You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2012.

I’ve added a Twitter account for the EWR Blog, EWRadar, as distinct from the Twitter account EWRWxAlert so that posts from the EWR blog pages will now auto-post to twitter.

The EWRWxAlert.ca pages will remain focused on tweeting out the alerts, so that followers are not cluttered by tweets unrelated to specific severe weather events.

Also, this hurricane season, I’m separating out specific named-storm information into their own EWR blog posts (see Tropical Storm Debby) rather than embedding the information in the general season overview at Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Hurricane Activity 2012. The overview post continues its previous functions, linking to the named-storm posts rather than having the information embedded. This will make tracking and archiving specific storm info easier and reduce the clumsiness in the overview post when multiple named storms are in play.

[Starting this hurricane season, EWR will post specific named storms as their own post, rather than be embedded in the general regional overview. Information and graphics will update as before, and contain the same information.
Please see our Eastern Pacific and Western Atlantic Hurricane page for a continuously updating view of general tropical storm activity in the North American Hurricane belt.]

[The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Category Scale.]
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Tropical Storm Debby

2012-06-26: A tropical depression in the Gulf of Mexico has been upgraded to Tropical Storm Debby.

2012-06-26: After deluging Florida for 3 days Debby is downgraded to a tropical depression as it makes its way into the Atlantic.

GOES East AVN Image of Debby. Click on image for loop.

WTNT34 KNHC 270831
TCPAT4

BULLETIN
TROPICAL DEPRESSION DEBBY ADVISORY NUMBER 16
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL042012
500 AM EDT WED JUN 27 2012

…DEBBY BECOMING LESS ORGANIZED AS IT REACHES THE EAST COAST OF
NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA…

SUMMARY OF 500 AM EDT…0900 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————-
LOCATION…29.6N 81.0W
ABOUT 25 MI…45 KM SE OF ST. AUGUSTINE FLORIDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…35 MPH…55 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…ENE OR 75 DEGREES AT 10 MPH…17 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…998 MB…29.47 INCHES

WATCHES AND WARNINGS
——————–
THERE ARE NO COASTAL WATCHES OR WARNINGS IN EFFECT.

DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK
——————————
AT 500 AM EDT…0900 UTC…THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION DEBBY
WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 29.6 NORTH…LONGITUDE 81.0 WEST. THE
DEPRESSION IS MOVING TOWARD THE EAST-NORTHEAST NEAR 10 MPH…17
KM/H. THIS GENERAL MOTION IS EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO
WITH SOME INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED. ON THE FORECAST TRACK…DEBBY
SHOULD GRADUALLY MOVE AWAY FROM FLORIDA TODAY.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 35 MPH…55 KM/H…WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 48
HOURS.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 998 MB…29.47 INCHES.

HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
———————-
STORM SURGE…ELEVATED WATER LEVELS IN AREAS OF ONSHORE FLOW ALONG
THE SOUTHWESTERN AND NORTHEASTERN COASTS OF FLORIDA SHOULD SUBSIDE
LATER TODAY. FOR INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA…PLEASE SEE
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE.

RAINFALL…RAINFALL ASSOCIATED WITH DEBBY WILL CONTINUE TO DIMINISH
ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA TODAY. ADDITIONAL ISOLATED RAINFALL
AMOUNTS OF UP TO ONE INCH WILL BE POSSIBLE IN SOME OF THE LINGERING
RAIN BANDS…MAINLY OVER SOUTHERN FLORIDA.

ZCZC MIATCDAT4 ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

TROPICAL DEPRESSION DEBBY DISCUSSION NUMBER 16
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL042012
500 AM EDT WED JUN 27 2012

SATELLITE…RADAR AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT THE
CIRCULATION OF DEBBY IS INCREASINGLY BECOMING ELONGATED. THE CENTER
IS DIFFICULT TO LOCATE GIVEN THE LACK OF ORGANIZATION…BUT THE AREA
OF MINIMUM PRESSURE HAS BEEN MOVING EAST-NORTHEASTWARD OR 075
DEGREES AT 9 KNOTS ACROSS NORTH-CENTRAL FLORIDA. MOST OF THE DEEP
CONVECTION IS IN A FRONTAL-TYPE BAND EXTENDING NORTHEASTWARD FROM
FLORIDA ACROSS THE ADJACENT ATLANTIC. THE MAXIMUM WINDS ARE STILL
PROBABLY 30 KNOTS IN A FEW SQUALLS MAINLY OVER WATER.

NONE OF THE INTENSITY GUIDANCE SHOW A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN
STRENGTH…AND IN FACT…BOTH THE GFS AND THE ECMWF SUGGEST
WEAKENING IN THE 00 UTC RUN. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST KEEPS DEBBY AS A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION AND ALLOWS SOME SLIGHT STRENGTHENING BEYOND 3
DAYS.

