Since I just posted about the new NWS warning classifications, I thought it might be a good idea to follow up with how to know when you need to find shelter. The obvious, and easy, answer is that if the NWS says it’s time to go to ground, you need to go to ground. A lot of the worry about the new classifications comes from the fear that people will stop paying attention to the radar indicated warnings, as they will tend to be the ones that have the highest number of false positives simply because they are not based on what a trained person is seeing with her own eyes. And what happens when the boy cries wolf too often? You start to ignore him and one day a dingo steals your baby. I think I might have mixed a few metaphors there. So, back on target.
- If the weatherman says seek shelter
- If your weather radio says seek shelter
- If the sirens are going off
- If that wonderfully adapted mammalian brain of yours says “something isn’t right” You should seek shelter!
I know that I’m preaching to the choir here, but you’ll notice that of those 4 scenarios only 1 will work 99% of the time. It doesn’t matter if you are awake, if you’re power is out, if you’re TV weatherman is really just broadcast major with a teleprompter and that’s the weather radio. Sirens fail and aren’t used in a consistent manner. When the power goes out, so does your TV and you have to sleep at some point, but a good weather radio will keep monitoring long after you’ve gone to bed. You can find them for as little as $13 on amazon and higher end models will allow you to pick and choose what type of alerts you get. My goal for 2013 is to give out a weather radio to someone every day that we chase, so I’ll be stocking up on those little radios. Grab a few and hand some out yourself!
10 minutes after the first radar indicated tornado hit our screen, a second one popped up to it’s north east. It’s not uncommon for multiple tornadoes to spin up like that, but in this case it seems it was all radar indicated and not on the ground (that may change, but listening to HAM, NWS and watching the screens it looks fairly certain that these didn’t reach the ground). Starting in mid 2012, the NWS changed how they announce severe weather threats to include four new tornado warning types.
- A Tornado Warning which is a Radar Indicated Tornado.
- A Spotter Confirmed Tornado Warning for tornadoes that have been visibly confirmed by a NWS trained spotter.
- A Radar Confirmed Tornado Warning for Radar indicated tornadoes that carry with them the the distinct radar signatures of a tornado (hook, debris, etc)
- And the PDS Tornado Warning which is used for tornado emergencies ie, we see it, we see where it’s going and it looks like it’s heading towards you
You can find the entire breakdown and all of the new language on the NWS website or you can google for them to find all of the controversy. This afternoon’s threat was all Radar Indicated and never fully materialized into something more severe. The risk was real, the rotation was visible on radar (and in many cases, like with rain wrapped tornadoes, that radar signature may be the only thing you have) but the conditions weren’t right for a tornado to make itself known on the ground. On the plus side, if severe thunderstorms aren’t your thing, in about 8 hours this is all supposed to change to snow so just hang out a bit longer.
While I’m not certain that winter weather has finally made it’s push into the Midwest (though my friends to our north not only disagree but are pooling funds to have someone kick my tail), we are getting a significant wind event that looks like it could last for 15 hours or more today. This image is a VWP that I pulled earlier in the afternoon that is showing consistent 50kn, and higher, winds in the 2k and lower winds easily in the 30kn range. So far we’ve had reports of a historic building in STL collapsing from the wind, a school bus being blown over and 1000′s of residents without power. Wind is something that we usually associate with severe weather, but not as a severe event itself, but with this evenings show, the derechos and the haboobs in the past year, wind is providing us a strong reminder of just how severe it can be.
I’m moving everything over to this new webserver, so this is pretty much the only content I have right now. This is from a chase in Victoria KS towards the end of May. We ended up catching a brief tornado coming out of an LP supercell, but it was otherwise a 1200 mile, 24 hour bust. Good news for life and property, bad news for a photographer.
The chase last weekend ended up being a bust. We drove into Salina KS on Friday and stayed the night there, intending to be somewhere in the Hays area on Saturday. Saturday morning had our target area moved a bit further north, so we decided to go towards concordia KS but started to have some doubts. I called up Matt and he suggested we high tail it down to Liberal KS, but we didn’t have anything that looked like it would pop except for a nice intersection of boundaries occurring in that area. The SPC said north, about 50 other chasers were heading north and we let the herd instinct drive us up into Nebraska. Big mistake. Matt had nailed it, non super cell tornadoes up to EF3 occurred over 200 miles from where we sat enjoying a run of the mill thunderstorm. On the plus side, we did detour and get to watch a nice motocross race and nothing fell off of the car, which is always a plus. We’re getting ready to go out again with a more standard target to chase this weekend.