When weather stalls bad things can happen. That was certainly the case this week: biggest tornado outbreak of the year so far (EF-4 strength in Arkansas), biblical 26-inch rains near Pensacola and raging wildfires outside Los Angeles.
A few take-aways from the latest tornado swarm. 1). Most of us are drowning in data, but NOAA Weather Radio is still the most effective way to get life-saving warnings, especially at night, when tornadoes produce a disproportionate number of deaths. 2). Research at the University of Alabama suggests that garage doors are often the weakest link in the chain. Once the garage doors come off the combination of wind & pressure can tear away at a home's structure. If you don't have a basement consider skipping a family vacation and reinforcing a closet to be a "safe room". You may thank yourself down the road.
A weak clipper sparks a few showers today - but the weekend looks dry with 50s and a ration of desperately needed sun. Sunday showers may brush southern Minnesota.
No hot fronts are imminent but we'll see 60s, even 70F by the middle of next week, with a few scattered T-storms. April was 5F cooler than average.
Welcome to the (very) reluctant spring of '14.
Photo credit above: "In Foley, Alabama, some people couldn't get out of their homes on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, after flood waters surrounded their homes, many of which are built on stilts. The National Weather Service says the Fish River peaked at a record high level of 23.18 feet after more than 22 inches of rain fell in the area over two days. Some residents said the flooding was the worst they had ever seen." (AP Photo/Alex Sanz).
6.06" Unionside, NJ
5.98" 5 miles SW of Queens, NY (NYC)
5.82" Roslyn Heights, NY
5.72" Midwood, Brooklyn (NYC)
5.12" Central Park (NYC)
Also: Baltimore, MD finished 0.1" shy of a new record for an April rainfall record.
BWI Airport: 8.60" of rain in April; Record (1889): 8.70" Wednesday's 3.06" of rain at BWI airport tied a daily record (1947).
* data courtesy of Chris Bianchi at WeatherNation.
Photo credit above: "This Monday, April 28, 2014 aerial photo shows destroyed buildings and debris along U.S. Highway 64 in Vilonia, Arkansas. Vilonia was hit hard Sunday for the second time in three years. Four people were killed in a 2011 storm. Until this late April 2014 outbreak, the U.S. as a whole had by far the quietest start of the year for tornadoes. Longer trends show more tornado clusters recently." (AP Photo/Danny Johnston).
Photo credit above: "In this Sunday, April 27, 2014 photo, a person walks past cars strewn across Interstate 40 when a tornado struck the town of Mayflower, Ark. A tornado system ripped through several states in the central U.S. and left more than a dozen dead in a violent start to this year's storm season, officials said." (AP Photo/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Benjamin Krain).
* more details on using weather satellites to track tornadic storms from Space Daily.
Photo credit above: "Dr. Andrew Graettinger, a University of Alabama researcher, examines a safe room that survived the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, in May 2013."
Photo credit above: "Dr. Beverly Goodman conducts research in the Mediterranean Sea." Photo: MGM LABORATORY.
Image credit above: Matthias Töpfer/flickr.
- From Gavin Schmidt's TED Talk. Details below.
The Right Lessons From Chernobyl. Clean, renewable power is the long-term answer, but in the short term solar, wind, geothermal, tides, etc won't be able to provide the scale we need to keep the lights on and the economy powered up. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from The New York Times where they argue that the world still needs nuclear, with a few caveats: "...The center notes that since 1990 nuclear power has consistently supplied about one-fifth of the nation’s electricity and more than 60 percent of all zero-carbon electricity. The watchword here and in the world at large should be prudence. Prudence in the design, maintenance and operation of all nuclear facilities. Prudence also in the sense that policy makers not be spooked into shutting down a vital source of clean energy in a warming world. The great shield over Chernobyl should also entomb unfounded fears of using nuclear power in the future..."
Photo credit: The Atlantic.