Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lessinath

The downside of spring in the central US.

Recommended Posts

It's not even really spring yet. Sigh.

 

So in case your head has been inside of a box or outside of North America the last 48 hours, there has been some major severe weather (and the link is just one example). But it gets better.

 

Friday is supposed to have MORE severe weather, and the synoptic setup is indicating it may be much, much worse than 2/28 + 2/29. So this may end up being the second fourth large tornado outbreak of the year and it's only the beginning of march. Fun, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Severe weather? Central US? Not in Indiana!

 

 

Yesterday, it was in the 60's: sunny and warm. Today it was in the 50's, but still fairly clear. Then again, I don't follow the weather, and I've been indoors all day, so who knows...I'll probably go out to catch the bus and get blown away by a treacherous wind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Severe weather? Central US? Not in Indiana!

 

 

Yesterday, it was in the 60's: sunny and warm. Today it was in the 50's, but still fairly clear. Then again, I don't follow the weather, and I've been indoors all day, so who knows...I'll probably go out to catch the bus and get blown away by a treacherous wind.

 

Well, it was mainly south of you. You may want to take a look at this. Moderate risk tomorrow for most of southern Indiana, and it will likely be upgraded to high risk tomorrow morning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not too worried about it. In the 22 years I lived in western Pennsylvania, there must have been hundreds of "severe storm warnings," reports of tornadoes, etc. How many of them came true? Well, let's just say that the lottery offers better odds than the weatherman does.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure that's what the people in Joplin, mo. thought until may of last year when they got hit, too. Ignoring storm warning is just flat out stupid, and the idea that "I haven't been hit before, so I can't ever be hit!" is far dumber than that. And if you're using "Did my house/block/small town get hit? y/n?" as your criteria you're doing it wrong anyways. Yes, this is very blunt, but if you ignore warnings you are knowingly putting your life in danger - and potentially others who are with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, it's a "boy that cried wolf" scenario as far as I'm concerned. It has nothing to do with "I'm lucky," it has to do with, "the people who issue these warnings just love to be hysterical, possibly to improve their ratings."

 

I mean, if you listened to every single warning that you're given, you'd never do anything. You'd be completely paralyzed. Sort of the way I no longer worry about getting cancer. You can apparently get it from everything under the sun...so I'll just go on using Teflon and walking outside without sunscreen and drinking tap water and whistling Dixie all the way down the Yellow Brick Road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, it has entirely to do with "you're lucky".

 

Warnings are not issued by anyone that "gets ratings" they're issued by the national weather service and it's just local stations who relay it. "boy that cried wolf" has nothing to do with it - if a storm has a tornado warning issued for it, it could literally produce a tornado at any second*. And if it happens to hit you, you'll be one of those people who cries "I HAD NO WARNING!" and looks like an idiot for it because the storm had a tornado warning issued for it 45 minutes beforehand and they just didn't care because "it will be like the last time when nothing happened". Unfortunately, this happens all the time - you're not unique in this respect, but it's still just as bad. Your "crying wolf" theory may get you killed, and has gotten people killed in the past.

 

Your second paragraph in its entirety is a shoddy excuse and you know it.

 

*A tornado warning can be issued when:

1. Rotation is detected in a thunderstorm by radar with at least a certain amount of longevity and strength to be considered a threat.

2. A rotating wall cloud is spotted and the report confirmed.

3. A funnel cloud is reported and confirmed.

4. A tornado is confirmed (duh).

What does this mean? This means that there will only ever be a tornado warning issued if the threat is actually there. They don't issue these things for fun or "ratings".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I stand corrected about the source of the warnings; do you happen to know what percentage of warnings actually result in tornados (and of those, how many actually claim lives)? I just can't believe, with all the storm warnings I used to hear back home, that a significant number were actually worth heeding. I certainly never read anything in the newspaper that talked about tornado victims (not that this proves anything, of course).

 

I really don't think that it is a "shoddy excuse." Even if only 5% of the things we're told cause cancer actually do, the odds are still pretty good that you're going to contract it eventually. Did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? What if there was a 1% chance that they did, and, presuming that they did, a 1% chance of them using them against us? Sure, a "crying wolf" theory might get you killed...but so might a lot of other things.

 

I guess it comes down to how much you value your existence vs. how much you value the quality of your life (i.e., how willing you are to respond to warnings).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comparing a threat that normally isn't there at all but is occasionally a very serious threat to a long term threat like cancer is very poor and very annoying logic.

 

For warnings? About 75% are false alarms. However, this ignores a few things:

 

Very weak tornadoes, or tornadoes that don't hit anything are often unreported.

