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Best practices for gathering weather information

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In January, the American Meteorological Society adopted a statement called “Best Practices for Publicly Sharing Weather Information Via Social Media.” It is basically a how-to for meteorologists who are doing their best to use digital platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to share forecasts and explain complicated topics in what are typically short-format media.

For some of us, the guidelines are common sense. Others really needed to read them. Social media usage doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

The rub for me is that communication is, or at least should be, a two-way street. We can responsibly put the information out there for the public to find, but the public needs to be smart about consuming it, too. I remind my colleagues pretty often that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink – or if he does drink, is he drinking responsibly? Okay… maybe that’s not the best analogy since it’s water, but you get my point.

There are a few things you can do as a consumer of weather information that will help ensure that you are getting accurate weather information in a timely manner.

Screen capture of snow over Scranton, PA, on radar. There is a time stamp, but no date, which may lead to confusion if viewed and shared on social media on a different date.

1. Check the time stamp, especially on social media.

I’ll use Facebook as an example since it is the platform with which I am most comfortable, and I use it the most. Facebook’s news feed algorithms default to “most popular news,” which doesn’t necessarily mean the most recent. Even if you choose to use the “most recent” option, it ranks recency by what has the most recent comments. I can look at my feed right now, and a Yankee cousin’s story about a grocery store run prior to the blizzard from yesterday is second on my feed this morning because someone just commented on it. It’s not a new story, but it’s at the top of my “most recent” feed right now. If you don’t know how the feed works, it will just add to confusion during a time-sensitive event.

2. Have more than one reliable source for weather information.

I have good friends whose loyalty I totally appreciate, but it worries me when they say they wait until they see my weather posts before they act on weather information. You have no idea how good that makes me feel on one hand, but on the other — YIKES! What will happen on the days when I’m unplugged, in long meetings without the ability to look at my radar, or suffering the same power outage as the rest of the area? That’s a lot of pressure and expectation for one person. Sure, when we can afford a whole team of meteorologists to make around the clock forecasts and updates, I’ll feel more at ease, but right now, I am flying solo and begging them to follow other resources, too!

3. Understand that 140 characters or less makes communicating complicated science a challenge, and that one post may mean there are more posts before and after it.

If you’re following thousands of people on Twitter, those posts will get lost in the feed. No matter how careful a meteorologist is about putting all the information out there, we have no control over how the platform disseminates it.

4. Don’t only use social media to get your weather information.

Bookmark your favorite forecaster’s website; look at your local National Weather Service Office’s site. Have a radar app on your smart phone. Buy a NOAA weather radio. There are multiple ways to get reliable information, and using just one leaves you open to missing out.

In recent years, meteorologists as a group have put a lot of thought into how we communicate weather information. We are partnering with social scientists and psychologists on studies of how people best understand things like precipitation probabilities, the best wording for storm warnings to be taken seriously, and even the colors we use on our weather maps and graphics. The more we understand, the better we are becoming at putting useful information out there, but we can’t do it all ourselves. You have to participate in the process, too, in a smart and savvy way.

Weather Blog

Resilience and adaptation are necessary in any climate.

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It doesn’t matter to me which side of the conversation you land on when discussing whether or not the climate is currently changing faster under post-industrialized human influence. It really doesn’t. I have read enough from scientists on both sides to understand each side’s perspective and some of the possible alternative explanations for the current warming trend. I’ve also read enough to know that there will always be more to read, so don’t think I know it all. I would never make that claim.

I will, however, not have to stick my neck out too far to say that there are two things that humans have always been pretty good at — well, most humans anyway — and those are resilience and adaptation. The few societies in the past who were not are the very ones that are the subjects of speculative documentaries based on geological, archaeological, and anthropological findings. Did the Minoans disappear because they were weakened by famine caused by a huge volcanic eruption and fell victims to rival societies? Did the Mayans disappear because they over-forested their land causing drought and driving their populations back into the coastal areas where water and food were more plentiful?

There are a number of ancient societies that arose and fell under sudden and mysterious circumstances — giving even the most unusual hypothesis a tinge of credibility. I mean, I’m not saying it was aliens, but…

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

ancient sea level

From NC DEQ. Historic northeastern N.C. shoreline, 125,000 years ago. Image credit: Peter Parham, 2007.

