Weather Forecast

Here it is:

Allen, TX (75013) Weather

Updated: Aug 7, 2011, 7:45am CDT

Today Aug 7 Mon 8 Tue 9 Wed 10 Thu 11
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104°FHigh 105°High 108°High 107°High 105°High
80°Low 80°Low 80°Low 79°Low 78°Low
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Pretty depressing, isn’t it? Unless something drastic happens, we’ll beat that 1980 records with no problem.
Shreveport forecast:
7 Day Forecast – °F | °C
sun mon tue wed thu fri sat
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Details for Sunday, August 07
Sunny. Very hot. High near 105F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.
Evening: Generally clear. Warm. Low 81F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph.

It looks as though Shreveport is in the same boat that we’re in — only they have to contend with much higher humidity!

From the NOAA website:

2011 tornado information

Updated: June 15, 2011, 12:00 p.m. EDT

Preliminary tornado statistics including records set in 2011

May 2011

  • NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

    Before - Click to see a High Resolution After - Click to see a High Resolution

    Before and after aerial photos of St. John’s Hospital in Joplin, Mo.

    (Credit: NOAA)

    On May 24, 2011, deadly tornadoes claimed 18 additional lives in Oklahoma (10), Kansas (2), and Arkansas (6).

    • During the severe weather outbreak, two separate tornadic supercells approached Norman, Oklahoma and the National Weather Center building where NOAA National Weather Service facilities are located.
    • The Weather Forecast Office, which is responsible for critical minute by minute warnings, continued critical life-saving operations throughout the tornado outbreak. Back-up plans could have been implemented had the staff felt an imminent threat.
    • The NOAA NWS Storm Prediction Center, which has longer range national watch and forecast responsibilities, proactively passed operations to their back-up, Scott Air Force Base, in an orderly manner, after assuring watches and notifications were in place.  No SPC services were disrupted by the temporary transfer.
    • Latest National Weather Service headlines:

      Everyone in the National Weather Center building other than the National Weather Service staff went to shelter.

  • On Sunday, May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado hit the city of Joplin, Mo., leaving an estimated 151 people dead.
    • The Joplin tornado is the deadliest single tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950 and is ranked as the 7th deadliest in U.S. history.
      • NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

        NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

        (Credit: NOAA)

        The deadliest tornado on record in the U.S. was on March 18, 1925.  The “Tri-State Tornado” (MO, IL, IN) had a 291-mile path, was rated F5 based on a historical assessment, and caused 695 fatalities.

    • The EF-5 Joplin tornado had winds in excess of 200 mph, was ¾ of a mile wide, and had a track lasting six miles.
    • NWS responded to the increased need for staffing by sending additional forecasters to the Springfield, Missouri Weather Forecast Office.  The larger team is now able to support the ongoing severe weather operations as well as the first responder response and recovery efforts in Joplin.  An Incident Meteorologist has been deployed to the Incident Command Post.
    • The latest information on the Joplin tornado is available online:
    • Deadliest Tornado Years in US History

      (Official NOAA-NWS Record: 1950 – present; Research by Grazulis: 1875-1949)

      Year Fatalities
      1925 794
      1936 552
      1917 551
      1927 540
      1896 537
      2011 536
      (151 in Joplin)
      1953 519
      1920 499
      1908 477
      1909 404
      1932 394
      1942 384
      1924 376
      1974 366
      1933 362

      The NWS Springfield forecast office issued a tornado warning with a lead time of 24 minutes for Joplin at 5:17 p.m. (local time).  At 5:41 p.m., the local storm report stated: “NUMEROUS REPORTS OF TORNADO ON THE GROUND WEST OF JOPLIN AND POWER FLASHES.”  The damage path began at South Black Cat Road and Newton Road.

    • The NWS Storm Prediction Center highlighted southwest Missouri for the potential for severe weather several days prior to Sunday’s storm. SPC also issued a tornado watch more than four hours in advance of the tornado touching down.
  • The Marion County long-track EF5 of 27 April 2011 claimed 78 lives.
  • NWS’s preliminary estimate is more than 370 tornadoes occurred during the month of May 2011. There were an estimated 170 fatalities.
    • The record number of tornadoes during the month of May was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.
    • The average number of tornadoes for the month of May during the past decade is 298.
    • May is historically the most active month for tornadoes.

