May 25, 2011

Tornado Passage at a Weather Station

There has been a lot of coverage of the recent tornadoes, but here is something not covered by the press. Yesterday a tornado passed extremely near or over the Oklahoma Mesonet weather station at El Reno (several people died unfortunately in this event). Here is the observation--amazingly the instrumentation survived! (click for bigger image)

The tornado passage was at the end of the period. The winds gust to 151 mph (light blue shading). The pressure (brown) fell sharply in ( or very near) the funnel, and the wind directions (green) shifted with the rotation. This is really amazing. Here is what the station looked like after the tornado passed over:

Collected some debris, but still working.

Also amazing is the video of some storm chasers in Reno at roughly the same time (see below):

Now switching from amazing to really heart-warming, the tower for the coastal radar is now complete and they are now preparing the antenna and radome to be placed on top. Here is the picture:

A number of you has asked about the important memorial day weekend forecast, and since KUOW won't allow me to give it there, I need to find a different approach until KUOW changes their mind or I switch to another station. Anyway, I will have an update on this blog by 10 AM on Friday--just when I would have done it if I still was on the air.

KUOW Firing Update

I am still hoping these folks will change their mind. The attempts of management to do damage control has generally made things worse (the Stranger calls the whole incident Weathergate). KUOW keeps on pushing a story line that both Steve Scher and I know as incorrect (that I insisted on talking about non-weather topics on the weather segment). A petition to KUOW is found here.

Today there were several articles on the subject:

Very supportive commentary by veteran PI writer Joel Connelly

The Stranger editors have been highly supportive and asked my to write up my side of the event. Found here.

The Geek Wire had a story.

Lots of updates on the Facebook pages.

KUOW has one of their own news staff (Deborah Wang) working on a story about all this that will probably air tomorrow. Seems strange to have one of their own employees do this, with all the inherent conflict of interest, but we will see.


  1. I was wondering if/when KUOW would acknowledge the issue and share a story about it. But I agree about the conflict of interest potential. I'll listen to the segment with a bit of skepticism, to say the least.

  2. I think you should "comment" for Science Friday instead!!

  3. I have stopped listening to KUOW for news and current events for some time now. I have found the quality of their locan and regional news to have declined badly. Errors, a lack of background research, triviality have gotten so bad I had to give up on them. The only exception was trying to tune in to the Friday weather segment. No more.

    I will listen to The Swing Years, but that is it. KPLU is my NPR station now.

  4. Cliff,

    About two or three weeks ago a large white radar-ish item showed up in Elliot Bay and has been sitting at Terminal 15 since (viewable from Queen Anne). Is this the radar that will be installed at the new location?

  5. Tragic that people died, but it's a testament to the constitution of the instrumentation.

    Kudos to the folks at Vaisala, RM Young, etc. for engineering sturdy equipment so capture and scrutiny of this type of data is even possible.

  6. Cliff:
    Please consider approaching KSER community radio station. They are truly a community radio station and would probably LOVE to have your forecast.

  7. Your segment is/was one of the highlights of listening to KUOW. I reckon I'll make a pledge in the fall *IF* they bring you back, otherwise I'll just send an empty envelope with the words "I miss Cliff." I hope someone else picks you up real soon, Cliff.

  8. @Timbuck Two -

    No that radar you saw/see is this one:

  9. I know a couple people that lived in the path of this tornado. They were at a shelter when the tornado took off the roof of the shelter. Luckily they survived.

  10. OK, everybody's had their chance to vent. IMHO, the best path to a mutually beneficial solution is to go mum, go behind closed doors and carefully, patiently grow to undersand each other better. This is all on the edge of going over a cliff (sorry) from words that get harder to retract. Wishing you well. An amatuer weather nut,
    Michael Kidd

  11. Dear Cliff,

    I've just lambasted KUOW for cutting you out. They will not be getting any donations from me.

    I enjoyed your blog on the thunderstorms. It has been years since I lived in Connecticut but I still miss them. I go to the Rockies for a week nearly every summer and I see more lightning there during that week than I do in the whole rest of the year in the PNW.

  12. In addition to the heartbreaking images of the aftermath of the Joplin, MO tornado tragedy are some incredible photos at The Atlantic site showing amazing cloud and light patterns just minutes after the storm stuck. We'd love to get Cliff's comments on these. Here are three



Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

More Typical Spring Temperatures Will Save Washington and California's Cherry Crop this Year

Last year was a cherry disaster for the West Coast and the key driver was the cool/wet weather late last winter and spring in California.   ...