A fact of history — and even prehistory — is that the climate changes. Sea levels rise and fall. The atmosphere warms and cools. Volcanoes erupt, continents move, and on extremely rare occasion, giant space rocks wreak havoc by falling on our little blue planet. Assuming that the latter doesn’t totally destroy us all, we adapt, we move, we develop new technologies, and we survive.

One other thing we do: we plan.

Learning from the past helps us to plan for the future. Scientists and engineers discover and develop new ways to understand the world around us and enhance how we interact with it. That newly found knowledge and those break-through technologies can be used to mitigate our risk and build our resilience in an ever-changing world.

Some articles and research that I have read recently have rejuvenated my optimism about facing the future — not just personally, but on a societal scale.  Two examples: a Durham company invested in technology that had not even been proven yet, but is now being tested, for a power plant to be able to capture and reuse all of its carbon dioxide emissions. A Native American tribe in the desert southwest is already adapting to a warmer and drier climate while at the same time improving access to healthy food for its people.

What makes these two stories stand out to me today is the amount of acumen and ingenuity required to see those ideas through to actualities.

It takes vision and planning to come up with new ways to deal with a changing environment. It takes open-mindedness and understanding to see other people’s visions and dreams and to help make the ones that are built on solid foundations become realities. It takes a whole community’s effort to be resilient — meaning it takes scientists, engineers, public officials, planners, neighbors, and you.

Weather Blog

Does your home have a safe room?

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If you’re paying attention to any number of local meteorologists, you probably already know this week is North Carolina’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week. It happens every year near the beginning of climatological spring, also known as March. The state declares a special week in which to focus on preparing for the natural disasters that are most likely to occur here — severe thunderstorms, hail, lightning, flooding, tornadoes… you get the idea.

For me, the most important thing about this annual event is encouraging people to be more situationally aware. Knowing your surroundings is always key to being safe in potentially dangerous situations.

tornado damage

Image of damage from Lone Grove, OK, February 2009. Notice the closet is intact and clothes are still on hangers inside.

Ask yourself, if a tornado were coming my way right now, where would I go? Knowing that “outside to watch it” is not necessarily the best and definitely not the safest answer, let’s look at our options. Does your home or office have a safe room? My guess is that if you define a safe room as a place to hide from Hollywood villains, the answer is probably “no.” While a constructed safe room is actually an option, for the purpose of this discussion, a “safe room” is one that you can enter quickly in the event of an emergency. It should be in the lowest level of the building and an interior room away from windows and exterior walls. This could be a basement, a closet under the stairs, or bathroom as long as it fits the “lowest interior” room qualifications.

Safe rooms aren’t necessarily just for hiding out from tornadoes. Some severe thunderstorms include dangerous straight-line winds that can be as much of a threat as rotating winds. For this reason, severe thunderstorm warnings will often tell you to stay away from windows because flying debris caused by straight-line winds can do as much damage as tornado debris when encountering glass.

In the Midwest, large hail is another reason to stay away from windows because hail there can be as big as softballs, or larger, in their worst severe storms. Our hail tends to be smaller than golf balls here in North Carolina, but never say “never” when it comes to the weather. If we had a freak storm with softball-sized hail, you would definitely be told to stay away from windows.

Think about your home, your work place, the mall, or your favorite restaurant. Where would you go in the event of a tornado warning? How about the the dog park, a nature trail, or the soccer fields? Is there a building nearby that could hold everyone? Each place is going to have a different answer, and in some locations, the answer may simply be “no.” For this reason, weather awareness and situational awareness go hand-in-hand.

Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., there will be a statewide tornado drill, and while your office might not actively participate, you can virtually participate. All you have to do is take a minute at that moment and answer the question, “where would I go if a tornado were bearing down on me right now?” If you want to take it a step further, don’t wait until that moment. Keep it top of mind every time you visit a new place. I do.

Weather Blog

Thoughts on Bill Paxton, chasers, spotters, and a risk for severe weather

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It’s rare that I shed a tear over the passing of an actor, but yesterday, I did when I learned of Bill Paxton’s sudden death. There was shock, sadness, and the realization of how much the man influenced so many of my friends by portraying a meteorologist doing his best to catch a tornado without becoming a victim of it. The character was everything budding meteorologists wanted to be — brave, tenacious, and just crazy enough to do it.

