When Two Paradigms Are Better Than One

By: Dr. Susan Jasko

In many regions of the United States, it is severe weather season. Traveling around the country, you might find yourself facing tropical storms, intense straight-line winds, a derecho, flooding, hail large enough to demand you wear a helmet, lightning, and of course, tornadoes. And just when you thought it was safe to enjoy summer!

In the weather community, many professionals from a wide range of positions both public and private have their eyes and thoughts focused on the communication challenges created by the act of weather forecasting. Small wonder given the formidable list of hazards covered in those forecasts. Nature has the upper hand and sometimes the best thing we can do is duck. But we have to know WHEN to do that.

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Looks So Easy

By: Mark Fox

I remember it because I was extremely unhappy with the rain. The rain canceled the scheduled baseball game at Strickland Park in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Never heard of it? Can’t blame you, as most baseball games for 9 and 10 year olds rarely get any press. While we were unable to play the game, an F3 tornado moved through town about an hour after our game, cementing a fascination with severe weather that remains to today.  Had I been older, I may have been one of the American Legion team which took shelter in the dugout at their ballpark at Couch Park. (http://stillwaterweather.com/stwfriday13thtornado.html)

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You want me to go inside for a one in a million chance?

By: Josh Eachus

For meteorologists, lightning is recognized as the thunderstorm hazard with perhaps a greater probability of death than any other. According to the National Weather Service Storm Data, from 1984 – 2013, the United States averaged 49 reported lightning fatalities per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.

For the comparatively small number of people lightning directly affects compared to hurricanes and tornadoes, we can’t seem to get the deadly numbers down. This is not about low predictability, advancing science or improving technology. This is about risk perception and the simple fact that humans have a tendency to ignore small probabilities[1].  

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90% of Hurricane Deaths Aren’t from the Wind

I am a product of the Crescent City. Most of everything that I love can be tied back to my hometown — spicy food, great music, and hurricanes. Especially hurricanes.

In the springtime, I remember looking up as giant river barges floated down the Mississippi River above my parents’ home. I spent hours high atop the levees that cradled the mighty Mississippi. To a young flat lander, those levees felt like mountains of the swampland. In a city whose average elevation is only one to two feet below sea level, they were; a 20–25 ft mound of dirt was the farthest and highest I’d ever been from the water.

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A “Delugeonal” Problem

By: Melissa Huffman

I had initially planned to write this post solely focusing on the 2015 Memorial Day flooding that occurred across the Houston metro. But Houston being Houston, it rained again. A lot. The 2016 Tax Day flooding saw a return of historic flooding to portions of Houston and surrounding areas. The locations, amounts, and onset of the heaviest rainfall were different during these events… but both were fatal.

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Common Warning Misperceptions

By: Dr. Laura Myers

Communication is one of the most complex processes that humans engage in. Messages are conveyed in many forms and the receivers of those messages “hear” or “perceive” this information in a very dynamic process. The weather warning communication process has been analyzed to determine how end users receive and act upon weather information, which has revealed where communication problems have occurred. It’s important to understand what the public understands or perceives and how they might take the wrong actions or inactions based on those understandings. When we understand these misperceptions, we can use that information to improve the weather warning process.

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Expert Addresses Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming

By: Mike Nelson

Professor Scott Denning at Colorado State University is an atmospheric scientist and climate expert.  Professor Denning does an excellent job of taking complex subjects and breaking them down to explain the science in an easy to understand manner – no small feat!

I recently asked Prof. Denning to address some of the basics of The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming.

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The Hype Before the Storms

By: Mike Johnson

Anyone that has spent time in a portion of the United States that experiences occasional severe thunderstorms is familiar with the bevy of weather information that is available.  This severe weather coverage can come from local and national television, as well as print and digital media.  Its prevalence on social media can be overwhelming at times.  We’ve all been bombarded by this, be it in the form of a slight risk area from the Storm Prediction Center, a black box number such as the TORCON, or some other catchy parameter used by a local television outlet.

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