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Super Updraft + Downdraft Killer Weather Storm Pattern Must Be Resisted. Let's Kobayashi Maru It.

Updated on October 7, 2014

Humor to lighten this cloudy article. Stay positive, we'll have the jump on tornados.

Clouds, marshmallows. Harmless until they're not. Pictured above: an EF-5 Marshmallow Man.
Clouds, marshmallows. Harmless until they're not. Pictured above: an EF-5 Marshmallow Man.

Kirk to Enterprise. Doug to NOAA.

Just like the Federation in Star Trek, we have an enemy that threatens us with the sentiment that "resistance is futile". Let's do like Jean-Luc Picard and continue getting into the belly of the beast at risk of our own lives to figure this thing out (thanks stormchasers!). Then let's think of ways to totally Kobayashi Maru this scenario. Here are some ideas of my very own:

  1. De-energize it by heating the colder air. (My parish priest told me once (regarding my study of "atomic" physics) that with my mind, I could find a better use for bombs. Maybe this is it.
  2. De-energize it by shooting copper wires from canons between the warm and cooler air. Thermal conductivity will reduce the differential and the potential energy of the storm before it switches to destructive kinetically equalizing winds.
  3. Break it up with a large aircraft or properly placed barrier.
  4. Change the geography to deter incidents
  5. Zone housing according to risk (lightning does strike in the same place)
  6. Avoid high-risk places at high-risk times (reroute traffic ahead of time, change school or work hours)
  7. Turn negative into positive - Harness the energy before it gets out of control (mobile windmills?). Launch planes or rockets by precision and timely placement.


Doug out.

More power outages, little warning

Days after a Super Derecho rolled through, another storm brought down trees and power lines over a large area here in the Midwestern US. No tornado warning, but again damage similar to a tornado, only scattered and uni-directional. One tree would be untouched, another next to it would be uprooted and knocked over. Still other trees had leaves stripped above a certain height, with limbs as big as 1 foot diameter snapped in half.

Microburst Downdraft Updraft Whatever We Call It

What concerns me isn't the downdraft as much as the updraft from this microburst. When this happens above ground, it's invisible and has a lifting effect.
What concerns me isn't the downdraft as much as the updraft from this microburst. When this happens above ground, it's invisible and has a lifting effect.

Updraft characteristics

Different from a tornado, the updraft was practically invisible. It was large, and reached down with the strongest force sporadically, knocking down trees here and there, pulling trampolines up and depositing them on barn roofs.

Just like the Derecho that struck a week earlier to the south, almost nobody saw it coming.

I did somehow. I knew instinctively that something was unusual with the color of the sky. One of the only times I ever took the family in the basement before an actual tornado warning had been issued. My gut feeling came about as the storm approached rapidly from the west. The sky had a green and also an orange tint in places.

I remembered my Dad telling me about the day he witnessed a deadly F5 tornado strike his hometown. He struggled to put into words the eerie feeling he got during the calm before the storm, when he looked up just before it hit, and saw a greenish tint to the sky that never before or would ever again see (hopefully for us all) among farmlands of the midwest.

Crumpled Wreckage - Tim Samaras Vehicle from Accident Scene after an E-F3 Tornado and Super Updraft

Tim and Son Paul Samaras were tragically killed by a huge, unprecedented tornado rated only as an F-3.
Tim and Son Paul Samaras were tragically killed by a huge, unprecedented tornado rated only as an F-3.

Killer Tornado Updraft

The tornado that killed veteran, genius, and fellow auto-didact Tim Samaras in 2013 was rated only as an F-3. Something is wrong here, an F'n F 3 people? This is idiotic, considering the damage to his vehicle in the picture.

Maybe we enhance the Fujita scale some more, or we need get sophisticated enough to spot and react to these sudden updrafts. They are invisible above ground, and when they strike they'll lift anything up like it has parachutes and kites attached.

Don't you dare blame recklessness for this trajedy. Tim had no real warning or chance to escape, and this is scary to the rest of us because he was as careful and calculating as a storm chaser could be as an impact player in the field. He had his son with him too, he wasn't taking any special risks that day. What amazes me is that after all this, we still don't know much about super updrafts, heck, we don't identify them properly. We don't nail it even after a well-documented event such as what is pictured above. How many times has one of these knocked a plane out of the sky? Chalk it up to pilot error, case closed. So lazy. Might as well say it's magic or karma for what they must have done wrong last Saturday night.

Better than nothing but not good enough. Fujita, please revisit the drawing board.
Better than nothing but not good enough. Fujita, please revisit the drawing board.

Fujita Scale - Enhanced? Not impressed. Enhance it some more.

So here is the NOAA definition of the beloved EF scale:

"The EF Scale, which became operational on February 1, 2007, is used to assign a tornado a 'rating' based on estimated wind speeds and related damage. When tornado-related damage is surveyed, it is compared to a list of Damage Indicators (DIs) and Degrees of Damage (DoD) which help estimate better the range of wind speeds the tornado likely produced. From that, a rating (from EF0 to EF5) is assigned."

The damage indicators are great if they were spread evenly all over, but what if a tornado or even a straight-line wind strikes an open field? As is the case with the freak incident that killed the storm chasers in 2013, damage indicators of buildings wouldn't have told the whole story. There weren't many buildings there, and despite the sentiment, not even the greatest of optimists actually build castles in the sky.

We need a scale that takes into account more factors than just wind speed:

  1. Debris - Is it clean wind like a water spout or did it just suck up an entire knife factory?.
  2. Altitude - funnel clouds aren't a concern? What about air traffic?
  3. Drafts - who cares if it's rotating or not, I wanna know if it is going to roll my car or drop a house on me!
  4. Speed - Is it creeping around or moving faster than I can drive? I'm stuck on the freeway, there's an open emergency lane and an exit ahead... I need to know this!
  5. Visibility - will I be able to see it coming or is is shrouded? I've taken cover in a shack on a golf course but I see a house with a basement across the street and I don't know if I should make a run for it. I wish the warning told me more!

12 APR 2014: OK, I've heard your cries! YES I will write a separate article on this and the Kobayashi Maru ideas I have! Subscribe to be notified of my latest, I'll surely link it here. And I didn't just call you "Shirley". Doug out.

Prepare to face the Unthinkable

PRACTICALITY!!! Enhanced Fugita scale is not very practical. These temperature scales demonstrate the same thinking. We need some more classifications.
PRACTICALITY!!! Enhanced Fugita scale is not very practical. These temperature scales demonstrate the same thinking. We need some more classifications.
There are always people who ignore weather threats. Morons.
There are always people who ignore weather threats. Morons.

Comments

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  • starlightreflex profile imageAUTHOR

    Doug DeWalt 

    5 years ago from Ohio USA

    The frankenstorm Sandy is another example of recent weather gone mad!

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