‘Twister” came out in 1996, which was the year that I graduated with my mass communication degree and the year that I realized I should have gotten a meteorology degree. An elective meteorology course for non-science majors that last semester at N. C. State University gets the credit for that realization, but the movie just added to my intense fascination with tornadoes and severe storms. Despite all the editing flaws and some occasionally iffy science, it wasn’t long before I had every line memorized.

When I returned to NCSU at the age of 30, I quickly learned that my younger atmospheric science course classmates also knew every word of that movie. An entire generation of meteorologists felt the same love for Bill Paxton’s character that I did. Some of those students went on to take part in Vortex 2 — a real life research project in 2009 and 2010 with the goal of using instrumentation to gain a better understanding of why some severe storms produce tornadoes and some don’t. They got to live the dream that “Twister” portrayed in its Hollywood style without quite so many overly risky decisions. For example, driving through  a tornado-tossed farm house and exploding gas tanker might not look quite as good on a research report or resume as it did on the big screen even if that opportunity had presented itself.

When I worked at Weather Eye Radio Network in Minnesota, I had the opportunity to become a Skywarn spotter trainer as well as attend the Minnesota Skywarn Workshop. I met a number of fellow storm enthusiasts, and I learned how to train people to recognize parts of severe storms from a safe distance and call helpful storm reports in to the National Weather Service. At the workshop, I listened to storm chasers tell their stories, NWS employees explain how they categorize tornadoes based on damage, and statisticians explain some of the data behind what we knew so far about tornadoes.

I thank John Wetter for putting so much of his heart and soul into educating and training spotters and chasers.  John runs the Minnesota Skywarn Workshop and is the president of the Spotter Network – a group that gained national attention yesterday when they organized a heartfelt tribute to Bill Paxton by spelling out his initials on the map using gps coordinates. It was a fitting and touching tribute to the “Twister” star.

I’ve written before in a different blog about how Skywarn spotters save lives by helping provide ground truth to the National Weather Service’s severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. Severe storm researchers and serious storm chasers should get credit as well. Every bit of video and data that they glean from a successful chase or instrument reading adds to our understanding of how and why storms form and tornadoes occur. We still have a long way to go toward complete understanding of why some storms produce tornadoes and some do not, but we get a little closer every year.

SPC day 3 outlook

The Storm Prediction Center’s convective outlook map shows a slight risk for severe weather over much of North Carolina on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, our local Skywarn spotters may have a chance to put their skills to use here in North Carolina. The Storm Prediction Center has already predicted a slight risk for severe thunderstorms over much of the state with a 15% chance of severe weather within 25 miles of any point highlighted in yellow on the map to the right. A slight risk usually means that someone in the area will experience a short-lived, isolated intense severe thunderstorm, but there just won’t be a lot of severe storms over the whole region.

What makes a storm severe? A storm reaches the severe threshold when it has winds in excess of 58 miles per hour, one-inch in diameter (quarter-sized) hail, and/or a tornado. So, by definition a tornadic storm is severe, but not all severe storms are tornadic — hence, the amount of research that is poured into why and how tornadoes form.

Weather Blog

Reader Question: Does this early spring mean the summer will be brutal?

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What appears to be a simple question actually has a complicated answer. We can’t extrapolate from this week’s unusually warm days that in three months our weather will also be warmer than normal.

CPC MAM map

The Climate Prediction Center’s 3 month outlook map for March, April, and May shows above-average chance for warmer-than-normal temperatures.

That being said, the Climate Prediction Center’s temperature outlook for the next three months — March, April, and May — shows above-average chances for above-normal temperatures across much of the country including North Carolina.

One of the many things that forecasters consider when making these predictions is the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This winter featured a La Nina pattern, which typically results in warmer-than-normal temperatures across the southeast. Currenly, the oscillation is neutral — meaning that the ocean temperatures over the southern Pacific are about normal. Scientists expect the pattern to swing toward El Nino at some point this summer, and the resulting conditions could impact our weather. How much is hard to tell right now.

ENSO is not the only global pattern that affects our weather, but it is one that is better known. Its effects are more dramatic in the winter, but not exclusive to winter. For example, an El Nino in the fall makes hurricane development in the Atlantic more difficult.

