Chapter News
February 2003


The High Plains Chapter of the AMS held a meeting on February 4, 2003 in Hill City, KS at Gwen's Hometown Café. This was a new meeting place for our chapter, and the food and accommodations were very satisfying. Fifteen lively souls gathered, including six visitors, of which four were first time attendees, who may join our chapter soon. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, followed by the business meeting, then were given an enlightening presentation by chapter member Ryan Phillips of KHGI-TV in Kearney, NE. The presentation was titled, "Media Use of National Weather Service Products". He not only outlined the operations of his station, but explained how different media users use NWS products and services differently. It was evident Ryan and his station are making that "extra effort" to put out quality programing, while at the same time maintaining a good working relationship with local (and some not so local!) NWS offices. The NWS sure could use more media broadcasters like Ryan Phillips, with his positive and proactive attitude.

Our new President, Mike Moritz, called the meeting to order and Secretary Tim Burke read the minutes from the previous meeting. Vice President Jared Guyer gave us an update on the upcoming 7th Annual High Plains Conference, scheduled for October 8-10th in Hastings, NE. An announcement and call for papers has gone out, and several quality speakers have been invited. An evening out is being planned for Thursday evening, Oct 9th. ALL chapter NWS offices were encouraged to advertise and promote this conference in their respective areas (CWAs), including to neighboring NWS offices, media outlets, schools, emergency managers, etc. Updated information on the conference will be posted regularly on our chapter homepage:

An impressive poster put together by the Hastings NWS office was exhibited, which will be taken to the National AMS conference in Long Beach for display. It was agreed to make a collective effort to strive for Chapter of the Year worthiness. Bruce Entwistle, SOO GLD, reported that the Goodland WFO has been teaching a MET101 class at Colby Community College (KS). Furthermore, a couple of the Goodland staff members routinely serve as judges for local scholar bowls. The next meeting will be in April and feature Pete Wolf, the SOO at the Wichita NWS office, talking about meteorological situational awareness in a warning scenario.---Tim Burke.



Date: Monday, February 17 2003

Speaker: Dr. Joseph P. Colaco

Program: "Design of Buildings for Extreme Winds."

Dr. Joseph Colaco talked about wind engineering of high rise buildings. In particular he talked about the effect Hurricane Alicia had on the buildings in downtown Houston and some of the reasons for large amount of glass breakage that took place as the high winds of Alicia pounded downtown Houston.

Topics included:
a. History of Wind Engineering
b. Wind Tunnel tests
c. Cladding results and window wall tests
d. Building wind moments, acceleration and motion perception
e. Wind Retrofit (1100(?) Louisiana Building)of Buildings
f. Damage caused by Hurricane Alicia
g. Research needs

Dr. Joseph Phillip Colaco is among the leading specialists in building structures worldwide. He has made notable contributions to the advancement of the design and construction practice of structural engineering as it applies to tall buildings. Colaco has introduced numerous cost-saving innovations that have been widely adopted by many structural engineers. The meeting was held at University of Houston College of Architecture.---Liz Murphy.


General Business Meeting: February 5, 2003

Start: 8:00 pm

President Cegeon Chan

Vice President Gabriel Langbaurer Secretary Amy Lawton Treasurer Richard Pezzillo Public Relations Heather Vieira President Cegeon Chan End: 8:20 pm---Amy Lawton.


Omaha-Offutt AMS Meeting February 27, 2003

Jon Davies, a private meteorologist from Wichita and well published researcher, presented to the Omaha-Offutt AMS chapter after giving earlier talks at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and at the Hastings and Omaha-Valley NWS offices. Davies, originally from Pratt, Kansas and a graduate of the University of Kansas, worked as a broadcast meteorologist for The Weather Channel in the 1980's and has been heavily involved in severe weather research since that time. Davies presented an overview of his own work and that of other researchers regarding useful ingredients for forecasting tornadoes, dividing his talk into three areas: significant supercell (mesocyclone) tornado events, mini-supercell tornado events, and events involving non-mesocyclone ("landspout") tornadoes.

Summarizing recent work by researchers such as Rasmussen and Markowski and his own low-level thermodynamic research, Davies listed three primary ingredients needed to support significant supercell (mesocylone) tornadoes. These are: 1) a strong and persistent updraft, 2) tilting of horizontal streamwise vorticity in low-levels, and 3) a special downdraft (not too cold or stable) that contains buoyancy for interaction in low-levels with the updraft. From Markowski's work, the last ingredient is implied by a relatively low lifting condensation level (LCL), suggesting less potential for cold pooling. Regarding useful forecasting parameters, these ingredients are related to stronger combinations of low-level shear and instability (e.g., 0-1 km Energy-Helicity index values > 1-2 for significant supercell tornadoes), stronger deep-layer shear (0-6 km bulk shear > 30-35 kts) and lower LCL heights (generally below 1200-1500 m). Davies showed some cases and ways of estimating the combination of these ingredients for forecasting. The importance of local boundaries from work by Rasmussen and collaborators was strongly emphasized.

Davies also presented his own work regarding ways to estimate whether a low-level environment is too "elevated" or stable for supercell tornadoes. He showed data indicating that significant tornadoes are generally not associated with environments having large convective inhibition (mean-layer CIN > 100-150 J/kg) and high levels of free convection (mean-layer LFC heights > 2000-2500 m). He also showed cases where supercells with radar-indicated tornado-warned mesocyclones well north of a steeply sloping boundary were strongly elevated and did not produce tornadoes.

On a somewhat different subject, Davies listed ingredients common to many mini-supercell tornado events that involve low-topped storms in the plains. These include 1) a core of cold air aloft, resulting in steep lapse rates and instability closer to the ground, and 2) a well-defined cold front/dry line boundary with narrow axis of low-level moisture extending east/southeast from a surface low near the upper low. These ingredients suggest potential for increased low-level instability and stretching along the boundary, which would also provide focus and additional vorticity. Most of these cases occur in the spring across the plains states, and tornadoes are most common near a triple point (cold front/warm front/occluded front intersection) not far east of the low, with surface dew points often only in the low to mid 50's. Because "typical" supercell tornado parameters do not highlight these events very well (possibly due to their localized nature and smaller amounts of instability), the recognition of this general pattern (upper cold low with associated surface low and boundary) and the associated ingredients are crucial to the forecaster. Davies showed a couple cases as examples.

Finally, Davies looked at some cases involving non-mesocyclone tornadoes (often called "landspouts"). From long-recognized work by Wakimoto and Wilson, the ingredients for such events are: 1) the presence of a slow moving surface wind shift boundary with pockets of vertical vorticity, and 2) developing thunderstorm updrafts directly over the boundary that stretch the low-level vertical vorticity into tornadoes.

More recent work by Davies has identified several low-level thermodynamic characteristics typically present in the environment near boundaries where non-mesocylone tornadoes occurred. These include: 1) steep lapse rates that approach the dry-adiabatic lapse rate in the lowest 1 to 2 km (around 9oC/km or more), and 2) LFC heights that are relatively low (generally below 2200 m) and very close above the LCL height, with little CIN between the two levels. The combination of these ingredients along a boundary suggests increased potential for rapid upward parcel acceleration in low-levels within an air mass of sufficient moisture depth to reduce loss of buoyancy by strong entrainment. Using several events of this type, Davies showed surface patterns containing these ingredients, involving a surface heat axis intersecting a boundary (typically oriented northeast to southwest) and a relatively moist area exhibiting lower LFC heights and small CIN. In the cases Davies showed as examples, multiple tornadoes occurred with thunderstorms that formed on the boundary near the intersection of these ingredients, typically with the southernmost storm or storms. Unlike many supercell tornadoes, LCL heights for these events tended to be notably higher (1500-2000 m), with a key factor appearing to be the presence of the LFC within 200-300 m above the LCL for mean-layer parcels. Recognizing combinations of these ingredients and surface patterns that contain them may be useful as a short-term situational awareness tool for forecasters regarding more notable non-mesocyclone events involving multiple tornadoes over periods up to an hour or more.

The Omaha-Offutt chapter was honored to have Mr. Jon Davies as a guest speaker and presented him with a small gift as a token of the chapter's gratitude.--- Jeremy Wesely.


The Cook College Chapter of the AMS had their 2nd general meeting of the 2003 Spring Semester on 18 February 2003. The meeting began with a discussion of the recent major winter storm that dropped nearly 21" inches of snow in the central New Jersey area. Chuck introduced Dean Iovino from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Mount Holly, NJ.

Mr. Iovino spoke for about 20 minutes discussing the goals of the NWS. He talked about the different offices and what exactly they do at their office. He told the members about the various positions available in meteorology and specifically those at the NWS. He encouraged people to apply for internships and jobs with the NWS. He also discussed salary figures for jobs with the NWS. Finally, Mr. Iovino took questions from the members present at the meeting.

Chuck Caracozza, Club President, discussed plans for Special Friends Day, a day on campus where handicapped children come for a day of fun. The club will be assisting others on campus with this day. In addition, Chuck recognized the students who attended the AMS Annual Meeting in Long Beach, CA and thanked them for a good time.---Brian J. Frugis.


