From the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting, Part 1

Hello from New Orleans. I’ve never been to a scientific meeting before with Marti Gras floats passing in front of a convention center escorted by police cars.

Trying to take all of this in is like drinking from a fire hose. Still, I promised I would pass along interesting info and I’ll do just that.

I do wish to comment on the overwhelming response to the “Poor Journalism” post below. Wow. Thousands have read it and I’ve received dozens and dozens of emails. For the record, I did submit a comment to ABC News and I hope they will correct the record.

And, without being self-serving: If you know a journalist, or anyone else, who is skeptical of storm warnings, please recommend Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather.  It is an easy, non-technical read that will explain how the warning system works and the rapid, live-saving progress we have made.

Now, back to the AMS meeting.

There was an interesting presentation on a story first broken on this blog, the lack of warning when the tornado struck the St. Louis Airport on Good Friday evening, 2011. The presenter was Andrew Freedman of the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. Andrew wrote a two part story about the fiasco in St. Louis.

Andrew filled us in on some new details:

  • When the airport finally got word of the tornado (from an employee calling from home!), they evacuated the airport (not FAA’s) control tower. As this blog and the Post’s series said at the time, the airport people did not tell either the people in the terminal or the airline employees!
  • The damage was so extensive that Terminal 1 at the STL airport is still closed.
  • And, as has been reported here several times, and written about in Warnings, the FAA does not consider tornado warnings to be an aviation-specific product and does not distribute them on the aviation weather communications systems! This is just as true today as when I first wrote the book!
  • Bottom line: Unless you are at Denver or one of the (few) other airports that have made independent contingency plans, you are at great risk if a tornado approaches. 
More from the AMS tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “From the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting, Part 1

  1. Glad you were there for the presentation Mike. You've done important work calling attention to this incident and broader issue of tornadoes and airports. Best,