DEBBY IS EMBEDDED IN WESTERLY FLOW WITHIN THE BASE OF A MID-LATITUDE
TROUGH…AND IT SHOULD CONTINUE TO MOVE TOWARD THE EAST-NORTHEAST OR
NORTHEAST AS INDICATED BY GLOBAL MODELS. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST IS
IN BETWEEN THE GFS AND ECMWF MODELS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INIT 27/0900Z 29.6N 81.0W 30 KT 35 MPH…OVER WATER
12H 27/1800Z 30.0N 79.4W 30 KT 35 MPH
24H 28/0600Z 30.5N 76.5W 30 KT 35 MPH
36H 28/1800Z 31.0N 73.0W 30 KT 35 MPH
48H 29/0600Z 32.0N 70.5W 30 KT 35 MPH
72H 30/0600Z 35.0N 66.5W 35 KT 40 MPH
96H 01/0600Z 38.0N 62.0W 40 KT 45 MPH
120H 02/0600Z 45.5N 50.0W 40 KT 45 MPH

The mechanism of formation of tornados is still matter for discovery by science. There are presently several hypotheses, and probably, there isn’t one single mechanism. One of the more popular is the formation by the rolling of air under the strength of the gust front out of a supercell, and its twisting up into the updraft of the storm cell. Yet, when you view a tornado like the one below, recently shot May 25 in Kansas, its truly hard to conceive how these actually get built. How this one stayed together is a natural wonder to behold…

(view this full screen to really see it)

by Anthony Watts (originally posted April 29, 2011 on WUWT).

In times of tragedy, there always seems to be hucksters about trying to use that tragedy to sell a position, a product, or a belief. In ancient times, tragedy was the impetus used to appease the gods and to embrace religion to save yourselves. In light of this article on the Daily Caller Center for American Progress blames Republicans for devastating tornadoes it seems some opportunists just can’t break the pattern of huckster behavior in the face of disaster.

I can’t think of a more disgusting example of political opportunism that has occurred such as we witnessed today from The Center for American Progress via their Think Progress blog, as well as the New York Times op-ed piece that suggests predicting severe weather is little more than a guessing game. Certified Consulting Meteorologist Mike Smith of Wichita, KS based WeatherData Inc. said of the NYT piece:

The cruelty of this particular April, in the number of tornadoes recorded, is without equal in the United States.

This may or may not be true. The statement is at least premature. The NWS Storm Prediction Center March 8th changed its methodology which allows more reports of tornadoes and other severe storms to be logged (see first note here). We don’t know yet whether this is a record April.

Tornadoes in particular, researchers say, straddle the line between the known and the profoundly unknowable.

“There’s a large crapshoot aspect,” said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

To add to the mix, Peter Gleick says at the Huffington Post  “More extreme and violent climate is a direct consequence of human-caused climate change (whether or not we can determine if these particular tornado outbreaks were caused or worsened by climate change).”

In the Think Progress piece, again, Dr. Trenberth is quoted:

“Given that global warming is unequivocal,” climate scientist Kevin Trenberth cautioned the American Meteorological Society in January of this year, “the null hypothesis should be that all weather events are affected by global warming rather than the inane statements along the lines of ‘of course we cannot attribute any particular weather event to global warming.’”

It should also be noted that during that AMS conference in January, Dr. Trenberth called people who disagreed with that view “deniers” in front of hundreds of scientists, even after being called out on the issue he left the hateful term intact in his speech. Clearly, he is a man with a bias. From my perspective, these articles citing Trenberth are opportunistic political hucksterism at its finest. Unfortunately, many from these bastions of left leaning opininators don’t bother to cite some inconvenient facts, leaving their claims to be on par with superstitions that were the part of our dark past.

First, let’s look at the claim of tornadoes being on the increase, in parallel with the climate change that is claimed. In my previous essay Severe weather more common? Data shows otherwise I cited this graph from the National Climatic Data Center:

Obviously, when NCDC tallies the number of F3-F5 tornadoes from this recent outbreak, and gets around to updating that graph, there will be an uptick at the end in 2011 that is on par or even higher than the famous 1974 tornado outbreak. The point though is that despite the 1974 uptick, the trend was down.

The NYT article says:

The population of the South grew by 14.3 percent over the last decade, according to the Census Bureau, compared with 9.7 percent for the nation as a whole. Of those states hardest hit by tornadoes this year, some were among the fastest growing, notably Texas and North Carolina.

Let’s look at trends of tornado related deaths with population. From Harold Brooks. a research meteorologist with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. we have this graph:

Source: NOAA’s US Severe Weather Blog, SPC, Norman Oklahoma

Let’s look at other figures. Today, Dr. Roger Pielke Junior got an updated graph from Harold Brooks at NOAA to bring it to 2010:

That graph is a testament to the improved lead times, accuracy, and and dissemination of severe weather warnings by the National Weather Service, whose members did an outstanding job during this severe weather event. CCM Mike Smith, in his book Warnings The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather talks about the vast improvements we’ve witnessed since the early days of severe weather forecasting. He writes today of the recent outbreak:

There is no question that the current storm warning program, a collaborative effort of the National Weather Service, private sector weather companies like AccuWeather, broadcast meteorologists, and local emergency managers have saved hundreds of lives during these recent storms through excellent forecasts and warnings.  This image shows the tornado warning (red hatched area) for Birmingham that was issued more than 20 minutes before the tornado arrived.

