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Science

Inside the Radar, Satellite and Wind Vectors of a Storm 7

Posted by timothy
from the whoosh-smoosh dept.
ThOr101 writes: "While searching for radar scans of the next front to pass through the DC area, I found Meteorologist Dr. Stephen Jascourt's play by play of the weather leading up to the La Plata, MD tornado. He has taken the Satellite, Radar, and Wind Vector image loops from the time period and annotated with his comments describing the storm. As a member of Sky Warn, and just a weather nut, this was a great opportunity to see what the Storm Prediction Center, as well as the Local National Weather Service offices might look for when sounding a Watch or Warning."
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Inside the Radar, Satellite and Wind Vectors of a Storm

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  • hmmmm (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by drDugan (219551)
    something must be wrong. this has been up all of 4 minutes and no posts!


  • Or does it seem that tornado prediction is still something that is unreliable until only a few minutes before one touches down?

    Hurricane path prediction seems to be similarly challenging but important.

    • There is a certain bit of predictability to tornado prediction. It is well-documented that the vast majority of tornadoes come out of features in storms called "mesocyclones". However, beyond this, tornadogenesis is somewhat poorly understood. The NWS has been using their Doppler (NEXRAD) radars to find these mesocyclone signatures (which actually show up quite well frequently) and issuing tornado warnings from these. While not every mesocyclone will produce a tornado and not every tornado forms in a mesocyclone, it's still a useful way of trying to find them.

      The problem with tornado prediction is that it appears to be a fully three-dimensional and nonlinear process. And anyone who has worked with the equations of fluid flow in three dimensions working with nonlinearities will tell you that it's near impossible to get much information from it. (Nonlinearities, BTW, are things like the wind acting on itself.)

      I must agree with you that hurricane path prediction is just as important, if not more so. Even weak hurricanes can do much more widespread damage than any tornado, or even outbreak of tornadoes. That's not to say that tornado forecasting should go out the window in favor of hurricane track forecasting. They are different processes, both of which should be studied. But hurricanes have the potential to do much more damage due to their larger size and longer lifetimes. An error on a track forecast at 72 hours of 100 km could affect whether or not you evacuate a large city or not, which, by itself, is a substantial amount of money and/or lives.

      *enters soapbox mode.* Now, if those people in charge of funding research in atmospheric science would stop shooting money at the climate modelers and give some of us in the field who are doing some of the most basic and fundamental research a bit more funding, maybe they'd find their money better spent. But that would make sense... and gods forbid, a government doing something that makes sense. *exits soapbox mode.*

      -Jellisky
    • With tornadoes, though, a few minutes can make all the difference.

      I do not have definite stats, but I would guess that getting to your basement (or bathroom) would increase your survival chances greatly.

      This only takes a minute or two at most.

      Yes, it could definitely be improved upon. In the mean time, though, it is better than no warning at all.
  • Perhaps people can't think of anything useful to say about this topic, and people just aren't posting. Incredible! /. visitors holding their tongues when they have nothing to say. Isn't that one of the signs of the second coming of Christ?

    On the topic (I wouldn't want to be accused of anything) here I sit at work watching the Weather Channel off of the cable hookup, so I can sort of relate. Oh. Maybe noone has anything to say because there's no article, just a bunch of links. There's no news here for people to read. News for nerds indeed...
  • Nice to see some good data from this case.

    Just looking at the loops there, especially the radial velocity loop (all of the loops were well-annotated, I must admit), I would be surprised if SPC and the local NWS office there didn't forecast this thing pretty well. I'm too lazy currently to go and do my own little search on all that, but does anyone have some of that information?

    Now, if only I could see one of these on my scheduled chase coming up next week. ;) Of course, I would heavily prefer it going through a nice empty field or forest in the middle of nowhere, with a road running parallel to its path, keeping me a mile or so south/southeast of the mesocyclone at any one time. ;) Of course, we all have to have dreams.

    -Jellisky

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