At this point, our best guess is that the warmer-than-normal temperature trend will continue for the next several months, so it might be a good year to invest in some nice, cool fabrics and ice cream.

Weather Blog

True signs of an early spring

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About two weeks ago, I reminded you not to trust a randomly chosen rodent pulled from his den and asked for a weather forecast. I stand by what I said. However, I am currently seeing true signs of an early spring in the real world and in computer models.

snake

A grumpy, little snake the author met on a trail at Falls Lake.

Last weekend, I made the most of our gorgeous, warmer-than-normal weather and area state parks, and hiked on Saturday and Sunday. Given that it was barely mid-February, I was not being wary of animals that you typically see in the warmer months, and I almost stepped on a grumpy, little snake. I startled him. He startled me. We took a good, long look at each other, I snapped a slightly blurry picture with my phone while catching my breath, and then we both went our separate ways. Happily, neither of us was any worse for the encounter.

The daffodils in the yard will be blooming by next week, the forsythia is showing its yellow blossoms, and the pear tree is starting to bud. These are all signs of spring, and they are on the early side for central North Carolina. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that flowers bloomed early and then we managed to eke out one last winter storm if that were to happen.

With that thought in mind, I took a look at one of the longer-range forecast models this morning. Over the next 16 days, it appears that our temperatures will stay mostly above normal. At this point in the year, our average highs are in the mid 50s and our average lows are in the mid 30s. Our weather tomorrow and Thursday will be a little below average, but this weekend we’ll watch those temperatures creep back up into the low 70s.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind a little warmth one bit. Of course, I don’t hide the fact that I am a warm weather lover at heart.

I also took a look at the Climate Prediction Center’s website, and they are also showing above average chances for warmer-than-normal temperatures for the foreseeable future. Does that mean that there is no way we won’t get a stray winter storm? Not really. It only takes one cold day and the right conditions aligning to create an icy mess.

According to the State Climate Office of North Carolina, the latest day on record where there was at least a trace of snowfall in Louisburg (Wake Forest’s closest climate reporting station) was March 28th in 1947. Our average last day of snowfall is actually February 7, so the numbers are on our side at this point if you like to play the averages.

CPC map

The Climate Prediction Center’s map showing above average chances for warmer-than-normal temperatures over the next three to four weeks.

Weather Blog

Did global warming cause that storm?

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You might recall claims over the recent decades that global warming could increase the number of extreme weather events such as tornado outbreaks, major hurricanes, heavy flooding, and lengthy droughts. While few meteorologists would point to one specific event and claim anthropogenic — meaning human-caused — global warming contributed to its severity, somehow the media still made the claim that extreme convective events such as F-5 tornadoes would happen more often and be far more destructive as the earth continued to warm.

The reality is that scientists are still unable to quantatively prove that link between global warming and extreme events on the scale of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and even subtropical cyclones. The link to the longer duration events is almost as weak according to some studies. However, it does appear that long-term drought and single-day, extreme rain events are among the few things that may be directly connected to a warmer climate.

A study called “Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change,” published last year included this statement:

Confidence in attribution analyses of specific extreme events is highest for extreme heat and cold events, followed by hydrological drought and heavy precipitation. There is little or no confidence in the attribution of severe convective storms and extratropical cyclones.

I will admit that I didn’t spend the $79 to buy the paperback version of the report, but instead I read a climate scientist’s summary of the report with the conclusion’s key points quoted directly. Forgive me. I’m on a tight budget.

Also, I would like to point out the word “confidence” in that statement. There is still some level of uncertainty, but you can have uncertainty and still have a higher level of confidence about some things over others.

Take a look at 2016. NASA reported it was the warmest year on record and the third record-setting year in a row. Yet, NOAA’S Storm Prediction Center produced the infographic below showing lower than normal severe weather reports and watches across the United States. By our standards, it was a pretty quiet year overall for thunderstorms.

Keep in mind that the SPC’s purview is hail, high wind, and tornadoes, all of which move thunderstorms up the scale from garden-variety to severe. Flooding and hurricanes are covered by the Weather Prediction Center and the National Hurricane Center, respectively, so they are not included in the SPC’s infographic.