On February 25, 2003, the SouthEastern Arizona Chapter of the AMS had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Reseach for our monthly meeting. The laboratory is located on the University of Arizona campus and is home to about 26 professors, scientists and graduate students. Many scientists come from around the world to learn about dendrochronology (the dating and study of annual rings in trees) and to bring it back to their country. Our speaker was Rex Adams, a Senior Research Specialist and the Outreach Coordinator. LTRR's mission is "to apply dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) to improve understanding of natural environmental variability in climatic, hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological systems and their interactions with human societies." Dendrochronology was started by A.E. Douglass in the early 1900's and started the laboratory in 1938. Our chapter was given a tour through their laboratories, classrooms, and storage facilities. Wood samples came from everywhere, including South Africa, Israel, Australia, and various places in the U.S. The oldest sample was from a Bristlecone Pine that had a inner-ring date of 6707 B.C. The tree rings can give such evidence of climatic data such as past floods, droughts, levels of atmospheric gasses, fire events, etc. Douglass was first interested in the 11 year sunspot cycle and its effects on trees, and found out that the tree rings could be used for much more. And even now, scientists are still finding more things that the rings can help them with. The tour was extremely enlightening and the laboratory has a wonderful website that gives a lot of interesting information. It can be found at Reed.


Tuesday February 25, 2003 at 7:00PM:

President Brent Maddux welcomed members, to open the second meeting of the spring semester. Treasurer Paul Roller reported on the chapter's budget and Secretary Morgan Gallagher read the minutes from the last meeting on January 21st.

Chapter T-shirts had arrived and were advertised for $12. Vice-President Travis Herzog gave a report on winning the Student Chapter of the Year Award in Long Beach and other events that took place at the national conference. The annual Oklahoma trip was announced for the weekend of March 28-29. The club will visit Oklahoma University's Meteorology Department and the National Severe Storms Laboratory. An additional stop may be made to the Dallas/Forth Worth Airport, but that is still in the works.

Adopt-a-Beach will be one of the last two weekends in April and Adopt-a- Highway will be the first weekend we have with decent weather. Three intramural teams have been set up for the spring semester. There is a male 5-on-5 basketball team, women's softball team and men's softball team. Friday Night Spikes (weekly sand volleyball) was announced to resume on Friday the 28th, rain or shine.

Our storm chasing club, Texas A&M Mobile Severe Storms Data Acquisition (TAMMSSDA) made a few announcements. First operations of the year had occurred February 21st. It was not fruitful, but a good first run to open the season. The group has acquired a donated laptop which will now aid in chasing by giving the group up to the minute information. A CPR training session was set up for Wednesday the 26 at 7:00PM at the Recreational Center. Also, a SKYWARN training session was announced for Wednesday March 26 at 7:00PM.

TAMSCAMS' next meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday March 18th at 7:00PM. President Maddux introduced Texas A&M's Atmospheric Sciences' Department head Dr. North, who gave a lecture over 'Climate Change: Ancient and Recent'.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:45 for pizza and refreshments.---Morgan Gallagher.


February 2003 Meeting: The Mediterranean Sea & Climate Change

Dr. Robert G Johnson earned his PhD at Iowa State University in 1953, worked for Honeywell in Research and Development for 34 years and became an Adjunct Professor at the Univ of Minnesota in the Geology/Geophysics Dept in 1990. His topic was the connection between the North Atlantic oceanic circulation and the possibility of another Ice Age. Recent analysis of research done on coral reefs and geological outcroppings in Barbados linked the saltiness of the outflow of the Mediterranean Sea to oceanic circulation which alters global climate. Currently salinity is increasing in the Mediterranean, which means the denser water would be sinking to lower depths in the ocean. This, in turn, may cause the climate to be colder at higher latitudes with a Northward moving Jet Stream, all of which could produce another Ice Age. He did, however, consider that Global Warming could postpone or cancel that world-wide reaction.

Dr Johnson showed numerous slides of statistics, maps and models to substantiate his theory.---Joan Haley.


AMS Student Chapter University of Nebraska Lincoln
Feb 5th. 5:00p.m.

First on our list of agendas was the trip to Oklahoma for the Severe Storms conference. We discussed who will drive, meeting and leaving times, and where we will stay. We also discussed a trip we have planned on going to Iowa in March. Our club also has several other tours planned. We have a trip to our National Weather Service office in Valley, NE, a trip to a local television station to tour the meteorology office there.

Next we talked about our T-shirts that we will be selling for the club. We finalized a design and decided on them.

The high point of the meeting was a presentation by one of our current seniors, James McCormick. He had a Pepsi UCARE grant to do research, and he did a quick presentation to our club to show us an avenue for research. He presentation and research was a case study of a severe storm event in July 2002 while he was volunteering at the Hastings, Nebraska weather office.

