Friday, April 29, 2011

Article On The Tornado Disaster From NY Times

I read an article from the NY Times this morning (Friday April 29th) that has to be one of the worst weather articles I've seen - ever!  The entire article can be found at:
I have numerous problems with the article, including it's lack of a coherent focus, the "experts" consulted, and its statements about forecasting. There is always lots of marginal, or erroneous, information blowing around in the media after such a devastating and tragic event, but I find this article particularly onerous - it reads like it spewed out of a word processor from Cuisinart. The front page artcle in the Tucson Star (an AP story) was much better reporting with some actual information from recognized experts on tornadic storms. Regardless, the following are some selected excerpts from the Times artcile:
April 29, 2011

Predicting Tornadoes: It's Still Guessing Game


Tornado records have been shattered and scientists can only guess when and where tornadoes will actually strike.
“There’s a large crapshoot aspect,” said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. “A little quirky thing can set one off at one time, and another time not.”
Tornadoes need warm, moist air interacting with faster, cooler air. That much scientists know for sure.
“There’s a lot we understand about tornadoes,” Dr. Trenberth said. “They’re tied to thunderstorms, and also require something that will cause the rotation to occur, a wind shear.”
“Tornadoes are tougher,” said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground, an Internet-based weather service.

Many climate models, for example, predict a weakening upper atmosphere jet stream over time on a warming planet, Dr. Masters said, which would presumably create less energy for tornado formation. But some of those same models also suggest wetter conditions in tornado country, which is the other key ingredient in storm formation.
The population of the South grew by 14.3 percent over the last decade, according to the Census Bureau, compared with 9.7 percent for the nation as a whole. Of those states hardest hit by tornadoes this year, some were among the fastest growing, notably Texas and North Carolina.
Much of the new construction took place on flat areas of flood plain, meteorologists say, where rains from storms in years past spread across the earth and either evaporated or were absorbed. The water now runs across pavement, seeking lower ground rendered more vulnerable to flood. (?????)
And yet, since that crucial element of weather prediction is missing — when and where the next tornado hit might come — the question of trust and faith, if not fatalism, is easy to find. If scientists cannot be sure — or trusted, as doubters of climate change might say — then where should an ordinary person on the ground turn for solace or strength in the raging maw of a storm?
Red highlighting is mine - I can't go on about this; my bloodpressure is already redlining!

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