Storm Chasing DON’Ts and DOs (Credit: The Weather Channel, theweatherprediction.com, NSSL, NWS JetStream)
Image: Two landspout tornadoesin Cope, CO on 5/28/18
DISCUSSION: Summer vacation is here, and it’s peak severe weather season in the Midwest! Students and weather weenies alike are gathering where the weather is happening. In most cases, this is in the Great Plains and Northern Plains, a.k.a. Tornado Alley – where the most tornadoes occur. Storm chasing is just what it sounds like, students, enthusiasts, and meteorologists going towards severe thunderstorms. You may be wondering why anyone in their right mind would go towards the exact phenomena we meteorologists encourage you to take shelter from on a daily basis. Well, there is a multi-part, semi-logical answer for it.
For one, storm chasing is a total educational package for professors teaching mesoscale and microscale meteorology, and nowcasting (weather forecasting for the next several minutes). Mesoscale weather phenomena last anywhere from hours to weeks (e.g. thunderstorms and convective systems), while microscale phenomena are shorter, lasting only seconds to minutes (e.g. air turbulence and tornadoes). Forecasting tools used when chasing include radar, satellite, surface observations, surface and upper-air maps, and Skew-T Log P Diagrams. Overall, forecasting and then watching the evolution of a thunderstorm in real-time is the most comprehensive way for atmospheric science and meteorology students to gain (quite literally) field experience.
As you can imagine, driving after these storms and waiting for their development to unfold in front of your eyes is a rush. The air is typically warm and moist, though it can be cool, and typically extremely windy. Your adrenaline gets pumping, and you’re anxiously awaiting the perfect photo-op. For those of you thinking about going on that first chase soon or for the relatively newbies like myself, I’ve put together some helpful tips to make your chase more comfortable and successful!
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© 2018 Meteorologist Amber Liggett
DISCUSSION: As the Northern Hemisphere gets closer and closer to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, it is imperative to know that it only takes one storm to forever change your life, your family, and your community. On that note there are several things that a person can do well ahead of the impacts of any given tropical cyclone. Before stating any of the preparation measures one can take, it is imperative to recognize the fact that no one is ever helpless when it comes to prepare yourself for tropical cyclones threats since there is always something everyone can do.
First and foremost, everyone should always have a plan in place, so you are as ready as physically possible if the time should come to evacuate due to an approaching tropical cyclone. First, it is imperative to have a viable evacuation route and know when and how you would plan to leave to avoid hitting an abundance of traffic on your way out of town. This is a critical factor since if you are stuck in traffic as the storm is beginning to make landfall, this can be an incredibly dangerous precedent due to the threat of storm surge and wind increasing. Second, it is critical to always have an emergency kit at the ready, so you are medically and logistically prepared if the worst should happen.
Within such an emergency kit one should have items such as (but certainly not limited to) pertinent medications, a 7-day supply of food and water, energy bars, batteries, flashlights, blankets, all device chargers, pets, etc. Thus, even if you happen to be without basic resources for a prolonged period, you would not get caught in an unnecessarily challenging situation. Another critical thing is to know where you would be going during such a situation, so you are not scrambling for distant hotels to seek refuge from the approaching storm. Another important action item is to make sure that anything loose near your house and/or apartment is safely secured so such objects do not become air-borne projectiles as the sustained wind speeds increase with the approaching storm.
As always, it is best to always take preemptive precautionary measures well ahead of any tropical cyclone threat, so you have more time and flexibility to get things done. Furthermore, it is always important to stay up-to-date with local National Weather Service forecasts as well as outlooks issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center, so you are aware of potential tropical cyclone threat(s) well ahead of the critical hours leading up to a potential landfall from a given storm.
To learn more about other important weather and weather-related topics pertaining to both safety and preparedness, be sure to click here!
© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz