Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ozarks Storms

The weather Bureau is now reporting that the tornado count in Monday's storms is 113, across the state, mostly in SW MO. If this number holds up it is the highest one day total number of storms in history.

I am a HAM radio operator, been licensed with the same call since 1959, K0UWT (that's a zero). I don't do a lot with it nowadays, but I do follow the HAM Stormwatch nets during bad weather. They have one of the meteriologists at the weather bureau who mans the radios that are interconnected to all the trained storm spotters, and the county emergency response departments surrounding Springfield. As a rule, I hear storm information at least ten minutes before it filters down to radio and TV. And many HAMS have gone through formal weather spotting courses, and are not your usual yokel who sees things in the sky which are not there.

If you have a police scanner you can listen to this net on 146.490 MHz. If you don't I would suggest buying one, just for this reason, at a place like Radio Shack.

For example, I listened to the progress of a tornado in the air as it crossed the city tracking down Division Street, with great interest, since I only live about a mile south of Division. (If I had lived north of Division, I would have headed to the basement.) It was several minutes before this storm was reported on Channel 3, which I was also watching. Needless to say this was a very dangerous situation.

It is remarkable that there were only ten deaths across Missouri, most of which were from this area, in these storms. At least part of this was that by early afternoon the Storm Forcast Center has issued a warning that many long-track tornados could be expected. It is of great interest to everyone that Rick Santorum (R-Weasel) has proposed shutting down the National Weather Service and privatizing it. So only if you were willing to pay for storm info would you be informed. Think of that the next time you hear a Repug in SW Missouri speak glowingly about the wonders of the "free market".

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