With tornadoes in the news lately I figured it'd be a good time to post answers to some frequently asked questions about the powerful storms:
What does "EF-4" mean?
WIth the devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, you'll be hearing a lot of about "EF" ratings -- that's from the Enhanced Fujita Scale that rates tornadoes on a scale of 0 to 5, 5 being the strongest.
The Moore tornado was given a preliminary rating of EF-4 ("Devastating") with estimated tornadic wind speeds of up to 200 mph, although many are thinking that rating could be increased to an EF-5 ("Incredible") once more damage assessment is done.
Sadly, it's not the first time Moore has had to deal with such a catastrophic storm. On May 3, 1999, Moore was struck by an EF-5 tornado which recorded the strongest wind speed ever registered near Earth's surface. this map provided by the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma shows just how close the two tracks were.
Blog originally posted Nov. 16, 2010 You thought you'd stay informed on the crazy weather this fall by friending or following a meteorologist on Twitter.
And then come to find you're seeing re-Tweets or Facebook comments from other weather fans that look like some sort of clandestine secret agent communications with funny looking acronyms and random numbers that don't seem to make sense. It's like trying to learn chemistry from an instructor that only speaks Pig Latin.
Blog originally posted Feb. 11, 2010:
I had someone ask me the other day: What in the world are "MOS POPS"?
A frosty organic treat to enjoy on a hot summer day? A new symphony set to debut in the rain forest? No, it's much more boring than that... It's a weather acronym.
The person found it by reading the National Weather Service Forecast Discussion which they update every 6 hours or so. That discussion was originally intended to be between other National Weather Service forecast offices so each one knew what the other was doing. But with the rise of the internet, it has blossomed into a more public discussion since anyone can easily read it now.
(And since it's more in the public eye, the restrictions for those writing it have changed as well. Not too long ago, all words in the discussion were restricted to 3-4 letters max to keep transmissions short. Now, Weather Service forecasters are free to write it conversationally. )
But the discussion is still thick with meteorological jargon that may have you scratching your head, and one of those you'll find frequently mentioned is about "MOS POPS."
To use it in a sentence from the discussion Wednesday morning:
Blog originally posted April 23, 2012
What do you do if you're a group of science-minded middle and high school students who want to study the effects of a solar flare?
If you're part of Dr. Tony Phillips' Earth to Sky Calculus class in Bishop, California, you strap a rubber chicken to a weather balloon and send it 115,000 feet up to the Earth's stratosphere -- right on the front door to outer space.
Originally published March 5, 2012
UK photographer James Appleton had a dream: To capture the beauty of the Northern Lights in the same photograph as the awesome power of a volcano.
And when the Fimmvorduhals volcano began erupting in Iceland -- one of the world's best places to see the Northern Lights -- he knew he had to make a very challenging but ultimately rewarding trek to capture both events simultaneously.