Book Recommendation: Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Has anyone else been doing a lot of reading lately? I love to read, and I read all different types of books, but my favorites are historical fiction and biographies. When I came across this book, I knew I wanted to read it immediately. The National Weather Service awards the Isaac M. Cline award “to individuals and teams who have made significant contributions in support of the National Weather Service. The award is named in honor of Isaac M. Cline, one of the most recognized employees in National Weather Service history.” Although I was well aware of the award, I knew very little about the man for which it was named prior to reading the book.

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The Famous Tuskegee Airmen…and Meteorologists

The Tuskegee Airmen were a highly respected fighter group formed in 1941. Prior to 1940, African-Americans were not permitted to fly with the U.S. military. Thanks to advocacy by civil rights groups and others, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation in 1940 which prohibited racial restrictions on voluntary enlistments in the military and allowed African-Americans to serve in all branches of the Armed Forces, including the Army Air Corps (although on a segregated basis). This led to the development and founding of an African-American pursuit squadron to be based and trained at Tuskegee, Alabama.

Courtesy: Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
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Third Thursday: Kristen Corbosiero

This month, I am so excited to profile one of my long-time friends and colleagues, Dr. Kristen Corbosiero. Kristen and I first met during our early days at UAlbany. We worked our way through graduate school together, taking many classes, doing teaching assistant work, and suffering through countless impossible homework assignments. After graduate school, we went our separate ways, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn that Kristen would be taking a faculty position at UAlbany and moving back to the area. Since that time, we see each other at professional meetings, meet for breakfast (though not frequently enough!), and it’s just been a real treat to have her back in the area. She is a gifted teacher and researcher, and I hope you enjoy learning about her and her work in this blog!

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Weather map symbols: What are they, and what do they mean?

This post was inspired by a fantastic article which was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) in December 2019 by Dr. Robert Houze of the University of Washington, and his daughter, Rebecca Houze.

I will never forget one of the first times I felt as an undergraduate that I had really arrived at the point where I was learning ‘real meteorology’. As an applied science, meteorology has a lot of core class requirements, including calculus and differential equations, physics, and chemistry. Thus, it is very easy to get bogged down in all of the prerequisites and lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel- learning about the science of weather that drove you into those classes in the first place. For me, that light at the end of the tunnel was an introductory weather and forecasting class which I took during the spring semester of my sophomore year. In that class, we did a lot of hands-on work plotting weather maps, which was something I really enjoyed. Actually, looking at data on weather maps and figuring out what it means is STILL one of my favorite parts of my job today!

Surface analysis at 7:00 AM on March 13, 1993 (the Blizzard of 1993). Courtesy: NOAA/WPC.
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NOAA Profiles: Storm Prediction Center

In the past, we have blogged about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and discussed how the agency works. The overarching mission of NOAA is to predict and understand the climate, oceans, weather, as well as to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. In this unprecedented time in history which we now find ourselves living in, many of these faithful civil servants continue to report to work to do their jobs and protect the public. Many of these individuals are working from home like so many of us, but many also must continue to commute to their workplace to do their jobs; the vast volume of weather data and the difficult task of issuing warnings and forecasts is not possible to do from a personal desktop or laptop computer. Kelly and I are both married (or in Kelly’s case, soon to be married!) to meteorologists who work for NOAA (my husband works for the National Weather Service at a local Weather Forecast office, while Kelly’s husband works for National Weather Service at the National Water Center), and we are so grateful for them and their coworkers who truly model what civil service means.

I thought it would be interesting to dig a little deeper into some of the agencies which make up NOAA, highlighting a little bit more of the invaluable work they do and how they contribute to NOAA’s mission. Since we are heading into the peak of severe weather season, it seemed like a great time to learn a little bit more about the Storm Prediction Center, which is located in Norman, Oklahoma.

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The Nashville Tornadoes of March 2-3, 2020

Although life as we all know it has changed since this weather event only about a month ago, and even since just a few weeks ago when I wrote this post, we are still committed to reviewing past weather events, providing weather safety information, and generally discussing interesting meteorology topics via this blog. While we realize that life is not normal for so many of us, we hope that by continuing to blog on these important topics gives you, our readers, a sense of consistency and normalcy when everything in the world is changing by the minute.

I would also be remiss not to mention that, between the time which this blog was written a few weeks ago and the time it was pushed live to our website, yet another tragic round of severe weather impacted parts of the Southeast and Midwest on March 28. Numerous thunderstorms caused widespread wind damage and at least 30 reported tornadoes from Iowa and Illinois south to Kentucky and Arkansas. One of the largest was an EF-3 tornado which hit the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas. At least 83 homes were destroyed, and although there were 22 injuries, thankfully no fatalities were reported. The weather keeps marching on, further compounding and complicating the difficult situation of quarantine and social distancing which is already in effect due to the ongoing pandemic.

That being said, this blog post will focus on the deadly tornadoes which impacted the Nashville area on March 2 and 3, 2020.

On the evening of March 2 into March 3, deadly tornadoes marched through central Tennessee and made a direct hit on the city of Nashville. The storms were particularly deadly because some of the strongest impacts occurred after dark and during the overnight hours when most people were sleeping. At least 24 people lost their lives as a result of these storms, including at least five children under age 13. Countless others suffered injuries, and tens of thousands were left without power and suffered damage to their homes. While the most common time of day for tornadoes to occur is late afternoon or early evening, they can occur at any time of day. Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients that came together to create such a high-impact event.

Putnam County, TN tornado damage. Courtesy: National Weather Service.
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Third Thursday Interview: Kathryn Prociv

Can you believe we’re already this far into March and at the spring equinox? Additionally, we are again at the Third Thursday of the month, which means it is time for our next interview with a colleague to learn more about how she is using her experience and knowledge in the field of meteorology.
These interviews are so much fun for us, because even though we are professional colleagues of the individuals we will profile in the coming months, it is always fun to learn more about them as people as well! This month, our Third Thursday guest interview is with Kathryn Prociv, CCM. I had the privilege of getting to know Kathryn while she was taking her CCM exam last year. I immediately found her engaging, interesting, and very knowledgeable. I hope you find her story as interesting as I did!

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Preparedness in Times of Uncertainty

What a week it has been! At this time last week, I was driving down to Rockland County, New York on the first absolutely beautiful spring day we’ve had, expecting to appear at a trial later that day. My student intern and I were having a great conversation, and the drive was smooth and uneventful. As events turned out, I found myself (and my intern) driving back down to Rockland County on Wednesday. By the time we were on our way home, life as we knew it was quickly beginning to unravel. Her college made the move to online classes for the remainder of the semester, and in the coming days everything else quickly followed with closures and cancellations coming too fast to keep up with.

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Counting down to the Spring (Vernal) Equinox

In just one week, spring will have officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Although the winter here in upstate New York has been relatively mild in terms of temperatures, the frequency of days on which a cold rain has occurred has me anxiously awaiting the increased sunshine and longer days to come in the next few months. Although we wrote a blog post last year on why we have the seasons, I thought it would be fun to look at some little known facts about the spring, or vernal equinox.

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