Happy 150th Birthday, Union Pacific Railroad!

President Lincoln chartered the Union Pacific because he believed it was essential for the growing nation for California and the West to be connected to the rest of the county. Until the Union Pacific, it took weeks (via hiking through Panama) or months (sailing around South America) to get from the east to the west coasts.  

Union Pacific is a client of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions and it is our pleasure to contribute in a small way to their success.  

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When University of Oklahoma Scientists Aren’t Studying Tornadoes, They are Studying…

…fecal bacteria and its possible connection to obesity. Turns out that modern antibiotics may have caused unfavorable changes in our digestive systems. The thinking is that by injecting bacteria from King Tut’s era into our guts, it would repopulate our systems in a manner that lessens the chances of obesity. Details here.

Now scientists from the University of Oklahoma have proposed an unexpected solution: Why not replenish our gut flora using fecal bacteria from ancient mummies as a guide?

Of course, storm chasing was invented at OU. Given the choice between going on a storm chase or getting King Tut’s bacteria injected into my gut. I believe I’d prefer the former. While you make up your mind, you can learn more about King Tut and his history from Steve Martin.

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What if All of These News Stories Are Factually Wrong?

The last day or so, there has been a deluge of articles alleging 

Outlet after outlet reported this story the last 24 hours. And, they are all wrong. That is not what the study says.

An comment on Instapundit prompted me to get a copy of the study itself (as opposed to a press release about the study). The paper can be downloaded here and I encourage you to read for yourself.  The question asked isn’t about faith in science at all. It is about faith in scientists.  

Here is the pertinent part of the paper on p. 172, right-hand column:

“As far as the people running these institutions are concerned, would you say you have a great deal of confidence, only some confidence, or hardly any confidence at all in them [the Scientific Community]?”

The study asks about scientists as opposed to science. That is a huge difference! Fakegate, Climategate 1 and 2, “Hide the Decline,” etc., etc., etc. gives well-educated people (according to the study, the most skeptical among conservatives) more than ample reason not to trust scientists! 

The news coverage would also lead one to believe that conservatives are the most skeptical. Again, the coverage is wrong. Here is the pertinent graph from the paper:

Since the start of the polling in 1974, “moderates” have been the most skeptical toward scientists, not conservatives. While the gap has closed in recent years, the differences are insignificant. 

The graph uses a technique known as the three-year moving average. The big drop in conservative views toward scientists occurs from 1986 to 1990. Guess what happens in the middle of that period? Yep. The phony Congressional hearing on ‘global warming’ in 1988

…former Senator Timothy Wirth (D., Co.), now head of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, revels in having engaged with Gore in precisely such ploys for the first “global warming” hearing, chaired by Gore himself, in 1988:

TIMOTHY WIRTH: We called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6th or June 9th or whatever it was. So we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo, it was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it.


DEBORAH AMOS: [on camera] Did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?


TIMOTHY WIRTH: What we did is that we went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room. And so when the- when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and double figures, but it was really hot.


The wonderful Jim Hansen [NB: still Gore's advisor and cheerleader today] was wiping his brow at the table at the hearing, at the witness table, and giving this remarkable testimony.

Frontline then showed the desired shot of a sweaty Hansen that made the national news coverage of what Wirth laughingly calls “stagecraft”. That’s one word for it.

“Ploys.” “opening windows” on the “hottest day.” With this type of unscientific nonsense, it seems the conservative community is rightly skeptical of scientists and has more than ample reason.  

This type of lazy, ideological news coverage — that misstates what is measured in the study — does America a tremendous disservice. Regardless of your political views, the number one thing we should be able to expect in the news media is accuracy. Unfortunately, this is another example of advocacy masquerading as journalism.  

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Winter Wheat Rainfall

Here is a map of precipitation for the last ninety days:

It is still too dry in the High Plains. Farther east, rainfall has been adequate to generous for this year’s winter wheat. 

The wheat, due to its rapid development, is vulnerable to a late season freeze. 

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Kechi Clouds

Happy to report that, so far, no tornadoes have been reported with tonight’s thunderstorms. There have been a number of reports of large hail, including some more than two inches in diameter.

I took this photo of a hail shaft (behind the street light and radio tower) earlier this evening looking west from Kechi, Kansas. 

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Watches in Effect

Strong thunderstorms are now occurring from southeast Nebraska to northwest Oklahoma.

The pink is a tornado watch between Topeka and Omaha.  The blue is a severe thunderstorm watch.

Please keep an eye on the weather in these areas this evening!

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Storms Developing Rapidly

At 5:52pm, the top of the thunderstorms about 50 mi. WSW of Kansas City are visible from downtown.

AccuWeather regional radar shows three areas of strong thunderstorms that are moving slowly ENE.

and, the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the region until midnight. It includes Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan.


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Stormy Night in the Missouri Valley?

