Interesting Weather Information

Monday, October 6, 2014

What is Graupel?

Congratulations to Adams Co. Ohio.

Introduction to Graupel

The first reports of frozen precipitation into the FOX19 NOW weather office this year consisted of observations of graupel (grah - pull) in Adams County on Saturday October 4, 2014.

The term graupel does not mean much to you unless you are a meteorologist or  know the German language.  Even if you do know German the mental image it provokes will not tell you much about what graupel is and how it forms.

Graupel, in German means small hailstone or soft hail both of which will lead you to the wrong conclusions about just what graupel is.

In the United States graupel is used interchangeably with soft hail and snow pellets.  When you see and feel graupel it feels like little snow balls.  So I prefer to use snow pellets or graupel forgoing the term soft hail.

There are a couple of interesting science concepts that you may not be aware of  that explain the formation of graupel.

First a couple photos of graupel.

Via: NOAA, Courtesy: Jodi Paige, Lexington, SC, USA.

Courtesy: Ray Murphy, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

How Graupel Forms

Copyright: Steven L. Horstmeyer. Permission is granted for use in any non-commercial project.
Copyright: Steven L. Horstmeyer. Permission is granted for use in any non-commercial project.

Copyright: Steven L. Horstmeyer. Permission is granted for use in any non-commercial project.




LT-SEM (Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscope) supercooled water drops accreted on ice needles.
The resulting accumulation of ice is called rime. Courtesy: USDA Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD.

LT-SEM (Low Temperature Scanning Electron Microscope) supercooled water drops accreted to the extent that the original particles's identity is obsecured. The result is a graupel particle. Courtesy: USDA Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Highland County - "Tail-End Charlie" Hook Echo July 27, 2014

Take a look at the following 4 images. What you see in the top image is a wide view of the KILN NEXRAD Radar at 8:43PM EDT 27July2014 (00:43 UTC 28JUL22014). All other images are at the same time.

At the very western edge of the system it narrows to almost a point, but at that western edge you see a hook.

The second image is the hook enlarged.

The third image is a 3D volume rendering using GR Level2 Analyst, in my opinion the finest radar software tool out there.

The fourth image is an annotated version of the third image.

What you see in the volume rendering is the rotating updraft above the hook.  There is no doubt in my mind - and this is being written before a damage survey by NWS meteorologists - that this was a small, probably EF0 tornado.

In addition it is what, in storm geek slang, we call a "Tail-End Charlie".

The term was first used in the UK during  WWII to refer to the last aircraft in a formation or to the tail gunner in an aircraft.

Rarely you will hear the term "Tail-End Charlie" refer to a cluster of thunderstorms behind a front.

The most likely meaning, if you overhear storm geeks like me chattering about storms, is the trailing edge of a line of thunderstorms.

The orientation can be north-to-south, east to west but is most frequently northeast to southwest. In this case it is east-northeast to west-southwest.

The shape fans out (gets wider) down wind because of the wind blowing out of the exit region of an upper level disturbance.

Because of the location at the trailing tip of the thunderstorm line, flow into the updraft is imparted with a large amount of rotation and I always closely watch the "Tail-End Charlie" for small, weak tornadoes.


KILN NEXRAD 8:43PM EDT 27JUL2014 (00:43 UTC 28JUL2014)


KILN NEXRAD 8:43PM EDT 27JUL2014 (00:43 UTC 28JUL2014)




TRACKING INFORMATION
Echo that became the hook
Time 00:28:58
Lat: 39.246487  Lon: -83.755119

Center of Hook (red spot in hook above)
Time: 00:43:14
Lat: 39.175713  Lon: -83.634094

Time Span: 14 min 16 sec (.2378 hours)
Distance: 13.06 km (7.052 nmiles) - this is NOT the distance the tornado was on the ground.
Storm Speed: 29.66 kts (54.92 km per hr)
Bearing: 127.067 deg.(from 307.067 deg.)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Global Cooling? Not A Chance! It Is Just The Opposite.



Global warming has not paused or slowed it continues in full force and is still accelerating.

That's right it's like the silent movie days. The piano player is playing frantically, the will be hero is racing to reach the locomotive engine, running atop the box cars, leaping from one to the next trying to reach the engine and ease the throttle back and apply the brakes before the entire train plunges in the abyss no longer spanned by the bridge.

