Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Benefits of Allowing Children Pursue Their Dreams

Image from Hubble Telescope. Courtesy: NASA
The story of two Kansas astronomers, Steve and John Hawley, is a real inspiration on this Easter Sunday.

My parents thought I was crazy standing in the rain as a storm spotter. But, it lead to a terrific, rewarding career.

Have a Joyous Easter!

In some areas it is a beautiful day. In some of the drought areas, glorious rain. Whichever it is in your location, enjoy this special day!

Anti-Climate Change Rap Video

I never thought I'd live to see this…

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A New Review of "Warnings"

Posted at the book review blog Reader Views:

I was hooked within the first five paragraphs of Mike Smith’s “Warnings.” 
A master at story telling, Smith takes the reader on a tumultuous reading adventure as he details the background, development, and aspirations the new science of storm warnings. He begins with an introduction to the science of meteorology, its history, present-day activity, and future goals….
Aerial shots and an amazing collection of photos, illustrations, graphics, charts, and drawings reinforce the impact of the narration and depict the unbelievable destruction left in the wake of the violence and fierceness of untamed nature and winds of tornado and hurricane force.
Mike Smith has a unique writing style that combines news reporting, editorializing, a genuine heart of empathy and compassion for the human interest story, and a genuine love for a lifetime career of scientific endeavor and public service.
Reminiscent of the movie “Twister” with the focus on storm chasers, “Warnings” is a remarkable account of the devastation left behind in storms covering a period of over 50 years with comprehensive coverage of the tragedy brought on by Katrina. This is story telling at its best, informational, and analytical. Mike Smith has created a work that is destined to become a favorite of layman and professional alike.
Warnings is available in hard cover or ebook. It makes a great book for the graduate, for Mom or for Dad.

"Classic Dave Barry" on School Funding

I know how we can solve our national crisis in educational funding: Whenever schools need money, they could send a letter to all the parent, saying: "Give us a contribution right now, or we're going to hold a Science Fair." They'd raise billions. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bartlett Arboretum Easter Sunday: A "Must Do"

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If you live in Kansas or Oklahoma, point your car toward the big casino on I-35. Then exit and go into the town of Belle Plaine to the Bartlett Arboretum to Wood, Winds and Willows. Thirty thousand tulips will be in bloom along with just about every flower and bush you can think of. This will be a spectacular event. The video features Ms. Robin Macy, founding member of the Dixie Chicks, who gave that up to be the curator of the arboretum. She is interviewed by the friends Sierra Scott and Brett Harris.

Three Weeks Until Mother's Day

Yes, it is closer than you think -- May 11.

Want a great, uplifting, people book for Mom? This is it.
This is not a "science book." It is a story of courageous people saving lives during some of the worst storms of the last half-century. That is what you would expect an author to say. Here is what the readers say. Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:
What do the professional critics say?

To be quite honest it is the best book I've read in years. I couldn't put it down and read the whole thing in a day and a half. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting book where you can learn something too.

This is a fascinating book, full of suspense, telling it like it is, and a great learning experience without realizing just how much of what you read will stay with you. I highly recommend this book.

I had put Warnings on my holiday gift list instead of just going out and buying it.

WHAT A MISTAKE! I got this book as an Easter gift and immediately began devouring it. I was instantly sorry I hadn't bought it sooner.


Smith skillfully makes this and other controversies seem not just important, but exciting. Meteorology, in his telling, has the same bare-knuckle energy we see in politics or sports. These battles, many of which Smith himself fought in, reveal how much of our modern, weather-safe lifestyle is contingent on personalities, and could have gone another way.

While weather forecasters often appear starchy and bland, Smith makes the weather into an urgent concern, and a remarkable victory. This story turns the weather into a quest, and meteorologists into the most unlikely heroes in recent literature.

So, read the reviews yourself and get Mom (or Dad for Father's Day) a copy of Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Al Gore Inadvertently Tells the Truth

But Gore cited two “game changers” in recent years that will help. The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather. The second is the exponential growth in photovoltaic solar panels, driven largely by consumer demand for lower prices.
The “barriers” to doing something about climate change are business and political interests that profit off of fossil fuels — “dirty energy that causes dirty weather.” He compared fake science from polluters stating that humans are not to blame for the climate to tobacco companies that used to hire actors to play doctors who denied cigarettes were dangerous.
“That’s immoral, unethical and despicable,he said of both.
Notice that at no time does he say the 'deniers' are wrong. He has also never offered anything resembling evidence this conspiracy exists.

I do agree with him about the progress being made by solar energy. The way to cut down on the use of fossil fuels is to come up with reliable, less expensive alternatives.

Some Helpful Rain

…in the farm belt, but not enough. This is the forecast for the next five days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Change in Tornado Warning Strategy

Here is an article concerning changes in strategy in tornado warnings from the National Weather Service.

I think the reporter or editor made a mistake with the comment that tornado warnings cause complacency. Obviously, what was meant was false alarms cause complacency. I agree.

From about 1999 to 2007, the National Weather Service put a strong emphasis on increasing "lead time," which is the interval from when the warning is issued to when the tornado occurs. As the article mentioned, the average lead time at Birmingham (and many NWS offices) is 16 minutes. That is excellent and, in my opinion, more than sufficient.

I believe the NWS needs to transition from putting much of its emphasis on increasing lead time to increasing the accuracy and reliability of tornado warnings.

More accurate warnings with 12-15 minutes of lead time would be a major step forward.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wow…Wow…Amazing "Blood Moon" Photography

This from photographer Mike Mezeul II who says, "share the heck out of it"!
click to enlarge

Can confirm the bluebonnets are in full bloom over north Texas.

The Absolute Need For Skepticism in Science

From Carl Sagan.

How far climate 'science' has strayed from this basic fact of the scientific method.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Speaking Engagements

Mike will be the guest speaker at the 2014 Earth Day event sponsored by the Kansas Geological Foundation on April 22, 2014 at the Bank Of America Auditorium, 100 N. Broadway St. Wichita, KS from 4:30-5:30. Mike's presentation "Storm Warnings and Saving Lives" will make the case that the only thing separating American society from triple and quadruple-digit death tolls from tornadoes and other storms is the storm warning system developed by weather scientists over the last fifty years. The event is free and open to the public.

Mike will also be the guest speaker at the Region IX ASHRAE Regional Conference coming up on August 1, 2014 sponsored by Building Controls & Services, Inc. also in Wichita. Mike will be presenting " The Value of the Tornado Warning System" highlighting two famous Kansas tornadoes, Udall and Greensburg and the deadly Joplin, Missouri tornado of 2011.

September 22, 2014 will find Mike at the NAMIC Annual Convention at The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD where he will present "Weather Trends." NAMIC is the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.

If you would like for Mike to forecast success for your next event please feel free to contact or visit our website at for more information.

Here Comes Solar!

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a believer in the huge potential of solar energy while being against wind energy except for specialized deployment. The UK's Telegraph has a comprehensive article that summarizes where we are with solar:

Solar power has won the global argument. Photovoltaic energy is already so cheap that it competes with oil, diesel and liquefied natural gas in much of Asia without subsidies.

As Roger Pielke, Jr. has long contended, the way to get away from fossil fuels isn't a carbon tax, it is investing in R&D to make alternative energy so inexpensive that people turn away from fossil fuels because there is an attractive alternative. Solar has that potential.

It is especially attractive to me because some of the world's poorest live in equatorial areas. It has to potential to significantly improve their lives at lower costs than previous alternatives.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tornado Watch Until Midnight

This watch does include the DFW Metroplex.

I am not live-blogging the storms but will update later this evening.