Looks like it. 

I took this photo of the thunderstorms approaching downtown Kansas City just a few moments ago. 

Thunderstorm approaches Kansas City 4:40pm CDT

AccuWeather regional radar shows the thunderstorms depicted above at right, new thunderstorms rapidly developing in Kansas’ Flint Hills (center), and a strong cluster of storms in southern Nebraska (upper left). 

AccuWeather Regional Radar 4:40pm CDT

Stay tuned. I believe there will be strong to, possibly, severe storms scattered over the area during the night. 

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Are Tornadoes Increasing?

Last week, here on the blog, I answered the question of whether tornadoes are “getting worse.” The answer is clearly no

At today’s AccuWeather B2B tornado seminar in Omaha this morning I was asked if all tornadoes are increasing. I explained the answer is a very qualified no but I am less certain about that answer. 

Here is a brand new graph from the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Dr. Harold Brooks. It shows all tornadoes from F-1 to F-5 intensity from 1950 to 2011. It would tend to indicate an increase. This graph does not include the very weak F-0 tornadoes which have clearly increased due strictly to storm chasing, i.e., if chasing didn’t exist very few of those would ever be reported. 

Here is why I conclude the correct answer is “no” in spite of the opposite being indicated by the graph.

First, as I learned when I was researching Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather, the numbers from 1950-54 are imprecise and many were collected after the fact. I suspect those numbers are too low. 

So, I have added an orange box to the graph for the years 1955-2010. I eliminated 2011 because it is such an outlier that it distorts the end of the graph (as a graph from 1955-1974 would have lead one to conclude a rapidly rising rate that didn’t really exist). 

If you focus on the graph within the orange box, the rate of rise is so small it may not be significant from a statistical point of view. This is especially true when you consider that both storm chasing and Doppler radar might have tended to inflate the numbers during the last 15 years.  


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Pro-Global Warming Behavior Exactly As Forecast

This is was posted last week in a comment pertaining to Fakegate (I do not know the name of the commenter):

On the whole AGW theory supporters will do anything but talk about the science. They do make broad sweeping claims that are not reflected by the data. They don’t just stop at ‘it’s bad’ but insist on ‘it’s rapidly getting worse’. It takes but a few minutes for a sceptic to prove that by any metric you can think of, save maybe Arctic ice, it is not getting worse. If they’d lie about something so easy to prove, one is left with the only conclusion that they’d lie about the lot. Claiming cold events as proof of AGW has to be the lamest and most credibility busting act of all. They could just say that cold events are still to be expected under natural variation but no, they have to kick their cause into the long green grass of loony land.

Bolding mine. 

I thought about the above assertion when I was tweeted this story by an environmental journalist today that ties the recent warmth in the U.S. east of the Rockies to — what else — global warming. 

Daily record highs have been falling in droves across the region, with some remarkable occurrences. One weather station in Michigan hit 85°F, breaking the previous daily record high by an unheard of 32°, which is also 48° above average. Two stations recorded low temperatures that beat the previous record high, something that experienced weatherman Jeff Masters had never seen before. This record warmth is not confined to the United States. Several Canadian cities surpassed both their all-time March and April records this week, an amazing feat considering the vast differences between March and April during a normal spring.

This historic heat wave was also associated with the most humid air ever observed this early in the year in the Midwest. An increase in high-humidity heat waves is undesirable because the humidity increases the heat index and prevents nighttime cooling, both of which increase the health impacts of heat events.

Unfortunately, global warming is loading the dice in favor of events like this.

So, how long does it take to use the science to prove the above is patently false? Less time than it takes me to type this. 

The central and eastern U.S. warm weather started in February when world temperatures were below normal.

If world temperatures are colder than normal there cannot be "global warming"

Here is a map of world temperature departures from normal in February, 2012:

From Danish Meteorological Bureau

Note the extraordinary cold from Europe to Russia. The warming in north central Asia is likely overstated as there are very, very few measuring stations there. This data agrees with the worldwide temperature graph that — over all — the world was cooler than normal in February. 

The March numbers are not available yet, but I expect them to be cool, as well. Why? Because temperatures, just about everywhere in the world except the eastern two-thirds of the U.S., have been colder than normal.  The weather pattern is essentially the same as for February. 

So, here is yet another pro-global warming panic story that could be proven false with less than five minutes of work.

Oh, and by the way, even sea ice is getting better (see below):

The bottom line: The people at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions wrote about global warming that didn’t exist causing conditions that were highly localized — not global. Their posting was advocacy, not science. Exactly the behavior the commenter described.

Is this the behavior of people confident the science is on their side?

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More on Storm Chase Touring Companies

Last week, I was quoted in an article at AccuWeather.com about the safe way for novices to see storms which is signing up with a reputable storm chase company. Here is an article about Tempest Tours, one of several companies offering to take you to see the storms. 

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