In the rapid fire frenetic world of Global Warming Denialism  (GWD for short) you may have encountered so much disinformation that you want to shut down and walk away from the entire issue because you just do not know what to believe.

It crucial that you do not walk away and you understand the truth.

First two definitions. A Global Warming Skeptic is a person who does good science and is not convinced that Earth is warming and/or that humans are driving the heat energy accumulation in the natural systems that make up our planet.

A Global Warming Denier is a person who uses false logic, incomplete information, contorted physical principles, modified data and graphics and denies global warming in whole or in part. A denier may have monetary gain in mind when crafting her/his argument.

Skeptics are few in number. Deniers  are plentiful.

There are no (i.e. zero) arguments presented by deniers that can pass the litmus test as good science.

Deniers are inconvenient to scientists in that their often simple arguments have appeal and seem to make sense.

Here are a few examples:

Denier Statement: Lake Superior had record ice cover during the winter of 2013-2014. Earth must be cooling.

My Reply: It is "global" warming and not just about the Lake Superior region. There are fluctuations and temporary regional cooling events. The GLOBE is still accumulating heat and at an accelerating rate.


Denier Statement: Warming stopped in the late 1990s.

My Reply: Completely false. The rate of warming of surface temperatures has slowed but the average global temperature is still on the rise.

In Addition: There is more to our planet than surface temperatures. there is the middle and upper atmosphere, the cryosphere (ice) and the ocean where more than 90% of the thermal energy is accumulating.


Denier Statement: Ice in Antarctica is increasing.

My Reply: This statement is partially correct but incomplete and misleading in three important ways:

Deception #1: Sea ice around the Antarctic continent has been increasing since 1979. But sea ice melts every southern summer so ice is not accumulating.

Deception #2: It is plenty cold during Antarctic winters to support even more floating sea ice. Sea ice is NOT increasing because it is colder, which is what deniers want you to think. Sea ice is increasing because winds are stronger, pushing sea ice in specific directions and exposing more water to cold winter Antarctic winds. Sea ice insulates water below it and greatly slows or stops freezing at the bottom edge of the ice. When winds open up expanses of the Southern Ocean by moving existing ice more water is frozen.

Deception #3: Sea ice is only 1/3 of the antarctic ice story. The other two parts are the ice of the high ice plateau of East Antarctica and the ice of West Antarctica. The high ice plateau is either gaining ice slightly or in balance. There is no definite trend there. In West Antarctica the ice is melting at a catastrophic rate and ice losses there exceed any gains elsewhere in or around the continent.

The Real Story:

Globally 2014 has been a  warm year.

Here are graphs from NOAA. They depict:

2014 AVERAGE MONTHLY 
GLOBAL 
LAND AND OCEAN 
TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES

for January through August 2014.

Please note the words "average" and especially  "global". An anomaly is the difference between a monthly average temperature and the long-term average. 

In this case the base is the 20th Century average.


January 2014
4th Warmest January on Record (Land + Ocean)
4th Warmest January on Record (Land only)
7th Warmest January on Record (Ocean only)










February 2014
21st Warmest February on Record - Tied with 2001 (Land + Ocean)
44th Warmest February on Record (Land only)
7th Warmest February on Record (Ocean only)
     










March 2014
4th Warmest March on Record (Land + Ocean)
5th Warmest March on Record (Land only)
7th Warmest March on Record (Ocean only)






April 2014
Tied with 2010 for Warmest April on Record  (Land + Ocean)
3rd Warmest April on Record (Land only)
6th Warmest April on Record (Ocean only)







May 2014
Warmest May on Record  (Land + Ocean)
4th Warmest May on Record (Land only)
2nd Warmest May on Record (Ocean only)


June 2014
Warmest June on Record  (Land + Ocean)
7th Warmest June on Record (Land only)
Warmest June on Record and Warmest Month on Record (Ocean only)




July 2014
4th Warmest July on Record  (Land + Ocean)
10th Warmest July on Record (Land only)
Warmest July on Record - tied with 2009  (Ocean only)



August 2014
Warmest August on Record  (Land + Ocean)
2nd Warmest August on Record (Land only)
Warmest August on Record, Warmest Month on Record - beats June 2014  (Ocean only) 






Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

EF3 Tornado May 14, 2014, Cdearville, Warren Co. OH

Cedarville tornado at maximum strength approximately 2150z (5:50 pm EDT).
Photographer unknown.






