Monday, March 31, 2008

That Was a Little TOO Close....

Apparently I ticked off Mother Nature with my post about a piece of land being affected by a tornado once every 2,220 years (see two posts below). A couple of homes only a half-a-mile to our NW had their occurrence happen just last night, in the Valencia addition at 178th and Penn. From what I have seen it looks like F1 damage.

It all started about 12:45 last night as I picked up the remote to turn off the TV for the night. It just happened that Gary England was on and he was noting a peculiar "configuration" at 150th and County Line Road. Soon the configuration turned into a full blown hook-echo that almost looked like the eye of a hurricane, and about the same time Val reported a brief tornado. The rotation continued to intensify as it headed pretty much in our direction, with such terms as "could tornado at anytime" and an occasional "WOW" being thrown out by storm chasers that are sitting a mile from our house. It really happened that fast. Going from ready to go to sleep to a possible tornado headed directly at you is a little unnerving. The "official" tornado warning came out a few minutes later, and Liz, myself, and Enid (not so happy in her cat carrier) found ourselves sitting in the bathtub.

I have never been that close to a tornado. I know so because the wind went from howling at 40 MPH out of the SE to dead calm in a couple of minutes. Looking back it is probably when the wind went dead calm that the tornado was only a couple of streets to our NW. It was eerie to say the least.

I never "endorse" watching a particular meteorologist. Until now. I've often joked about the acronym, but I have never seen as detailed of a radar as MOAR. When I get the images from last night I will post them here, they were incredible. If we had been watching the two other stations we would have turned off the TV and fallen asleep. They were five to ten minutes behind Gary in showing the rotation. And throughout the night, Gary interrupted programming the LEAST. When he was on air, it was for relevant updates. Just my "two cents."

By the way, expect another round of severe weather Thursday, possibly significant.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let Severe Weather Season Begin!

Sunday night and Monday afternoon could yield the first major severe weather event for the western half of Oklahoma in 2008. A low pressure center will set up over northwest Oklahoma, with a cold front sitting in northern Oklahoma and a dryline extending south across western Oklahoma. Right now it looks like a few isolated storms will form after 5PM west of OKC. If all of the ingredients come into play at the right time (wind shear, moisture, instability), a few tornadoes could occur Sunday night. As a matter of fact, the new severe weather outlook just issued by the Storm Prediction Center mentions the possibility of a couple of strong and long-lived tornadoes Sunday night. It might be a good idea to do a refresher of tornado safety rules in case there is an outbreak.

The cold front won't move through until Monday evening, so the severe threat will continue through Monday afternoon. The amount of severe weather Monday depends on the amount of cloud cover we have in the morning. If storms move out during the morning and we get breaks in the clouds during the day, we could have another substantial event. Only time will tell.

It is more certain that we will get heavy rain Sunday and Monday, on the order of one to inches worth.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tornado Odds

Ever wonder what the odds of a particular location being hit by a tornado are? Well, if you live in Oklahoma, it's approximately once every 2,220 years, according to a study that I came across. Whether you live in Moore, downtown OKC, or Edmond, this is how often a piece of property will be affected by a tornado. (Nobody can explain the Moore phenomenon.....I attribute it to plain bad luck.) If you break it down to the odds of being affected by a violent tornado (F4 or F5), the frequency becomes once every 7,000 years or so.

Heat, cold, lightning, and floods all kill more people than tornadoes do every year. Not that the risk from tornadoes should be ignored, but sometimes I think the threat is a little exaggerated, even in the heart of tornado alley.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Little Background

(crayon-inspired weather map at age 11)

To kick off my new blog devoted to the weather, I thought I would start with a little background of how I got to this point. This isn't a hobby that I picked up as a teenager or a casual affair for actually goes back as long as I can remember. My first memory of weather is asking my mom what the "H" on the weather map meant. (It means high pressure for the weather impaired.) It is only fitting that my second memory of weather was a record OKC snowstorm that ruined my bowling birthday party when I turned 7.

I wasn't the most.......ahem........normal boy growing up. While other kids were playing G.I. Joe and Batman, I was drawing weather maps, like the one above. (Hey, I got cool points for liking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, right?) My mom was great at supporting my interest. She set up a meeting for me with Alan Mitchell, a former weatherman from Channel 9, when I was 10. (I thought it was really cool that he could zoom in on the big swimming pool of one of the nearby houses with their new satellite pictures.) She also brought me to the Omniplex when they opened the "weather studio" so I could practice being on TV. I froze in front of the audience of about 10, needless to say. She also helped me plan out what classes I needed to take in high school to prepare for all of the calculus I needed to take in college for a meteorology degree.

I landed an internship my Senior year in high school at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman. The following year I started my basics at Oklahoma City Community College. Here is where the problem occurred: I loved weather, but was not a big fan of advanced math. And I was going to have to take ALOT of math classes. So after much contemplation, I decided I wasn't willing to go through 5 years of Hades to major in something for which the job market didn't have many openings to begin with. Also, it wasn't like I couldn't be involved with the weather if that didn't become my profession of choice.

So that brings us here. Ten years ago I would have never guessed I would love my job as an Internal Audior at a financial institution and that I would be back in school going for my CPA. I would also have never guessed I would start a weather blog, or would have aspirations of one day becoming a volunteer storm spotter when Liz and I have the available funds. Storm chasing is not cheap.

So welcome to my blog. I will use this as my forum to spout about anything weather related that interests me.......I hope occassionally I interest you too.