Invest now to improve tornado warnings; an early start to hurricane season?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:24 PM GMT on May 27, 2011

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The Atlantic hurricane season officially begin on Wednesday, June 1, and recent computer model runs predict that we may have some early-season action in the Central Caribbean Sea to coincide with the start of this year's season. The GFS, NOGAPS, and ECMWF models have all indicated in some of their recent runs that a tropical disturbance may form between Jamaica and Central America sometime in the May 31 - June 2 time frame, as a lobe of the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) pushes across Central America into the Caribbean. Up until now, wind shear has been too high to allow tropical storm formation in the Caribbean, due to the presence of the Subtropical Jet Stream. However, this jet is expected to push northwards over Cuba over the coming week, allowing a region of low wind shear to develop over most of the Caribbean. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. The main impediment to development will probably be lack of spin, as we don't have any African tropical waves that are expected to enter the Caribbean Sea next week, to help get things spinning. Stay tuned.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Songda.

Typhoon Songda heads for Okinawa and Japan
Typhoon Songda brushed the Philippines yesterday, bringing heavy rains that killed at least two people. Fortunately, the brunt of this year's first Category 5 storm missed the islands, and Songda has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Songda is turning northwards and will threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa. On Sunday,

Invest now for better tornado warnings
National Weather Service forecasters issued a tornado warning 24 minutes in advance of the Joplin, Missouri tornado this.week, which is now being blamed for at least 132 deaths--the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. However, we can do better, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) put out a press release on May 23, arguing that investments in weather service forecasting technology are needed to reduce loss of life in future violent tornadoes:

"The 24-minute lead time is a great improvement over the average lead time of 13 minutes for tornado warnings. The meteorologists in the Springfield Weather Forecast Office are commended for their lifesaving work," said Dan Sobien, NWSEO President. "But in our age of advanced technology and communication, when new radars and modeling opportunities exist that can provide more lead time to get people out of the path of a storm, hundreds of people do not have to die because of a tornado event."

Sobien says the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes are examples of how the government's neglect to invest in NWS related infrastructure over the last 10 to 15 years has failed to provide the tools necessary to protect lives and property. He says that the tools forecasters use to issue tornado warnings are woefully inadequate and that the technology exists to provide lead times so far in advance of the storm that it would make the need for tornado warnings as we know them obsolete. "The much touted Doppler Weather Radar, also known as the Weather Service Radar or WSR-88D, was developed in 1988. Since that time, technological advances, including phased array radars developed by the Department of Defense, have been shown to increase the current lead time on tornado warnings by almost 50 percent."

"The much touted Warn on Forecast process utilizes Meso-scale modeling and has the potential to let forecasters know hours in advance where a thunderstorm would form and if it is likely to contain strong winds, hail, or even a tornado. With adequate staffing, local National Weather Service forecasters who understand local terrain and the model output, could be embedded with emergency managers and decision makers. In the event of a storm, the forecaster could provide emergency managers with the tornado track with some margin of error and people in the way of the storm could be evacuated hours before the tornado hits. This technology is being developed and tested right now, however without funding it will never be available."

"The art and science of severe weather warnings made considerable progress during the 1980s and 90s, going from almost zero lead time to average of about 13 minutes for tornado warnings. However, in recent years, that progress has stalled, even while the technological advancements have accelerated. If the country made the type of investment in the National Weather Service that it did in the 1980s, scenes like the ones in Missouri this week and in Alabama and Mississippi last month could be a thing of the past."

"I am very proud of my co-workers at the National Weather Service this tornado season. They saved many lives and having been there myself, I can assure you, they feel personally about every lost life," said Sobien. "I know that budgets are tight and there are many priorities, but if you put investing in the National Weather Service up to a vote today in tornado alley, I think the approval would be a landslide."


I wholeheartedly agree with this view--investments in better tornado forecasts and tornado observing technology will potentially give us a huge return in lives saved. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday or Tuesday with a new post.


Jeff Masters

Tornado Power (Betty2)
Sunday, LaCrosse, WI a tornado hit. This is a photo of a 2x4 board that slammed through a tire.. and, freaky, but it left the air in the tire! Photo was taken by my neighbor, Lori Hines, Gays Mills WI.
Tornado Power
25 May, (rdjgonzo)
May 25, 2011 at 7:10pm. Picture taken from Bartlett (Shelby County) TN.
25 May,
What A Storm (llpj04)
What A Storm

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Quoting Grothar:


I knew that would be it. If I recall, you asked me where I got that last year.


Seriously, is that a private account?
Are you the one changing the animations or that is a public site?

I just bookmarked it and whenever I call it, sometimes there is no animation and sometimes there is... and they change all the time.... I really don't understand what goes on in the link... But it works...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Speaking of more warning for tornadoes and not less - Cedar Park, TX is taking down their sirens saying that they confuse people. Instead they are looking to send out postcards saying "*Have a plan * Make a Kit * Stay informed".