Can the warning program be improved? Certainly. The National Weather Service’s new dual-polarization radar will improve flash flood warnings and will incrementally improve warnings of tornadoes that occur after dark.

But in the immediate aftermath of these tragic storms we seem to have learned two things:  People need to respond to today’s highly accurate warnings. For some reason, the media (see examples here and here seems determined to downplay the quality of the warnings which may have the effect of driving down response rates.

Second, they must have a place to take shelter. Most mobile home parks and many homes in the South do not have underground shelters or safe rooms. Mobile home parks and housing developments should look to constructing these in the future.

With 30 minutes of advance warning in this case, and many other advance warnings during this outbreak, plus the supersaturation of live television coverage, plus the fact that weeks in advance, my colleague Joe D’Aleo, co-founder of the Weather Channel and now at Weatherbell LLC,  discussed the likelihood of a super-outbreak of severe weather occurring due to the juxtaposition of cold air from snowpack in the northern plains with warm moist air in the south, it would seem Dr. Trenberth’s claim of “a large crapshoot aspect” doesn’t hold up. The death toll issue seems to be shelter, not lack of forecasts, warnings, or awareness. People knew the storms were coming, they just had few options for shelters that would survive at F3-F5 category tornado intensity.

The attempts at linking the tornado outbreak this week to “global warming” have been roundly criticized in the meteorological community. Just yesterday there was a denouncement of the tornadoes to global warming link in this story from Physorg.com

“If you look at the past 60 years of data, the number of tornadoes is increasing significantly, but it’s agreed upon by the tornado community that it’s not a real increase,” said Grady Dixon, assistant professor of meteorology and climatology at Mississippi State University.

“It’s having to do with better (weather tracking) technology, more population, the fact that the population is better educated and more aware. So we’re seeing them more often,” Dixon said.

But he said it would be “a terrible mistake” to relate the up-tick to climate change.

Anticipating this sort of nonsense in the current political climate that seeks to blame humans for the weather, last month, the National Weather Association, representing thousands of operational meteorologists, forecasters, and television-radio meteorologists in the United States adopted their first ever position statement on climate change and severe weather events. They state:

Any given weather event, or series of events, should not be construed as evidence of climate change.

The NWA emphasizes that no single weather event or series of events should be construed as evidence of a climate trend. Daily weather is subject to extreme events due to its natural variability. It is only the occurrence of these events over decades that determines a climate trend.

No clearer statement could be rendered. It mirrors what a NOAA scientist at the Storm Prediction Center said yesterday to Fox News:

Greg Carbin, the warning coordination meteorologist at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said warming trends do create more of the fuel that tornadoes require, such as moisture, but that they also deprive tornadoes of another essential ingredient: wind shear.

“We know we have a warming going on,” Carbin told Fox News in an interview Thursday, but added: “There really is no scientific consensus or connection [between global warming and tornadic activity]….Jumping from a large-scale event like global warming to relatively small-scale events like tornadoes is a huge leap across a variety of scales.”

Asked if climate change should be “acquitted” in a jury trial where it stood charged with responsibility for tornadoes, Carbin replied: “I would say that is the right verdict, yes.” Because there is no direct connection as yet established between the two? “That’s correct,” Carbin replied.

Historically, there have been many tornado outbreaks that occurred well before climate change was on anyone’s radar.  Here’s a few:

1908 Southeast tornado outbreak 324 fatalities, ≥1,720 injuries

1920 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak ≥380 fatalities, ≥1215 injuries

1925 Tri-State tornado ≥747 fatalities, ≥2298 injuries

1932 Deep South tornado outbreak  ≥330 fatalities, 2145 injuries

1952 Arkansas-Tennessee tornado outbreak 208 fatalities

1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak 256 fatalities

April 3-4 1974 Super Outbreak 315 fatalities

All of these occurred before “climate change” was even on the political radar. What caused those if “global warming” is to blame? The real cause is La Niña, and as NOAAwatch.gov indicates on their page with the helpful meter, we are in a La Niña cycle of ocean temperature in the Pacific.

Here’s what it looks like on satellite measurements. Notice the cool blue:

The US. Climate Prediction Center talks about the reason for such outbreaks in relation to ocean temperature cycles:

What impacts do El Niño and La Niña have on tornado activity across the country?

Since a strong jet stream is an important ingredient for severe weather, the position of the jet stream helps to determine the regions more likely to experience tornadoes. Contrasting El Niño and La Niña winters, the jet stream over the United States is considerably different. During El Niño the jet stream is oriented from west to east across the southern portion of the United States. Thus, this region becomes more susceptible to severe weather outbreaks. During La Niña the jet stream and severe weather is likely to be farther north.

