Thursday, May 31, 2007

A New Lake in Kansas

I made my way across central Kansas on Wednesday headed back home for a few days and I couldn't believe what I saw in Barton county. Cheyenne Bottoms, if you are not familiar with the area, is located just outside of Great Bend and is a wildlife refuge. However, after passing through that area, it looks like Cheyenne Lake after all of the rainfall in May. I've heard some reports saying the water backs all the way up to Hoisington, which is north of Great Bend about 11 miles. Although I didn't see any boats out on the water, it certainly looked like a place to spend a weekend boating, fishing, and camping.

Millie (my storm chasing partner) was traveling with me and we stopped to take pictures of the flooded area. I don't think I've ever seen that much water in Cheyenne Bottoms, but for those that have been around longer than I have, perhaps you've seen this before. I'd like to hear from you if that's the case.

Have a great weekend.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

We owe a special thanks to all of those who have served our country, both past and present on this Memorial Day weekend. My holiday weekend has been spent tracking flooding rainfall which doesn't want to ease up on Kansas. I'm going to add up the amounts in the next few days, but some areas of the state have had well over 12 inches of rain this month alone. We hate to complain about the rain, but a stretch of dry weather would be much appreciated in central and eastern Kansas where the flooding has been extensive. The aerial pictures from Salina are impressive to say the least and with more rain expected this week, we know the situation could get worse before it gets better.

Some of the wheat in south-central Kansas doesn't look bad considering the cold temperatures we suffered through in April. I'm sure the rain has helped the wheat recover in some ways, but at the same time, I've read a couple of articles that suggest it might be suffering from rust with all of the recent rainfall. Hopefully things will turn around soon in Kansas weather.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Busy but Special Afternoon

I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to the students at South Hutchinson Elementary and what a great bunch of kids. We did the cloud-in-a bottle trick, talked about weather balloons, and spent some time discussing severe weather. One student in particular, Garrick Beasley, a sixth grader at the school, has a true love for weather and was the one that invited the KWCH Storm Team to come visit about weather as part of their career day. Be sure to check the attached picture.
Garrick has a collection of the TV meteorologists from this area neatly filed in a notebook along with pictures of his very own weather station in his parent's basement. He has already attended storm spotting classes and has developed an internal sensor as to when there might be severe storms.

I'm still not exactly sure why, but most meteorologists say they discovered a love for weather at a young age and sometimes, it just takes one good storm to catch their interest. I can definitely relate to this and that's why when I meet students like Garrick, I want to do my part in helping to further educate them on weather and how the atmosphere works. I wish I could've visited with the students for a little longer, but severe weather cut our time short. I spent a great deal of time in SatCam Wednesday evening monitoring the storms across central and western Kansas. Fortunately, no significant tornadoes to report but the flooding is causing enough problems and concerns.

Have a great and safe holiday weekend! (the unofficial start to summer)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A New Experience

I had a school talk on Tuesday that was a new experience in many different ways. First, I don't normally talk to high school kids and further more, we don't often cover mathematics in meteorology when we visit schools. I had both today and it turned out to be a success.
Thanks to Michele Fields for inviting me to talk with her group today. The Algebra students had been asking how the stuff they were learning related to things in the real world. Meteorology does involve a bunch of equations and other math concepts, so inviting a meteorologist to the school seemed appropriate.

We covered many topics, but if I list them here, you would probably get bored with this entry (if you aren't already).
I'm on my way to South Hutch Wednesday to visit 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. Should be another great day and I hope to have pictures tomorrow. When I'm done with the school talk, I'll be out storm chasing in central Kansas, so watch and listen for my reports Wednesday evening.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Facing Your Fear

I was able to catch up on some outdoor work on my days off and I came face to face with one of my biggest fears... snakes. I was cleaning out one of my windowsills and didn't see him until I reached down to pick up the leaves and trash. He was pretty small and didn't strike at me, but it was enough to cause a brief moment of panic. You would think after 20 years on the farm I would be accustom to them, but I'm not quite there. Snakes would probably be less scary, but they always end up in an area that you least expect to find them. I'm also afraid of spiders, but that's another story.

It is a busy weekend for graduation ceremonies around the state and the weather has been cooperating. Last year at this time, we had record setting highs in the mid and upper 90s so at least it isn't that hot. It's a little uncomfortable in a cap and gown when the temperatures get that warm. If you have a good graduation story to share, post it here. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tornado Tracks

I had a request to post the tornado tracks from the storms on Friday, May 4th. The 1st map attached to this entry shows only Kiowa county, but there were 3 different tornadoes that touched down throughout the county. The one that hit Greensburg was at one time 1.7 miles wide while an additional tornado developed just east of town. It was 2 miles wide at one point and moved northeast through the northeast part of the county.

