Sunday, September 30, 2007

September 30, 2007 - Severe WX

Well, it looks like we may get to see a good comparison between the old warning system and the storm-based warning system in one week's time. September went out with a bang. Sunday 9/30 brought some severe weather to the Ozarks.
Polk county went under a radar indicated tornado warning for a storm north of Bolivar. The hook echo persisted for several frames of radar, and it was pretty well defined. However, I don't think anything ever touched down there.
At around 9pm, the SkyWarn folks asked for spotter information from the Christian County panhandle for a "storm of interest". I was prepared to go mobile all day, so I headed towards Clever immediately. As I got out of Nixa, I hit very heavy rainfall which made it hard to see. I was following a truck that was about 1/4 mile ahead of me, and as I crossed the river before Clever I hit a very large blue bag that took up most of the lane. It appeared to be filled with sticks and such. That scared the crap out of me. I was faced with the decision to swerve (not a good one) or to drive through it. I drove through it, and obliterated the bag. How do I know I obliterated it you say? Well, on the way back to Nixa, all that was left was a bunch of leaves and sticks in the road. Monday night, I drove out and snapped a picture of what was left of the bag on the side of the road. I just wanted to make sure I didn't run over an old lady hiding in a bag or something. In all seriousness, this bag was so large and full, I was scared my airbag was going to deploy when I hit it. I just had to go back and see it.
Anyway, after getting back to Nixa, I saw LOTS of lighting south of Nixa in what appeared to be an escalating storm. I checked into SkyWarn again and offered to stay mobile stand by in case something else popped, but they said I could wrap it up. As soon as I cleared, I hear "Stand By" come across. Sure enough, that storm did develop and a Severe Thunderstorm warning was issued for Christian and Norther Taney.
I headed to 160, then south about 6 miles, but was unable to intercept this storm. There were a few guys on it, so I headed home for the night, still a bit shaken up from what I feared was going to be a very bad outcome from hitting that large object in the road.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Storm-Based Warning System - October 1, 2007

Next week, the National Weather Service will roll out a new way to warn the public about severe weather. The new "Storm-Based Warning" system will begin on October 1st, 2007. The linked article above describes it well. There is also an FAQ document available.

What this means is that when a warning is issued, it won't necessarily be issued for an entire county, but instead, for the areas the storm may track. So it will not be uncommon to hear that Northwestern Christian and Southwestern Greene are under a warning. This has been used already in some degree by the fine folks at the National Weather Service in the description of a warning.

The big change will be the graphical interpretation of the warning. In the image from NOAA, you can see how the old system looks compared to the new one. In this example, it shows how 3 tornado warnings issued in the two different systems results in 70% less area and ~600,000 less people warned. In this example, that's quite a big difference.

For those with weather alert radios that alert by county, that should all continue to work as it has been. According to the FAQ, down the road, extended codes may be released to allow radios to alert by storm, and not by whole county.

My take: When it comes to the text of the actual warning, our local NWS office in Springfield, MO has been very good about listing specific parts of counties when appropriate. However, this will be a pretty big deal when it comes to looking at warnings on a screen and automated systems.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Small Tornado Hits Clever on 9/6/2007

Well, well, well...Christian County's "tornado alley" has once again proven itself. Clever was hit by a small F0 tornado on Thursday morning (9/6/2007) at around 5:20 a.m. This is the third tornado to hit Clever in five years. They were also hit May 4, 2003 and March 12, 2006.

According to KY3, the National Weather Service reports it tracked about a half mile and was about 50 yards wide. People's Bank took a hit, and it took off part of the roof and spread insulation around the property.

Undetected/unwarned tornadoes scare the bejeepers out of me. As a spotter/chaser, I want to feel like I am in control of the situation, and know when things are coming, etc. Being caught off guard really bothers me. I don't know if it is a pride thing or what. Christian County has had at least 3 tornadoes this year, and every one of them were situations that developed quickly, without hours of prep and planning. Ouch.