Tag Archives: #INwx

Half of Indiana has marginal risk of severe storms today

Indiana map showing (Left) Risk of severe weather between 9 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow. Dark green shading: Marginal risk. Light green: thunderstorms possible but none expected to be severe. (Center) Probability of damaging straight-line thunderstorm winds of 58 mph or stronger within 25 miles of any point. Brown: 5% (marginal risk). Unshaded: Less than 5%. (Right) Probability of hail of one inch diameter or larger within 25 miles of any point. Brown: 5% (marginal risk). Unshaded: Less than 5%. Source: SPC "Day 1 Convective Outlook" issued at 8:52 a.m. EDT.
(Left) Risk of severe weather between 9 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow. Dark green shading: Marginal risk. Light green: thunderstorms possible but none expected to be severe. (Center) Probability of damaging straight-line thunderstorm winds of 58 mph or stronger within 25 miles of any point. Brown: 5% (marginal risk). Unshaded: Less than 5%. (Right) Probability of hail of one inch or more in diameter within 25 miles of any point. Brown: 5% (marginal risk). Unshaded: Less than 5%. Source: SPC “Day 1 Convective Outlook” issued at 8:52 a.m. EDT. Click the image for a larger version.

Half of Indiana (shaded in dark green on the map, above-left) has a marginal risk of severe thunderstorms between 9 a.m. EDT today and 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow, according to the “Day 1 Convective Outlook” that the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued at 8:52 a.m.

The primary risks are damaging straight-line thunderstorm winds of 58 mph or stronger and hail of one inch or more in diameter. The probability of either occurring within 25 miles of any point in the slight risk area is five percent.

The normal wind probability for any May 12 is about two percent, according to climatology data from the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Today’s probability, therefore, is roughly twice the normal probability for this date.

The normal hail probability for any May 12 is about one percent, so today’s probability is roughly five times normal.

There’s no reason to be alarmed by a marginal risk, but if you live in that half of Indiana, it’s wise to remain weather-aware today, especially if you’ll be involved in any outdoor activities (e.g. baseball games, etc.). Remember that all thunderstorms, severe or not, bring lightning, which kills people who are outdoors.

The SPC plans to update its outlook for today by 12:30 p.m. EDT.

Slight risk of severe storms in Southern Indiana Tues. May 10

National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center Day 2 Convective Outlook Mapy for Indiana issued May 9, 2016 shows a slight risk of severe storms in extreme southern Indiana between 8 a.m. EDT May 10 and 8 a.m. EDT May 11, 2016Extreme southern Indiana (shaded in yellow on the map above) has a slight risk of severe storms tomorrow, according to the “Day 2 Convective Outlook” that the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center issued early this morning. The slight risk area includes Vincennes, Jasper, Corydon and Evansville, among other communities.

A slight risk on a day-two outlook means a 15 percent probability of any one or more of the following types of severe weather occurring within 25 miles of any point between 8 a.m. EDT tomorrow and 8 a.m. EDT Wednesday:

  • Tornado
  • Damaging straight-line severe thunderstorm winds of 58 mph or stronger.
  • Large hail of one inch or more in diameter.

The normal probability of one or more of the above on May 10 is approximately three percent, according to climatology data from the National Severe Storms Laboratory. That means tomorrow’s probabilities in the slight risk area of Indiana are approximately three times what’s normal on May 10.

The SPC plans to update its outlook for tomorrow by 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Know anyone who’s still confused by watch vs. warning?

Wizard of Oz witch tornado watch warning meme
Meme creator unknown

The U.S. National Weather Service has been issuing tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings since 1965. More than 50 years later, however, people still fail to fully understand the difference between a watch and a warning. You probably know some of them, I certainly do.

As my contribution to the second day of Indiana’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2016, I’ve written this blog to share with your friends and family members who remain confused.

A watch is essentially a forecast

Map showing tornado watch for a large part of Indiana and Michigan for 11:20 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 17, 2013.
Map showing tornado watch for a large part of Indiana and Michigan for 11:20 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 17, 2013.

In fact, before 1965, the NWS called what we now know as “tornado watches” “tornado forecasts.” A tornado watch indicates the possibility of tornadoes forming, just as a rain forecast indicates the probability of rain. Similarly, a severe thunderstorm watch indicates the possibility of severe thunderstorms forming. A watch does not mean these things are already happening, it means they could happen.

Like a forecast, a watch covers a period of many hours and usually covers a large area of at least several counties, if not several states. We should watch for possible dangerous weather in the near future.

A warning is an indication of immediate danger

Polygon indicating the area covered by a tornado warning for the Kokomo, Indiana area Nov. 17, 2013.
Polygon indicating the area covered by a tornado warning for the Kokomo, Indiana area from 3:17 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Nov. 17, 2013. Click the image to see a larger version.

