Can Mega Wind Farms Inhibit a Tornado or Defer Its Path?

I was watching ABC news about the 900 mile swath of 21 tornadoes that were active from western Michigan to Missouri last night and remembered watching a special on TV about one of climatologist’s biggest fears, tornadoes that unite to become multi-vortex mega storms. Is this what we’re beginning to experience? The NOAA website reports: “There is a statistical trend (as documented by NSSL’s Harold Brooks) toward wide tornadoes having higher damage ratings. This could be related to greater tornado strength, more opportunity for targets to damage, or some blend of both. However, the size or shape of any particular tornado does not say anything conclusive about its strength.” So there is a trend but it appears to be downplayed, while tornadoes are becoming rampant across the heartland of our country, destroying more and more properties every year, and occurring out of season.

Residents in the Missouri area said they witnessed 4 distinct heads of the multi vortex tornado that covered a 5-mile swath of land. This tornado was also described by the newscaster as a bouncer, touching down, going up, and then touching down again. The same NOAA website states that tornadoes don’t literally skip. It says: “By definition [] a tornado must be in contact with the ground. There is disagreement in meteorology over whether or not multiple touchdowns of the same vortex or funnel cloud mean different tornadoes (a strict interpretation). In either event, stories of skipping tornadoes usually mean

1. There was continuous contact between vortex and ground in the path, but it was too weak to do damage;
2. Multiple tornadoes happened; but there was no survey done to precisely separate their paths (very common before the 1970s); or
3. There were multiple tornadoes with only short separation, but the survey erroneously classified them as one tornado.

So was this multi-vortex, bouncing tornado possibly a new phenomena? Is there anything that can be done to limit the increasing velocity and strength of tornadoes? Well, “Daniel Barrie and Daniel Kirk-Davidoff of the University of Maryland concocted an experiment. They took the pattern of expanding turbine fields to an extreme, and used a computer model to calculate what might happen if all the land from Texas to central Canada, and from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains were covered in one massive wind farm,” according to an article on Discovery Channel website. It said, “[They] acknowledged the hypothetical wind farm was far larger than anything humans are likely to build. But meeting the Department of Energy’s goal of wind power generation by 2030 would require that scores of huge wind farms be built throughout the Midwestern United States. The total disturbance caused by turbines could be enough to steer storms.”

Although the NOAA website states that it is unlikely we could ever come up with anything that could stop a tornado that wouldn’t be worse than the tornado itself, it does talk about dissipating one, which means to slow down or cause it to break up. The website’s FAQ’s page said that tornadoes do need a source of instability and a “larger-scale property of rotation (vorticity) to keep going.” It went on to say that a lot of processes surrounding a storm could rob the area around a tornado of either instability or vorticity. Cold outflow is one. This is the flow of wind out of the precipitation area of a shower or thunderstorm. It’s been observed that cold outflow causes a tornado to go away. It also says: “For decades, storm observers have documented the death of numerous tornadoes when their parent circulations (mesocyclones) weaken after they become wrapped in outflow air — either from the same thunderstorm or a different one.”

Could that different outflow of air possibly be produced by large wind farms in the near future? Could they produce enough wind to replicate the outflow air of a thunderstorm? If so, it’s incentive enough to develop wind power. There are far too many homes and properties destroyed every year from increasingly bad weather. If we thought the stock market dive was bad, imagine insurance companies going bust?


Cash Corn Crops Go the Way of Floods in the Midwest

For those of us in Michigan or anywhere else that think global warming or any of the climate events happening elsewhere won’t/don’t affect us guess again. Just like yesterday’s blog about Dead Zones that affects our penchant for shrimp, crab, and select fish like grouper, the California fires are in wine country. So that perfect glass of wine to accompany that already vulnerable seafood dinner may not materialize at all.

Floods in the Midwest have caused a huge loss in corn crops also. So much for ethanol as an alternative. The loss of corn is going to cause an even greater problem with food shortages worldwide, which really can’t take another hit. As a result we’ll soon see food prices climb even higher here.

It simply amazes me that we’re experiencing such drastic degrees of bad weather at the same time. Look at the flood risk this year: Hundreds of people have lost homes and irreplaceable keepsakes due to flood damage.

Does anyone remember some of the prophecies about the future from the likes of Nostradamus, Cayce, and Dixon? One of the prophecies was that the U.S. would be divided by water eventually. The water rose through the middle of the country separating the east from the west. This doesn’t bode well considering the middle of our country is flooding.

As for fires, it looks like a fifth of California is burning: Eighty homes and other structures have been destroyed by fires, while more homes are still threatened. If fires sweep through wine country there will be zilch for the year 2008.

And for those of us that have always grown things we know weather problems affect our little gardens, fruit trees, and whatever we grow just like the big guys. The wind that ripped the shingles off my house on Monday would have caused a big loss in my vegetable garden had it been later in the season when the plants were bigger. I’m saying this because I see many more gardens planted this year than ever before, and I just wonder if the novices realize that the survival technique of growing our own food can backfire on us easily if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. The idea of living like our forefathers or Grizzly Adams if we have to won’t cut it without the support of a decent environment, so relying on ourselves for survival may not be viable if the weather continues to be extreme. Like the old commercial for butter used to say: “It’s notnice [or wise]to fool with Mother Nature.”


Earthquake and Tsunami Prevention 101

I’m addicted to the Science Channel. The topic of interest tonight was tsunamis. After the one in Indonesia that killed a quarter million people it should be of interest to everyone who lives on a coast somewhere. There are many shifting plates around the world known for their activity that can cause earthquakes. I had no idea how many there really are. There is a Eurasian-African plate, Indian Australian plate, the Alpine plate, Caribbean plate, a lot of plates for a lot of earthquakes.

Australia is particularly concerned. It seems the most likely place a tsunami will hit as it has before is the East Coast of Australia where sits Sydney. There is a huge public beach there with thousands of beachgoers in the summer season. A simulated video showed how a Tsunami like that in Indonesia would travel up an inlet there and really cause trouble because the coastline is lined with boulders. Imagine a wall of water coming at you full of boulders. If the water doesn’t kill you the debris does.

Australia has suffered two large tsunamis near Sydney and a bunch of small ones in the past. Earthquakes along the Alpine Fault next to New Zealand are to blame. Earthquakes there happen every 500 years and guess what’s overdue? It was stated that just because it hasn’t happened does not mean it’s not going to. It means it will really be big when it does. Sounds like giving birth doesn’t it?

Hawaii has been hit by tsunamis in the past also. But now Hawaii has the NOAA Tsunami Warning Center to give notice as soon as possible. But will it be soon enough? Right now Dr. Stephen Hickman, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Society is involved with drilling down and across the San Andreas Fault off of San Francisco in order to secure seismic meters there in an attempt to have the earliest warning possible of any and all earthquakes. I was reading more about this project on the Southern California Earthquake Center website and the author, part of a film crew, says he was standing on the drilling platform of the SAFOD or San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth project when an earthquake hit. Now that’s reporting firsthand. It was a 6.0 and the comment was that this was probably ‘the most well-recorded earthquake in history.’

It’s an interesting and humorous story, and quite a fluke that the author was actually there on top of the quake shaking violently on the drilling platform. This is quite a new and innovative project, but in the end may save millions of people if it can forecast big and small, upcoming quakes, and broadcast threats of any resulting tsunamis. I wonder how or who is placing those seismic meters in the tunnels? Considering what happened, not a good job to have. Kind of like putting the first construction cone out on the highway.


So We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

Now we’re finally getting solid documentation that man is indeed having a great impact on the environment. The NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that humans caused nearly of the bad weather we experienced last year. This is not a U.N. conspiracy like some like to call environmentalism. This is that voice on the weather band on your car audio: “This is NOAA weather and hazard” at least that’s what it sounds like. This is our national weather service that did the study spanning 1998 to 2006.

The NOAA ran 42 different tests using data of weather conditions relative to human activity and El Nino’s. The article I read on MSN went into detail how they did it, why it took awhile, and the not so surprising results. At least a growing majority of us are seeing and believing. It’s a pretty good weather page from MSN.

Look at some of the weather reports on there for just this past week:

A cyclone hit the coast of Bangladesh with winds up to 155 mph. At least 425 people were killed, 1000 fishermen, and hundreds more are unaccounted for. The summer floods there just killed 1000 people.

Vietnam flooded last weekend. 100,000 people have no food. They lost it all, 190,000 houses are submerged. The flooding has been going on for a month with over 250 dead.

A major 7.7 earthquake in Chile “crushed cars, damaged thousands of houses, blocked roads and terrified people for hundreds of miles around Wednesday. Chilean authorities reported at least two deaths and more than 150 injuries.

The quake, which struck at 12:40 p.m., shook the Chilean capital 780 miles to the south of the epicenter, and was felt as far away as the other side of the continent in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1,400 miles to the east.”

The next day the northern part of Chile was hit with huge aftershocks of 6.2 and 6.8 injuring about 100 people and killing 2.

Atlanta’s out of water.

This is a wake up call. The longer we wait for policy, the more it’s not going to be pretty. On the NOAA weather site they have listed the major catastrophic weather events going back to 1990. I did the same about 2 years ago, and wouldn’t have now that I see how nicely they’ve compiled it! I went back to 1990 and printed a list of all catastrophic events per page for each year to 2001. 1990 barely filled a quarter of a page. 2001 was 2 pages printed no double spacing. I don’t think I used NOAA, but another International Weather Service that had the events by year but not in a neat little list.

Check out the NOAA website yourself and scan the climate events. There are many recently and as you scan down to 1990 it dwindles to about 2 or 3 events. That’s a scannable eye opener. Every line scanned represents a catastrophe somewhere in the world where someone died.