Note the collision zone in the US southeast during La Niña patterns.

Finally, Let’s examine the claims of global warming being linked to the tornado outbreak. If this were true, we’d expect the globe to be warmer, right?

Thunderstorms (and all weather for that matter) form in the troposphere, that layer of the atmosphere that is closest to the surface, and extends up to the stratosphere.

Image: weatherquestions.com – click for details

Dr. Roy Spencer, climate scientist from the University of Alabama, Huntsville, tracks the temperature of the troposphere. The university system that he tracks the temperature daily with is inoperable, due to the storms. People who have been watching it prior to this event know the current global tropospheric temperature is lower in April than the norm, but we can’t show it today. The last global value he plotted showed this:

https://i0.wp.com/www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_Mar_2011.gif
The global temperature anomaly of the troposphere today is about the same as it was in 1979. If there’s any global warming in the troposphere, it must be a figment of an overactive imagination on the part of people who seek to link it to the recent tornado tragedy.

Dr. Roy Spencer sums it up pretty well on his blog today:

MORE Tornadoes from Global Warming? That’s a Joke, Right?

It is well known that strong to violent tornado activity in the U.S. has decreased markedly since statistics began in the 1950s, which has also been a period of average warming. So, if anything, global warming causes FEWER tornado outbreaks…not more. In other words, more violent tornadoes would, if anything, be a sign of “global cooling”, not “global warming”.

Anyone who claims more tornadoes are caused by global warming is either misinformed, pandering, or delusional.

The people that seek to link this tragedy to the political movement of climate change should be ashamed of themselves. The only “deniers” here are the ones who deny all the long established counter evidence of their bogus claims for political gain.

——————

For those who wish to help with this tragedy there are options:

There’s a service called safeandwell.org which can help you get status on relatives and friends who may be affected.

There are several ways to register or look for messages from those affected by a disaster:

  • From a computer, visit www.redcross.org and click on the “List Yourself or Search Registrants” link under “How to Get Help.”
  • From a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell.
  • Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register.

There is of course financial help needed for the relief efforts of the American Red Cross. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to relief efforts from your cell phone bill. Or visit the main website.

by Anthony Watts (originally published April 19, 2011 on WUWT)

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr  on his Blog, April 18th writes:

A new analysis of floods around the world has been called to my attention. The new analysis is contrary to conventional wisdom but consistent with the scientific literature on global trends in peak streamflows. Is it possible that floods are not increasing or even in decline while most people have come to believe the opposite?

Bouziotas et al. presented a paper at the EGU a few weeks ago (PDF) and concluded:

Analysis of trends and of aggregated time series on climatic (30-year) scale does not indicate consistent trends worldwide. Despite common perception, in general, the detected trends are more negative (less intense floods in most recent years) than positive. Similarly, Svensson et al. (2005) and Di Baldassarre et al. (2010) did not find systematical change neither in flood increasing or decreasing numbers nor change in flood magnitudes in their analysis.

Note the phrase I highlighted: “Despite common perception”.  I was very pleased to see that in context with a conclusion from real data.

That “common perception” is central to the theme of “global climate disruption”, started by John P. Holdren in this presentation, which is one of the new buzzword phrases after “global warming” and “climate change” used to convey alarm.

Like Holdren, many people who ascribe to doomsday scenarios related to AGW seem to think that severe weather is happening more frequently. From a perception not steeped in the history of television technology, web technology, and mass media, which has been my domain of avocation and business, I can see how some people might think this. I’ve touched on this subject before, but it bears repeating again and in more detail.

Let’s consider how we might come to think that severe weather is more frequent than before. Using this Wikipedia timeline as a start, I’ve created a timeline that tracks the earliest communications to the present, adding also severe weather events of note and weather and news technology improvements for context.