It’s a call to take shelter now, because the tornado or severe thunderstorm is already happening. Depending on where you are, you might only have couple of minutes to protect yourself and your family. Or, you might have 10 or 15 minutes, if you’re at the far edge of the “warning polygon.” If you want to survive a tornado or a severe thunderstorm, don’t waste time seeking more information. When a warning comes out, take shelter immediately.

Because dangerous weather has already formed and is on its way, a warning usually covers a period of less than an hour and a small area that’s sometimes smaller than a county. The time to watch is over. It’s now time to heed the warning and take shelter.

Want even more lead time?

If you’re really interested in weather, or want to know even earlier whether severe weather is possible, there are two other NWS products to check out.

The NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) usually issues a “mesoscale discussion” before it issues a watch. This product lets you know that the SPC is thinking about (or planning to) issue a watch, the geographical area of concern and the reasons. Some of the text of a mesoscale discussion can get pretty technical, but anyone can figure out from this product whether a watch is likely to be issued. If any mesoscale discussions are in effect, you can find them on the SPC website.

For even more lead time, the SPC issues “convective outlooks” that indicate the amount of risk of severe weather as much as eight days in advance. You can also find these products on the SPC website.

NWS northern Indiana issues severe weather preparedness week news release

National Weather Service Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 14, 2016

INDIANA SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS WEEK, MARCH 20-26

******** STATEWIDE TORNADO DRILLS MARCH 22nd ********

Syracuse, IN – So far, 2016 severe weather does not compare with the tragic March 2012 tornadoes to strike southern Indiana.  Is that a sign for fewer tornadoes this year? “Indiana has tornadoes every year,” said Michael Lewis, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana.  “But events like the deadly tornado of March 2012 point to the importance of being ready and responsive in the face of increasing hazardous weather events. Being resilient is part of the vision of the National Weather Service (NWS) as we grow toward becoming a Weather Ready Nation,” added Lewis.

The National Weather Service, in cooperation with the Indiana State Department of Homeland Security, Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Broadcasters Association, the American Red Cross, and the amateur radio community, will conduct a Severe Weather Preparedness campaign March 20-26, 2016.

The 38th annual statewide test tornado drills will be conducted on Tuesday March 22 at 10:15 am and 7:35 pm EDT.  Wednesday March 23 is the make-up drill day if severe weather postpones Tuesday’s drill.   The drill will be initiated by TEST Tornado Warnings issued by NWS offices serving Indiana, triggering programmed electronic devices and activation of many outdoor warning sirens.

“Every family, every school, and every business should take time now to review or create a weather safety action plan,” said John Erickson, Public Information Officer of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “Having and practicing a plan increases your chances of surviving the storm,” added Erickson.

For further information, you may refer to: www.weather.gov/ind also:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/  #SpringSafety

####

Where thunderstorms go to die

SKYWARN storm spotters and future spotters prepare for training Feb. 16, 2016 at the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne
SKYWARN storm spotters and future spotters prepare for training Feb. 16, 2016 at the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana, Fort Wayne

The husband-and-wife team of Amos and Megan Dodson, both meteorologists at the northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service (NWS), conducted the annual SKYWARN storm spotter training Feb. 16 at the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana.

The content of the training didn’t change much from last year’s presentation. It focused on the differences between truly threatening weather phenomena and scary-looking, but harmless (and unreportable) conditions.

Here are some highlights:

  • Spotter reports add credibility. When the NWS issues a warning that includes a reference to a spotter report, members of the general public are more likely to take action than when the warning does not include a spotter reference.
  • Don’t wait for activation. Although our NWS office issues hazardous weather outlooks that indicate whether spotter activation is likely, the office does not “activate” or “deploy” spotters. It welcomes spotters to make reports anytime they see anything reportable.
  • Clouds with ragged edges aren’t spinning. Scary-looking SCUD clouds that are shaped like funnel clouds generate a lot of well-intended but false reports from untrained observers. True funnel clouds and tornadoes spin, giving them sharper, smoother edges.
  • When unsure, send a photo. NWS encourages spotters who see something that might be reportable (like a possible wall cloud or funnel cloud), to photograph it and send the photo via Twitter (@NWSIWX) or the NWS office’s Facebook page. The office monitors both social networks closely during severe weather events.
  • T.E.L. NWS. When spotters make reports, they should provide the Time of the observation, a description of the Event, and the Location of the event. The actual time of day is more valuable than “right now” or “two minutes ago.” And because the local NWS office does not issue spotter credentials, formatting reports in that specific order is one way spotters can demonstrate they attended the training.
  • Thunderstorms come here to die! Spotters provide a valuable service to their communities even if they don’t see anything reportable. And climatology data shows that spotters in Indiana are about half as likely to see something as are spotters in Illinois. Megan Dodson shared that this leads meteorologists to joke that Indiana is where thunderstorms come to die.

