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Comment Here are mine... (Score 0) 268

I usually donate to:

Children International (I like that I get to communicate one on one with the children I sponsor)
The Portland Union Gospel Mission, who feeds homeless people
the Oregon Food Bank
and occasionally some of the missions of a local church (but never for the church operations itself, for things like bringing drinking water to Haiti or a school in poor rural India).

Some of these are local, but I'm pretty confident that they stretch the dollars pretty far and do a lot of good with the dollars you send.

I'm looking for some others myself, but I haven't found too many that are worthy yet other than those.

I will not give to the EFF, ACLU, yet. It's not that I don't support their goals, it's that I think they exist to solve what are essentially first world problems, and there are far more intractable problems that need to be solved yet. Like hunger, clean water, etc.

Hope this helps.

Comment Re:Okay, this is a great idea (Score 1) 647

I had to look up the blog post you were referring to, and it was helpful, thanks.

It's just a pet peeve of mine when people say "you just used a fallacy, therefore your argument was disproven".

I don't particularly like systemd. But I do like reading thoughtful commentary. If there were a commentary by a supporter that was as good, I'd read that too. I haven't found one supporter yet who didn't use two or three of those fallacies at a time. Annoying.

Comment Re:Some technical info for slashdotters (Score 1) 61

Interestingly, while those discharges are powerful, they don't really release energy in a form that a thunderstorm can actually use. The amount of energy being released just by condensation alone dwarfs the electrical output of a thunderstorm by a large margin. I think of the electrical discharges as just a byproduct of the storm, in much the same way as exhaust is the byproduct of the mechanism that makes a car move.

If I'm wrong, I'd most certainly like to know, because the mechanisms by which that kind of electrical current could kickstart a mesocyclone or tornado would be fascinating.

Comment Re:Ground Friction (Score 1) 61

My guess would be that for the most part ground friction really doesn't affect the growth of a tornado, or even the trajectory. I think what it *would* do is affect the intensity and damage of wind over the bottom 25 feet or so. I'd be interested in seeing what happens, though, when a tornado occurs over a cliff or a large hill.

I'm guessing they'll continue to run simulations and five years later we'll learn something else interesting and groundbreaking.

Comment Re:Presentation as seen on YouTube well done (Score 1) 61

Yes, it is quite fascinating. I started learning this stuff because as a child I was afraid of thunderstorms. Learning how they worked made them far more interesting than scary, though a loud thunderclap in the middle of the night can still freak me out.

There is nothing like being underneath a supercell as it approaches, and the sirens are going off, and the lightning is crashing all around you. The fact that it's nothing but a giant cloud does nothing to dampen the experience.

Comment Re:Presentation as seen on YouTube well done (Score 4, Interesting) 61

Learning how thunderstorms work is something I think everyone should do on a basic level - they are utterly fascinating. What is amazing to me is that these repeatable and frankly amazing structures are created out of nothing but air, water, and heat in varying combinations.

In layman's terms (and while I'm a layman I'm educated enough to be able to say that) a thunderstorm is simply caused by buoyant air rising. As it rises, the moisture inside of the air condenses, creating a cloud and releasing heat (latent heat). That warms the "parcel" of air more (another term he used frequently) and it rises faster.

Air that rises sucks up more air from below it because it creates a low pressure region. Eventually the air hits the top of the troposphere, which is stable (stable means that the air is warmer than the rising parcel and the rising air is no longer buoyant. Keep in mind that "warmer" is relative and can mean -60F.)

In conditions that cause a storm like this to form, vertical wind shear is important. In a pulse thunderstorm, the downdraft (the rain cooled air) gets in the way of the updraft and chokes it off. But the wind shear not only causes the updraft to rotate, it pushes the downdraft out of the way of the updraft, so nothing chokes it off. This is why when you look at a supercell, it is nearly always tilted to the direction of travel. (mesocyclone is another word for updraft in this case.)

Now that the storm is created, you have room for the other factors he was mentioning, such as the RFD, FFD, etc. Basically there is a certain combination of factors required to set the air at the ground to spinning. The interesting thing about this simulation was that the managed to find the sweet spot and get their simulation to create a long-tracked tornado. Much of his presentation was spent highlighting certain parcels of air and showing how they got ingested by either the meso or the tornadic circulation (which are related but not necessarily the same thing.)

Comment Re:Some technical info for slashdotters (Score 1) 61

Thank you. Not bad for a sysadmin. :) I've always had an interest in how storms work, though it's not nearly as involved as yours, obviously.

I think there's a difference between showing how a tornado works when it's already on the ground (with which you could make models that accurately represent the tornado itself - the "most critical" parts of the storm) and how a tornado forms and is maintained by the larger structure of the storm. For the latter, you need a model of the scale that you created.

I actually watched your video twice and might watch it a third time. It's so informationally dense that there are details I missed the first time around. That anticyclonic circulation to the south of the tornado itself was observed with the latter El Reno tornado, and it's cool to see where it comes from.

Comment Re:Some technical info for slashdotters (Score 1) 61

Not Orp, but I would guess that this isn't possible because the entire storm acts as a system. Not only that, but the environment around it as well. That's why the box he was using was 120kmx120x20.

First of all, you have the updraft and the downdraft interacting with each other - and these two parts are actually the critical parts of a storm - and they're the *whole* storm. But the storm wouldn't be powerful without external factors influencing and driving it. A high CAPE (convective available potential energy) and thus a strong lapse rate, strong vertical wind shear (which helps to induce rotation and tip the downdraft out of the updraft's way), an RFD (which doesn't really specifically come from the storm itself), inflow, etc. These are all factors that feed and "nourish" the storm.

Trying to make a model that only focuses on the critical parts of a storm would be like trying to make a model of a car that only focused on one piston.

Comment Re:Presentation as seen on YouTube well done (Score 4, Informative) 61

There was a lot of jargon. Let's see if I can help.

baroclinic == energy created by movement of air because of differences in pressure.
forward flank downdraft == I believe the downdraft caused by the air cooled by the rain, also could be air forced down by the forward movement of the storm. Usually cool and wet.
rear flank downdraft == warm, dry air that hits the storm from the back and is forced downward.
mesocyclone == the rotating updraft in a supercell.

Basically, he's stating that the interface between the different types of air on the ground is creating a rolling tube of air, and the updraft of the storm is so powerful that it sucks that tube up - and the energy of the rotation helps to give the updraft an extra "kick"... which helps to power and maintain the rotation of a long-track tornado. That tube isn't the tornado itself, it just powers the updraft that spins the tornado.

Comment Amazing (Score 4, Interesting) 61

This is pretty amazing. I've heard the theory before that tornadoes are formed from that same baroclinic horizontal vortex tilting upwards, but the mechanism for that has never made a whole lot of sense to me. The idea of it getting pulled up into the actual mesocyclone itself and powering it so that the tornado can form makes a lot more sense. It also makes it a lot more clear what role the RFD has in tornadogenesis. And that parade of vortices, I'd never heard of that before.

Hopefully this will help the weather people start to see clues that a tornado is trying to form even before the hook starts to become obvious on radar.

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