Cedarville EF3 tornado hook echo. Note this is from the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar TDAY.
The appearance of the hook is attenuated by heavy rain between the radar site northeast of Cedarville
and the hook.First frame 2137z  Last frame 2206z, one-minute time resolution.
Animated gifs behave sporadically at times and if looping stops reload the page.



Above and below same shot different angle from the southwest. Storm movement is to the 
northeast ( into the screen and away from you). Pay attention to the left (west edge of the storm.


Above and below same shot different angle from the south. Storm movement is to the 
northeast (into the screen). Notice the development of the mesocyclone 
on the west edge of the storm.



Above and below same shot different angle from the south. Storm movement is to the 
northeast (into the screen). Note the well developed mesocyclone corresponding 
with the read color on the PPI (Plan Position Indicator or map view).




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Little Rock, Arkansas Area EF4 - April 27, 2014 Hook Echo

Hook Echo 7:56 PM EDT - 9:02 PM EDT (6:56 to 8:02 PM CDT or 23:56z 27April to 0102z 28 April)




Track of the supercell on radar. Track #1 was the EF4, the rotation weakened then the storm 
spun up again and the later tornadoes were weak. Courtesy NSSL and NWS, Little Rock.




Weather map from 00z 4.28.2014 (8PM EDT 4.27.2014 EDT). Little rock was in the warm sector with plenty of surface convergence close to the surface low and also plenty of available environmental rotation. Courtesy NWS, Little Rock.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reality Check: Should The National Weather Service Issue Tornado Warnings for Brief, Weak Funnels Rated as EF0s and EF1s.

The text below is the script from a segment I researched and presented on WXIX-TV, Cincinnati, OH on Tuesday February 25, 2014.

As a TV meteorologist I realize, as do many - if not most - of my colleagues that there is a big problem with the NWS over warning tornadoes.

The national false alarm rate is about 75% and despite that their tornado data, on file with NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, clearly shows this is unnecessary they continue with no sign that this flawed policy will be changed.

In fact research indicates it could be dangerous in the long-term.

The record of the NWS is good for big tornadoes EF3, EF4 and EF5 storms but for the small, weak, brief spin up whirlwinds the record of the NWS is poor if not dangerous.

Here is the text of my report. After that there is additional information not contained in the story. It is in all caps because I cut and pasted it directly from the FOX19 system which is in all caps for the teleprompter.

VO = voice over, reporter is not on screen
GFX = graphics

----- Begin Script -----

THE FALSE ALARM PROBLEM 
[STEVE ON CAM]
TO BE CLEAR THIS REALITY CHECK IS NOT ABOUT HOW WELL NWS WILMINGTON DOES THEIR JOB …
… BUT ABOUT A TORNADO WARNING POLICY THAT TREATS WEAK SPIN UP FUNNELS THE SAME AS MONSTER KILLER TORNADOES. THAT POLICY IS SET AT HIGH LEVELS IN THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BUREAUCRACY …

LET ME SHOW YOU WHY THAT POLICY NEEDS TO BE FIXED.

ON THE HIGH END OF THE ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE --- BIG TORNADOES ---

[VO BIG TORNADO VIDEO THEN DAMAGE ]
THE EF 3s, 4s AND 5s REQUIRE BIG THUNDERSTORMS WITH STRONG ROTATION. THEY ARE EASY TO SEE ON DOPPLER RADAR AND EASY TO WARN.

THEY ARE THE HEADLINE GRABBERS - THAT CREATE NIGHTMARES LIKE THIS.

THE BIG ONES MAKE UP LESS THAN 6% OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF TORNADOES.

[STEVE ON CAM]
BUT ALMOST 80% OF ALL TORNADOES END UP ON THE LOW END OF THE ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE RATED AS EF1s AND EF0s.

[VO GFX FULL SCREEN – LEADING EDGE RADAR IMAGES FROM OSGOOD 02.17.2014]
Link to Osgood Radar Images: 

http://stevehorstmeyer.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-ef1-near-osgood-indiana-20feb2014.html

THEY ARE SMALL VORTICES AT THE FONT EDGE OF A THUNDERSTORM … THEY SPIN UP QUICKLY … AND TOUCH DOWN BRIEFLY.

THEY ARE HARD TO SEE ON RADAR AND THEY ARE THE SOURCE OF THE MAJORITY OF THE FALSE ALARMS.