2011 Year-to-Date (and record annual) Statistics

  • NWS’s preliminary estimate is that there have been approximately 1,475 tornadoes so far this year.
    • The previous yearly record number of tornadoes was set in 2004 with 1,817.
    • The overall yearly average number of tornadoes for the past decade is 1,274.
  • The preliminary estimated number of tornado fatalities so far this year is 536.  NWS records indicate that there were 365 tornado fatalities before the Joplin event.  There were 151 fatalities from the Joplin tornado.  An additional 18 fatalities were reported in KS, OK, and AR from a tornado outbreak on May 24, 2011.
    • 2011 is preliminarily the 6th deadliest tornado year in U.S. history.

April 2011

  • April 2011 is ranked as the most active tornado month on record with 753 tornadoes (For more information, please visit NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center). There were an estimated 361 fatalities.
    • The previous record was set in April 1974 with 267 tornadoes.
    • The average number of tornadoes for the month of April during the past decade is 161.
    • The previous record number of tornadoes during any month was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.
  • NWS records indicate 321 people were killed during the April 25-28 tornado outbreak.
  • NWS records indicate 361 people were killed during the entire month of April 2011.
  • April 25-28 Preliminary Tornado Tracks Map (Based on NWS Storm Survey Findings)

And another article concerning climate change and tornadoes, from April 2011:

2011 Tornadoes: Is Climate Change To Blame For The Devastating Weather? [UPDATE]

Tornadoes 2011 Climate Change

First Posted: 04/29/11 12:34 PM ET Updated: 04/29/11 04:29 PM ET

The tornadoes that tore through the southeast United States on Wednesday were cumulatively the deadliest twister disaster since 1932, with the death toll at 318 people and still rising.

“In my career I have never seen this many tornadoes or this many fatalities,” said Joshua Wurman, the lead tornado researcher and president of the Center for Severe Weather Research. He is more widely known for his role as the scientist on the Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers” show.

April has already shattered the benchmark for the number of tornadoes in a single month by a long shot. Meteorologists estimate that close to 600 tornadoes have formed thus far in April. That’s nearly four times the average of 160, and twice the amount of the previous April record, 267 twisters in 1974.

Until Wednesday, the deadliest day of tornadoes since the Great Depression was in 1974, when a series of tornadoes killed 315 people. Yet, as state officials confirm a death toll of at least 318 people, with more than 200 in Alabama alone, Wednesday is now the deadliest day of tornadoes in nearly 80 years. In March 1932, a series of tornadoes killed 332 people.

This April’s historic devastation has many wondering: What’s with all the tornadoes? The question is far from reactionary. Data shows a steady, overall increase in tornadoes over the last 50 years. But as for this April, the jury’s still out on whether climate change or regular old bad weather is to blame.

“Climate change? No,” said Howard Bluestein, professor of meteorology at University of Oklahoma. “This is something that happens every 10 or 20 years when everything comes together like this. This is just natural variability.”

Most meteorologists agree with Bluestein.

“Any particular years you can’t attribute to changes in global climate,” said Wurman. “If we started seeing this every year, we’d say that this is a climate change. But we’re not seeing that.” Rather than a climactic shift, he said, “this is really just bad luck.”

While the number of officially recorded tornadoes has risen dramatically, that’s primarily due to better reporting, tracking and more people, homes and infrastructures in the twisters’ paths, say researchers.

That means that small twisters — ones that do little more damage than tear the branches off trees or peel the surface off roofs and may have flow below the radar screen in the past — are now being counted. The number of serious tornadoes, on the other hand, has stayed constant, evidence that Wednesday was a rare event rather than part of a trend.

Yet some scientists say that climate change — especially the increased greenhouse gas concentrations associated with global warming — may be at least somewhat related to the formation of tornadoes.

A 2008 report from the U.S. Global Change and Research Program, a federal interagency research program overseen by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, found that more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could lead to an increase in severe storm conditions that make tornadoes possible.

“We can’t say there is a correlation between a specific tornado and global change,” said program director Thomas Armstrong. “But the reports do indicate that there is a positive correlation between climate change and the frequency of conditions favorable to the formation” of tornadoes, he said, while stressing that the research is still preliminary.

Just because there are favorable conditions for twisters — which includes wet, hot air near the earth’s surface and a strong, cold jet stream above — doesn’t mean you’ll get one. Meteorologists still can’t definitively say there will be a tornado, even when staring down a serious, twister-producing thunderstorm called a “supercell.”

“We knew that the general condition of warm soupy air below and wave of jet stream aloft provides the condition for circling,” said Wurman. “But we just don’t understand the details. We don’t know exactly where, or exactly when.”

Whether climate change may have contributed or not, what researchers do know is that Wednesday’s disaster began with a far more innocuous — and more typical — event late last week: a gust of warm air.

