Car Lot Hopes To Cheat Mother Nature

Image courtesy of WFAA-TV.

Image courtesy of WFAA-TV.

DENTON, TX – When your car lot is located in tornado alley, it is difficult to avoid getting battered by hail every so often.

One dealership is sick of having a “hail sale”, especially after suffering $45,000 in storm damages to 22 cars in 2014.

WFAA.com says Ezec Auto Sales on Fort Worth Drive is doing something to thwart car damage anytime that the risk of hail is in the forecast.   They drape tarps over their cars on the lot.

“Sometimes people are kind of laughing, criticizing when we’re doing that,” said manager Ezequiel Quinonez.

Their theory is that hail just might bounce off the tarp, minimizing any damage.   “I don’t know if it will help us too much, but at least we’re trying our best,” said worker Lucrecia Quevedo.

Image courtesy of WFAA-TV.

 

TV Weatherman Retires After 66,000 Forecasts

KDKA-TV Meteorologist Dennis Bowman who retired on April 17th.

KDKA-TV Meteorologist Dennis Bowman who retired on April 17th.

PITTSBURGH, PA – He’s been a mainstay on KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh for  years.  On Friday, meteorologist Dennis Bowman is saying goodbye.

The legendary weatherman has been helping people plan their days and keeping them safe during severe weather since 1972.

Give or take, it’s estimated he did about 66,000 forecasts on television.

Bowman has worked in Missouri, Indiana, New York and Kansas but spent the last quarter century in Pittsburgh.  16 of those years were at WPXI and a decade at KDKA.

The CBS affiliate says that their long-time weatherman was once a TV station pitch man selling everything from vacuum cleaners to grain silos.  It was a common occurrence in the early days of television.

He’s also been a ventriloquist, game show and children’s show host.

Bowman said, “The forecast will never be perfect, just as those of us who forecast it won’t be.  But it gets better and better all the time, and we can only imagine what the next four decades will bring.”

 

NOAA Weather Radio Has A Hit On Their Hands


downloadKANSAS CITY, MO – There’s a radio station for almost any format nowadays.  From AM to FM, to Internet streams to satellite radio, there isn’t a style and sound that you can’t find or build on your own.   Or is there?  Wait a minute.   Have the programming minds missed a small audience?  Could there be three or four people who might tune-in for the strangest twist of all?

Everyone talks about the weather.  For instance, when you step into an elevator with a stranger someone is sure to say, “that wind is sure cold.”  If weather is the proverbial ice breaker in conversation, it’s surely just as hot in song.  Maybe there’s a new format just screaming to be launched.   “All Weather Hits, All The Time”!

The brains at NOAA just might want to conjure this format up.  When conditions are too boring for even the robotic voices to keep talking about, it may be the perfect solution for some variety on your weather alert radio.

Could you imagine?  NOAA weather radio with information and music!  We might be onto something here.

From the upper levels of the chart, these songs might storm their way to the top!

When suggesting the stormiest of smash hits, we cannot leave out The Doors legendary track “Riders on the Storm”.   This one will be requested often especially during severe weather season  It goes in hot rotation.   Joining it there is Garth Brooks, “The Thunder Rolls”, “I Love A Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt,  “Stormy” by Classics IV, “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, “Tornado” by Little Big Town, “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedance Clearwater Revival.

Oh yeah.  Rain songs.  No shortage of those.   There’s “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor, “Blame it on the Rain” by Milli Vanilli, “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” by Willie Nelson, “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” by B.J. Thomas,  “It Never Rains in Southern California” from Albert Hammond, “Bring on the Rain” by Jo Dee Messina, “The Rain” by Oran Juice Jones, “Walking in the Rain” by The Ronettes, “No Rain” by Blind Melon,  “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby, “November Rain” by Guns and Roses and how could we leave out “Purple Rain” by Prince?

Don’t want to be annoying with too many stormy titles, so we better  make sure we mix in some fair weather tunes.  “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, “Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver, “Sunny and 75″ by Joe Nichols, “Pocket Full Of Sunshine” by Natasha Beddingfield, and we will wind up the hour with “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” by Stevie Wonder.

Not enough wintry songs, though.  Someone needs to get into the studio and start recording.    Let’s toss in “Snowbird” by Anne Murray and “Let it Snow” by Dean Martin.  It’s chilling just thinking of how many Christmas classics we can mix in.

This may just be the million dollar idea that NOAA has been waiting for.   “Your destination to initiation, NOAA weather radio with music, weather and a siren that will send a shrill up your spine!”

Rock on.

 

 

Storm Chasing When Storm Chasing Wasn’t Cool

Dan Holiday awaits storms to initiate (with fellow chasers) in western Kansas. Spring 1990.

Waiting for storms to develop in western Kansas.  Spring 1990.

 

BARBER COUNTY, KS – When severe weather rumbled into south central Kansas on Wednesday evening, storm chasers were there to follow.  Lately, one Kansas sheriff even took to the roads with a bullhorn to ask those camped out along the highways to move.  Barber County Sheriff Justin Rugg said he only wanted everyone to be safe.   Storm chasing is hot.   But who could have imagined it would be this hot at a time when it wasn’t?

Things are different than they were in the early days.   In fact, technology has advanced storm chasing for those who are merely wanting to see a tornado up-close and in person.  All you need is a laptop, broadband Internet access, a radar program and a smart phone.   That makes you about as able as one can be to see magic in the sky.

For instance, twenty-five years ago it wasn’t uncommon to have a handful of storm spotters (or chasers) along with a member of the county fire department perched on a hill.  The crowded roadways of today just didn’t happen.   The reason might have been the lack of technology.   Then, you needed a Rand McNally road map, a weather radio, police scanner and a plan.   A chaser needed to know where storms were going to form.  Remember, in 1990 there was no way to access that information online unless you subscribed from National Weather Service data, usually via satellite.   Did I also mention that storm chasing wasn’t nearly as cool?

That all changed with the release of the move “Twister”.  The film hit theaters on May 10, 1996, in the midst of tornado season.   It was a smash.   That same year, a long line of storm chasers were parked along Highway 50 in central Kansas watching a rope tornado near the town of Buhler.   Storm chasing was cool.

As technology advanced, storm chasers became much like mobile disc-jockeys.  In the early-days of entertaining at parties, you needed to buy your equipment and your music.   Today, music can be shared, stored and downloaded instantly.  The horror of not having a Celine Dion slow-dance song for a bride’s first dance (that she forgot to request in advance) can be easily solved by downloading it in a flash.

Storm chasers don’t need a satellite subscription to NOAA’s data.  The road map is a dying breed.  New gadgets and GPS will take you where you want to go, when you want to get there.   The money shot of a tornado is not that far away, not that hard to find anymore.

All of this is okay.  After all, anyone who loves weather should be allowed to pursue their passion.   Technology has made it easier for those who haven’t studied weather and those who have.

There was a time though when telling your friends you were going storm chasing was met with laughter, or the response, “what a nerd”.

Now those same people will gladly line up to ride along to see Mother Nature’s wild side.

How times have changed.

 

 

There’s Something About A Tornado Siren

Tornado siren image courtesy of koco.com.

Tornado siren image courtesy of koco.com.

EL DORADO, KS – It was my fifth birthday party on a dark ominous afternoon in mid-May.   The downside of being born during the peak of tornado season is that your plans are often interrupted.   Mother Nature doesn’t take a vacation.

It wasn’t long after we cut the cake and my friends sang “Happy Birthday” that the siren along Olive across the street in El Dorado, Kansas began to wail.   Somewhere someone had spotted a possible tornado.  Party over.  Friends scattered.

Those are fond memories today.   It could be because all of us who have a passion and love of weather at one point or another recall the time we tried to understand it when we were a child.   Some of the most successful storm chasers will tell you that they were terrified of it.   That fear turned into curiosity, then eventually a fascination.

My uncle, Bill Bidwell was a journalism instructor at Butler County Community College.   His work in media became an interest of mine and I always had plenty of questions to ask him.   Bill also was an amateur radio weather spotter.   He explained that after finding a hill, he would be in a good spot to see what was forming, where it was moving and when it would arrive.   He was one of the team of spotters who would warn the county’s residents in advance of severe weather.   After witnessing the El Dorado, Kansas tornado of 1958, he had a lot of stories to share.  All of these stories were exciting and had me asking my parents for a ride to the library to check out books on severe weather.

For whatever reason, I became fascinated with the tornado siren.   I’m not sure if it was the birthday party instance or if it was just because it was associated with tornadoes.

During the summer when tornado sirens were tested the first week of every month, my grandpa was talked into driving me underneath one so I could record it from the time it turned on until the time it stopped.   I can distinctly remember where I told him to drive.  “Go to the one on DelMar.”  Test complete.   It was 128 decibels of sound and every time it fired up, I was scared to death.   But, like a carnival ride, I couldn’t have enough of it.

