At least three fatalities were reported in the small town of Rosalie in the northeastern-most counties in Alabama as a strong tornado swept through around midnight on November 30th, 2016. Multiple injuries and destroyed houses and buildings, including a day care center and church, were reported through the Sand Mountain region along the county line of Jackson and DeKalb Counties, Alabama.
This region, while typically less frequented by tornadic weather than much of the rest of the State of Alabama, contains terrain (the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains) oriented from southwest to northeast - which can act as a severe storm funnel due to the general path and heading that these storms take.
Additionally, I added a video loop of this severe storm, with four windows (like the images above) showing four radar products simultaneously.
Top Left: Base Reflectivity (shows precipitation)
Top Right: Storm Relative Velocity (shows rotation and motion of storm)
Bottom Left: Correlation Coefficient (compares radar returns with other radar returns)
Bottom Right: Differential Reflectivity (used to determine shape/size characteristics of radar returns).
At this point, it appears as if the National Weather Service was a bit ate to issue a Tornado Warning (purple box on the radar screen) for this storm...perhaps not until a tornado had dropped in Rosalie based on time stamps of storm reports and weather warnings. A Tornado Watch and Severe Thunderstorm Warning were in effect, however.
- Meteorologist Dan Schreiber
Who Would Fly On A Weather Day Like This? Flying From Seattle to Miami - With All The Weather In BetweenRead Now
So, the cool thing that the AWC's Flight Path Tool does (and I wouldn't recommend using it unless you know what you're doing), is that it shows a cross-section of your flight route from sea-level to about 44,000 feet. Most airplanes won't travel any higher than that altitude. Using these cross-sections, pilots can then find the best-suited flight level for a comfortable, safe, and fuel-efficient flight.
The wind barbs are depicted (they look like arrows without a head). Each thin feather on them represent 10 knots of wind, each half-feather an additional 5 knots, and each flag (filled-in triangle) represents 50 knots of wind. To make things more confusing, these winds in the cross-section are not blowing in the vertical axis, but the horizontal. So, for instance, a barb pointed down is flowing from north to south, while a barb pointed right is depicting wind flow from the west to the east. These, of course, just like speed, change with altitude. This is known as "wind shear", and can create turbulence.
If you notice the brown spikes in the cross-section - that's terrain (mountains and such). To fly from Seattle to Miami, we have to fly over several mountain ranges, including the Rocky Mountains, and those get pretty high in elevation. Wouldn't want to fly into one of those...
The first cross section (above) shows temperature through the atmosphere. A common misconception is that the troposphere ends and the stratosphere begins at a specific fixed altitude - and this is not true. High Pressures and Low Pressures determine the placement of the tropopause, which delineates the stratosphere from the troposphere. Under High Pressure, which is common during this time of year over the Rockies, cold air from the stratosphere sinks. Under Low Pressure, like today east of the Rockies, warm air from the troposphere rises. We can see that very clearly in this cross-section, where I've drawn in where the current tropopause exists.
Next, we see a depiction of relative humidity through the atmosphere- a great indicator of clouds versus dry air. From this image, it looks like the flight route may be just above the clouds (at 30,000 feet) over the Rockies, but once you make it to the Southeast United States (roughly Arkansas), we'll probably hit some clouds at whichever flight level we choose.
Turbulence is always on the mind of anyone flying. With strong winds through the West, it will probably be a bit bumpy on takeoff and through the intermountain west, especially since a cold front if moving through the region perpendicular to the mountain ranges (which causes a pretty bumpy ride). The bigger story, however, is the turbulence in the same place we caw the clouds, and the big jump in the troposphere/stratosphere delineation (and the strongest wind speeds and direction change). Not surprisingly, this is also where some pretty violent weather is expected today. Since that's the case, it's probable that air traffic controllers will route air traffic away from this area.
- Meteorologist Dan Schreiber
Also posted at DanielSchreiber.org
Mid-November 2016 Winter Storm Weather Forecast Model Loop - Cold Air Sweeping Through Virtually Entire United StatesRead Now
Over the next few days, much of the United States will be seeing a pretty powerful, early winter storm migrate all the way from the Great Plains to the Atlantic. This storm has already impacted much of the western US, and brought heavy snows and frigid temperatures throughout the inter-mountain west. Now that it's out into the Great Plains and well on it's way to the East Coast (and Gulf Coast), I thought I'd share a cool little loop from the North American Mesoscale Model (NAM) from it's 12-UTC run this morning.