One thing to notice about the Greensburg tornado is how it curled around to the northwest at the end of its life cycle. This is why we stress to never try and outrun a tornado. They can change direction in a very short amount of time and could catch you off gaurd if you are in a vehicle. The second map that I have attached here is from the Wichita National Weather Service and it shows the tornado tracks over central Kansas from May 4th and 5th. The strongest tornadoes did some EF1 damage in several different areas and in different counties.
Clean up continues in many different areas of Kansas from tornadoes and flood waters and fortunately the weather looks quiet for most of the week. (Click on the maps to see them in a larger format.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

A different weather pattern this weekend yields a much quieter weather picture for Kansans. A bunch of activities going on this weekend with the Wichita River Festival underway and of course, it's Mother's Day weekend. It's a special day for all of the mothers out there and we should be grateful for the stuff that they do for us.

I didn't really get a full appreciation for my mom and dad until I was in college. It seems like you battle with them all the way through high school regarding curfew, friends, etc. and then find out later in life that they are your best friends.

What funny stories do you have about your mom that you could share for Mother's Day?
I have several, but my mom would probably get even by sending in a baby picture of me to be aired in the birthday section of Eyewitness News This Morning. We wouldn't want that on TV, trust me.

To my mom, Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Team Effort

I'm still thinking about the weekend of severe weather and how many people were affected by the several rounds of storms. We have received several compliments on our weather coverage and we appreciate the kind words, but there is a special group of people that contribute to our successful weather coverage and we owe them credit too. They are the storm spotters and chasers that follow these storms across Kansas. We have a great storm chasing crew that go out almost every time we have severe weather. There are too many to mention by name, but their reports make all the difference in the world. When we can go on the air and say "trained spotters have reported a tornado on the ground", it makes people take the warning more seriously than if it is just indicated by radar. I can't thank our chasers and spotters enough for the hard work they do for our weather team.

On another note, I wanted to post this radar image from the Dodge City National Weather Service radar. It is the velocity mode that we often show on tv, where the reds and greens match up, indicating where the storm is rotating (remember green is wind blowing toward the radar and red is away). This was about 5 minutes before the tornado hit Greensburg. Scientists that have studied tornadoes for years say they have never seen anything quite like it before.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What a Weekend

Our thoughts and prayers are with those that suffered a loss in the numerous rounds of severe weather this weekend. My heart sank when I heard about the loss of life with the storms in Greensburg because I felt like we didn't do our job in getting the information out to the people. However, after seeing the devastation and looking at the pictures of the tornado, it makes me wonder how there weren't more fatalities from the storm. You can take all of the proper precautions, but in a storm of that magnitude, there is bound to be some loss of life. In case you haven't heard, the tornado did receive an EF 5 rating with estimated winds at 205 mph and at one point was 1.7 miles wide.

The storms were very unusual in the fact that they stayed together for long periods of time and the rotation was just impressive, not to mention the number of tornado reports that we had both Friday and Saturday nights. What a weekend in Kansas weather. It's definitely one we won't soon forget.

It is amazing to see the outpouring of support from Kansans doing everything they can to help out. Thanks to everyone for being patient with us as we covered up more programming this weekend. There is a reason for our continuous coverage and the Greensburg devastation should serve as a reminder of that during future storms. Pictures continue to come into the weather office. I'm posting just a few of them here. Have a great week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Flashback

I had a great opportunity to visit the 6th graders at Wilbur Middle School Wednesday morning to talk about weather and for a brief moment, I had a flashback to when I was in middle school. The bell just sounded as I walked in the door and then a sudden rush of students. Where's my locker and what is my combination? Where's my books and what class am I headed to next? Better yet, what are we having for lunch? All of those questions that you had to ask yourself during the course of the school day. I'm not sure if I would want to go back.

The students had been studying weather and collecting data from instruments. Becky Stanfield, one of the teachers at the school, informed me that the students were also graphing the data to look for weather trends. I was invited to the school to do a weather wrap-up session and I was amazed at how attentive the students were. I was a little nervous that my cloud-in-a bottle trick wouldn't be as exciting to the 6th graders as younger kids, but they still enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks again to those at Wilbur for allowing me to visit.
Pictures are on the way (I hope) so check back later to see the kids.

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