Sunday, January 18, 2009

A tornado witness, in 1928's Romanian literature

"Over Moldova, beyond the Bolandars hills, the sky was moving and bending as it was turning against the earth ; and a roar beyond measure, one never heard before, filled the valleys as it was getting near; and all those present, turning their faces and staring around saw the dragon coming in a spiralling whirlwind at a great speed. I saw it with my own eyes and I trembled. It was coming straight towards us. With a thin tail like a black scroll, it was touching the ground and its body was high up in the air and its mouth was gaping like that of a lioness in the clouds.
It was coming roaring and swinging its tail; its very breath was sucking throwing into the sky haystacks, house roofs and uprooted trees. Beneath the roar, a downpour of hail and water was unleashed as if the whole Moldova riverbed was taken to the sky and then knocked down on us.”

Mihail Sadoveanu, Excerpt from “The Dragon” (from Ancuta’s Inn, collection of short stories)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 - web site

The web site of the National Meteorological Administration, is presenting information in a new and attractive way at this link.

You can find forecasts, warnings, animated radar images, detailed products, very useful and information about more specific products, road maintenance and conditions, etnometeorolgy, nivometeorology.

Behind this page is a very talented person, Darius Popa, that found a way to merge the interests of a private company with public needs. He has been close to the meteorology over the last 10 years and struggled to find ways on a wild land (private business with public benefits). He managed to work with professionals outside and inside the institute and to develop meteorologic products.

I am happy that my institute found a way to convey better service to the public.

Congratulations and go on!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gliding into a storm

A champion paraglider described on 16 February 2007 how she was caught in a massive thunderstorm over Australia, hurled to a height greater than Mount Everest and encased in ice before managing to descend safely to earth.
Ewa Wisnerska, 35, was sucked 32,000 ft into the air — so high that she lost consciousness from lack of oxygen and ice formed over her body. Hospital staff say the paraglider suffered severe frostbite from which she almost lost her ears.
The adventurer said it was a miracle that she survived: "You can't imagine the power. You feel like nothing, like a leaf from a tree going up," she said. "I can't do anything. It's raining and hailing and I'm still climbing — I'm lost." "I was climbing and climbing and the air was starting to freeze my sunglasses and then it was dark."
Miss Wisnerska, from Germany, was preparing for the 10th World Paragliding Championships above the town of Manilla in New South Wales when the storm struck on Wednesday.
After launching as usual from a hill, she appears to have flown under a black storm cloud and then, with terrifying speed, the wind whisked her upwards. She climbed from 2,500ft to an estimated 32,000ft in about 15 minutes.
A 42-year-old Chinese para-glider, He Zhongpin, was sucked into the same storm and died, apparently from lack of oxygen and cold. His body was found nearly 50 miles from where he took off.
Miss Wisnerska said she encountered hailstones the size of oranges as the temperature dropped to minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit. "I was shaking all the time. The last thing I remember is that it was dark. I could hear lightning all around me," she said. She regained consciousness mid-air about one hour later. "I wanted to fly around the clouds but I got sucked up 20 metres (67ft) per second into it and spiralled," she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"After 40 minutes or an hour, I woke up and I was at 6,900 metres (23,000ft). I was still flying but I realised I didn't have the brakes in my hand. I saw my hands and the gloves were frozen, I didn't have the brakes, and the glider was still flying on its own.

"I was thinking 'I can't do anything so I only have to wait and hope that the clouds are bringing me out somewhere'. Then I woke up and was thinking that I was maybe unconscious for about one minute. I didn't know I was unconscious for so long."

Her ordeal was recorded by a global positioning beacon and a radio attached to her equipment. The swirling clouds released Miss Wisnerska from their grasp and she landed safely 40 miles from her launch, suffering frostbite to her face and with ice inside her lightweight flying suit — but otherwise unharmed.
Godfrey Wenness, the president of the Manilla Sky Sailors club and organiser of the Paragliding World Championship, said Miss Wisnerska's tale was unprecedented.
"It's like winning the Lotto 10 times in a row," he said, adding that the previous altitude survival record for a paraglider pilot was 24,000ft.
Mr Wenness, one of Australia's most experienced paraglider pilots, said the chances of surviving such an experience were negligible.
"There's no oxygen. She could have suffered brain damage. But she came to at a height of 6,900 metres with ice all over her body and slowly descended herself."

The German said she felt like an astronaut returning from the Moon as the ground loomed beneath her. "I could see the Earth coming — wow, like Apollo 13," she said.
Miss Wisnerska spent one hour in the local district hospital for observation and she hopes to compete in the biennial paragliding championships which begin on Feb 24.
(Sydney Morning Herald, Reuters )

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First radar hook echo ever recorded !

Scientists from the Illinois State Water Survey recorded in April 53 the first hook echo with a war radar (photo above is taken from their web site). The movie is here and is impressive (youtube).

The presence of a hook echo on a radar image in US is enough to issue a tornado warning. If you don't, you get in trouble. The warnings get to the Police. If the Police officer doesn't push the sirene button once he got the warning, he gets in big trouble.

The hook echo is a consequence of rotation in the storm (the mesocyclone), is a wrapped column of air in strong rotation, and the storms that have a mesocyclone can be very dangerous, with hail, flashfloods and strong winds; only 60% of the supercells are tornadic.
The first conference in Europe where have been presented cases with Tornado in Europe was Eurotornado, in February 2000, in France, Toulouse, but tornadoes have been reported and studied long ago and actually before they have been studied in US !