Tornado-genesis: A twist in the wind

There are few spectacles on earth more awe inspiring than a tornado over land or sea. If they seem unearthly, with all our modern science and perspective, imagine how they appeared to ancient people who might see or hear about a single such event in their lifetime! But tornadoes are a dramatic representation of one of the most common weather phenomenons on earth and throughout the cosmos as far as we can discern: the vortex. A tornado starts out way up in the clouds, concealed from sight, and that’s where its engine resides. The part we see is almost an afterthought. But it’s no afterthought if you’re in its way. That visible part can plow the ground and tear families apart.

It’s more than fascinating, it’s a serious, routine concern for a lot of Americans. The majority of tornadoes occur in North America and most of those hit in a region called tornado alley. As I write this, perched in the lower outskirts of that region, the sky overhead is a puke green, the clouds tumultuous, and the the air hangs heavy with moisture as thick as a rain forest. This is twister weather. Follow me below the fold to learn more about a typical tornado. [Read more…]

Oklahoma: clean up, death toll revised DOWN, Sen Coburn miscalculates

In a battered region where good news is hard to come by, the death toll on Oklahoma has been revised down and currently stands at 24. Meanwhile, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Naturally) just couldn’t resist, he shot his mouth off demanding budget cut offsets before he’d vote for federal aid while bodies were just getting pulled from the rubble, and he’s getting slammed on Facebook for it. A sample of that below the fold: [Read more…]

Guess who voted against emergency management & disaster relief?

Oklahoma ranks third in the nation on disaster relief. That puts an unwelcome spotlight on two of the slimiest purportedly God fear’n denizens in DC. US Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe have more than anti-science lunacy and extreme right-wing fundamentalism in common. Both these clowns are deficit hawks who have repeatedly voted against disaster relief and tried to kill funding for FEMA: [Read more…]

Did climate change cause Sandy?

Satellite image of Superstorm Sandy taken at 10 AM EDT Tuesday. Image NASA GSFC. Click for info at Climate Progress.

Did Sandy happen because of global climate change? Answer: It’s quite possible according to one of the world’s leading climate science experts, Dr. Michael Mann from Penn Sate University and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches From The Front Lines: [Read more…]

FTB reader/regular on what blood means to the Red Cross


Short at the beginning of the month? Bood donations to the Red Cross are your proxy for cash, they turn it into money to help victims of disasters like Sandy. And one FTB regular reminds us that blood means way more for some people:

About a decade ago my young daughter came down with a rare condition that could be treated with a blood product that required 6000 pints of blood… She recovered. If you’ve ever given blood, thank you. You may well have contributed to my daughter’s recovery. Before that event, I was lackadasical about donating blood regularly. I haven’t missed an opportunity since then. I’m O+. I do “double reds” every 112 days. I need to live another 910 years before I will have replaced those 6000 donations.