Friday, June 15, 2012

Hays Gustnado details: June 14th

I wanted to post this information from an email I sent to a concerned viewer in Hays:
From all of the information I've been able to collect from the Dodge City National Weather Service and from viewers and spotters, it appears that several gustnadoes touched down.  Think of a gustnado as an over sized dust devil, which forms on the leading edge of the gust front, the gusty cool outflow from thunderstorms.  True tornadoes form due to the strong rotation within the parent storm.  

Here's a timeline of events last evening from Ellis County and our response here at KWCH:

7:45pm - NWS DDC issues Severe T-Storm Warning for Ellis County until 8:30pm.
7:59pm - measured 61 mph gust 5 miles north of Ellis.
8:14pm - First KWCH FB post asking about sirens in Hays.
8:15pm - Newsroom calls Weather office with same inquiry.
8:17pm - Storm report from Victoria: numerous gustnadoes on the leading edge of gust front.
8:18pm - I sent out question via NWSChat to Ellis County.  No representatives/spotters from Ellis County were on NWSChat.

We were broadcasting live on Always On Storm Team 12 during the whole event, and explained that the sirens were sounding in Hays and that (given the little information we had at the time) we were investigating.
A few viewers reported a tornado and Ellis/Hays dispatch said they had a trained weather guy see funnel cloud and debris in air, so they sounded the tornado sirens.  There was never an official tornado warning from the NWS.  (Note: the NWS sends the official warnings while counties/cities are responsible for siren activation.  Some places have different criteria to determine when to sound the sirens.)

Check out the two different opinions from spotters in the Hays area.  They posted on our Facebook page: 

"There was a very small tornado, looked more like a dust devil only bigger... 
Seen it with my own eyes at a friends house on the very east side of Hays..."

"I was outside watching the sky, there were no funnels, rotating wall clouds, rotating clouds period. 
I used to be a spotter right after High School and i know what to look for. There wasn't anything of any threat, once again Ellis County has cried wolf. FYI - I can see Commerce Parkway from my house from I-70 to right before 13th."

As we learned from last year's Joplin, Mo. tornado, overuse of tornado sirens can lead to complacency and to people not taking the sirens seriously when there is a true tornado threat.
I hope this information helps.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

2012 Precipitation Stats

I put these precipitation stats together for Mark's show this morning.  I thought it would be good to share on here, especially if you weren't up earlier in the day!

City:                   Precip (Year 
to date)/Departure

Goodland:            4.71"/-2.45
Hill City:              3.94"/-5.21

Wichita:              15.32"/+2.19

Dodge City:         7.90"/-0.43"

Garden City:        5.55"/-2.16"

Salina:                7.40"/-5.47"

Here's the monthly breakdown for Wichita:

Jan:  .03"
Feb: 3.57"
Mar: 4.03"
Apr: 5.24"
May: 2.10"
June: 0.35" (so far)

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Anatomy of a Venus transit picture

Yesterday evening as the transit took place, I had to be rather creative to capture the image I wanted.  I don't own  a solar filter and Venus would be too small to see using the "pinhole method" that one would typically use for viewing an eclipse.

Go back to Sunday, May 20th: I was out at the Lake Afton observatory for the annular solar eclipse.  It was there I saw a gentleman with his pair of binoculars, projecting an image of the Sun and Moon onto a piece of paper. How incredibly simple (and safe)!!

So yesterday evening in my backyard, I duplicated the trick.  I took a piece of black construction paper and leaned it up against the fence that surrounds our garden.  I placed the camera/tripod just off to the side and proceeded to work my astronomical magic.  Let's just say I'm glad my wife didn't look out the window at the time!  She would have seen a grown man, bent over with a pair of binoculars between his legs, trying to cast this small reflection of light onto a piece of paper.  I had to keep the binoculars as steady as possible with my right hand while my left reached over to snap the picture.  They say "don't try this at home."  I think this is the only place I would try this!