Seattle Photo-1924

Seattle climate: Pacific Marine. Around late September to early October, the switch flips and the High pressure ridge no longer holds. The sunny, temperate summer (July 4th–September 20th) is gone, Jack. A few bigger storms move in (more wind and relatively more rain). In come the clouds, and the drizzle, and because we’re at 48 degrees north latitude, the darkness.

As for snow, there’s plenty of moisture around, but getting the moisture AND the cold air together is tough. The cold air dams behind the Cascades and up high and in Eastern Washington. Sometimes it drains through the Fraser River valley and spills over Seattle. You might not get any snow for a winter or two, or you might get 1-2 weeks of below freezing temps, and 2-24 inches of snow on the ground before it melts with the next rain. Lots of variability.

Dress in layers with moisture protection. The difference between the rare sun on your skin and walking through a damp, chill fog could be 15-20 degrees. Expect low light, and sunrise as you go to work and sunset before you leave.

Join a club…and get some good exercise. Wait for late April or May to start seeing real sunny days again.

How Close Is Too Close?-A Few Links On The 2013 El Reno Tornado

Dan Robinson was the guy heading south, then rapidly east, in the hopes of staying on a parallel northward track to the May 31st, 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma tornado. I can appreciate a man driving towards such a thing.

In his words:

‘I was not trying to get close. I knew from how the tornado first appeared that it would be very large, violent and dangerous. My goal was simply to remain in a good position for photography and video, which I felt would be best with the tornado backlit by the bright skies to the southwest. I wanted to be just close enough to have a high-contrast view.

It turns out that particular evening, many of the variables leading to supercell formation, and even EF5 tornado formation, were in place. So many were in place, in fact, that this became one of the most violent and dangerous tornadoes ever recorded.

It changed directions suddenly. It slowed down to 5 mph and sped up to nearly 50 mph. 2.6 miles wide at one point? 300 mph wind?

Eight people died.

The guy in a Toyota Yaris, slipping on a wet, gravely Oklahoma road unable to disable traction control doesn’t exactly come off a hero. The guy suddenly racing for his life, enveloped in the outer wind-field, is easily criticized. Bigger balls than many? Maybe. Stupid enough to get killed? Possibly.

Thanks, Dan, for chasing on your own dime, sharing your information, and respecting the wishes of the families of those in the car behind you. That was the last anyone saw of them.

It is what it is.

From the Weather Service video below: A small percentage of the world’s surface supports the kinds of extreme clashing air masses found on the U.S. plains.  Very few thunderstorms become supercells, and very few of those supercells form tornadoes.  Even fewer tornadoes become violent F4 and F5 monsters which spawn sub-vortices and anti-cyclones.

The El Reno, Oklahoma tornado from 2013 took the lives of eight people, including experienced stormchasers known for their judgment and contributions to the rest of us.

A sad day.

‘Grabby’ Aliens, A Beautiful Funnel Of Air & A Few Past Links

I tend to be skeptical of guys who, upon their deaths, freeze their heads into perpetuity. Probabilistically, though, I suppose it could be a bet worth taking.

We could use more outside-the-box thinkers with real-world experience making bets on where to fruitfully think.

Our institutions have more rot than usual, and dangerous capture. There are too many prizes, too many piles of old money, and not enough brains and courage.

I’m of a mind to say Nature is beyond value judgment (I judge things all the time, but Nature doesn’t seem to care). The people I love and who love me, do care about me (as long as we’re here).

God? Maybe. The universe: Unclear. The little I know of the laws of the universe suggest more of the same Nature I’ve known here on Earth.

Beauty plays a key part in understanding the world. It can both anchor us into our own bodies and experiences, while keeping us searching for new experiences. Truth has a clear empirical element in my thinking, and refers to a world I believe genuinely exists. Collecting data about the world is a lot like actually referring back to the book you’re quoting, or asking the other person what they’re really thinking…then listening.

Beautiful and dangerous. Maybe the tornado is telling you something? Maybe not.

Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

Related On This Site: From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’…

Roger Sandall, Australian critic of romantic primitivism and the Western’s Left’s penchant for the Noble Savage: His home page where his essays can be found. Here’s “The Rise Of The Anthropologues“ and…

A Link On China, Crazy Days In Seattle & Some Tornadoes-Oh, There Will Be Rules

I imagine maintaining legitimate authority over a civilization with a Han Chinese core, new wealth and a lot of poorer, more traditional, family based ‘units’ (collectivism dies hard) isn’t easy.  Add in a vast, geographical area containing various religious and ethnic groups spread over the boundaries of ancient empires.

Whoever’s in charge will have to deal with a declining birth rate, while still promising rapid economic growth and a lavish lifestyle; a piece of the pie distributed through a lot of top-down private and public control, all led by an currently authoritarian, strong-man Communist apparatus that never really went away.

