Chapter News
June 2011


The Ark-La-Tex Chapter of the American Meteorological Society held its 3rd meeting of 2011 on June 27th, at the Marshall Police Department Headquarters in Marshall, Texas.  The meeting began at 6:30 pm, with twelve members present.

Randy Pritchard, Emergency Manager for the city of Marshall, Texas, gave a presentation on the operations of the Division of Emergency Management for Marshall. In it, he detailed their response to manmade and non-manmade disasters throughout Marshall and Harrison County, while also emphasizing the importance of their partnerships with other city, county, state, and federal agencies while responding to these emergencies, and in preparing/training for them. Pritchard also discussed his agency’s role in the installation of four tornado sirens throughout the city, as well as the coordination with the city council in allocating yearly funding for the dissemination of crucial weather observations from the Harrison County Airport AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System), which is vital not only for the public and aviation community, but also for the National Weather Service. Following his presentation, Pritchard gave a tour of the Marshall Police Department Headquarters, as well as the

9-1-1 Dispatch Center.


Following the tour, Chapter President Jason Hansford held a brief business meeting to discuss dues to new members and also to plan ahead for future meetings.


The following members were present:


Jason Hansford, President

Leslie Sexton, Treasurer

Randy Pritchard

Armando Garza

Ken Falk

Kelly Spencer

Jana Spencer

John Mussey

John Beck

Gary Blair

John Armistead

Frank Higgins


The meeting adjourned at 7:45 PM.---Jason Hansford for Brandi Richardson.



The High Plains Chapter met at the Town and Country restaurant in Norton, KS for lunch on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011.  Chapter Vice President Al Pietrycha, SOO GLD oversaw the meeting, in the absence of President Chris Foltz, GLD, who was in Omaha providing operational support to the northern plains flooding.  The group consisted of 10 members and began with a lunch.  Our business meeting was held after lunch, and was then followed by a presentation from Aaron Johnson, SOO DDC on the operational use of Dual Pol radar products from the Vance AFB, OK radar. Aaron shared some findings on how to detect large hail one or two volume scans earlier than previously with 88D base products.  Aaron also demonstrated the use of the Tornado Debris Signatures to verify a tornado.  Many questions were asked and Aaron handled each question with some detail and examples.


The HP15 Conference to be held Aug 4-6th in Wichita has extended the abstract submission deadline to July 1st.  All are encouraged to send in your presentation abstract close to July 1st, even if you aren’t finished with the entire presentation. For conference info, go to our website: or directly to Conference registration deadline is July 15th – so hurry!  A very worthwhile set of keynote and conference presenters are lined up, as well as numerous other activities.  There was much discussion centered on the subject future conferences, and future chapter funds to support an annual conference.  One suggestion was to change to an every-other-year format.  Our Chapter is looking for ideas to pep up, or spice up, the HP conference.  Ideas and suggestions can be submitted to Chapter President Chris Foltz at  VP Al Pietrycha/GLD will give a presentation to the Hasting NWS office on July 15th, covering  his experiences  providing Decision Support Services at a Type-I event.  Kansas University student, Jordan Carroll from Atwood, KS, stopped by the Goodland NWS office and interviewed Al Pietrycha/SOO.  Jordan is a former winner of the HP Chapter scholarship.---Tim Burke.



Meeting Minutes for June 30, 2011


I.  Call to Order

The second NWA/AMS meeting of 2011 started at 6 p.m. and was officially opened by Corresponding Secretary, Mr. Eric Carpenter at 6:30 p.m.  The Chapter meeting was held at the NWS office in Flowood, MS.  Time was allowed for the catering by the Time Out Sports Café before assembling into the meeting.


II. Rolls

Recording Secretary Ms. Nancy Lopez took attendance, and the sign-in sheet confirmed 18 attendees. 


III. Minutes Approval

Ms. Lopez briefed the group on the activities and minutes from the March 3, 2011 meeting which were approved.   An announcement was made that minutes were made available to another website, and now should be posted three places.


