6.18.2014

Tornadic Activity and Meteorological Charlatanry

For the second day in a row, severe storms tore through central and southeast Wisconsin.

On Monday night, a small to medium sized tornado touched down in Madison WI just about a mile northeast of the new house I am moving into at the end of June. It's not my house yet, so no risk to me, but I would very much like there to be a house there when I move.

This morning I looked at the weather map and it indicated I had a window of opportunity to bike commute today. However, it was completely incorrect. Not even close.

I threw my bike in the backseat of my car and drove toward Madison where I planned to park at a buddy's house and bike in from there. Mother Nature had other plans.

I could tell from the darkening skies that a bike commute would not be wise and opted to continue driving toward work as conditions worsened. Soon I was in the middle of a massive downpour. It was like someone was hoisting buckets of water onto my windshield and visibility was virtually zero, even with the wipers going at full speed.

The roads couldn't handle all the water, which began to pool in low places and made navigation of the car even more difficult. I pulled into a gas station to fill up my car and got about half way through that operation when strong straightline winds and rain forced me to run into the gas station and hunker down with other diverted motorists. Since my rational brain knew that my statistical risk of death by tornado was fairly slim, I was not especially scared, but being around others and commisserating gave my reptilian brainstem a sense of security and safety in any case.

It turned out I had driven through a severe tornado warning area. My smart phone had, in fact, alerted me to this, but there was not much I could do about it since I was already driving, other than pull my car under the gas station pump awning for some slight respite from the weather. It was the failure to find any actual respite there that led me to cease pumping gas and go inside. I went to the bathroom and bought a cup of coffee, while the handful of us in the store waited out the tornado warning.

I asked one of the employees what the disaster plan would be if a tornado actually did arrive at our location. She said, "We would probably go into the car wash...because it is made of solid concrete and does not have any windows." There was no basement at the gas station, as it turned out.

While I was at the gas station, my friend Sherry texted me that the next stop on the tornado warning's path was somewhere near Lake Mills and Cambridge Wisconsin, where both she and I have homes we are in the process of selling. I knew that if Mother Nature decided to free me from home ownership, there was not a lot I could do about it, but I worried about my two dogs, who were home alone.

I am at work now. At lunch time, I plan to drive home and check things out. Then I will probably work from home the rest of the day and hope the inclement weather is on the decline.

The weather forecast indicated the bad weather would be around through tomorrow. But based on the poor predictive meteorological performance thus far, I will just use my physical senses to determine what is really going on. Looking out the windows at work, it's sunny now. It was supposed to be sunny this morning (it wasn't) and storm around now (it isn't). I hypothesize that global warming has made meteorological modeling algorithms moot. My hypothesis is based on the theory that meteorological models do not adequately account for global warming effects on local weather. Since global warming is a debated topic politically, I surmise that the largely government underwritten weather prediction software downplays the effect of global warming. I can't scientifically test my hypothesis, but it does seem like weather prediction is becoming increasingly sketchy these days.

No comments:

Post a Comment