Mysteriously, far fewer people attended the training than registered for it, even though weather did not hinder travel that night. Those in attendance, however, included TV meteorologist Hannah Strong, who indicated that the presentation included information not provided in meteorology school.

People who missed the training can get via the Web most of the information they need to be effective spotters. Two options include

Updated: Seminars offer deeper dive for SKYWARN storm spotters

Seminars around Indiana provide opporutnities for advanced training for SKYWARN storm spottersJan. 5, I wrote about annual SKYWARN storm spotter training beginning in less than a month in some parts of Indiana. Today, I’d like to share other educational opportunities for spotters and others who’d like to take a deeper dive into severe weather meteorology.

Central Indiana Severe Weather Symposium, Indianapolis

2016 Central Indiana Severe Weather Symposium logoThis day-long event, hosted by the central Indiana chapter of the American Meteorology Society and the National Weather Service Indianapolis weather forecast office, always provides lots of fascinating information of value to storm spotters. If you want to attend, register early, because it often “sells out” well before the day of the event.

Saturday, March 5, 2016, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Reilly Room, Atherton Union, Butler University, 704 West Hampton Drive. Information and registration: http://www.weather.gov/ind/2016CISWS. Twitter tweets about this event carry the hash tag #CISWS.

DuPage County Advanced Severe Weather Seminar, Wheaton, Ill.

2016 DuPage County Advanced Severe Weather Seminar infographicThis all-day event in one of is one of the best advanced spotter training opportunities in the Midwest. I’ve attended at least twice. It’s in a western suburb of Chicago, so it’s a bit of a drive for many Hoosiers! DuPage College’s meteorology professors usually speak and they’re both great presenters.

Saturday, March 12, 2016, Wheaton College. Information and registration are now available at https://www.dupageco.org/weatherseminar/. See also: #DuPageWxSeminar and https://www.facebook.com/groups/dupagesevereweather/.

Ohio State Meteorology Club Severe Weather Symposium, Columbus, Ohio

I’ve attended at least three of these annual, all-day events. They usually contain interesting information and speakers but they are geared more toward meteorology students than to spotters.

Friday, March 4, 2016, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Information and registration are now available at http://u.osu.edu/metclub/symposium/2016-symposium/.

Severe Weather Awareness Day, Nashville, Tenn.

This annual event might be of interest to storm spotters who live in southern Indiana and points south. I’ve never attended, but a friend has been impressed with it. As you can see in the flyer image above, one of this year’s speakers is well-known broadcast meteorologist James Spann.

Saturday, Feb. 27, Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, Tenn. Information (with registration beginning Feb. 1) at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ohx/?n=swad2016. See also  https://twitter.com/hashtag/swad2016?f=tweets&vertical=default.

Others?

If you know of other good, advanced training opportunities for storm spotters, leave a note in the comments section of this blog post.

NWS plans Twitter commemoration of Palm Sunday tornado outbreak

The famous Palm Sunday twin tornado photo, taken along U.S. 33 by Paul Huffman of the
The famous Palm Sunday twin tornado photo, taken along U.S. 33 by Paul Huffman of the “Elkhart Truth”

If you follow the the northern Indiana office of the National Weather Service on Twitter (@NWSIWX) and if your smart phone beeps at you every time the office tweets, you might want to change your settings before tomorrow.

The office plans to send more than 100 tweets to mark the 50th anniversary of the April 11, 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak that killed 145 people in Indiana. No other tornado outbreak in the state’s history has killed that many people.

Presentation slide from northern Indiana NWS office.
Presentation slide from northern Indiana NWS office.

The NWS office plans to send tweets in real time, as if it were live tweeting during the actual outbreak. Every tweet will include the hash tag #PalmSunday50. This will give followers a feel for how NWS received information that day and the warnings it issued.

You can follow along, whether or not you have a Twitter account. The tweets will be visible at either of the following Web URLs:

https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=%22%23PalmSunday50%22&src=typd

https://twitter.com/nwsiwx

The NWS office has also created a special website that provides detailed information about the outbreak, including photos like the one at the top of this post and first-hand accounts that witnesses provided the NWS.

A weather safety tip you might not have thought of: Footwear

Photo of feet wearing flip-flops with red X superimposed. Flip-flops are poor footwear for severe weather days. Indiana Severe Weather Preparedness Week. #INWxReady #WRNSandals, especially flip-flops, which are so popular when the weather is warm, are poor choices for severe weather days.

My feet get warm easily. I have a pair of Chacos brand sandals that I wear almost every day during warm weather. But not on days that I might need to serve as a storm spotter.

