Archive for May, 2011

Memorial Day
May 30, 2011

 

Photo by: Kasey Hartlieb, Friendswood

Memorial Day was created to honor the men and women who have served in the military. Hopefully, you have your own traditions for this special day, but if not, here’s a list of things to do on Memorial Day:

Write a member of the military.  There are thousands of men and women actively serving in the military. Visit http://amillionthanks.org/, to find out how you can write them and brighten their day.

Fly the US Flag.  Flying the flag is a great way to say thanks and show your support. Also, if you have a POW/MIA flag, this is also a great day to fly it.

Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance.  At 3 p.m. local time on each Memorial Day, pause for one minute to remember those who have given their all for us.

Thank a veteran.  Take time out of your day to stop and thank someone who has served our country in the military. So many veterans say that a simple act of gratitude means more to them than most people realize.

You can send your pictures to: hotshots@click2houston.com

To view other hotshot pictures, click here:

Hotshot Photos 2011

Advertisements

Unprecedented Drought
May 27, 2011

What are you seeing with these rain amounts in this picture is unprecedented.  I’ll explain.  Click image to view webcast. 

Why Are Tornadoes So Deadly This Year?
May 24, 2011

Why are there so many tornadoes this year? What is going on? A couple of things: The United States averages 1,000 tornadoes a year. We are on track to record the busiest tornado season ever recorded.  As of Monday we’ve had an estimated 1,151 tornadoes in 2011. Tornado season goes though June with the numbers dropping off dramatically after that month.

 

As you can see, most tornadoes are the “weaker” ones. A much smaller percentage of tornadoes are the deadly and destructive kind. What is different this year is the monster tornadoes are hitting highly populated cities. One tornado myth is tornadoes don’t hit big cities but this simply isn’t true. Minneapolis, St. Louis, Raleigh, Tuscaloosa and now Joplin were all hit by powerful tornadoes. Unless you are in an underground shelter, it’s tough to survive the EF4s and EF5s. We are nearing 500 deaths this tornado season and that is tremendously above average. Usually we have 60-70 deaths in the USA, but a big factor is where the tornadoes are hitting.

How prepared are you for a natural disaster? Our greatest threat is flooding and hurricanes. According to a national survey, only 7 percent of American household have a disaster plan or disaster kit. I was at a weather conference a few months back and the speaker shared what the problem is: We don’t think it’s going to happen to us.

Research found that the young and those with low incomes perceive less risk. The optimistic feel less risk. Optimism is a great trait to have, but when it comes to severe weather we have to realize “it CAN happen to us.” Many people in our society feel invincible and that bad things happen to the other guys. The biggest factor in not preparing for natural disasters is the length between events. If where you live recently got hit by a hurricane or tornado, you are more likely to be prepared because you now know it can happen. My question for you is: Are you prepared for our hurricane season? Do you have a family plan and do you have a disaster kit? The prepared usually fare much better than those who wait until the last minute.

Weather Quiz Archive #4
May 23, 2011

 

 It seems silly, but the British Navy refused to install lightning rods – even though they protected ships from lightning strikes – because they were invented by rebel Benjamin Franklin.

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

Straight Line Wind Damage
May 13, 2011

      100 year old oak tree brought down Thursday.

The severe weather we saw on Thursday came from straight-line or microburst winds.  These winds are a result of air being rapidly accelerated down from the mid and upper parts of the thunderstorm to the ground.  The downflow can occur due to several factors: by air being pulled down by rain or hail, by the increases in air density as the air is cooled by rain and by the cooling produced with melting ice crystals.  These three factors, if strong enough, can create massively intense and sudden downward movements of air.  Most microbursts last only five to 15 minutes.   

An interesting note: These winds used to cause quiet a few plane crashes in the 60s and 70s.  For a pilot getting caught in a downburst wind, the plane would experience a sudden headwind followed by a strong tailwind a few moments later.  An inexperienced pilot would accelerate trying to slow the plane down, but the tailwind would come right after that causing the plane to lose the air flow across the wings (the critical principle to maintain flight.)  Consequently, the sudden loss of air moving across the wings would literally cause the aircraft to drop out of the air.   The best way for a pilot to stay in the air is to increase speed as soon as the abrupt drop in airspeed is noticed.  This will allow the aircraft to remain in the air when traveling through the tailwind portion of the microburst.  Forecasting of downburst winds is a lot better today than it was in the 70s.  Planes can completely avoid these type of storms.   

