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Schrödinger's Pussy
Observing a box has never been this much fun
Things that make me go *Eeeep* 
15th-May-2007 06:57 pm
Oxygen Mask
The skies turned that delightful murky green, and the rain came down in vertical sheets, with pebble size hail. Rolling thunder nearly continuous.

So yeah, I'm diggin' on the heavy weather up here. Then we get the quiet that's far scarier than all the noise.

We're listening to the weather net on the ham radio. A person calls in that he's looking at a wall cloud (these are the predecessors of trailing tornadoes) with rotating funnel activity. This is about 15 miles north of us. He's watching the funnel slowly lowering and asks that the sirens be set off for a tornado watch. The person running the net says that the weather service has not issued a tornado watch, only a severe thunderstorm warning. The protocol is to wait for the watch to be issued and see if the winds are greater than 70 mph. The weather spotter pushes and the set the sirens off. I'm talking with legi0n via GAIM and I told him that they saw the rotation at 7:37:18 pm. They agree to set the sirens off at 7:38:23 pm. At 7:40:26 the funnel became a tornado.

So if this isn't a perfect example of why we need spotters, I can't think of another. The national weather service is not issuing a tornado warning because their conditions aren't being met. But the spotter was able to confirm seeing it touch the ground and estimated the wind. Without the spotter, there would have been no audible warning sounded for the people in that area.

They just reported a car in the median, the driver saying the wind swept him off the road.
15th-May-2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
We got caught in a massive hail storm yesterday (TWICE!) and I was so PISSED that I couldn't get anyone on the phone to look at a radar online and tell me what to do. Spotters are amazing and in this case, the reason why they are so needed is obvious! Hope you guys are safe tonight.
15th-May-2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
Wow, I see why you are annoyed, but I'm glad this time it worked out and the sirens went off without too much delay.
15th-May-2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
holy cats! where was it spotted? there's roughly 16.3 miles between my hours and yours!

btw - thank you for the reminder - i took my spotter card out of my wallet during my last vacation and need to put it back so i have the contact information should i need to make a call.
16th-May-2007 08:47 am (UTC) - Fallible systems
I remember in 1989 at high school a situation that ended okay (nobody was hurt) but had similar freakishness. There was a storm going on outside and someone had the sense to crack a window. The teacher who was not from our country really had no idea about what tornados were or the signs. Then quiet. Then end of the world gusts where I saw bits of the annex buildings flying off. I was fortunate enough to be in a science room with a barometer in the front. We dropped from 29hg to 17/18 in 2 seconds. The wind stopped, the barometer went back up, and the rain quiesced a bit.

Then... the sirens went off and we were evacuated to shelter. If I recall correctly the siren network was taken out by the tornado briefly.

In a way, your story makes me feel that people out away from metro areas who have the sense to stay in touch with a distributed network (i.e. ham operators) are much safer than large cities (if you can call Topeka that)
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