Friday, February 5, 2016

National Weatherperson's Day: Not just a day to thank your meteorologist

Today is National Weatherperson's Day. Yes, it really is a recognized day, and no, Hallmark has nothing to do with it (have you ever seen a Happy National Weatherperson's Day card??). I hear that broadcast meteorologists around the nation got free food from McDonalds. I wasn't so lucky, but I'm not holding a grudge. :-)

National Weatherperson's Day occurs on the birthday of John Jeffries, one of America's first weather observers in the late 18th century, and recognizes the mostly behind-the-scenes efforts of thousands of forecasters who work to make sure that you are informed on both a routine basis, but mostly in those times that really matter. While the most visible work is done by broadcasters who appear on your televisions each day, an even bigger force of nature is working out of the limelight to produce the data that is used, the models that are our guide, and the watches and warnings that get relayed to the you, the public, to keep you safe. The U.S. is fortunate to have the best weather forecasts and warnings, that are also the most widely available, in the world. Kudos to all who share a similar passion and dedication to their craft as I! (For more on the role of the National Weather Service in the weather enterprise, see this Weatherperson's Day article.)

Super Tuesday Outbreak Anniversary

February 5th is more than just National Weatherperson's Day though. It is also the anniversary of one of the largest tornado outbreaks on record. On Super Tuesday, 2008, and into the wee hours of February 6th, 87 tornadoes touched down from the Mid-South into the Ohio Valley, killing 56 and injuring hundreds. At the time, it was the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak since 1985, rivaling the 1974 Super Outbreak and, later, the 2011 Super Outbreak.

Storm reports from Super Tuesday 2008. Red dots are tornadoes. Graphic courtesy SPC.
Locally, an EF-2 tornado touched down in Southaven, MS and traveled northeast into the city of Memphis in the Hickory Hill area, causing heavy damage to the Hickory Ridge Mall and the surrounding area, all while being captured on live TV by a skycam operated by WREG-TV. Further northeast, Jackson, TN will never forget the EF-4 that struck Union University, rendering 80% of the residential living accommodations uninhabitable, but taking no lives despite the dormitories being full of students.

Doppler Radar returns (precip left, wind velocity right) from the DeSoto/Shelby Co. tornado as it crosses the state line. The inverted green triangle shows the approximate position of the strongest radar-detected rotation.

Cirrus Weather Solutions' Birthday

Two years later (2010), on this very day, I officially opened a new business in the state of Tennessee, Cirrus Weather Solutions. It seemed an appropriate day to officially commence operation of a business devoted to keeping Mid-Southerners informed on weather regimes that affect the region and safe during severe weather events. Since then, Cirrus Weather Solutions has served as the umbrella organization for MemphisWeather.net, JacksonWeather.net, and StormWatch+, a mobile service that pushes precise, and fully customizable, severe weather notifications to the public and which was a natural by-product of Cirrus' mission to protect, inform, and educate.

Thank you all for making MemphisWeather.net one of your trusted weather sources! Your feedback (positive and "constructive") allows MWN to bring you the best weather information available for Memphis and the Mid-South. Social media provides an outlet for instant feedback so that we can refine our processes, even during severe weather events, and our mobile apps are one more way we can reach as many as possible when inclement weather threatens. I can't thank you enough for following along, downloading the apps, and keeping me motivated!

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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