Last Friday, a mass of hot, humid air started traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico. It blew ashore and crept slowly north over the weekend, blanketing the Southeast in the type of thick, 80-degree air that that keeps one’s skin feeling sticky even after stepping out of a cold shower.

By Wednesday, the dew point — a measurement of how much water is in the air — was hovering around 70 degrees, and meteorologists knew bad weather was brewing.

“That’s a very humid air mass,” said David Imy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. “Several days of Gulf moisture coming up from the south set up this scenario perfect for long-track tornadoes.”

This hot air near the earth’s surface collided with the colder, fast-moving air in the upper-level jet stream, creating an unstable atmosphere. To try to bring the atmosphere into balance, a supercell erupted. Inside the storm, the warm air got sucked up into the upper levels of the atmosphere and the colder air moved lower. As these upward and downward drafts became more powerful, they turned into violent tornadoes.

Soon, about a hundred twisters were whipping across much of the Southeast. Some were a mile wide and tearing across the land at 55 to 65 miles per hour. That’s about as big and powerful as tornadoes can get.

“Some were reported as a mile wide — they don’t get much wider than that,” said the University of Oklahoma’s Bluestein. When asked whether he was tracking the storms on the ground, Bluestein was shocked. “Oh no. We can’t keep up with tornadoes moving 60 miles an hour.”

In addition to the states where people were killed, tornadoes touched down in at least nine others: Arkansas, Missouri, both Carolinas, both Virginias, Maryland, Indiana, Ohio. Reports of nighttime twisters forming as far north as New York are thus far unconfirmed.

Most of the tornadoes occurred outside Tornado Alley — the swath of land in the middle and south of the U.S. where twisters often strike — but the location was not unexpected. Tornadoes hit the Southeast every year, and they are often more deadly because the Southeast and the Eastern seaboard are far more densely populated than Tornado Alley.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the states where Wednesday’s tornado struck rank fairly high by population density. Most average between 40 and 50 people per square mile. In contrast, Tornado Alley states like the Dakotas have a mere seven or eight people living in the amount of space.

For researchers, who know they can’t control the tornadoes path, the events were still hard to swallow.

“It is sobering to us to see that tornadoes in the 21st century can still cause so many deaths,” said the Center for Severe Weather Research’s Wurman. “We had hoped that through increased warnings, better buildings and increased public awareness, the years of these events had passed.”


Seven Months

It’s been seven months since my last blog post, and the situation of humanity on this earth has only worsened. In March, an 8.9 earthquake followed by a huge tsunami hit Japan, caused complete destruction of many areas on the east coast of the country.  The video that came from the scene was astonishing. The tsunami came as far as 6 miles inland, pushing cars and buildings out of its way as if they were styrofoam cups.

The tsunami also damaged a nuclear power complex and three reactors suffered partial meltdowns, producing large regions of dangerous radiation. This is a problem still affecting the country, because the area was partially agricultural, and all their food products are radioactive to some degree. One of the worst contaminated products is milk.

The Missouri, Mississippi, and other rivers had passed far beyond flood stage this year. In a controversial move, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened a spillway in Louisiana that allowed waters to flood areas of Central LA all the way to the coast. This decision was made because the central areas are much less populated, and if the spillway had not been opened, flooding in the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans would have been worse, affecting a large number of people.

Forest fires have been raging, due to extreme drought in the southwest. The drought is worst, in magnitude and in area affected, in Texas. A heat wave has been breaking records since May, not just in the South but also in the Midwest and Northeast. Currently DFW stands at 36 consecutive days at 100 or above and is approaching the all time record of 42 consecutive days which occurred in 1980. Given the forecast for the upcoming week, we should have no problem topping that record.

Fortunately (as far as comfort is concerned), it is a very dry heat. That also makes it easier for fires to occur. I receive e-mails from FEMA about disaster areas and have frequently seen Texas counties on the list because of fires.

Notice the fire between Longview and Marshall!

Tornadoes rampaged in the spring, with the most famous one destroying parts of Joplin, Missouri.

Most recently there has been difficulty with Congress, i.e. the stubbornness of the Republicans, especially the Tea Party, with regard to raising the debt ceiling. They spent at least a month arguing, digging in their heels, threatening each other (Democrats too!) and engaging in other non-productive activities, while citizens worried more and more (and felt disgusted), and who knows what the rest of the world was thinking.

Earlier this week, on the last day (8-2), a compromise was finally reached and signed into law. Not a good compromise, of course. I don’t even want to think about it right now. Tomorrow I’ll post an op-ed I did for Associated Content.

And in spite of the compromise, Standard & Poor’s lowered the U.S. from its triple-A credit rating to double-A.

At the moment, I’m too depressed about all this to write anything more.