It's a horrifying plan for a town that was affected by the Jarrell, TX tornado.

More info - HERE
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Quoting sunlinepr:
In your honor:

Grotar's Gif Just one click away...
I invite all bloggers to bookmark it as Grotar's Gif....

http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/real-time/temp/movie. gif



I knew that would be it. If I recall, you asked me where I got that last year.
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Quoting emcf30:

Thats when you whip out the old club and start swinging
New (old) meaning for "strike any key".
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
You got real problems when that message board crashes.


Yes. I guess it give new meaning the the term "hard drive"
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In your honor:

Grotar's Gif Just one click away...
I invite all bloggers to bookmark it as Grotar's Gif.... (Sometimes it goes away, depending on the one who controls whatever is that link)

http://tropic.ssec.wisc.edu/real-time/temp/movie. gif

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
You got real problems when that message board crashes.

Thats when you whip out the old club and start swinging
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I haven't seen GeoffWPB around in months. Has anyone heard from him?
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Quoting Grothar:


I am honored. I see you also stole GeoffWPB Intellicast link. LOL


Stole???? "Bookmarked" sounds prettier ;)
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Quoting emcf30:

We have come along way from posting messages on cave walls.

This one is of a bird fleeing a tropical cyclone
You got real problems when that message board crashes.
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Quoting twincomanche:
It's a plan.


HA! Looks like we are finally getting some rain in S. Fla. Not being able to post from those sites is really going to be annoying. They were the best sites for that type of information.
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125. IKE
Thanks for the information that helped me.

89.6 outside my window.
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Quoting emcf30:

We have come along way from posting messages on cave walls.

This one is of a bird fleeing a tropical cyclone


Aw, you found Ptery. She was a good little pet.
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Quoting twincomanche:
Idle minds are the workshop of the devil.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53553
Quoting sunlinepr:


my uncle, computer expert Babbages is giving me some advice....

Seriously, see post 107?
I have a bookmark called Grotars Gif... I just click on it and the last animation from that link appears... Excuse me, I stole it from one of your posts... (You usually post that animation)

But really I didn't stole anything... I just bookmarked that link and everytime I click on it, whatever is saved there appears...


I am honored. I see you also stole GeoffWPB Intellicast link. LOL
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Thank you Dr Jeff for another great blog.. with a lot of intresting info.
You and yours have a wonderful weekend.


Hello Weather geeks!

so many great posts here full of lots of ideas. I came from "tornado alley" and spent a lot of time "hunkered down" with a storm coming and been hit before with a split roof.
It can be scary if you are caught un prepared.

I was aware of the tornado watches when they went up that afternoon, hours before we were actually hit in Jonesboro, AR 1973


Some of us would have always got the warning ...because of the type people we are... even before computers and radar.. we were weather watchers!

The rest of my family never watches the weather; I have to bring it up to them if something is out there!

More advance warnings will not help many folks...they have their own "ipods" and such now and there is no way we can over ride that.

But I think we need them, the more advanced warnings we can have the better.


I think city sirens are a great idea.. we have them in our neighborhood parks to get people out of their pools when lightening stikes... guess they would work for tornadoes also.

Been enjoying the reading here...Thanks.
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Quoting Grothar:


How do you young people know how to do all these things?

We have come along way from posting messages on cave walls.

This one is of a bird fleeing a tropical cyclone
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


It is not the ECMWF, but any images linked from that website. They have set their firewall to reject any image links from external sites. At least they display a message about it, most sites you just get the Grothar red X.


At least I said it was a test. LOL I was using imageshack and I guess I messed it up. Well, back to basket weaving.
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Quoting twincomanche:
Idle minds are the workshop of the devil.


Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. One thing about you; you are consistent.
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Quoting IKE:
They were showing though. I have posted ECMWF before and did get a message. They were showing this time. EDITS>>> And there still showing on my computer.

Thanks though...easily fixed.

................................................. .................................................. ......

"Don't be embarrassed by the not being able to post. Hydrus does that all the time, and we still respect him."....

lol.


It is not the ECMWF, but any images linked from that website. They have set their firewall to reject any image links from external sites. At least they display a message about it, most sites you just get the Grothar red X.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
.
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Quoting Grothar:


How do you young people know how to do all these things?


my uncle, computer expert Babbages is giving me some advice....

Seriously, see post 107?
I have a bookmark called Grotars Gif... I just click on it and the last animation from that link appears... Excuse me, (You usually post that animation)

But really I just bookmarked that link from one of your posts, and everytime I click on it, whatever is saved there appears...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Quoting IKE:

They were showing though. I have posted ECMWF before and did get a message. They were showing this time.

Thanks though...easily fixed.


There are other images that can't be posted directly, like

Link

if you want to post from that link, there is an extra step...you have to stop the animation in the frame you like, drag the image to a new tab

Then, (copy the url from that tab), and use it in imageshack....