IV. New Business

Treasurer, Ms. Joanne Culin gave an update on the financial report.  The last balance in March had funds totaling $180.  The group collected more dues of $20 at the meeting, to be used to pay for the caterer. 


Mr. Eric Carpenter, NWS Forecaster then started his power point presentation on the April 2011 tornado outbreaks, including the historical outbreak from April 25-27, 2011.  This information was also presented at the recent Jackson State University (JSU) weather camp.  He provided descriptions of the volatile severe weather set-up and showed damage photos for each outbreak and detailed radar data analyses for the Clinton, MS EF-3 and Neshoba/Kemper EF-5 tornadoes. It was noted this was the first EF5 tornado in MS since the Candlestick Park tornado in 1966.  The NWS staff on call those days also recalled their version of the events that struck Mississippi and Alabama over the duration.


The second part of the meeting was presented by NWA President Mr. Vincent Webb on his post-graduation storm chase trip from May 23 to 25 this year.  He traveled across Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee for one week in his own car, videotaping and storm chasing several funnel clouds and tornados.  One clip showed footage of several harrowing near misses of vehicles and a semi-truck in direct path while parked on the side of the road.  He had to reverse the vehicle at one point to get out of harm’s way, and he checked on a nearby school before leaving the area.


V.  Adjournment

The meeting concluded at approximately 7:47 p.m.  The next meeting date is being planned for September.---Nancy Lopez.



In June, the Los Angeles Chapter held their annual banquet at the Beckham Grill in Old Town Pasadena, with invited speaker, Mike Anderson, state climatologist, visiting from Sacramento to the southland.  His topic was, “The Wild Water Year of 2010-11.”  And a wild one it was.  For a La Niña year, most forecasts were tending towards a cool, dry year for the state of California.  But as Mike Anderson pointed out, rainfall and snowfall was unusually high-even record high in some parts of the sunshine state. In fact, for the period of October through April, our typical rainy season, there were 570 temperature records and 120 precipitation records broken.  Mike highlighted two major storms hitting on December 21st and March 21st, both leading to widespread flooding. The former sloshed through southern regions, while the latter focused on the northern regions. Some locations received nearly their annual totals just in one of these storm periods.  December was the monster month, hooking into a river of moisture from west of Hawaii and slamming into southern California with over 200% of normal precipitation.  But it wasn’t all rainfall, as the Sierras were literally buried under heavy snowpack. Mike’s pictures included buried recording station buildings (3 stories!) and power lines.  While farmers are ecstatic, after a 3-year drought about the prospect of water aplenty, the threat of floods with snowmelt looms large in some areas.  When asked to explain this unusual year, Mike Anderson explained, “you need to understand processes.”  He then showed a slide from Marty Ralph showing the key phenomena affecting California water resources and flooding. The factors focused on the tropical Pacific, which Anderson stated that the most extreme California storms result from the “rare alignment of key processes.”  Project ArkStorm was mentioned, the USGS study looking at responses to the most extreme flooding scenario for the entire state. The wild water year of 2010-11 resembled the floods of 1955 and 1964 which were also La Niña years with cold Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Mike Anderson also discussed some of the many projects his Department of Water Resources and the state climate program are involved in. Many of these provided access to new climate products such as a newly formed coop stations in California part of the Cooperative Rain, Hail and Snow (COCORAHS) network, now having 700 observers in the state. Others include climate change studies, wind energy (with online wind roses), and evapotranspiration forecast products out to 6 days, to aid agriculture.

Mike also helped out on our traditional meteorological raffle, pulling winning names out of a bowl. Donated prizes and selling raffle tickets help the chapter’s small treasury keep afloat.  We also awarded the winner of the 2nd annual rainfall contest (closest forecast to the Los Angeles total rainfall from July1-June30) to member Larry Bregman, who guessed 17.85”. So far over 20” has fallen.  Since most members followed NOAA’s long range forecast of drier than normal conditions due to a strong La Niña, Larry won by “bucking the trend.”---Steve LaDochy.