My point is to change the perspective of people who still quote those old media suppositions and speculations that global warming will bring more convective storms, bigger tornadoes, and more devastation and destruction from severe weather. Climate change may contribute to some event types and not others, so making a blanket statement regarding all types of weather becoming increasingly worse is dubious at best.

SPC graphic

Storm Prediction Center’s 2016 Severe Storm Summary Infographic

Weather Blog

Happy Arbitrary Adorable, Small Animal Day

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Groundhog Day is February 2, every year. The spring equinox is on March 20, a little more than six weeks later. The season of winter is about three months – or 12 weeks – long. If you’re good at math, you probably already see my point, but humor me, please.

Centuries ago, Germans decided to pick a day halfway into the winter and an adorable, small animal to which they ascribed some level of intelligence, and watch it come out of its den to see whether or not it saw its shadow on that day every year. Why they didn’t just look for their own shadows, I have no idea. Regardless, that tradition was carried across the Atlantic to Pennsylvania. Instead of a hedgehog as in Germany, the settlers found groundhogs in Penn’s woods. Thus, we have Groundhog Day in the United States instead of Hedgehog Day. Personally, I think hedgehogs are a little cuter, but nobody asked me.

Phil

Punxsutawney Phil. Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor.
Does he look trustworthy to you?

If the rodent of your choice sees his shadow on February 2, the interpretation is that we will have six more weeks of winter. If he does not, then expect an early spring, or so the folklore goes. Apparently, rodents have alarm clocks and calendars in those little dens of theirs. They wake up every second day of February for the sole purpose of checking the weather. Obsessive little creatures, aren’t they?

Of course, if they really wanted to be technical, they’d let themselves sleep in. If they really counted weeks, they’d see that astronomical spring would start in about six weeks anyway.

As a meteorologist and a person who really doesn’t enjoy cold weather, I prefer to use the climatological start of spring, which is March 1. It doesn’t make the winter any shorter since climatological winter starts on December 1. While everyone is counting their six weeks after Groundhog (or Hedgehog) Day, I only have four weeks more. So, you see, you don’t just have the option of what critter to stalk, you have the option of which version of season measurement to use.

No matter how you measure it – whatever arbitrary day you pick for hopefully logical reasons – does the first day of spring automatically bring warmth and blossoming flowers? Hardly.

If you choose March 1, in central North Carolina, you actually have a decent chance of seeing an ice storm that day. If you choose March 20, the day could be toasty or it could be pretty chilly.  Our record coldest low temperature on March 20 in Raleigh was 22 degrees Fahrenheit in 1923. Our record warmest low temperature was 65 degrees in 1948, and that year also holds the record for the warmest high temperature of 88 degrees. The coldest high temperature in Raleigh for the date was recorded in 1981 at 41 degrees.

In case you’re wondering, Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous and long-lived of all forecasting groundhogs, saw his shadow in 1923, 1948 and 1981.

Why do meteorologists have a problem with Groundhog Day really? My reason is simple: I doubt anyone has held Phil, or our local rodent Sir Walter Wally, accountable for his missed forecasts they way they hold us accountable for ours.

Weather Blog

Take your politics out of my science

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Until a few months ago, most of you had never heard of me unless you were regular readers of the big daily paper in Raleigh. You probably don’t know that I have been against making climate science a political issue for years.

I can understand why some think public policy is necessary for the purpose of cleaning up the environment, but I am a free market believer. When green technology is affordable and widely available, we can educate the public about it’s benefits, and it will eventually become more widely used. For a real-life example, see solar energy.

I can also accept the argument that rules and laws can be used to force development of such technology. Although, I think engineers focused on environmental concerns would develop it anyway because it is the right thing to do.

The problem I have with politicizing science of any kind, but especially climate, is that the public policy pendulum can swing two ways. In one direction, the scientists have free reign and the ever-ready ear of top officials. In the other direction, the scientists lose credibility and the hope of advancing knowledge in the way in which they are accustomed.  For decades, the pendulum was on the upswing, helping the growth of the Environmental Protection Agency because the people in high office didn’t question the actions of the agency. While its actions are for the betterment of the environment, and I have no doubt nearly everyone working within the EPA believe in its cause, some would say it did so to the detriment of businesses.

