Okay, I get it.
Stop being such a gloomy gus, Lund.
Not easy to do when it’s primarily the weather that’s got you down in the first place and , once again as I write this, it’s dark as dusk outside with claps of thunder in the distance. So now the month of June is following May’s lead and before you know it..well, enough already.
I’m actually nursing a very sunburned snout after trying to soak up a little too much of Sunday’s rare sunshine. Linda and I took a convertible drive over to the Strawbale Winery near Renner which is just the perfect spot to be on a beautiful day. Rather than just talk about it, here are a couple photos I took:
I wouldn’t want to work for the Oklahoma Tourism office this year. The wonderful musical by Rogers and Hammerstein said plenty about Oh, what beautiful mornings with a bright yellow haze on the meadow and corn as high as an elephant’s eye but nothing about being home to an alley where tornadoes regularly show up like a bunch of street thugs destroying anything and anyone in their path. Twice now, in the last couple weeks, areas in and around Oklahoma City have been hit by huge twisters pulverizing people and property. Friday, three noted mobile meteorologists with a reputation for getting up close and personal with tornadoes, got too close and perished.
Tim Samaras, his son Paul and Carl Young were stars of the now defunct Discovery Channel series, “Storm Chasers” which followed teams of “scientists” as they ventured into the eye of the storm in weird looking vehicles laden with the latest electronic gadgetry designed for finding and tracking tornado-producing storm clouds. Then, they get as close as “safely” possible, take thrilling videos that will really awe TV audiences, maybe drop some scientific saucers in the cyclone’s path to be sucked up in the storm to hopefully reveal all kids of previously unknown information, then get the hell out of there making sure to leave the cameras rolling and audio up high so as to record the profanity-laced bleeped reactions of the crew in retreat. I’ve always been skeptical of the actual science these close encounters provide so I called my pal and longtime colleague, Jay Trobec..chief meteorologist for Keloland TV. He told me that of all the storm chasing celebrities, Tim Samaras, was the most dedicated to finding out what made storms tick. “Tim was one of the few chasers who would call the Storm Center when he was on the scene of tornadoes in our area giving us detailed on-the-ground information of the twister’s path so we could inform and warn our viewers. He was especially helpful when the F-5 wiped out Manchester. All of us weather guys would really like to cut down on the number of ‘false alarms’ during storms. Tim’s research has helped in that effort. Ironically, Jay said, of all the people out there, Tim seemed the most concerned about safety and not putting himself or his crew in potentially fatal situations. Then for this to happen. It’s just sad.”
I asked Jay whether the death of his friends in Oklahoma would make him think twice about sending our TV meteorologists out in the Keloland storm chasing vehicle, “Dorothy”
“I never ask our guys to go into really dangerous situations,” Jay said. “All we really want is to confirm what we’re seeing on Doppler radar so we can get the word out to viewers. There’s no need to drive into the storm’s path.”
The truth is, just about everybody…including me..is fascinated at seeing close-up pictures of tornadoes. Some TV network operations, including CNN, will pay to acquire amateur video which, of course, has helped spawn a crop of dare devils willing to risk life and limb for a big thrill and a few bucks.
So, the question remains, does the “science” provided by storm chasers, actually save lives?
Mike Eilts, head of Weather Decision Technologies in Oklahoma, used to be a storm chaser but, as he recently told CNN, lookie-loos have become more dangerous than funnel clouds.
“These days,” Eilts says, what I’m afraid of are car after car, parallel parked on highway shoulders, with droves of people stretching their arms into the air, trying to capture the ‘money shot.’
“I call it ‘tornado zoo.’ They think they can just drive up like it’s a lion on the other side of the cage. They take a picture or video of it, not thinking that the whole thing can expand in literally seconds, a new suction spot can come out, and you have no time to react to that kind of thing.”
Eilts does believe that the science gleaned from dedicated storm chasers has and continues to be helpful in predicting the personality of tornadoes.
I’m not so sure, though, if it matters all that much what goes on inside a tornado. Sure, the data is interesting but a twister will always be unpredictable with various degrees of ferociousness.
My REAL safety concern is the antiquated EAS warning system which automatically breaks into broadcasts, often when Jay is showing actual live radar and hi-tech images of the actual storm. When time is critical, EAS supersedes everything with that annoying computer voice reciting dated information at such a snail’s pace that any twister could have done it’s worst and moved on before the warning is through. I wrote about it last year. Sioux Falls Cable boss, Tom Simmons was one of those who commented and explained. You can call up the blog by clicking here.
June is traditionally a bad month for tornadoes in Keloland..hopefully you’ll let the pros provide the coverage while you’re safely tucked away in your basement or bathtub with smartphone in hand.