I could easily see how party messaging enhances Nationalist identity against enemies foreign (Korea, Japan, Russia, the U.S.) and domestic (traitors, the insufficiently loyal).

Belt and road politics is global, and the way many in China view their role in the world is not necessarily how we in the West view the world.

This is a clear potential source of conflict:

Having a lot of people unifying around the ideals of racism (the ‘-Isms) and equality, often with a kind of religious fervor, is pretty common these days, but what if you disagree?  What about violence?  How do these ideals work in the practice of creating or maintaining legitimate authority?

Alas, it’s Seattle.

The price of ‘integrating’ radicals who believe very little in any legitimate authority usually means buying off those radicals (playing the politics game very well) with public monies and shiny new programs.

It’s better to think of radicals as cult members, really.   True-beliving, intolerant, crazed cult members, unable to live a world with different experiences from their own, nor differences of thought, opinion and behavior.

What could go wrong with inmates running the asylum?

Oh, there will be rules-New liberty away from Hobbes…rule-following punishers?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

That’s about as close as I’ve seen anyone get!

Moving along, are you into tornadoes, and maybe interested in gathering some useful data along the way?

Watch the video below.

Help build better models. The better understood the variables, the better the models become, and the more predictive they become.

Accurate prediction[s] save lives:

The Weather At Home & Journalists In Egypt-Two Tuesday Links

Alexis Madrigal At The Atlantic-Talking About The Weather: The Next Level:’

Some good weather links and a nod to climate science, but also climate science as a defining and organizing worldview for a healthy percentage of the readership, I imagine:

‘There are three general types of resources here. First, there are people and institutions that analyze the weather and tell us about them. The second category is unfiltered public weather data and imagery. And the last tranche of resources deliver forecasts or computer models on which forecasts are based.’

Joshua Hersh at the New Yorker: ‘Journalism Becomes A Crime In Egypt:’

‘For foreign journalists, who were tolerated under the Brotherhood but have never been viewed with great affection in Cairo, the steep decline in working conditions hit bottom in December, when the police busted down the door of an upscale hotel suite that served as the offices for Al Jazeera’s English-language channel and dragged away the staff.’

The democratically-elected/peaceful uprising vision of the Arab Spring would have been nice (inside every Egyptian is a freedom-desiring human waiting to get out and possibly build democratic institutions), but we’ve gone from Mubarrak to Al-Sisi most likely, and a deep-State still controlled by the military.

At what cost our current committments?  How are we best able to secure and advance our interests?

What’s our strategy?

Quote by Jeanne Kirkpatrick:

In his essay Representative Government, John Stuart Mill identified three fundamental conditions which the Carter administration would do well to ponder.  These are: “One, that the people should be willing to receive it [representative government]; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them.”

-From Dictatorship And Double Standards.

Related On This SiteNancy Okail At Freedom House: “‘Muslim Rage’ and the Politics of Distraction in Egypt’From Al Jazeera English: ‘Morsi Wins Egypt’s Presidential Election’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…are we still on a liberalizing, Westernizing trajectory?, however slow the pace? Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Via Youtube: ‘Massive Boulder, CO Flood, Sep 12th, 2013’


Thanks to a reader for the link.

Video taken by a local resident and Bad Astronomy blogger familiar with the area.  Remember, floods kill more people than any other natural disaster.  The energy the water carries is deceptively powerful.   Safe places can become very unsafe, very quickly.  Once you’re swept away, that’s usually the end of you.

This is probably a 50 or 100 year flood, with some areas in the foothills receiving as much as 8 inches of rain in a few hours.   The area’s also had fires recently, causing less soil absorption so all that water flows down and picks up an especially nasty mix at the front end.  Thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost and/or missing.

National Weather Service statement here.

In the mountains, it doesn’t always have to rain where you are for flash flooding to occur.  Avoid low places and arroyos.  Know your terrain and stay aware of the weather.  Fascinating video of rainwater and debris flow making its way into washes in southern Utah.  Don’t try this at home:


If you’re into this stuff, check out The Landslide Blog.  Great and current videos from around the world of erosion, earth movement, flash flooding, debris flows in different materials, geology, etc.  You can get sucked in and carried away (ha-ha)

Here’s a video from JPL discussing features on Mars that indicate drainage, liquid flow and similar features here on Earth. Evidence of an ancient liquid past and a current dry environment is one mystery the Curiosity Rover is trying to solve by going to Mt. Sharp.  Go Rover!

Red Cross information here.

R.I.P. StormChasers-Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras & Carl Young

NBC video here.

National Geographic had what would be a final interview with Tim Samaras.

Some final tweets.  Weatherspace has more here, with information about the El Reno tornado.

Addition: The El Reno tornado was a record 2 1/2 miles wide.  Video here.  It’s easy to see when a few miles wide tornado spins off multiple vortices, hits in the evening, and is rain-wrapped, that even veteran chasers can underestimate it.    It’s like the supercell is dragging its belly on the ground.


