May 21 Newsletter

The next SKYWARN meeting is 18-May @ 7:00 PM, the third Tuesday of the month.

Activation: 12-Apr From Dave KCUVY
Fourteen people responded to the first activation of the 2010 storm season. This was a night spotting event, which usually have a smaller turnout. Even though the evening temperatures were only in the 50's, the storm system had a history of producing large hail, including reports of 1.5 and 1.75 inch hail near Mankato. This prompted the NWS to issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for parts of Blue Earth and Waseca counties and resulted in our activation. At that time, tops were reaching 35,000 feet. When the sun dropped below the horizon the storms lost their source of energy and quickly collapsed on themselves. Even though no severe weather was reported in Steele County, the storms still produced some beautiful lightning (as noted by several of the spotters) which Deuel managed to photograph. Thanks to all who participated in this event. If you are interested in night spotting, or would like to know more about it, please contact Dave KCUVY or Chris NCGP.

MN SKYWARN Workshop From Dave KCUVY
Ten members of Steele County SKYWARN joined approximately 320 spotters from across the midwest at the 2010 MN SKYWARN Workshop at the University of St. Thomas. As it previous years, it was both fun and educational. Speakers included representatives of several NWS offices, researchers, media personnel and a keynote address by Dr. Chuck Doswell (world renowned educator and storm chaser).

"Chuck" (as he insisted on being called) talked about our relationship with the NWS and with the communities we serve. He feels strongly that "NWS warning polygons should not be the primary resource for determining when to hit the siren -- that is what spotters are for." He talked a lot about spotter safety and the need for constant education. "I trained long and hard to find out what I don't know -- I resent those who come by their ignorance easily."

We also studied the societal impact of downtown tornados (including the Minneapolis tornado from August 2009) and discussed ways to improve communication and accuracy. The event also gave us an opportunity to look at products from a variety of sponsors. Jason even won a door prize and became a member of the American Meteorological Society -- Twin Cities Chapter.

Spotter Training
Steele County SKYWARN is determining the need for an additional Spotter Class. Contact Dave KCUVY if you anyone you know would like to see another class scheduled.

WX Radio Programming
Steele County SKYWARN is continuing to program NOAA WX Alert Radios for the public. Steele County residents may drop a NOAA WX Alert radio off at the Owatonna Fire Station. SKYWARN volunteers will program the radios, usually within 24 hours. Dave KCUVY, Deuel NSL, and Tom NUW handled this service last year. Volunteers for this year include Bob R, Bill KDDJX, Marv NFJP, Mike KDDKC, and Tim KDDKA.

Flood Gauge Monitoring
Steele County Emergency Management asked Steele County SKYWARN to monitor the seven county flood gauges on a regular basis. Dave KCUVY, Deule NSL, Tom KDAVC, and Tom NUW reported flood gauge levels weekly back in 2006. With the Morehouse Dam area reconfigured and other flood mitigation projects in the county, the models that were developed from the 2006 data are no longer valid. Volunteers to repeat the recordings for 2010 include Carl KDGVQ, Chris NCPG, Tom KDAVC, and Tom NUW.

EOC Upgrade
Dale WBPKG and Tom NUW completed some spring cleaning and upgrades in the EOC. A radio was added in the SKYWARN operating position. This will provide a single radio for the net control operator and free up the FT-8800 for communications with other groups. All of the antennas and coax were checked to ensure they made it through the winter. The large laminated map of Steele County was mounted on a sheet metal backer. The sheet metal will allow spotter locations to be tracked with magnets rather than post-it notes.

A lot of pictures were taken at the 20-Apr meeting for badges. All of the information was submitted to the county for badges. Pictures were also added to the Trained Spotters page for those that indicated that preference.

Some individuals that were previously issued badges (CERT, for example) will be issued new badges showing all of the volunteer organizations they are part of. Before the new badges can be issued to you, we must retrieve the previously issued badge. Please be sure you bring your badges with you to the May meeting so we can make the exchange.

Austin Tornado Video From Marv NFJP
This YouTube video was shot from a commercial airliner. The aircraft was passing through the Minneapolis air space as the video was shot. It shows the 17-Jun-2009 cell that spawned the Austin tornado as well as the cell above Owatonna that evening.

VORTEX 2 Drones From USA Today
VORTEX 2 is entering its second year of research with a new tool. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be used to gather data at higher levels. The Vortex UAV is a propeller airplane with a 10-foot wingspan. The FAA approved their use up to 1,000 feet.

NASA Global Hawk From NASA
The March Newsletter mentioned the unmanned aircraft NASA was planning to use for gathering data. NASA completed the first science flight of the Global Hawk. This was the first of five Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) flights scheduled to study atmospheric science over the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Researchers will measure and sample greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting substances, aerosols, and constituents of air quality in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. The measurements will cover longer time periods and greater geographic distances than any other science aircraft. Go to GloPac for more information.

Quote Of the Month
"The reason lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn't there the second time." - Willie Tyler

Term For the Month From Minnesota WeatherTalk
Hysplit and Puff
The terms for this month are appropriate due to the volcano eruption in Iceland and the resulting chaos from the ash plume. These terms refer to two models used to forecast ash plume trajectories and dispersion from volcanic eruptions. HYSPLIT stands for Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model. It was developed for use by NOAA in the 1990s to track a variety of airborne elements besides volcanic ash. PUFF was developed at the University of Alaska in the 1980s to model ash dispersion using NWS forecasted wind fields.

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Steele County SKYWARN
Owatonna, MN