The June 2011 Meeting of the Wichita Chapter of the AMS/NWA

The June meeting was held on Tuesday, June 28th at the Sedgwick County Emergency Operations Center in downtown Wichita. There were 8 guests and 22 members in attendance.

After a lunch of pizza, pop and desserts, President Jerilyn Billings called the meeting to order at 11:45 a.m. She gave an update on the “15th Annual High Plains Conference; The Past, Present and Future of Weather” to be held at the Wichita Marriott from August 4th through the 6th of 2011. It was announced that the career fair portion of the conference was cancelled due to lack of interest, but all else was going ahead as planned including the banquet, the sale of “polos” and t-shirts and the “Storm Chaser Meet-and-Greet” to be held on Saturday from Noon until 3 immediately following the conference.

The minutes of the last meeting were read by Secretary Mark Bogner and were entered into official chapter records.

President Billings gave an update on the Dual-Pol update for the ICT 88D radar to begin July 6th, leaving the radar down from 10 days to 2 weeks.

The presentation portion of the meeting featured Bob Dixon, Mayor of Greensburg with an update on how his town had fared since the May 4th, 2007 tornado. Mayor Dixon shared before and after pictures of his own home. He thanked everyone in attendance for what we had done to help that day and while 11 lives were lost, it could have easily been in the 100s if we had not all done our jobs that evening. He pointed out that the “Green” in Greensburg came from a pioneer named Don Green long before the “Green Movement” had that name and that when it came to rebuilding in a green way, they had to first get over some of the “hippie” stereotypes that went along with being green and that it was all about sustainability.

He actually called the tornado a “blessing” of sorts as it affected everyone in the community. There was not a division of “haves” and “have-nots” getting in the way of the community completely relying on each other. In the early days, 600-700 people showed up for meetings in a “big tent” on the east side of town and it involved everyone from the community, including business, planning and the council. They were able to come up with a list of values listed in order here: Community, Family, Prosperity, Environment, Affordability, Growth, Renewal, Water, Health, Energy, Wind and Built Environment. He noted that in society in general while resource availability was going down, resource consumption was going up and this was unsustainable. The people of Greensburg came from a background with the philosophies of, “Take care of the land and it will take care of you” and “Leave it better than you found it.” This sustainability, or capacity to endure, is based on a “3-legged stool” approach of business, environment and people, all of which are needed to make it work. Vision with action can change the world.

Mayor Dixon showed a series of pictures of where Greensburg is today, based on these philosophies: a new water tower, an important beacon to the community; an arts center, town-homes and a municipal building which are all the first in Kansas to be certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum; a business incubator to start new businesses in town; a city hall made from reclaimed wood and brick; schools for the entire county in one building built with wood from Hurricane Katrina, reclaimed barn wood, natural lighting, wind power and the latest technology; a medical clinic/hospital/fire/emergency building all-in-one with wind power; new trees; new Main Street businesses; new brick on main reclaimed from the Menninger Clinic in Topeka; a new Dillon’s grocery store from Kroger called the “Greensburg Prototype”; a new John Deere combined with BTI Wind to sell windmills through agriculture dealers; a county courthouse which was gutted and brought up to state of the art, including geothermal wells; landscaping that was “living within the environment” with native plants; a community wind farm that allows Greensburg to run on totally wind generated electricity; churches and new homes, many of which saw a 70% utility bill cut due to green building.

Mayor Dixon said it was important to point out that new businesses will fail and not to be discouraged, and finally pointed out that the new buildings in town were not built to withstand another tornado like the one that took the town in the first place. He said this would be impractical and unrealistic and that every single building couldn’t be an underground bunker in a town that hopes to succeed.

A question and answer period followed and Mayor Dixon ended with the idea that one is never done with rebuilding.

The next meeting was set for September with the exact date, time and location to be determined and would most likely be a pot-luck, community get-together.

The meeting adjourned at 1:05 p.m.---Mark Bogner.



June Chapter News.---Lindsay Rice.





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