  • Prior to 3500BC – Communication was carried out through paintings of indigenous tribes.
  • 3500s BC – The Sumerians develop cuneiform writing and the Egyptians develop hieroglyphic writing
  • 16th century BC – The Phoenicians develop an alphabet
  • AD 26-37 – Roman Emperor Tiberius rules the empire from island of Capri by signaling messages with metal mirrors to reflect the sun
  • 105 – Tsai Lun invents paper
  • 7th century – Hindu-Malayan empires write legal documents on copper plate scrolls, and write other documents on more perishable media
  • 751 – Paper is introduced to the Muslim world after the Battle of Talas
  • 1305 – The Chinese develop wooden block movable type printing
  • 1450 – Johannes Gutenberg finishes a printing press with metal movable type
  • 1520 – Ships on Ferdinand Magellan‘s voyage signal to each other by firing cannon and raising flags.
  • 1776 The Pointe-à-Pitre hurricane was at one point the deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record. At least 6,000 fatalities occurred on Guadeloupe, which was a higher death toll than any known hurricane before it. It also struck Louisiana, but there was no warning nor knowledge of the deaths on Guadeloupe when it did. It also affected Antigua and Martinique early in its duration.
  • 1780 – The Great Hurricane of 1780, also known as Hurricane San Calixto is considered the deadliest Atlantic tropical cyclone of all time. About 22,000 people died when the storm swept over Martinique, St. Eustatius and Barbados between October 10 and October 16. Thousands of deaths also occurred offshore. Reports of this hurricane took weeks to reach US newspapers of the era.
  • 1793 – Claude Chappe establishes the first long-distance semaphore telegraph line
  • 1812 – The Aug. 19, 1812 New Orleans Hurricane that didn’t appear in the Daily National Intelligencer/(Washington, DC) until later September. Daily National Intelligencer. Sept. 22, 1812, p. 3. Dreadful Hurricane. The following letters present an account of the ravages of one of those terrific storms to which the Southern extreme of our continent is so subject. Extract of a letter from Gen. Wilkinson, dated New Orleans, August 22.
  • 1831 – Joseph Henry proposes and builds an electric telegraph
  • 1835 – Samuel Morse develops the Morse code
  • 1843 – Samuel Morse builds the first long distance electric telegraph line
  • 1844 – Charles Fenerty produces paper from a wood pulp, eliminating rag paper which was in limited supply
  • 1849 – Associated Press organizes Nova Scotia pony express to carry latest European news for New York newspapers
  • 1851 – The New York Times newspaper founded
  • 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson exhibit an electric telephone in Boston
  • 1877 – Thomas Edison patents the phonograph
  • 1889 – Almon Strowger patents the direct dial telephone
  • 1901 – Guglielmo Marconi transmits radio signals from Cornwall to Newfoundland
  • 1906 – Reginald Fessenden used a synchronous rotary-spark transmitter for the first radio program broadcast, from Ocean Bluff-Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Ships at sea heard a broadcast that included Fessenden playing O Holy Night on the violin and reading a passage from the Bible.
  • 1914 – teletype intrduced as a news tool The Associated Press introduced the “telegraph typewriter” or teletype into newsrooms in 1914, making transmission of entire ready to read news stories available worldwide.
  • 1920 – The first radio news program was broadcast August 31, 1920 by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan, which survives today as all-news format station WWJ under ownership of the CBS network.
  • 1925 – John Logie Baird transmits the first television signal
  • 1928 – NBC completed the first permanent coast-to-coast radio network in the United States, linked by telephone circuits
  • 1935 – Associated Press launched the Wirephoto network, which allowed transmission of news photographs over telephone lines on the day they were taken.
  • 1942 – Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil invent frequency hopping spread spectrum communication technique
  • 1946 – The DuMont Television Network, which had begun experimental broadcasts before the war, launched what Newsweek called “the country’s first permanent commercial television network” on August 15, 1946
  • 1947 – Douglas H. Ring and W. Rae Young of Bell Labs proposed a cell-based approach which lead to “cellular phones
  • 1947 – July 27th. The WSR-1 weather surveillance radar, cobbled together from spare parts of the Navy AN/APS-2F radar was put into service in Norfolk, NE. It was later replaced by improved models WSR-3 and WSR-4
  • 1948 – Network TV news begins. Launched in February 1948 by NBC, Camel Newsreel Theatre was a 10-minute program anchored by John Cameron Swayze, and featured newsreels from Movietone News. CBS soon followed suit in May 1948 with a 15-minute program, CBS-TV News, anchored by Douglas Edwards and subsequently renamed Douglas Edwards with the News.
  • 1948 – The first successful “tornado forecast” issued, and successfully predicted the 1948 Tinker Air Force Base tornadoes which were two tornadoes which struck Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 20 and March 25.
  • In 1953, Donald Staggs, an electrical engineer working for the Illinois State Water Survey, made the first recorded radar observation of a “hook echo” associated with a tornadic thunderstorm.
  • 1957 the WSR-57 the first ‘modern’ weather radar, is commissioned by the U.S. Weather Bureau
  • 1958 – Chester Carlson presents the first photocopier suitable for office use
  • 1960 – TIROS-1 the first successful weather satellite, and the first of a series of Television Infrared Observation Satellites, was launched at 6:40 AM EST[1] on April 1, 1960 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • 1962 – The first satellite television signal was relayed from Europe to the Telstar satellite over North America.
  • 1963 – First geosynchronous communications satellite is launched, 17 years after Arthur C. Clarke‘s article
  • 1963 CBS Evening News establishes the standard 30 minute network news broadcast. On September 2, 1963, the show expanded from 15 to 30 minutes.
  • 1966 – Charles Kao realizes that silica-based optical waveguides offer a practical way to transmit light via total internal reflection
  • 1967 – The National Hurricane Center is established in the Miami, FL National Weather Service Forecast Office.
  • 1969 – The first hosts of ARPANET, Internet‘s ancestor, are connected.
  • 1969 – August 14-22 Hurricane Camille, a Category 5 storm, gets widespread network news coverage from correspondents “on the scene”.
  • 1969 – Compuserve, and early dialup text based bulletin board system is launched in Columbus, Ohio, serving just that city with a
  • 1971 – Erna Schneider Hoover invented a computerized switching system for telephone traffic.
  • 1971 – Ray Tomlinson is generally credited as having sent the first email across a network, initiating the use of the “@” sign to separate the names of the user and the user’s machine.
  • 1972 – Radio Shack stores introduce “The Weather Cube”, the first mass marketed weather alert radio. (page 77 here) allowing citizens to get weather forecasts and bulletins in their home for only $14.95
  • 1974 April 3rd – WCPO-TV in Cincinnati carries the “Sayler Park Tornado” live on television as it was crossing the Ohio river. It was part of the biggest tornado super outbreak in history. It is the largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period. From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 US states. Lack of timely warnings demonstrated the need for an expanded NOAA weather radio warning system.
  • 1974 – The first Synchronous Meteorological Satellite SMS-1 was launched May 17, followed later by GOES-1 in 1975.
  • 1974 the WSR-74 the second modern radar system is put into service at selected National Weather Service office in the United States and exported to other countries.
  • 1975 – The Altair 8800, the world’s first home computer kit was introduced in the January edition of popular electronics
  • 1975-1976 NOAA Weather Radio network expanded from about 50 transmitters to 330 with a goal of reaching 70 percent of the populace with storm warning broadcasts.
  • 1977 – Radio Shack introduces a weather radio with built in automatic alerting that will sound off when the National Weather Service issues an alert on the new expanded NOAA Weather Radio network with over 100 stations. Page 145 here