James also presented his case study in Dodge City Kansas last semester. That was the end of our meeting for the month. We will have a busy February and March!

February proved to be a busy but productive month. We had another guest speaker on Feb. 25th. Jon Davies, a private meteorologist in Wichita Kansas, came to speak on tornado climatology. He came and briefly spoke on how he came to be where he is today. Jon then went on into his research in tornado climatology. He spoke of his collaboration with the National Severe Storms Laboratory and spoke on some of the new models being used to help forecast tornadic conditions.

We recently just had a group from our student chapter here in Lincoln, myself included, attend the Severe Weather Workshop in Norman Oklahoma, Feb 27-March 1st. It was an informative and enjoyable workshop as we got to hear some of the current research from the leading meteorologists in the NSSL, SPC, NWS, and other private sectors. We also got to hear talks from emergency managers and engineers. It was an informative experience for our students to see how meteorologists work with emergency managers and other organizations to help save lives. We also got a sneak peak at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman. We were allowed a quick tour to see what its like and how one might go about eventually working there. One of the highlights was that our group got to meet Tom Skiling of WGN from Chicago (very friendly fellow). We also got to shake hands with various other meteorologists such as Joe Schafer, who recently won an award from the AMS, and Dan McCarthy of the NSSL. It was an overall rewarding experience to see the conference. Our next meeting is this week, March 5th. ---Kelly D. Faltin.


The University of Utah Chapter met on Thursday, February 20th to continue discussion on the First Annual Photo Contest, upcoming science fairs, and our next social event.

We made a final decision on T-Shirt designs, which thanks to student group funding through the Associated Students of the University of Utah, will be free to all active members of our chapter.

Our first newsletter has been sent out through email and has also been posted on our website. It can be found at Also, check out our official photo contest website You can find more information about the contest and our reasons for putting on this fundraiser.

AMS members will have the opportunity to judge for the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair and the Central Utah Engineering and Science Fair during the month of April as well as an opportunity to teach elementary students about the weather over the next two months.

Finally, our chapter hopes to get in a chance to relax and unwind before finals week by going bowling at a local bowling alley, an event that we tried earlier in the year and that was very successful with AMS members and which even attracted some non-members as well.---Christine McCue.


Hurricane Preparedness/Pinellas County Emergency Management

The Director of the Pinellas County Emergency Management, Gary Vickers hosted the February 27th West Central Florida Chapter meeting shortly after the Code Orange terror alert was changed to yellow. The center is located in Clearwater, Florida. The Department of Emergency Management began as Pinellas County Civil Defense during the Cold War era of the late 50's and early 60's. The principal focus was protection of the population from the threat of nuclear attack by a hostile country. Over the years it became obvious that Pinellas County's population was vulnerable to a host of natural and technological hazards that were more likely to occur, and on a more frequent basis, than nuclear attack. Thus began the metamorphosis of Civil Defense to Emergency Management. Today the Department of Emergency Management vigorously pursues an "All Hazards" planning strategy in the classic "Four Phases of Emergency Management": Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

Gary Vickers, Director of Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center in the media room. Chapter Vice-president Charlie Paxton summarizes the recent Annual Meeting in Long Beach to chapter attendees.

There has not been a direct hit by a major hurricane in the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area since 1921. However, there have been numerous minor hurricanes and close encounters with major hurricanes that have stalled. One such example is Hurricane Elena in 1985 which caused Pinellas County to be under hurricane warnings for 67 hours. The hurricane was nearly stationary about 80 miles northwest of Pinellas County. At one time, the entire county of almost 1 million people was cut off from the rest of Florida, due to tide surges in Tampa Bay and river flooding. The emergency management office was staffed around the clock and worked diligently to help the residents of the Tampa Bay are to prepare for the hurricane. During and after the storm response and recovery were the objectives.

In a jurisdiction of over 900,000 residents this is no small undertaking. Their philosophy is that such planning efforts are dynamic and constantly changing. Their task is to constantly review, assess, update, and test the County's disaster preparedness plans with the ultimate goal being the protection of our citizen's and visitor's lives and property. Their success thus far has been evidenced by the State of Florida, Division of Emergency Management's review and approval of our Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). In addition, several of our plans and strategies have been utilized by the State as guidelines for other jurisdictions.

Although they provide the framework and mechanism for disaster response and recovery for the entire County, they strongly encourage and support the individual municipalities and Special Fire Control Districts to develop local Emergency Management programs. This partnership helps insure that the specific needs and capabilities of each jurisdiction are adequately planned for. As a result, every municipality in the County has designated a specific person to function as their Emergency Management Coordinator.



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