Lining Tours," a storm tourism company. You hear the sirens come on ten seconds into the video. But, as the storm tourists in the van turn their camera to the west (they were in the path, the stores seen would be destroyed minutes later), nothing. No sign of a tornado. 
The sirens were turned on because a storm chaser, Jeff Piotrowski, pulled alongside a police car and pleaded with them to, "Get the sirens on now!!"

Given the tornado was invisible, the people of Joplin were 100% dependent on the National Weather Service and local emergency management-- which utterly failed them, even though this was a textbook situation. 

To demonstrate this was a highly "warnable" tornado, below is the warning my company send to our two railroad clients in the path of the storm.
Kansas City Southern did not have a train in the area. But, American Rail Dispatch did -- and, per their letter two days later -- they moved people and equipment safely out of the tornado's path. 

We didn't know it in 2011, but the "golden age" of tornado warnings had ended with Joplin. From 2001 to 2011, per their own statistics, NWS tornado warning accuracy peaked. Since then, too many strong tornadoes have failed to be adequately warned. The Weather Service seems to be in denial. 

Given that denial, I believe the only way to fix tornado warnings, other issues in the NWS's storm warning program, issues with FEMA, et cetera, is for Congress to create a National Disaster Review Board modeled after the hugely successful National Transpiration Safety Board. Otherwise, another Joplin is inevitable. 

Review of "Without Warning"

Review of Without Warning: The Tornado of Udall, Kansas by Jim Minick

I had so looked forward to reading this book from the time I first heard about it, I pre-ordered it from Amazon with overnight shipping. I have been fascinated by the meteorology of the Udall Tornado for years and recently submitted a possible correction to the tornado paths that night to the NWS Storm Prediction Center. But, my work has been exclusively scientific and I wanted to learn more about the human side of the disaster.  

I’m sorry to report that I cannot recommend Without Warning because of the large number of factual errors it contains. These errors are not just meteorological, many are just sloppy. For example, Wichita is not “near” Sedgewick [sic] County, it is in Sedgwick County. He calls the Wichita Weather Bureau office in 1955 the National Weather Service (it was “Weather Bureau” until 1970) and, in references after that date, it is often, and incorrectly, called “NOAA Weather Station.” There are factual errors when describing the railroad that, then and now, goes through the town. There are odd racial references. Why do we care that George Curtis was “part Choctaw Indian”? That is never explained. I won’t go into all of the meteorological errors, and there are many, because I tend to be a bit more forgiving of those.


There are so many of these factual errors, it makes me question the exactitude of the human interactions which make up the core of the story. Eric Larson’s Isaac’s Storm is such an incredible read because Larson had hurricane meteorologist Hugh Willoughby working with him to make sure the meteorology was correct. 


Finally, Without Warning’s epilogue is about – you guessed it – global warming. Considering that climate science tells us that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were not sufficient to affect temperatures until 1958, three years after the Udall Tornado, global warming had nothing to do with the storm. In fact, violent tornadoes are less frequent than in the 50’s as a result of earth’s warmer climate -- which Mr. Minick does not mention. 


I enjoyed reading the stories of the people affected by this horrific tornado but, as the errors piled up, I began questioning, “Is this correct?” If you can ignore the errors, you may enjoy reading Without Warning as it is otherwise well written. I look at Without Warning as a lost opportunity. With more attention to detail and better editing, this could have been another Isaac’s Storm. I fear the full story of Udall will never be correctly told. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

This Week's Rainfall

This is the NWS's forecast for rainfall from now until 7am CDT next Sunday. I'll provide a Memorial Day outlook on this blog at midweek. 

Sunday Fun: Come Visit Wichita!

Wichita has been named a Top 5 travel destination for this summer. 

Per WalletHub, Wichita is the #4 place to visit this summer. If you come, I promise you will receive a warm welcome. For a partial list of things to do, click here

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Global Warming "Gaffe:" When a Politician Tells the Truth

Yes, they are due to 'climate change,' specifically the offshore wind turbines they have installed to fight global warming. The wind turbines do almost nothing to cut CO2 emissions but they are a great foundation for graft. 

Anniversary of the Ruskin Heights Tornado

Today is the anniversary of the 1957 Ruskin Heights Tornado. That F-5 tornado killed 44 and injured more than 300. 

Life magazine
This monster tornado ushered in governmental tornado warnings (they had been invented by WKY-TV in Oklahoma City a few years prior) and it was the day that utterly changed my life. The above photo captures the horror. Not only had the couple lost everything, note that the house was stripped to the floorboards. That's what it looked like -- home after home of nothing but the floor and, perhaps, a commode or pipe spouting water.
Homes stripped to the floorboards upper right. 
Destroyed gymnasium at what was the new high school.
For me, the tornado not only set me on my career to be a meteorologist, it played a role in me meeting and dating Kathleen and even where we would marry. Below is a photo of the original Martin City United Methodist Church. It was so heavily damaged it had to be torn down. We were married in the replacement church.
The tornado had such a profound effect on the region that three other meteorologists began their careers as a result. The late Les Lemon was a giant in tornado research. Dennis Smith was well known from The Weather Channel. Tragically, cancer took Tim Cox while still in meteorology school. 

We'll never forget the victims of this storm. But, their lives clearly were not in vain. Not only are they profoundly missed, the adoption of tornado warnings across the nation and the research that led to better quality warnings has saved thousands and thousands of lives. 

Ahh, But Read the Fine Print!

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article about our hapless and increasingly dangerous federal government taking 17 years to approve a wind energy project under a "fast-track" program. 

But, I want to bring some of the article's important fine print to your attention. It says, "the permit allows the developer, Pattern Energy, to build the country's largest wind energy project across three counties in rural New Mexico and deliver that electricity to large markets in Arizona and California." Wait, what?!

Forget killing eagles and rare birds, forget killing endangered whales (via off-shore wind), forget rising rates and making the grid less stable by the year: the people who have to look at and hear these monsters won't get any benefit from them?! And, who is going to pay for them?

In Kansas, ratepayers are being required to fund an expensive transmission line like the one above that will send wind electricity generated in the Sunflower State to Missouri. Let me repeat that: we get none of the benefit of the transmission line, but we have to pay for it. 

Wind energy allows the well-connected to get incredibly rich. The rest of us get blackouts during extreme cold and extreme heat. And, it will only get worse! The wind energy lobby is one of the most vindictive and aggressive lobbying organizations out there. 

In the strongest manner, I urge you to let your state and local legislators and congressional delegate know that it is time to stop the wind gravy train. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

On Drought Conditions in the Central Great Plains; Huge Hail in DFW

Wichita Eagle this evening
In most of the west half of Kansas, the wheat will be plowed under. With the drought there, and in parts of central Kansas, the wheat isn't worth harvesting.

Here are the drought conditions as of Tuesday in the central Great Plains. 

Since Tuesday; here is the rainfall to 6pm Friday. As much as eight inches fell just northeast of Amarillo ("A"). 
The scale is at right. Green is at least .75 inches. Yellow is at least 2.5 inches. 

And, farther south, there was damaging hail in a small part of the DFW Metroplex. 
The small deep purple areas surrounded by pink = 3" diameter hail (75 millimeters, see scale at right). 
There are reports of considerable damage near Allen and in this swath.