  • 1977 – The Apple II, one of the first highly successful mass-produced home microcomputers was introduced.
  • 1978 – NOAA Weather Radio receivers with automatic audio insertion capabilities for radio and TV audio began to become widely installed.
  • 1979 – The first commercially automated cellular network (the 1G) was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979, initially in the metropolitan area of Tokyo. Within five years, the NTT network had been expanded to cover the whole population of Japan and became the first nationwide 1G network.
  • 1980 – Cable News Network (CNN) is founded by Ted Turner.Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States.
  • 1980 –  A heatwave hit much of the United States, killing as many as 1,250 people in one of the deadliest heat waves in history.
  • 1981 – Home satellite dishes and receivers on C-band start to become widely available.
  • 1981 – The IBM Personal Computer aka IBM model number 5150, and was introduced on August 12, 1981, it set a standard for x86 systems still in use today.
  • 1982, May 2nd – The Weather Channel (TWC) is launched by John Coleman and Joe D’Aleo with 24 hour broadcasts of  computerized weather forecasts and weather-related news.
  • 1983 – Sony released the first consumer camcorder—the Betamovie BMC-100P
  • 1983 America Online (then as Control Video Corporation, Vienna, Virginia) debuts as a nationwide bulletin board system featuring email.
  • 1983 – The first 1G cellular telephone network launched in the USA was Chicago-based Ameritech using the Motorola DynaTAC mobile phone.
  • 1984 – The Apple Macintosh computer, with a built in graphical interface, was announced. The Macintosh was introduced by the now famous US$1.5 million Ridley Scott television commercial, “1984“. The commercial most notably aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII on 22 January 1984 and is now considered a “watershed event”.
  • 1985 – Panasonic, RCA, and Hitachi began producing camcorders that recorded to full-sized VHS cassette and offered up to 3 hours of record time. TV news soon began to have video of news and weather events submitted from members of the public.
  • 1986 July 18th, KARE-TV in Minneapolis dispatches a news helicopter to catch live video of a tornado in progress, live at 5:13 PM during their news broadcast.
  • 1988 – Doppler Radar goes national – the construction of a network consisting of 10 cm (4 in) wavelength radars, called NEXRAD or WSR-88D (Weather Service Radar 1988 Doppler), was started.
  • 1989 – Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau built the prototype system which became the World Wide Web at CERN
  • 1989 – August Sony announced the Sony ProMavica (Magnetic Video Camera) electronic still camera, considered the first widely available electronic camera able to load images to a computer via floppy disk.
  • 1991 – Anders Olsson transmits solitary waves through an optical fiber with a data rate of 32 billion bits per second.
  • 1991  – The 1991 Perfect Storm hits New England as a Category 1 hurricane and causes $1 billion dollars in damage. Covered widely in TV and print, it later becomes a movie starring George Clooney.
  • 1992 – Neil Papworth sends the first SMS (or text message).
  • 1992 – August 16-28 Hurricane Andrew, spotted at sea with weather satellites, is given nearly continuous coverage on CNN and other network news outlets as it approaches Florida. Live TV news via satellite coverage as well as some Internet coverage is offered. It was the first Category 5 hurricane imaged on NEXRAD.
  • 1993 – The Great Mississippi Flood was carried on network television as levees breached, millions of viewers watched the flood in real-time and near real-time.
  • 1994 – Internet2 organization created
  • 1994 – Home satellite service DirecTV launched on June 17th
  • 1994 – An initiative by Vice President Gore raised the NOAA Weather Radio warning coverage to 95 percent of the US populace.
  • 1995 – The Weather Underground website was launched
  • 1995 – DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) began to be implemented in the USA
  • 1996 – Home satellite service Dish Network launched on March 4th
  • 1996 – Fox News Channel was launched on October 7, 1996 with 24 hour news coverage
  • 1996 – The Movie “Twister” was released on May 10, showing the drama and science of severe weather chasing in the USA midwest.
  • 1999 – Dr. Kevin Trenberth posts a report and web essay titled The Extreme Weather Events of 1997 and 1998 citing “global greenhouse warming” as a cause. Trenberth recognizes “wider coverage” but dismisses it saying:   “While we are indeed exposed to more and ever-wider coverage of the weather, the nature of some of the records being broken suggests a deeper explanation: that real changes are under way.”
  • 2002 – Google News page was launched in March. It was later updated to so that users can request e-mail “alerts” on various keyword topics by subscribing to Google News Alerts.
  • 2004 – December: A freak snowstorm hits the southernmost parts of Texas and Louisiana, dumping snow into regions that do not normally witness winter snowfall during the hours leading up to December 25 in what is called the 2004 Christmas Eve Snowstorm.
  • 2004 – DSL began to become widely accepted in the USA, making broadband Internet connections affordable to most homes.
  • 2004 – On November 19, the Website “Real Climate” was introduced, backed by Fenton communications, to sell the idea of climate change from “real scientists”.
  • 2004 – December The website “Climate Audit” was launched.
  • 2005 – August, Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States, forcing the effective abandonment of southeastern Louisiana (including New Orleans) for up to 2 months and damaging oil wells that sent gas prices in the U.S. to an all-time record high. Katrina killed at least 1,836 people and caused at least $75 billion US in damages, making it one of the costliest natural disasters of all time. TV viewers worldwide watched the storm strike in real time, Internet coverage was also timely and widespread.
  • 2006 – Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opening in New York City and Los Angeles on May 24. It went on to limited theater release and home view DVD. It was the first entertainment film about global warming as a “crisis”, with hurricane Katrina prominently featured as “result” of global warming.
  • 2006 – The short instant message service Twitter was launched July 15, 2006
  • 2006 – November 17th, Watts Up With That was launched.
  • 2007 – The iPhone, with graphics and Twitter instant messaging capabilities was released on June 29, 2007.
  • 2007 – The reality show “Storm Chasers” debuts on the Discovery channel on October 17, 2007, showing severe weather pursuit as entertainment.
  • 2007 – On October 10th, in Dimmock v Secretary of State for Education and Skills Al Gore’s AIT movie was challenged in a UK court, and found to have nine factual errors. It was the first time “science as movie” had been legally challenged.
  • The 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak affecting the Southern United States and the lower Ohio Valley from February 5 to February 6, 2008. With more than 80 confirmed tornados and 58 deaths, the outbreak was the deadliest in the U.S. since the May 31, 1985 outbreak that killed 76 across Ohio and Pennsylvania. It was widely covered live on US media.
  • 2010 – A heat wave in Russia was widely reported by global media as being directly a result of “global warming”. Scientific research from NOAA released later in 2010 and 2011 showed that to be a false claim.
  • 2011 – On January 4th, the Pew Research Center released a poll showing that Internet had surpassed television as the preferred source for news, especially among younger people.
  • 2011  – March, notice of an Earthquake off the coast of Japan was blogged near real-time thanks to a USGS email message alert before TV news media picked up the story, followed by A Tsunami warning. A Japanese TV news helicopter with live feed was dispatched and showed the Tsunami live as it approached the coast of Japan and hit the beaches. Carried by every major global news outlet lus live streamed on the Internet, it was the first time a Tsunami of this magnitude was seen live on global television before it impacted land.

