July 30, 2007

What Would Jo Harding Do?


Idly watching a couple of tee vee shows about tornadoes on the National Geographic channel last evening, I was surprised a bit by how far out of the loop I have become regarding meteorlogical jargon. For instance, one of the phrases that was being bandied about by the storm-chasers in these programs was "rear flank downdraft" or "RDF" which Wikipedia defines as:

The rear flank downdraft or RFD is a region of dry air wrapping around the back of a mesocyclone in a supercell thunderstorm. These areas of decending air are thought to be essential in the production of many supercellular tornadoes. Large hail within the rear flank downdraft often shows up brightly as a hook on weather radar images, producing the characteristic hook echo, which often indicates the presence of a tornado.

There is also a "forward flank downdraft" distinguishable not just by its relative position within the storm, but also by the fact that it is composed of cooler and moister air.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by meteorology (in fact, I wanted to be a meteorologist) and read every book I could get my hands on regarding tornadoes in particular, and supercell thunderstorms in general. Of course, this was back in the early 70's, when detailed scientific knowledge of the workings of these wonders amounted to what is technically known as "bupkiss". My impression is that what we know about them has spiked significantly in the past, oh, ten years or so, particularly with the advent of more sophisticated Doppler radar and the like. (Mmmm....Doppler radar.....Mmmmmm.....) If I were ever to get back into it on the informed layman's level, I suppose I'd have an awful lot of catching up to do. Anybody know a good, recent book on the subject?

The other thing that occurred to me again whilst watching these shows was how much I'd like to try going on one of those storm-chasing tours, although judging from some of the footage, it seems there are so damn many chasers now that one would spend more time dodging traffic than actually getting to watch the weather.

Posted by Robert at July 30, 2007 08:35 AM | TrackBack

Me? Please?

Hell, I'd rather watch her read lines from a cue card at hurricane-du-jour than watch any of the current meatheads ad-libbing their way through a live segment.

Posted by: Captain Ned at July 30, 2007 09:24 PM