 

I think, intentionally or not, you're combining every type of warning into tornado warnings in your mind and getting a large number, possibly over 20, per year. This is just flat out wrong. Even in the most tornado prone areas in the country, they average two tornado warnings per year for any given location. The average warning length time is 45 minutes. This means if you take tornado warnings seriously you loose 90 minutes on average of your 525949.2 minutes in a year. Hell, you probably waste more time in a year just doing literally nothing. Seems like a very good trade for being safe to me. It's hardly a massive inconvenience. Sometimes they effectively cluster, in that one year you'll have 6 or 10 and then you'll go a few years without any, but it's still at most a few hours a year. That's why it's a shoddy excuse.

 

Most tornadoes are weak and small - but still plenty powerful enough to at least ruin your week (and your house) if they hit you. If you're in a mobile home, your chance of injury or death in a storm greatly increases. Of those 25% that produce tornadoes, you won't hear about most of them. The media really only mentions the ones that are interesting, so this gives a false impression that tornadoes are far rarer than they are.

 

This and this are good reads related to the subject of false alarms. You can read them in either order, as the first is used for one of the references in the second anyways - but the second is shorter, so you may wish to read it to just get a general idea.

 

For tornado watches, around 60% have at least one tornado. But this is unfair because tornado watches are extremely large, often covering entire states and it ignores watches that have multiple warnings.

 

I'd also like to make clear the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means "conditions over a large area are favorable for storms that can support tornado formation." Sometimes they're a bit more urgent than that, but usually not. That means you should just continue what you're doing and just make sure to start paying attention to the weather if storms start approaching, with the exception of things like, oh, that long hike out in the woods miles from shelter - you'd want to plan it for a future date instead. A tornado warning, however, means "this storm is immediately likely to or actively producing a tornado and you need to be in a safe location if you are in its path."

 

A large number of false tornado warnings** are actually issued due to false reports from the untrained public who, quite frankly, don't know what they're looking at or talking about when it comes to tornadoes. Browse through the scary looking cloud club (seriously) to take a look at what I mean. How many of those look like funnel clouds/wall clouds / tornadoes to you?

 

**I'd have to look through individual warnings to find out exactly how many, and can't be bothered. However, the data is readily available so you're welcome to look if you want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not for something that only has a realistic shot at happening a few times a year at most.

 

What happened Friday was relatively rare and happens at most a few times a year. Otherwise tornadoes are very much hit-or-miss events. Interestingly, besides the tornadoes this was a major hail event too - including a 4.25 inch(!!) hailstone in Carrol, Kentucky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, hurricanes happen elsewhere - you just don't hear about them. America does get the lion's share of tornadoes, however. India, Bangladesh and Argentina also get a lot and Europe has had some major tornado outbreaks.

 

With that said, tornadoes can happen anywhere the conditions are right, even in the middle of mountains or even the desert, but it's rare for them to be reported there when they do happen due to the very sparse population.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember a few years ago we had a tornado here in Connecticut and it was a really big deal. But otherwise its been pretty quiet. Except last fall when we had an awful snowstorm in October- practically the whole state had no power. I missed school for a week because our high school was being used as an emergency shelter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every year, around Seattle we all have the same mindset about the weather: This year is colder than most years.

 

While spring hasn't truly arrived yet, it hasn't really shown many signs of warming up to a comfortable level yet. I can imagine it will be the same crappy weather until June as usual, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh I'd take loads of rain and wind over the occasional tornado supercell*. Any year. Sure, they're interesting from a science POV but tornadoes suck**.

 

**Figuratively.

 

Unsolicited science warning:

Also, some engineering knowledge is helpful in understanding what happens here.

 

In a literal sense, the pressure drop (or "suction") in a tornado is insignificant compared to the wind itself just flat out blowing that hard. In an EF5 tornado the lifting force on the roof of a house, taking into account both suction and aerodynamic lift, is about 90 pounds of force per square foot - which is a lot, actually. However, the force on the walls from the wind can exceed 750 pounds per square foot. In a weaker tornado, the pressure plays an even weaker role but ALL the forces are weaker then (duh) as well. Of course, 90 pounds per square foot is more than enough to lift off your roof and have it land in the next county over.

 

The way a house fails is pretty straightforward, although there are a lot of variables.

 

Take a look at this: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/efscale/2.html (for your typical home specifically) and this: http://www.spc.noaa....o/ef-scale.html

 

If you're not aware, a supercell thunderstorm is a thunderstorm with a long-lived, persistently rotating updraft called a mesocyclone. They can actually be embedded in other storm types, such as squall lines or hurricanes, but are most often isolated and under otherwise clear air. If they get very intense, they can induce rotation in the atmosphere around them, causing the entire storm to rotate and possibly forming a mesoscale convective system (don't ask). The direction of rotation is usually anti-clockwise (cyclonic) in the northern hemisphere. This is actually NOT due to the Coriolis effect, but instead due to the overall wind patterns that form these storms.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...