If severe weather is coming our way, I usually change into a sturdy pair of ankle-supporting hunting boots I bought on sale at Cabela’s, even if I’ll be staying home during the storm.

Why? On word: debris.

National Weather Service photo

After a storm passes, I might have to walk through storm debris, which can include pieces of trees and pieces of buildings. The walking surface might be uneven. Some of the debris might have sharp edges.

I choose to protect my feet from all that, a practice I learned back in the 90s when I served as an emergency medical technician and communications technician on a Disaster Medical Assistance Team. It’s how I dressed my feet every day, even in tropical weather when assisting the victims of Hurricanes Andrew and Marilyn.

My advice: If you’re a storm spotter or storm chaser, get yourself a good pair of boots to wear anytime you’re in the field, even on hot, humid days. And no matter who you are, if you ever have to take shelter in your house from a coming storm, take the most protective footwear you have with you to the basement, interior room, etc. Put them on after the storm, before you step outside to survey the damage. Your feet will be much safer.

An even earlier “heads up” on severe weather

Earlier, in commemoration of Indiana Severe Weather Preparedness Week, I wrote about the important distinctions between watches and warnings. Readers who saw that post will recall that the National Weather Service usually issues weather watches hours before severe weather develops in the watch area.

You can also know about the possibilities of severe weather days in advance, if you know where to look.

In addition to watches, the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues convective outlooks. In this case, “convective,” refers to thunderstorm development through atmospheric instability. Convective outlooks include maps that show various risk levels for severe thunderstorms in various parts of the country as far into the future as six days.

For example, on April 27, 2014, a large, violent tornado killed 16 people in Vilonia and Mayflower, Arkansas. Five days earlier, the SPC indicated a risk of severe weather in that area on a convective outlook map (see below).

Day 4-8 convective outlook from April 22, 1014 for Indiana Severe Weather Preparedness Week
“Day 4-8 Convective Outlook” map issued by the Storm Prediction Center on April 22, 2014, five days before a tornado killed 16 people in Arkansas. Note the green area labeled “D6,” which includes the area where the tornado eventually formed and which indicated a 30 percent or higher probability of severe thunderstorms within 25 miles of any point on April 27.

Anyone who wants an advance look at severe weather probabilities can look at SPC convective outlooks on the SPC website. During severe weather season, I review every morning at least the “Day 1 Convective Outlook” (which shows risks for the same day) and the “Day 2 Convective Outlook” (which shows the next day’s risks).

For a more localized outlook, I also view the “Hazardous Weather Outlook” that our local NWS office issues. This text-only product indicates local forecasters’ assessment of the risks of hazardous weather within their coverage area the same day (day one) and for the following week (days two through seven).

So, what can you do with this information? When an outlook indicates a risk of severe weather in a few days, you can:

  • Develop and/or review a plan for what to do if sever weather strikes.
  • Encourage others to develop a plan.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit and pet kit.
  • Check your NOAA All Hazards radio for fresh batteries and operation.

By knowing about outlooks, watches and warnings when they’re issued, you can keep from being surprised by severe weather.

Severe weather watches and warnings: Do you really know the difference?

Tornado graphic for Indiana Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2015Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed March 15 through 21, 2015 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana.

Throughout the week, I’ll use my “W9LW’s Ramblings” blog to help build awareness of important severe weather concepts that everyone should know.

If you’re a trained storm spotter, you’ll already know most of the stuff I’ll write about. In that case, I encourage you to use Indiana Severe Weather Preparedness Week to share this information with your family, friends and co-workers. After all, you are probably the closest thing to a weather expert who those folks know personally.

Today, I’ll start with one of the most basic of severe weather concepts, but also one of the most important; knowing the difference between a severe weather watch and a warning.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has used the term, “watch,” since August of 1965 but I still talk to people who don’t really understand what a watch is and others who refer to watches as warnings and warnings as watches.

Here’s a simple table to help you remember the difference. The information below applies to both tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings and watches.

Warning Watch
Your response Take shelter now! Remain alert, determine where you’ll take shelter if necessary
Meaning Severe weather is imminent, has been detected by radar and/or confirmed by trained weather spotters Conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather in and close to the watch area
Timeframe Minutes before danger arrives Usually hours before severe weather occurs
Geography Very local, sometimes less than a county, based on storm location and track Regional, multiple counties, often crossing state lines, based on atmospheric conditions

Bottom line: When the NWS issues a warning, it’s time to take action. Now. When the NWS issues a watch, it’s time to make sure you’ll know about a warning if one comes out later and time to make sure you know what you’ll do if a warning comes out.

Please share this! Do you know someone who doesn’t really understand watches and warnings? Use the buttons below to share a link with your social networks, etc.