Compare the reach and speed of communications and news reporting at the beginning of this timeline to the reach and speed of communications and news reporting technology around the beginning of the 20th century. Then compare that to the beginning of the 21st century. Compare again to what we’ve seen in the last 10 years.

With such global coverage, instant messaging, and Internet enabled phones with cameras now, is it any wonder that nothing related to severe weather or disaster escapes our notice any more? Certainly, without considering the technological change in our society, it would seem as if severe weather events and disasters are becoming much more frequent.

To borrow and modify a famous phrase from James Carville:

It’s the technology, stupid.

Which speaks to the phrase: “Despite common perception” which I highlighted at the beginning. The speed of weather tracking and communications technology curve aids in our “common perception” of severe weather events. The reality of severe weather frequency though, is actually different. While we may see more of it, that happens because there are millions more eyes, ears, cameras, and networks than ever before.

1. There are less Tornadoes in the USA

12-month running sums of hurricane frequency (Dr. Ryan N. Maue, FSU)

3. And now, back to our original seed for this long thread, no effect in global flooding events:

Destructive floods observed in the last decade all over the world have led to record high material damage. The conventional belief is that the increasing cost of floods is associated with increasing human development on flood plains (Pielke & Downton, 2000). However, the question remains as to whether or not the frequency and/or magnitude of flooding is also increasing and, if so, whether it is in response to climate variability and change.

