Courtesy 3aodiaThe largest study ever of tornadoes is now underway in the central plains of the United States. Named Vortex2, the study will involve over 100 storm chasers from several countries and a fleet of movable weather equipment, including mobile weather stations, radar, and balloon launch platforms. Forty well-equipped vehicles will be crisscrossing the back roads of the Midwest throughout Tornado Alley, the area stretching between West Texas and southwestern Minnesota. Their mission is to closely track developing storms and find and gather information about tornadoes, one of Nature’s most destructive weather forces. (Last week’s devastating tornado in Yazoo City, Mississippi tore a path 1.75 mile wide and stayed on the ground for nearly 150 miles).
This is actually phase two of the study. Phase one began in the spring of 2009 which, unfortunately for the researchers, was an historically low period for tornadoes. There was one bright spot last year in Wyoming, where the storm chasers were well prepared and made what was probably the most thorough study of a tornado in history.
The original Vortex project took place in 1994-95 with a follow-up four years later called Vortex-99. But Roger Wakimoto, director of the Earth Observing Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said those studies raised more questioned than they answered.
"We are still struggling to find out what actually triggers tornado generation," he said. "It's very difficult to get detailed data. These things are very transient."
Maybe this year things will be different, and questions about the how, why, when, and where of tornadoes will get answered. One interesting hypothesis the Vortex2 team hopes to settle is the one that claims tornadoes may actually start on the ground and reach up to the clouds, countering the popular notion that twisters descend from the sky. Support for this theory includes eyewitness reports of ground damage occurring prior to a funnel cloud’s arrival, and the fact that similar but less destructive phenomenon like dust devils and waterspout do just that, start on the ground and rise up into the sky.
Of course, there are plenty of other questions about the nature of tornadoes to answer, and the storm chasers hope to do so. But I have a feeling - with the Vortex2 team - the fun is all in the chase anyway.
Vortex story at Forbes.com
More about Vortex2 on the Weather Channel website
Videos about Vortex2 at Worldnews.com (The tornado in a soap bubble video is great!)
Brief overview of tornadoes by George Pararas-Carayannis
Courtesy NASAGot this image from NASA's "image of the day" feature yesterday. Its beautiful, awe-inspiring. And also, a bit scary that these are the kinds of clouds associated with lightning, high wind speeds and tornadoes - things that can be fun (I love a good harmless thunderstorm) and also devastating. Learn more about cumulonimbus clouds here.
I just saw a video of how and why giant tubes of water are better than sand bagging to protect homes against flooding (click link to see video).
No, this isn't about the Tea Party movement. With all the snowstorms sweeping the country this week, a researcher is trying to determine if all 50 states have measureable snow on their lands right now. Here's the full story. He's pretty sure this hasn't happened in a long time, if ever.
Courtesy jasonpearce Housing for Haitians may already be on hand. Sturdy, earthquake and hurricane proof, shipping containers often sit empty in port yards because exporting empty containers is not cost effective.
Pernille Christensen, at Clemson’s School of Architecture, along with Martha Skinner and Doug Hecker, have been working to develop a method to convert the shipping containers into homes.
“Because of the shipping container’s ‘unibody’ construction they are also very good in seismic zones and exceed structural code in the United States and any country in the world,” associate professor Hecker said.
“You get people back in their communities and it strengthens those communities,” Christensen said. “They work on their home, not a temporary shelter, and then they work with their neighbors to rebuild the neighborhood. It leads to a healthier and safer community. And these are places often in dire need of better housing.”
The current cold snap may be more than just a blip. Two leading climate researchers have found evidence that the Earth may be heading into a cooling period which could last 20 to 30 years. Better keep those snowshoes handy!
Have you notice that this year is a bit different than these past few years? There is climate changes and I have found out that there is many places that have unusual weather going on. To find out what kind of weather is happening at other people's location I posted up a question on answers.yahoo.com (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ai6ehEHIOirNwIoaUPUQaEAazKI...) to see if the weather is really a sign or a warning of 2012.
Courtesy Della XiongFor an example. In Minnesota, on Spring there wasn't as much rain as it usually did every year. September was the month that has the most rain. It seems as if September was Spring instead of Fall. And going towards October their were a couple days that have snowed, it was unexpected. It's like the weather shifted a month forward. So for me the cause of 2012 could be the weather, but I wasn't sure about it so I ask another question "Is the changing of the weather a sign of 2012? on answers.yahoo.com to get peoples opinion. (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Agak5C7_ZvFnrKhAwJySvp0azKI...) The answer that I get was no. Most of them said the changing weather is just a symptoms of global warming and climate changes that is caused by human and this made me think that they could be right about it. So what is your opinion? And what do you think of the weather? Do you think the weather has anything to do with 2012?
Courtesy tree & j hensdill
Well, summer is officially over. The Weather Service switched to fall on September 1. The rest of the country likes to wait until the day after Labor Day. (The folks who hold out for the equinox are delusional, and best ignored.) So, it's time to update our on-going study comparing summer temperatures to winter temperatures.
For those of you just joining us, last February Buzz blogger extraordinaire Candace noted that the winter of 2008-2009 had been unusually warm. She asked if this meant the following summer would also be warm.
Well, I went to the website of the National Space Science and Technology Center, which very conveniently records the temperature for each month going back to December 1978. I crunched the numbers and found that, yes, there was a connection. Though summer temps fluctuate year-to-year, about half of that fluctuation can be tied to changes in winter temps.
Armed with this information, we anxiously awaited the temperature record from summer 2009. The results are in, and...
...well, this was obviously part of the other half. The winter of 2008-2009 was the 4th warmest in the recording period. The summer of 2009, however, was dead smack in the middle -- 16th out of 31. So disparate were these results that they actually brought down the average for the entire study period: the impact of winter temps on summer temps is now down to just 45%.
Still, for something as complicated as weather, that's a huge impact. So, while the winter-summer connection can't predict what will happen in any given year, over the long run it does still hold true.
Tune in next year for another exciting update!