The National Weather Service in Birmingham request ALERT activation beginning at 6pm CST.
The next ALERT meeting will be at the National Weather Service at 7:00 pm CST on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009.
If you are not able to make the meeting in person try the teleconference.
Every effort will be made to have teleconferencing available for each meeting, to participate:
Please call: (877) 951-0997 and enter participants code 741083.
Thanks to John Miller our Public Information Officer for the following pictures of this meeting.
The National Weather Service in Birmingham request ALERT activation beginning at 10am CST.
Hi everyone & welcome to your ALERT Newsletter.
With this newsletter, as I begin my third term as ALERT President, the first thing I want to say is “thank you” for your support and your work, which made our successes possible. It’s YOUR work and efforts that have made the things possible that we have done these past two years.
2007 – 2008 was a year that focused on restructuring & strengthening the ALERT organization, with the revision and ratification of our Constitution and Bylaws, the revival of Board or Directors meetings, and our obtaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
In 2008 – 2009 we experimented with and made operational the Spotterchat system, which has proven to be a vital tool for ALERT operations, fitting hand in glove with our RF operations at K4NWS.
During this new term we want to build on our successes and move forward tackling some key challenges that we face.
Among these are ALERT’s need to increase its membership, so that we have a vital active team for today and continued growth for the future. So tell people about us. We’re not an “exclusive group”. Tell them “Ya’ll come.”
One key focus area has to be improving our callout response. We, with only one exception, have been able to respond to all NWS callouts. But, lately we have had to issue multiple callouts to finally get a response.
Why is this the case?
This may be simply due to members waiting to see if someone else has responded before they themselves step up and volunteer.
It may be due to burnout, for this has been one of the most active years for ALERT in recent memory.
It may that our older members are tiring and loosing interest, and newer members are having “the new wear off”, and their initial enthusiasm has cooling down.
The Spotterchat system is somewhat to blame, I know. Staying at home and monitoring the Chats is awfully tempting. And, is necessary. But, so is manning the radios at K4NWS, as the former was never designed to replace the latter. Our RF operations cannot be allowed to whither and die on the vine.
Sometimes it depends on the callout lead time, for “short fuse” callouts give very little time to allow for work and other arrangements, which also limits response, as it’s hard to drop everything you are doing at an moments notice.
Sometimes it has to do with the type of Watch issued. Traditionally Severe Thunderstorm Watches have been much more difficult to fill than Tornado Watches.
Part of this is due to the word “tornado” having a higher PF than a “thunderstorm”.
What is PF? It’s the “Pizzazz Factor”.
Tornadoes have an eerie weird romanticism that other storms, with the possible exception of hurricanes, don’t.
For instance, people get very touchy when you say “straight line winds from a microburst” blew down their outhouse instead of the EF3 tornado they have been bragging about.
“Ah know it was a F15 tornader that blowed the thang to pieces, with mah wife Noreen sittin in it & here the dummies are trying to tell me it was just straight line winds”?
Yet damage caused by straight-line winds may be exactly the same as a tornado, or sometimes worse. For tornadoes are actually very isolated events. Where the hit, they wreak havoc. But usually it’s in a very limited area. Yet a severe thunderstorm with a bow echo, or a derecho can cause tornado like damage over a much larger area, with entire counties and multiple counties having heavy damage.
And those damage reports need someone to receive them, and, that’s why we need coverage on the “plain old severe thunderstorm watches” just as badly as we do with tornado watches.
I’ve worked callouts for hurricane landfalls, tornado watches and severe thunderstorm watches, and, the amount of reports I received during this year’s thunderstorm watches have rivaled any tornado outbreak I’ve seen.
But, what are your thoughts on this? If you used to respond to callouts, but have lost the desire to do so, could you share with me (privately) what factors caused this? By sharing your feelings with me, we can get a better idea of what is going on and what we can do, if possible, to help remedy the situation & get you interested again.
This isn’t a rhetorical question either. I’m really seeking feedback. And, all responses will be held in the strictest confidence.
Of the various EMCOMM groups in Central Alabama, ALERT is probably, if not the most active, one of the most active emergency groups around. During severe weather season we may be called on at any time day or night, sometimes with good lead-time to prepare, and sometimes with little or no lead-time at all.
So, if you want a “piece of the action”, then you want to be an active ALERT member.
Finally, to those of you who have responded to callouts in the past, and to those who currently respond, I say “thank you”
Your efforts ARE appreciated. Perhaps we don’t thank you loudly enough or publicly enough, but we really do appreciate your efforts and your contribution to YOUR ALERT’s mission. Which, is to help protect our community by giving the NWS the reports and information they need so that they can sound warnings that save lives.
As David Black told me long, long ago when I joined, “it’s a way to give back to the community”. That’s why I joined ALERT & have stayed active in ALERT. And, to be a part of real-life adventure too.
Helping my community, helping to save lives & being “part of the action”.
Those are pretty good motives, wouldn’t you agree?
Originally called “Quintilis”, the fifth Roman month, Quintilis was renamed “July” in 44 BC in honor of Julius Caesar.
July is miserably hot, as land temperatures reach their peaks in late July through early August – the Dog Days of Summer. The last week of July is usually the hottest week of the year. Tropical conditions are dominant, with conditions similar to that of the Amazon Valley.
This is the time to test the “Brown Grass Theory”. According to the theory, if the grass remains green the temperature will probably not reach 100, but, if the grass turns brown, get set for triple digits. This is a local Birmingham rule, which I learned from the Old Timers at the Birmingham NWS way back when they were on Oxmoor Road.
Tornado activity drops sharply, with a 47% decrease nationwide. July has an average of 103 tornadoes.
Amazingly, Alabama still leads the nation with 99 tornadoes. The statistics as of June 30 being:
So far no Atlantic Tropical Storms have formed. In July Hurricane activity normally increases, but major hurricanes are not yet frequent. By months end, one hurricane will have occurred. Seven percent of a year’s hurricane total occurs in July.
Long track hurricanes are possible, forming off the African coast and crossing the Atlantic, either to threaten the US East Coast, then eventually veering off towards Bermuda. Or in the case of “Low Latitude” storms, cross the Atlantic, strike the Leeward Islands, enter the Caribbean and then striking the Yucatan, or the Western or Northern Gulf coast.
This years storm names are Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquin, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor & Wanda.
July’s Full Moon is “Buck Moon” in Native American folklore.
This month’s meeting will be on July 14 at 7PM at the National Weather Service
Forecast office at the Shelby County Airport.
I hope to see you there.
Mark / WD4NYL