Several scenarios of future climate indicate a likelihood of increased intense precipitation and flood hazard. However, observations to date provide no conclusive and general proof as to how climate change affects flood behaviour.

Finally, this parting note.

While our world has seen the explosion of TV news networks, Internet News websites. personal cameras and recording technology, smartphones with cameras, and the ability to submit a photo or movie or live video feed virtually anywhere, anytime, giving us reporting of weather and disaster instantly on the scene, where tornadoes live on TV is becoming a ho-hum event, there’s one set of elusive phenomena that still hasn’t seen an increase in credible reporting and documentation:

UFO’s, Loch Ness monster,  and Bigfoot.

We still haven’t seen anything credible from the millions of extra electronic eyes and ears out there, and people still marvel over old grainy images. You’d think if they were on the increase, we’d know about it. 😉

Crossposted from WattsUpWithThat. If you are a science buff, and a weather/climate buff especially, you should be visiting WUWT regularly, The world’s most widely-read climate site.

Stunning map of NOAA data showing 56 years of tornado tracks sheds light on the folly of linking “global warming” to severe weather
by Anthony Watts, WUWT

…has been turned into a stunning image of the United states. Each line represents an individual tornado, while the brightness of the line represents its intensity on the Fujita Scale. The result, rendered by John Nelson of the IDV User Experience, shows some interesting things, especially the timeline bargraph that goes with the map, which show that the majority of US tornado related deaths and injury (prior to the 2011 outbreak which isn’t in this dataset) happened in the 1950′s to the 1970′s. This is a testament to NEXRAD doppler radar, improved forecasting, and better warning systems combined with improved media coverage.

Here’s the data description, the big map of the CONUS follows below.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center (SPC) routinely collects reports of severe weather and compiles them with public access from the database called SeverePlot (Hart and Janish 1999) with a Graphic Information System (GIS). The composite SVRGIS information is made available to the public primarily in .zip files of approximately 50MB size. The files located at the access point contain track information regarding known tornados during the period 1950 to 2006. Although available to all, the data provided may be of particular value to weather professionals and students of meteorological sciences. An instructional manual is provided on how to build and develop a basic severe weather report GIS database in ArcGis and is located at the technical documentation site contained in this metadata catalog.

It is also worth noting that the distribution of strong tornadoes -vs- weaker tornadoes (rated by the Fujita scale) is greatly lopsided, with the weakest tornadoes far outnumbering the strong killer F5 tornadoes (such as we saw in 1974 and 2011, both cooler La Niña years) by at least an order of magnitude:

And here’s the entire map, click for a very hi-resolution version:

Mike Smith covers a lot of the history contained in this data set in his book Warnings The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather.

He talks about the vast improvements we’ve witnessed since the early days of severe weather forecasting and is well worth a  read if you want to understand severe weather in the USA and how the detection and warning methods have evolved. He has another book just out (Reviewed by Pielke Sr. that explains the failure of this system in Joplin in 2011.

In Mike Smith’s first book, “Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather,” we learned the only thing separating American society from triple-digit fatalities from tornadoes, weather-related plane crashes, and hurricanes is the storm warning system that was carefully crafted over the last 50 years. That acclaimed book, as one reviewer put it, “made meteorologists the most unlikely heroes of recent literature.” But, what if the warning system failed to provide a clear, timely notice of a major storm? Tragically, that scenario played out in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011. As a wedding, a high school graduation, and shopping trips were in progress, an invisible monster storm was developing west of the city. When it arrived, many were caught unaware. One hundred sixty-one perished and one thousand were injured. “When the Sirens Were Silent” is the gripping story of the Joplin tornado. It recounts that horrible day with a goal of insuring this does not happen again.

Of course, alarmists like Peter Gleick (who knows little about operational meteorology and is prone to law-breaking) like to tell us severe weather (and days like Joplin) are a consequence of global warming saying at the Huffington Post:

“More extreme and violent climate is a direct consequence of human-caused climate change (whether or not we can determine if these particular tornado outbreaks were caused or worsened by climate change).”

But in this story from Physorg.com

“If you look at the past 60 years of data, the number of tornadoes is increasing significantly, but it’s agreed upon by the tornado community that it’s not a real increase,” said Grady Dixon, assistant professor of meteorology and climatology at Mississippi State University.

“It’s having to do with better (weather tracking) technology, more population, the fact that the population is better educated and more aware. So we’re seeing them more often,” Dixon said.

But he said it would be “a terrible mistake” to relate the up-tick to climate change.

Again, for a full understanding I urge readers to click, read, and to distribute these two WUWT essays:

The folly of linking tornado outbreaks to “climate change”

Why it seems that severe weather is “getting worse” when the data shows otherwise – a historical perspective

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