[VO VIDEO FROM OSGOOD INDIANA THURSDAY 2.20.2014]

THIS  DAMAGE FROM NEAR OSGOOD, INDIANA LAST THURSDAY IS WHAT AN EF1 OR ZERO PRODUCES  – MOSTLY MINOR AND NOT WIDESPREAD.

[STEVE ON CAM]
IN FACT GOING BACK TO 1950, IN WHAT IS NOW NWS WILMINGTON’S COUNTY WARNING AREA

[VO GFX FULL]
NO DEATHS HAVE BEEN CAUSED BY  LEVEL ZERO TORNADOES AND ONLY ONE DEATH HAS BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO A LEVEL 1.

THAT’S IN MORE THAN 63 YEARS.

THOSE STATISTICS MEAN THAT TORNADO WARNINGS FOR EF0 AND EF1 TORNADOES ARE NOT SAVING LIVES BECAUSE A FUNNEL OF THAT STRENGTH IS JUST NOT THAT DEADLY.

[VO GFX FULL SCREEN ADD ON LINES BASED ON INITIAL ISSUANCE]
AND ...  DURING THE DOPPLER RADAR ERA - SINCE 1995 – THE WILMINGTON NWS OFFICE HAS ISSUED 542 TORNADO WARNINGS.
BASED ON A NATIONAL FALSE ALARN RATE OF 75% -
 MORE THAN 400 OF THOSE WERE FALSE ALARMS


BOB RYAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY WROTE,
[VO FULL SCREEN GFX]

  There are small whirls ….  and the real McCoy tornadoes. We all have a role in effectively communicating the real danger, beyond just yelling TORNADO WARNING…”

[STEVE ON CAM]

THE FALSE ALARM RATE IS A GLARING RED FLAG POINTING TO A POTENTIALLY DEADLY PROBLEM.

 [VO GFX]
IN THEIR PEER REVIEWED STUDY, “FALSE ALARMS, TORNADO WARNINGS AND TORNADO CASUALTIES” PUBLISHED IN 2009 KEVIN SIMMONS AND DANIEL SUTTER WROTE,

"We have found strong evidence that a higher local, recent FAR [FALSE ALARM RATIO] signi´Čücantly increases tornado fatalities and injuries ..."

ACCORDING TO THE RESEARCH OF SIMMONS AND SUTTER  -  IF THE NWS DOES NOT FIX THE FALSE ALARM PROBLEM .....

WE MAY SEE DEATHS AND INJURIES INCREASE.

MANY METEOROLOGISTS FEEL IT IS TIME TO FIX THE FALSE ALARM PROBLEM.

THAT’S REALITY CHECK.

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.

----- END SCRIPT ----- 

Sources:
Tornado Data: NOAA Storm Prediction Center: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/gis/svrgis/
Tornado Warning Data:  Iowa Environmental Mesonet: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:
False Alarms, Tornado Warnings, and Tornado Casualties
Kevin M. Simmons, Daniel Sutter
Weather, Climate, and Society
Volume 1, Issue 1 (October 2009) pp. 38-53
Tornado Warnings, Lead Times, and Tornado Casualties: An Empirical Investigation
Kevin M. Simmons, Daniel Sutter
Weather and Forecasting
Volume 23, Issue 2 (April 2008) pp. 246-258
Bob Ryan Quote: Storm Watch 7 Weather Blog
Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.
 
ADDITIONAL DATA, NOT USED IN THE STORY FOR PERSPECTIVE

Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Lightning Deaths 1959 - 2012 Source: NOAA

OH   146
KY     95
IN      90
Total 331 (5.61 Deaths Per Year or 56 deaths in a decade)

Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana F/EF Zero and 1 Tornado Deaths 1959 - 2012

OH   1
KY   4
IN    7
Total 13 (.24 deaths per year or 2.4 deaths in a decade)

.006 deaths per F/EF 0/1 tornado (6 deaths per 1000 F/EF 1 and 0 tornadoes)


YOU ARE 25.5 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM A LIGHTNING STRIKE THAN 
AND EF 0 OR EF1 TORNADO.



So I ask the question, "Should the NWS issue tornado warnings for EF 0 and EF 1 tornadoes?

Why not just cover the small, brief, insignificant whirlwind with verbage in a severe thunderstorm warning, instead of all the chaos they create each time there is a bit of rotation in a thunderstorm?