Winter Storm Warnings...even Blizzard Warnings...remain in effect for the upper Great Plains & Midwest...with subfreezing temperatures, strong winds, and heavy snows anticipated.
See video loop and description below:
Equivalent Potential Temperature, also known as Theta-E, is an outstanding weather parameter for outlining cold, dry air masses and warm, moist air masses. When cold fronts pass through, they overtake the warm, moist air ahead of them and replace it with cold, dry air.
Essentially, Theta-E depicts the potential temperature if the moisture were completely eliminated. Warm, moist air has the potential to reach a higher temperature, if the moisture is removed, than cold, dry air. Therefore, it sticks out real well on weather forecast graphics, and points to where the two air masses meet - where the fronts are.
- Meteorologist Dan Schreiber
Courtesy College of DuPage.
I get asked very often, “What is the most dangerous weather in the United States?
The answer is different is we’re talking about injuries or fatalities, and extremely dependent on the geographical region. Here in South-Central Texas, it’s flooding. In Arizona where I spend many years, it’s heat.
But, I did my research on data directly from the National Weather Service on weather-related fatalities & injuries in the past 10 years (2006-2015) across the United States, and the results may be a bit disturbing.
Weather-related deaths.as in fatalities that could be found to be directly related to weather totaled 5,515 in this ten-year span…averaging 552 a year, with the highest year being 2011 (hot & tornadic) with 1,096 deaths, and the lowest being 2009 with 373.
Injuries during this time span directly related to weather totaled 32,958, an average of 3,296 per year.
What’s most disturbing about these numbers is that the majority of the fatalities…nearly three-quarters of them…could have most likely been prevented. Generally, weather-related mishaps generally occur because the victim is either not aware of the hazardous weather, or not adequately prepared for it, either based on underestimation of the weather intensity, lack of resources, or pure negligence.
Of the top five fatal weather events, which are tornadoes, extreme heat, extreme cold, floods, and rip currents, one could make the case that most heat and cold related deaths (26%) could be avoided with proper precautions (like taking shelter, drinking plenty of water, wearing the right clothes, etc).
Flooding (15%) can also be avoided in most cases if effort is made to avoid flood-prone areas, and refraining from driving through flooded roads, washes, and ditches.
Rip Currents can be a bit more tough to avoid if they suddenly appear and panic sets in, but they can easily be traversed by swimming parallel to the beach (I've done it). But, they accounted for 10% of weather-related deaths in the past 10 years.
That leaves tornadoes (20%), which are often unavoidable, but life-saving precautions are still extremely effective, such as taking shelter in basements, storm shelters, fortified parts of houses (like interior closets or bathrooms), or low-lying areas (if nothing else).
Injuries, on the other hand, differ a bit from weather-related fatalities. In the case of the past ten years, tornadoes accounted for the most injuries (40%). Again, although tornadoes are often unavoidable and destructive, proper precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of injury and death.
Extreme heat-related injuries took second place (31%), which can arguably be largely avoided by staying inside on hot days, and proper hydration. Often, heat is more deadly to children and the elderly. One of the largest heat-related injuries and death causes to young children (and animals) is by locking them in the car on hot days…an average of 36 per year (children only). Lightning assumes responsibility for 5% of the past ten years’ injuries, which often can be avoided by staying under shelter.
So…the communication of these hazardous weather events must be flawed, if we assume that most people are aware, and have the capability to be prepared for bad weather. But statistic show that there are many causalities due to weather that could be avoided. Either the information being presented about this bad weather is incorrect, or it’s not taken seriously by the viewer, and I think both can be true.
Media is flooded with hype, and under-educated in meteorology. But, with the exception of tornadoes, the other leading weather-related injuries and deaths are caused by weather events that many wouldn’t ever guess were big-time killers…Temperature? Flooded Ditches? Rip Currents? Notice how Hurricanes don’t make the top-five list…and that’s because people take those seriously. Lightning isn’t a top-five killer, and neither are winter storms, like blizzards. That’s because folks take proper action to prepare for or avoid them. Yes, they are very deadly! But so are many other weather events that society fails to think about.
Extreme Heat has been the primary killer in the past 10 years, surpassing tornado-related deaths by 31 in a ten-year span. Flooding caused more deaths than lightning, winter storms, hurricanes, wildfires, avalanches, hail storms, and dust storms combined. Over 10,000 heat-related injuries could have been either avoided or mitigated.
- Meteorologist Dan Schreiber