• Weather And Trains

    From Daryl Stout@VERT/TBOLT to KF5QEO on Wed Mar 29 21:31:00 2023
    You ain't Whistleing Dixie there! The Clarion Ledger has a picture
    of a demolished House and an 18-wheeler that was lifted up, and dropped down on top of the house! And, I think they said 24 dead!

    The towns of Rolling Fork, Silver city, and Amory, were literally blown off the map by that EF-4 tornado. I think the death toll is well over 30 now.

    The Storm Prediction Center is highlighting an ENHANCED risk of severe weather on Friday from the Arklatex and Arklamiss...northward through the MidSouth into the Great Lakes, and east into the Tennessee and Ohio Valley. Size wise, the area looks almost like "The Super Outbreak" that occurred nearly 50 years ago (April 3-4, 1974, with 148 tornadoes in 12 hours over several states).

    Then, it looks like severe weather will hit many of the same areas next Tuesday...and the height of tornado season isn't until April and May...
    with May averaging 5 tornadoes per day. The way this season has been so
    far, that average may be much higher. Alabama had already seen two dozen tornadoes by late January...and Arkansas has already seen a third of the
    number of tornadoes it sees in an average year.

    I dread what hurricane season may bring, as I understand that the Gulf
    Of Mexico waters are unusually warm right now. All you need is an area
    of low pressure, and light winds aloft (no wind shear), and that warm
    water is fuel for the fire, as it were. When the barometric pressure of
    the storm is below 27 inches of mercury (the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane
    that destroyed the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railroad,
    had a pressure of 26.35 inches), catastrophic is the only way to describe
    it. There have been hurricanes since that 1935 storm, that had an even
    lower pressure.

    The thing that amazes me is that so many people are ignorant of the
    weather. They check the forecast on Sunday, and think that it won't ever change. The fact is, that weather changes more than you change your
    underwear (I guess that doesn't apply to nudists (hi hi)). I've seen it
    go from clear skies to tornadoes in 20 minutes. The worst time for a
    tornado warning in central Arkansas would be when they normally test the sirens, at 12 noon local time on Wednesday. Except for the National
    Weather Service and Skywarn Storm Spotters, hardly anyone else would
    know the difference.

    There are so many ways to receive weather information, such as NOAA
    Weather Radio (I recommend the Midland WR-120, or the model from First Alert)...local radio and TV stations...weather apps for the smartphone,
    and National Weather Service sites on the internet. Basically, ignorance
    is no excuse.

    Also, for "severe weather geeks", the YouTube Channel of "Ryan Hall
    Ya'll", is paradise. While he's a chaser himself, he normally broadcasts
    from his "Kentucky Weather Cave" (his sister, Carly, helps with the
    duties of switching to various things...including shots of him (with
    reading the bulletins), then feeds from storm chasers in the field,
    and radar shots.

    The radar shots include your typical reflectivity, plus the velocity
    display, and the correlation coefficient (CC) looking for "debris balls".
    In the latter case, having one of those with an intense rotation couplet, usually means that you have a large violent tornado on the ground.

    Your heart just sinks when you see that, hoping folks are taking shelter, and you basically need to be in an underground storm shelter to survive.
    Just like with many violent tornadoes over the years, the only thing left
    of where houses WERE was the concrete slab foundation.

    Now, while Skywarn was what got me interested in amateur radio 32 years
    ago, after 28 years of doing weather stuff (including nets), I got burned
    out, and nearly quit the hobby in 2019. My emphasis now is trains and
    railroad crossing safety...and, I run a Trains Net on the QuadNet Array on Friday at 8pm US Eastern Time. We discuss anything and everything about
    trains and railroading, have 2 railroad trivia questions, and first time checkins can get a commemorative certificate upon request.

    The callsign I have now, WX4QZ, has NOTHING to do with weather. Some railroads use W, and some use X, to alert the engineer that a highway
    grade crossing is ahead. QZ stands for "Quiet Zone", where the horn/whistle
    is sounded only if someone is trying to beat the train across the tracks
    at the crossing, there are maintenance of way (MOW) crews along the tracks,
    or they're meeting a train on a parallel track. In short, the alternate
    acronym is "Whistled Crossings For Quiet Zones". If I had been the train engineer, and someone is on the tracks (trespassing, if they are not MOW workers), I'm sounding that horn as a warning, quiet zone or not.

    From a poem The Good Lord gave me several years ago, called "No One
    Asks The Engineer", it basically tells that after a grade crossing
    incident, that "no one asks the engineer how he felt". Two verses of
    that poem (at http://www.wx4qz.net/rxr.htm), tell how I feel...as follows:

    Had I been the engineer, on the train that day.
    And, if you asked me how I felt, here is what I'd say.

    "There was no way that I could stop; or out of the way, swerve".
    "They ran a red light at a crossing, and got what they deserved".

    Ultimately, the law of physics wins every time...one locomotive is at
    least 300 tons, and a fully loaded freight train can be over 12,000 tons.
    Most vehicles are a measly 1 to 2 tons...in short, it's no contest. As I
    heard one railroad safety officer note, "the only thing the engineer can
    do, even if he throws the train into emergency, is watch you die".

    It can take from 1 to 3 miles (the length of 18 to 54 football fields)
    to stop a moving train. The coupler coming through the side of the vehicle,
    as it's t-boned, will likely decapitate the driver and/or passengers,
    killing them instantly. The sad part is that there was nothing that the engineer could do to prevent it...and many quit their jobs afterward due
    to all of the emotional trauma. They would NEVER seat me on a jury with
    a grade crossing accident. In short, "trains have the right of way at
    railroad crossings".

    Alternatively, WX (weather) is what got me into ham radio, and with
    having to operate internet radio (being a heart patient), I'm "QRZ without
    the R (radio)". But, at least my license isn't just "a sheet of paper". In closing, while I don't do weather on ham radio anymore...while I'm not a meterologist, I am an amateur weather enthusiast. However, I know enough
    to be dangerous...and "I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night"
    (hi hi).

    Daryl, WX4QZ

    ... Try to beat a train to a railroad crossing, and you'll be dead wrong.
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    Synchronet The Thunderbolt BBS - Little Rock, Arkansas