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

Why So Many Tornado Deaths?
May 11, 2011

 

This is a theory presented by Accuweather meteorologist Mike Smith.  It took a while to wrap my mind around this idea, but it makes sense and should be a lesson to us in southeast Texas as hurricane season approaches.  First, Smith says it isn’t about the strength of the tornadoes.  Remember St. Louis, the week prior, had an EF-4 tornado going through a heavily populated area and an airport and no one died.  The tornado warnings with the St. Louis tornado and the outbreak April 27 were excellent.  In fact, on average, tornado warnings went out 24 minutes before the tornadoes hit.  What Smith presents is power failures stopped many people from getting these important tornado warnings.  Prior to the tornado outbreak, power went out for much of state because of morning storms west of Alabama.  The image below shows 260,000 people didn’t have power the entire day.  Without TV or radio, some people didn’t know what was coming their way.  This highlights the importance of having a NOAA weather radio or a battery-operated TV/radio.  A lot of us went through this same type of scenario with Hurricane Ike.  We lost power and it took days/weeks for us to get it back.  Have we learned our lesson?  I sure hope so.

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

Crimes Against the Environment
May 10, 2011

 

The website has a list of the top environment offenders with pictures, charges and last known location.  Their misconduct ranges from illegal dumping of oil to selling ozone-depleting R-12 freon to selling cars that do not meet EPA standards.  The website warns visitors to “not attempt to apprehend any of these individuals,” instead asking that any information be provided to local authorities or through the site itself. 

 

Click image to view the EPA’s most wanted site.

 

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

Four Planets in the Sky Tonight!
May 10, 2011

If you are an early riser and the clouds clear just a bit, you’ll have a chance to see four planets in the night sky.  Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Mars will all be visible with the naked eye while looking east.  Venus and Jupiter are the two brightest planets in our solar system and will be 1/2 degree apart.  The best morning to view this spectacle is Wednesday, about a half hour before sunrise.  While that is the best time to view, all the planets will be visible through the month of May. 

Ask Anthony… Water Restrictions
May 10, 2011

Hi Karen,

I don’t make those decisions, but, with the weather pattern unchanged possibly for the next two months, I don’t think we are too far away from seeing the cities in southeast Texas asking residents to conserve. It will probably start voluntary, like what we are seeing in Galveston County. The longer the drought lasts, the more restrictions we’ll see. I grew up in a desert, and almost every summer the city would have DON’T water the lawn days. If the drought was bad enough, the resident could be fined if they watered on what was called a “red” water day. Specifically, the city of Houston has ample water supplies and won’t impose any restrictions in the near future but if this drought continues I would expect to see some sort of restrictions put into place.

Ice Cream For A Year!
May 6, 2011

This week Blue Bell Ice Cream offered ice cream for a year to the best mom in southeast Texas.  Owen, Lauren, Halie and I picked the winner from hundreds of letters written about moms that were sent to hotshots@click2houston.com  Audrey Ingle, 13, sent in this gem about her mom Lori:

Congratulations, Lori, and thank you, Blue Bell!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Latest on the Killer Tornado Outbreak
May 5, 2011

The average lead time is 18 minutes.

  • Warnings were in effect for more than 90 percent of the tornadoes.
  • To date, NOAA estimates the outbreak spawned 305 tornadoes, making this the largest tornado outbreak in history – surpassing the April 3-4, 1974, outbreak with 148 tornadoes. So far, the National Weather Service has surveyed damage from 178 tornadoes and determined that two topped the scale at EF-5, four were EF-4, and 21 were EF-3. Dozens more have been categorized as EF-2 or lower.
  • NOAA estimates there were more than 600 tornadoes during the month of April 2011, shattering previous records. The previous April tornado record was 267, set in 1974. The previous record number of tornadoes during any month was 542, set in May 2003. So far there have been an estimated 881 tornadoes in 2011. The annual tornado record is 1,817, set in 2004. May is historically the most active month for tornadoes.
  • With an estimated 327 deaths, this is the 3rd deadliest tornado outbreak on record, behind 1925 with 747 and 1932 with 332. So far, 2011 is the 13th deadliest year for tornadoes on record with 369. The deadliest year on record is 1925 with 794.

Courtesy: NOAA To view past weather quiz answers, click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

How Wildfires Get Their Names
May 3, 2011

 

In general, naming rights go to the group that makes the “initial attack” on a fire, whether it’s a squadron of local firefighters or a team from the U.S. Forest Service. (In contrast, every tropical storm in the Atlantic gets its name from a single organization.) The commander on the scene often uses a nearby geographical feature to describe the fire, but he’s not bound by any official rules. He first suggests a name to the interagency fire dispatcher, who passes it along in fire reports, dispatches, and so on.

 

 

These are the active fires Tuesday May 3rd.  The big Texas fire is called the “Rock House Fire” after a landmark near Fort Davis. 

 

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers