Author: Jenny Brown

Is it going to rain at my house? Probability of Precipitation Explained!

One of the most frequently asked questions we get after posting a weather forecast outlining (X)% chance of rain for a certain area within the state is “Does that mean rain for (insert name of city)?”  While we can’t pinpoint anyone’s chance of rain down to your street address, what we can do is tell you a little bit about what those percentages really mean. Day after day, 24/7 our weather forecasters work feverishly reviewing forecast model data, gazing at hundreds of weather maps, performing complicated mathematical calculations that would probably stump Mr. Spock, and in the end something like this appears across your TV screen…”Cloudy with a 40% chance of rain“.  But what exactly does that mean? The bottom line is that a 40% chance of rain means that there is a 4 in 10 chance of getting at least some measurable precipitation at any random point within the forecast area.  It does not mean that your city is like a pie, sliced into sections, with an entire 40% section of it getting wet while the other 60% stays dry.  In addition, an 80% chance of rain does not mean it’s going to rain 80% of the time, which certainly sounds like a bigger chance of getting caught in what some of us Texans refer to as a “frog strangler”.   It just means that there is an 8...

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Tips for Protecting your Home; Family from Severe Weather

With our next possible bout of severe weather forecasted for this weekend, our blog tonight focuses on how to protect your home and family from two of nature’s biggest hissy fits…Thunderstorms and Tornadoes.  On average, Texas has about 60 thunderstorm days per year with an average of 130 tornadoes sited.  Although thunderstorms and tornadoes can occur during any time of the year, they are most likely to happen during the spring months…April, May and June…then again in the fall.  This is due to the greater frequency of colder air masses (fronts) moving southward into more warm and humid air...

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Dr. Ted Fujita and The Tornado EF Scale

Today’s blog is a look at the creation of the F-Scale tornado damage rating system and its creator, Dr. Ted Fujita. [caption id=”attachment_5763″ align=”aligncenter” width=”134″ caption=”Dr. Ted Fujita“][/caption] The Fujita scale, or “F-Scale” is one of the few pieces of weather jargon that has made it into modern vocabulary and is familiar to everyone from Grandma to Hollywood actors.   Just recall how many times Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt, stars in the movie “Twister”, shouted various F-Scale ratings while racing towards those CGI crafted tornadoes! The original damage rating scale, the “F-Scale”, was introduced as part of a research paper published in February 1971. [caption id=”attachment_5762″ align=”aligncenter” width=”300″ caption=”Original F-Scale”][/caption] Dr. Fujita’s goal was to provide a way to rate each tornado by its intensity and size, and to estimate wind speed in correlation to the damage it caused.  However, it wasn’t until the Super Outbreak of 1974 that the new F-Scale could really be put to the test.  Following the outbreak, Dr. Fujita lead a team of meteorologists that surveyed the path of each tornado, putting together a map of each of the 148 tornado paths and assigning each one a corresponding F-Scale rating. Even though the original F-Scale was used for well over 20 years, it had a few shortfalls.  Its damage assessment protocols did not take into account how well certain types of buildings were constructed,...

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“Tornado!!! Put your shoes and helmet on!“

With spring right around the corner, and severe weather season already upon us (approximately 64 tornadoes this year so far!), it’s time to start thinking about your household severe weather safety plan. Most people already have the “where” figured out…the basement or a small interior room or closet away from windows…but have you also thought about what you should have with you when you go into your shelter?  It may sound silly, but you may want to consider stocking your safe area with not only a flashlight, but also a pair of old shoes, a jacket…perhaps a blanket…and a bicycle or motorcycle HELMET! [caption id=”attachment_5680″ align=”aligncenter” width=”600″ caption=”Me (Jenny Brown) Sporting Sean Casey's helmet”][/caption] A study conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggests a number of fatalities from the April 27, 2011 Super Outbreak were caused by trauma to the head and neck.  They suggested that motorcycle helmets, football helmets and bicycle helmets offer a practical, inexpensive solution to reducing the risk of head injuries during a tornado.  Even if it’s only minimal protection from being hit by debris tossed about at 100+ mph, a helmet is certainly better than nothing and can help prevent a more serious head injury such as a concussion or laceration.  For children, just purchase an inexpensive bike helmet dedicated to your tornado safe spot. This advice could also benefit my fellow chasers,...

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NOAA's 2011 Climate Summary

I’m sure I can speak for just about every Texan when I say that I’m beyond glad that 2011 has passed.  What a historic year for not only us, but other parts of the United States as well.  Below is the 2011 State of the Climate summary released today from NOAA‘s National Climatic Data Center.  Here’s to hoping we never have another year like it…...

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