So now we have a pro-business president, looking at a political* entity and saying it’s too big and makes economic progress too difficult for certain industries. Now the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction, and the EPA is reportedly on media lock-down. Do I agree with the actions of the president as they are being reported in news and social media? No. I have friends at the EPA who are concerned for their science and, as importantly, their livelihoods. I would not wish that feeling on anyone.

That being said, I can see how we got here, and making climate change a political issue is a big part of it.

global temp map

Global temperature anomalies averaged from 2012 through 2016 in degrees Celsius. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. Data provided by Robert B. Schmunk (NASA/GSFC GISS).

The earth is warming. The climate is changing. Let me just get those statements out of the way before anyone lumps me into the category of “climate denier” because it’s easier to stereotype than it is to read someone’s thoughts open-mindedly.

However, there are still legitimate scientists with higher degrees, peer-reviewed research, and all sorts of credentials out there, who still aren’t 100% convinced that carbon dioxide is the only cause. It may be a big contributor, or a small contributor, but it may not be the only cause.

Should we clean up the air? Yes. Should we reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Sure. Should we take care of the environment so that we leave something nice and clean for future generations? Of course! But to say that all scientists agree that CO2 is the culprit and that public policy – not just nationally, but globally – should focus only on that is a very narrow-minded point of view, as well as untrue.

My guess is that President Trump has realized that the popular claim of total agreement among scientists is untrue and decided that the lie needs to stop. My guess (since I haven’t talked to him myself) is that he is stereotyping in the other direction, thinking that if you’re not a climate denier, you’re a liar. There’s very little gray area allowed when something gets politicized in such a polarizing way as climate change has over the last few decades, and that is the reason I have always said that we should take politics out of science.**

Honest scientists who are searching for the truth behind the symptoms of climate change are being shut down. The first who were silenced were the ones who questioned the popular theories. The last are those who hold to the popular theories. No true scientist should ever be silenced because of unpopular ideas. If they stick to the scientific method and find differing results, those results should be reviewed and there should be attempts at replication, not blind acceptance.

Science is not a popularity contest. Politics is.

 

*Political here is defined as “of or relating to the state, government, the body politic, public administration, policy-making, etc .”
**One definition of science is the systematic study of the nature and behavior of the material and physical universe, based on observation, experiment, and measurement, and the formulation of laws to describe these facts in general terms.

Weather Blog

Tornadoes in January are rare, but not unheard of.

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This weekend was a rough one for the Southeast United States from Louisiana to Florida, as I’m sure you have already heard. Severe thunderstorms ripped across the Deep South and Gulf Coast from Saturday morning through late last night leaving a path of devastation in their wakes. So far, 29 tornadoes have been confirmed, and the storms are being blamed for at least 20 deaths.

The question I received today was just how rare are tornadoes in January? The answer is that they are somewhat rare, but they do happen. In fact, when they occur on January 22, it is more likely to be across Mississippi, Alabama, and a portion of southern Tennessee than anywhere else.

SPC TOR Map

Storm Prediction Center’s Tornado Probabilities map for January 22

The Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, does more than just predict severe weather – they keep records of it as well. The two maps to the right show the probabilities of tornadoes and the probabilities of significant tornadoes for January 22. The records used to create the maps are from 1982-2011, so this weekend’s storms are not yet part of the count.

The Tornado Probabilities map shows that from eastern Texas through southwestern Tennessee over to southwestern Georgia and in central Florida, there is a 0.20% probability that a tornado will occur on January 22.

If you were a betting person and I told you that a horse had a 0.20% chance of winning a race, would you bet on it? My guess is that you would not, unless you just really loved that particular horse. While chances are slim the horse would defeat all the others in the field, there is still a very slight chance that it will win, and if it does, the world would take notice.

SPC SIG TOR MAP

SPC’s Significant Tornado Probabilities Map for January 22

On the Significant Tornado Probabilities map, the probability of a tornado with an EF-2+ rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale are even smaller over that area – less than 0.10%. Now you’re betting on a blind horse, but as long as it’s in the race, winning is possible.

This weekend, the blind not-so-thoroughbred beat the odds. All of the ingredients for a major severe storm outbreak with significant tornadoes came together in late January with sorrowful and devastating effects. It happened in the one area we suspected it would based on our historical data, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with for those people affected.