Roger's Rants

Online Editorials by Roger Edwards

DISCLAIMER: These opinions are mine only, and do not represent my unnamed employer or anyone else in particular. If you have problems with what I am saying, address them directly to me, not my co-workers, supervisors, friends, relatives or neighbors...none of whom have any control over what I write on my own time and equipment (re: First Amendment).

Last updated 23 May 5


Because meteorology is so important to me both as a professional science and as a pastime, I take unrepentantly idealistic views about it, with no apologies, and and will not hesitate to speak my mind. Agree? Disagree? Fine...have the guts to tell me! Make a rational and intelligent argument and I will listen and respond in kind. Write convoluted nonsense, personal attacks, one-liners or incoherent gibberish full of misspellings and bad English usage; and I will just hit "DELETE."

Free exchanges of ideas are educational for everyone involved, and benefit the science. [Though this principle goes unrecognized by pinheaded bureaucratic cowards who keep forwarding my off-duty personal Internet writings to my supervisors!] No matter the issue -- in meteorology or society at large -- those who are unwilling to speak out about their concerns have resigned themselves to their fate as hapless pushovers, and have no grounds to complain. Nor do sympathetic but silent bystanders unwilling to help those who take such risks.

In that vein, here are some opinionated essays I have written or co-written for the Internet over the last several years, since my first web pages appeared back in late 1994. They are listed in reverse of the order they were originally written (most recent first); however, most have been updated since the initial posting. Thanks for caring enough about these topics to read further, even if you desire not to respond.

STORM OBSERVING (a.k.a. Spotting and Chasing)

Relocation and update of the Storm Chasing FAQ that I wrote with the deeply appreciated aid of Tim Vasquez.

An update and relocation of an old StormTrack essay by Rich Thompson and me entitled Forecasting Supercell Type.

In response to occasional requests for an e-mail "interview" about storm chasing from students doing assignments, and sometimes even journalists... Here is an interview. [This saves everyone's time and effort, since many of the same questions occur again and again.]

An atypically introspective and sentimental essay on my childhood enthusiasm for storms, and the exhilaration of return flow: Nights of Wind, Days of Darkness. It's a glimpse into the very essence of my yearning for violent weather.

It seems that, whenever the word "yahoo" is mentioned on Internet mailing lists and chat rooms related to storm chasing, people go ballistic with all sorts of accusatory and/or defensive rants, flames (personal attacks) and other needless garbage. "The Reality of Storm Chase Yahoos" is my effort to clarify and explain this red-hot issue in storm chasing.

The e-mail forum "WX-CHASE" has degenerated into a reeking cesspool of ignorance, irrelevance and personal attacks. Illustrating this, I expressed some concerns and recommendations for WX-CHASE.

Those who know me well know that I am often "politically incorrect" to the core. But since simple fairness logically transcends sociopolitical ideologies, I supported Shannon Key when she started an online firestorm by questioning the dearth of women in storm chasing.

An essay with Chuck Doswell about irresponsible media storm chasers documents bizarre, unsafe and illegal behavior by TV media crews during severe weather, and recommends forthright ways to deal with it.

Rich Thompson and I wrote an editorial on the problems of irresponsibility and commercialization in storm chasing, entitled "Cancer Within" for Storm Track. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of what we wrote was printed -- in a radically altered form -- with many important points left out altogether, and containing words and opinions which we had not written. The version linked here is the authentic original. You may not agree with us, but you should read the real thing before forming any opinions.

Several years ago, I tested major brands of 35 mm slide film to judge their performance under storm intercept conditions. I have used each film on at least a couple of trips since then; and there appear have been no noticeable changes in any of their capabilities or performances.


The DOC (and by extension, NOAA and NWS) are testing and trying to expand the employee compensation and ranking scheme knows as "pay banding." Read here why pay banding is The Magnificant Mirage.

Check out my new BLOG. There you'll find shorter, more frequent and spontaneous musings about all kinds of topics, Weather or Not.

My curriculum vitae is now online.

A memorial page dedicated to Hal Gerrish.

Any bozo can go out and snap pictures of weather damage. Many do so for thrills, some for publicity, and a few for legitimate survey work, documentation and analysis. The popular media glorification of "extreme" storm damage attracts gawkers, and proves that Company Loves Misery.

Much of the Internet has become a reeking wasteland of intellectual sludge since its commercialization a few years ago. For evidence, see this semi-humorous collection of some of the dumbest e-mails I have received (all weather-related).

In the spring of 1999, the president of the NWS employees' union sent a letter to NWS Director Jack Kelly opposing testing of employees' proficiency, and pledging to fight establishment of rigorous baseline proficiency standards for meteorologists in the NWS. Seeing yet another attempt by my union to cover for the small minority of inept, scientifically illiterate forecasters in the NWS, I responded with this letter, which includes a four-part baseline proposal for testing and licensing of professional meteorologists in the NWS.

A major essay which covers many important severe weather related matters: Some Issues Arising from the 3 May 1999 Central Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak -- including...

    1. When a large, violent tornado plows across many square miles of a metro area, people will die....
    2. There is no guaranteed safe place inside a violent tornado. NONE!...
    3. Overpasses are death traps in severe weather. Avoid them!...
    4. The spirit of neighbors helping neighbors rebuild is happening in wonderful ways. But local-media hyperbole to the effect that this is a uniquely Oklahoman characteristic, as if Oklahomans are inherently superior people, is insulting to disaster victims and their helpers everywhere else in the nation....
    5. Forecasters earned their pay, and everyone's respect, on this day....
    6. The outstanding watches and warnings for this event show the skill and dedication of forecasters -- but belie the pitiful, bare-bones funding of our nation's severe weather forecast services....
    7. Although the forecasts and warnings worked fabulously in this event, the public must accept that our science is imperfect, and that some deadly weather events will go unwarned....
    8. I have heard talk that forecast discussions as a whole should be less detailed from now on, so that less can appear publicly to go wrong. Rubbish! Forecasters are not in the business of withholding information from the users of their forecasts....
    9. I refuse to feel a shred of remorse for my fascination with severe storms...

The one which has proven most controversial (especially "inside the beltway"): Proposals For Changes in Severe Local Storm Warnings, Warning Criteria and Verification.


Partly inspired by the essay below, a more comprehensive primer entitled Tips for the Young(er) Idealist.

About Integrity...and Selling Out.

A recently minted rant about The Greening and Preening of National Geographic. If you subscribe to or read any of their periodicals, please read this.

I have written a series of brief book reviews (also posted to Amazon-dot-com) for a small fraction of the items in my personal library -- a few weather-related, many others not!


Geez, must I always be so blasted serious? Of course not! Check these out....

In reminiscent recollection, I offer my Five Favorite "White Trash" Moments.

To fellow Rangers baseball fans everywhere, I dedicate these "OH, NO!" Events in the History of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.

The most prestigious certificate awarded in storm chasing...only because it is the only known award in storm chasing: The Meatwagon Award!

A series of pages devoted to (in)Famous Storm Chase Vehicles -- imparting a cyclonic twist to the American automobile ethos.

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