As a blogger and writer and weather-interested layman:

I suspect everyone’s been moved by the beauty of nature, and felt wonder, fear, and awe at its power and mystery. Some people keep going back and try to figure out how it works as well. There’s an element of thrill-seeking to the hunt, and adrenalin, no doubt. It’s extremely risky chasing down tornadoes time and again, putting yourself so dangerously close, but the goal is to know more, and to stay as safe as possible under the circumstances.

There’s been a lot of data gathered and science done that has drastically improved forecasting, preparation and warning time, and our understanding of tornadoes. That’s no doubt saved many lives. Storm-chasers also bear witness to the death and destruction in the wake of tornadoes, so to everyone who’s suffered, my condolences.

It might be helpful to the Samaras family to visit his site as he has a DVD for sale.

Here’s Tim Samaras discussing his work in 2004. R.I.P.


And Tim Samaras at work:


Related On This Site:  The Greensburg Tornado on Doppler Radar…Tornadoes In Major Cities: Atlanta

From The Weather Channel: 3D Image Of The Tuscaloosa Tornado April 27th, 2011Tornadoes! Some LinksThe Greensburg Tornado on Doppler RadarTornadoes In Major Cities: AtlantaFrom NOAA: Tornado Safety GuideFrom CBS St. Louis: ‘UPDATED: Video of the Joplin Twister’

From Weather Underground: Moore/Oklahoma City Tornado May 20th, 2013

From Weather Underground: Moore/Oklahoma City Tornado May 20th, 2013

Update here.

A revised 24 deaths. Video taken by local man and posted on Facebook.  Before and after photo.

Uncut video.

WMCTV in Memphis has video footage of the tornado from a helicopter.

Stu Ostro has a high-res color image of the storms.

KFOR TV in Oklahoma City livestream here.  CNN has good coverage.  If you want to help, the local chapter of the American Red Cross here.  Shelters open. More on tornado safety here.

Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

A mile wide, EF5, the track here, moved just south of Oklahoma City, through Moore, devastating some neighborhoods.


The scope of the damage, or debris zone, is three times greater than the May 3rd, 1999 tornado.  Here’s a video of that tornado.


Related On This Site:  The Greensburg Tornado on Doppler Radar…Tornadoes In Major Cities: Atlanta

From The Weather Channel: 3D Image Of The Tuscaloosa Tornado April 27th, 2011Tornadoes! Some LinksThe Greensburg Tornado on Doppler RadarTornadoes In Major Cities: AtlantaFrom NOAA: Tornado Safety GuideFrom CBS St. Louis: ‘UPDATED: Video of the Joplin Twister’

Via Youtube: March 2nd, 2012 Henryville, Indiana tornado

A view of the tornado from the south. More with Greg Forbes, at the Weather Channel. More from Jeff Masters at Weather Underground on the outbreak. Via the IndyStar, some more video and eyewitness reports.  Via the Tucson Citizen:

‘In Henryville, an EF-4 tornado — the second-highest on the Fujita scale that measures tornadic force — brought 175-mph winds and stayed on the ground for more than 50 miles’

As always, thoughts and prayers with those lost, their families and loved ones, and the communities affected.

Addition:  Link sent in by a reader.  Surveillance camera footage from the Henryville Junior/Senior High School.

Related On This Site:   From The Weather Channel: 3D Image Of The Tuscaloosa Tornado April 27th, 2011Tornadoes! Some LinksThe Greensburg Tornado on Doppler RadarTornadoes In Major Cities: AtlantaFrom NOAA: Tornado Safety GuideFrom CBS St. Louis: ‘UPDATED: Video of the Joplin Twister’

Add to Technorati Favorites

From CBS St. Louis: ‘UPDATED: Video of the Joplin Twister’

Full post here.

A gathering of videos at the link above.  The deadliest tornado in Missouri history, and one of the 10 deadliest single tornadoes in U.S. history.

Via the Christian Post:

Joplin, Mo., officials have updated the death toll from Sunday’s tornado to 142′

A confirmed EF5 moved across southern Joplin on Sunday night May 22nd, 2011, causing heavy damage and loss of life.  Thoughts and prayers go out to the survivors.  The Weather Channel has more.

Doppler Radar here. Helicopter video survey of the tornado’s path.  Joplin crowdmap site (online bulletin board for recovery efforts).  Some video of the tornado’s formation and passing through Joplin, and damage afterwards.

Addition:  The Weather Channel has an update on today’s tornado threat, listing key ingredients to tornadic supercell thunderstorm formation.

Another Addition:  The Daily Mail has before and after satellite images.

Related On This Site:   From The Weather Channel: 3D Image Of The Tuscaloosa Tornado April 27th, 2011Tornadoes! Some LinksThe Greensburg Tornado on Doppler RadarTornadoes In Major Cities: Atlanta

Add to Technorati Favorites