Today, the tornado siren has competition.  Or maybe, the tornado siren has some assistance.   The Internet changed everything.   The ability to access radar, warnings, receive text messages not only saves lives but helps take the pressure of the old siren.  Many aren’t aware that the siren was designed as an outdoor warning system and not always audible inside the home.

No matter how much text messaging and data we can receive on our smartphones, there’s something about the siren.   The moment it sounds there is a chilling feeling and one of assurance that the weather is threatening.   Time to move.  Get to safety.   This is the real thing.

This time of year it’s important to have a plan on what you do when the siren sounds.

And if your birthday is in mid-May just realize you might not get to finish your piece of cake.

 

TV Meteorologist Vanishes After 33 Years on Air

Image of Rich Thomas courtesy of Montgomery Advertiser

Image of Rich Thomas courtesy of Montgomery Advertiser

MONTGOMERY, AL – Rich Thomas has been a staple in the Montgomery, Alabama area for decades.  He was the WFSA-TV weatherman; but is no longer on the air.   His many fans want to know why.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported that after contacting the television station, Thomas was no longer employed.   Eric Duncan, the station’s general manager said it was “a personnel matter”.

“We want to thank Rich for his 33 years of service to WSFA and our viewers. We wish Rich the very best in his future endeavors,” the TV station’s Facebook post read in part.

A search for Thomas’ Twitter account and Facebook page will come up void, as if they never existed.

Thousands of people took to the Montgomery Advertiser’s Facebook page to express their concern for Thomas.

No other details are available.

Ginger Zee Talks of Big Break in Television Weather

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee

NEW YORK CITY, NY –  Fans of ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee may be interested to know how she ascended to the top in TV weather.

Zee tells AdWeek reporter Kevin Eck about the man was who helped her fall in love with television weather.   You’ll also learn the two word label that she has a distaste for.

 

Oklahomans Assist Tornado Victims

Image courtesy of KRMG.com.

Image courtesy of KRMG.com.

TULSA, OK – The silver lining in any disaster is often times the outpouring of support to help those in need.

That was the case earlier this week when Tulsa radio stations, KRMG, K95.5, 103.3 The Eagle, Mix 96 teamed with Fox 23 television.   The media outlets held an on-air fundraiser to provide assistance to the many victims affected by tornado damage in San Springs, Oklahoma.

All donations stayed with the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

The relief drive collected close to $22,000 on Monday.

Hero Offers Help Again After Moore Tornado

Jacob Lyles assists tornado victims with clean up in Moore, Oklahoma.   Image from News9.com.

Jacob Lyles assists tornado victims with clean up in Moore, Oklahoma. Image from News9.com.

MOORE, OK – It was less than two years ago when a teenager helped save at least two children following a tornado that hit the Plaza Towers Elementary School.  Last week, he responded again to those in need.

News9.com reports that Jacob Lyles pitched in to help following widespread damage that occurred when high winds and a tornado hit the city of Moore, Oklahoma on March 25.   The city is a hot spot in Tornado Alley that’s been struck several times since 1999.

Lyles, who is now an EMT, told the Oklahoma City television station that he was assisting others by cleaning up debris left by the storm.

“Just a lot of debris from other houses, boards, big tree limbs, just all kinds of stuff blowing around and landed in the backyard,” he said while describing what he was clearing from the damage area.

The scene brought memories back from the deadly twister of 2013.

Lyles said, “It all comes running back.  But at least this one wasn’t as serious and we didn’t lose any lives this time.”

First Tornado Warning In March Occurs in Arkansas

Image courtesy of National Severe Storms Labratory.

Image courtesy of National Severe Storms Labratory.

LOWELL, AR – It took awhile, but Mother Nature finally got back in rhythm on Wednesday when severe weather  produced tornadoes across Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The first tornado warning for the month of March in the U.S. occurred at 4:51 p.m. CDT on Wednesday when a severe thunderstorm was capable of producing a tornado near Lowell, Arkansas.  The warning was issued for portions of Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties.

There would be 19 more tornado warnings issued throughout the evening with at least 8 reports of twisters according to the Storm Prediction Center.  The hardest hit area was 4 miles west of Sand Springs, Oklahoma where 1 person was killed as the result of damage in a mobile home park.

In addition, large hail the size of softballs fell in Chandler Park in Tulsa creating vehicle and property damage.

Image courtesy of RadioInsight.com

Image courtesy of RadioInsight.com

Moore, Oklahoma, a city that was hit hard by deadly tornadoes in 1999, 2003 and 2013 was struck again by high winds and a tornado on Wednesday.

The storm was blamed for widespread structural damage and toppled 2 of the 3 KOKC-AM radio towers with the third being snapped in half.