I
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Quoting sunlinepr:

Ike

goto imageshack.com (You don't have to sign in if you don't want to)

copy that URL from your graphics into the upload box, selecting URL mode...

Press UPload now

A new window with your image with a URL that can be posted here will appear....

post it and OK.... Like this....



How do you young people know how to do all these things?
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Quoting IKE:
I'm using Firefox....Windows Inspiron.
Umm, Windows [insert version here] on a Dell Inspiron?
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109. IKE
Quoting sunlinepr:


Always preview your posts, if they don't show, use imageshack...
They were showing though. I have posted ECMWF before and did get a message. They were showing this time. EDITS>>> And there still showing on my computer.

Thanks though...easily fixed.

................................................. .................................................. ......

"Don't be embarrassed by the not being able to post. Hydrus does that all the time, and we still respect him."....

lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:

Thanks for the info. I'll do that with ECMWF from now on.


Always preview your posts, if they don't show, use imageshack...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
106. IKE

Quoting sunlinepr:


Perfect, that imageshack utility is an excellent tool...
Thanks for the info. I'll do that with ECMWF from now on.
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Quoting IKE:



Perfect, that imageshack utility is an excellent tool...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
104. IKE
I went through imageshack on post #103....should display....240 hr. ECMWF...^^^

Looks like a stronger low develops ESE by several hundred miles...of Bermuda.
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103. IKE

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Quoting IKE:

My ECMWF images not showing up?


In my Firefox it appears as Remote Linking Disabled....
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Quoting IKE:
Looking at yesterdays 12Z ECMWF...it's showing more today with the Caribbean disturbance. Track is off to the NNE to NE. Like a broad area of low pressure.

................................................. ............................................

hr. 216.....




IKE, if you are getting those from raleighwx or from Allan Huffman's website, I think the site has some problems. i.e., the GFS will not even display. Don't be embarrassed by the not being able to post. Hydrus does that all the time, and we still respect him.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
100. IKE

Quoting sunlinepr:

Ike

goto imageshack.com (You don't have to sign in if you don't want to)

copy that URL from your graphics into the upload box, selecting URL mode...

Press UPload now

A new window with your image with a URL that can be posted here will appear....

post it and OK....
My ECMWF images not showing up?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
99. IKE
ECMWF has it starting by Tuesday, into Wednesday, of next week. The season officially starts Wednesday. Perfect timing?
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Quoting IKE:
144 hr. 12Z ECMWF....



Ike

goto imageshack.com (You don't have to sign in if you don't want to)

copy that URL from your graphics into the upload box, selecting URL mode...

Press UPload now

A new window with your image with a URL that can be posted here will appear....

post it and OK.... Like this....

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9798
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Doing good, school ended for me yesterday. "Our" globes will definitely be getting use this year, lol. How are things over there Gro?


Dry. Very, very dry. Looks like the Lushine theory may have its merits. I remember from back in the late 40's and 50's. (That is 1950's) that they always mentioned that about a dry May down here.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
At 168 hours the ECMWF shows something similar to the GFS with the first feature remaining weak and broad moving towards the north and a secondary feature developing to the northeast of the first one.



Notice the lowering of heights over Florida and the Bahamas. This lends further credence to enhanced rainfalls coming to Florida next week. In addition, with the lower heights, it would tend to indicate that the broad low across the Caribbean should continue moving northward in time.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
Quoting emcf30:


Here is one article from the insurance journal
Link


Thanks emcf30 and Grothar!
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94. IKE
Looking at yesterdays 12Z ECMWF...it's showing more today with the Caribbean disturbance. Track is off to the NNE to NE. Like a broad area of low pressure.

................................................. ............................................

hr. 216.....


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Quoting Grothar:


How you doing 09? Haven't seen you for awhile. Guess we we are going to have to polish our "globes" Looks like a busy season.
Doing good, school ended for me yesterday. "Our" globes will definitely be getting use this year, lol. How are things over there Gro?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21122
Watching Caribbean Forrrrr Next Week hmmm
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15648
91. IKE
Quoting atmoaggie:
?
http://raleighwx.americanwx.com/models/ecmwf.html

FF, Windoze 7 at the moment.
I'm using Firefox....Windows Inspiron.

................................................. .....................

192 hr. ECMWF......


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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Oh yeahhh.


How you doing 09? Haven't seen you for awhile. Guess we we are going to have to polish our "globes" Looks like a busy season.
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89. IKE
***refreshing ECMWF 192 hour frame***

Trying to get back in the habit...lol.
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Quoting Grothar:
Not going to happen Gro... ;)
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21122
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Quoting BenInHouTX:
I posted the following on the previous blog right before the new blog was posted:

Someone posted a link for the Jim Lushine theory (dry month of May in Florida leads to doubling of probability of hurricane strike in Florida) the other day. The article was from 1993.

Does anyone know how well the theory has held up since 1993?

And is there any similar theory relating to Texas?

Thanks


Here is one article from the insurance journal
Link
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.