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Documenting the NYC snowpocalypse's neckdowns: latent traffic calming revealed by climate and crowds

Clarence Eckerson made a splash with a pair of videos that documented the latent traffic-calming measures lurking in New York's streets, revealed by heavy snowfall. These "neckdowns," left behind by snowplows, provide an existence proof of the ways that changes in curbs and streets would make things safer for drivers and pedestrians.

With the current NYC snowpocalypse upon us, Eckerson is back in the streets, calling on people to document and tweet the city's ice-neckdowns, tagging them with #sneckdown (they're also documenting unplowed bike-lanes). It's a marvellous example of live, networked urban theory, and shows how people can organize to build the evidentiary basis for real change to their cities.

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Weatherman knees prankster raining on his parade

Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore takes care of a jokester attempting to disrupt his on-the-scene report. (Vine)

Catnado strikes Britain

A small tornado that struck Chobham, England, left 13,000 without power over the weekend—and was said to have "lifted cats in the air."

Local fire crews also found extensive damage to trees and roofs from the storm, which also dumped hail and heavy rain on the county of Surrey, the BBC reported.

"We've got four feral cats in the yard and they were being lifted off the ground - about 6ft off the ground," said area woman Shirley Clay, adding that the animals were uninjured by the ordeal. "They just went round like a big paper bag."

Serious tornados are extremely rare in Britain, though the tabloids there claim weather data proves the nation is a 'hotspot' of miniature whirlwinds that usually go unnoticed.

Chobham 'mini-tornado lifted cats in air'

When ice attacks

This incredible video shot at Izatys Resort at Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota shows an "ice shove," where currents, winds, or temperature differences push chunks of lake ice onto land like a drifting iceberg. (via karenstan, thanks Sean Ness!)

And here is a CNN story from last year about this phenomena destroying homes in the Minnesota region. (Thanks, Jason!)

Rare "snonado" captured on Lake Superior

According to the Weather Channel, there are only six known photographs of winter waterspouts in existence. Then, last week, Jordan Detters captured a good minute and a half of video, showing winter waterspouts dancing along the waves of Lake Superior near Knife River, Minnesota.

While water spouts are relatively common in warm months, producing one in the winter requires a pretty specific set of meteorological circumstances, writes Minnesota Public Radio's chief meteorologist Paul Huttner. Thus, the dearth of images. In fact, for one to form at all you need a temperature difference between the water and the air of 19 degrees C.

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The crazy storm on Saturn

Fun fact: Saturn has a storm that's every bit as big as Jupiter's better-known Great Red Spot. It's been spinning over Saturn's north pole for 30 years. And it's shaped like a hexagon. Maggie 8

How city dwellers control the weather

Cities are the most effective form of weather control humans have come up with, writes Tim De Chant at Per Square Mile. (This is weather control we're talking about. Human-caused climate change is a different thing.) The presence of a city — from pollution particles in the atmosphere, to the heat island effect, to the way tall buildings change air currents — probably both increases rainfall and changes where that rain lands. Maggie 4

Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) slams Philippines, may be most powerful typhoon to ever hit land


Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines (13:00 UTC 07/11/2011). Image captured by the geostationary satellites of the Japan Meteorological Agency and EUMETSAT.

The powerful storm named Super Typhoon Haiyan (or Super Typhoon Yolanda, as it is referred to within the Philippines) hit the central islands of the Philippines on Friday, with reported wind speeds of 190 to 195 miles per hour at landfall. For comparison, a commercial airplane takes off at speeds in the range of 160mph.

Haiyan is reported to be the strongest typhoon in the world in 2013, and may be the most powerful recorded tropical cyclone to ever hit land.

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Hay Devil: vortex whips field into an amazing sight

Not CGI, but convection. Krista Mitchell at the BBC Weather Centre: "This rapidly rising air lifts dust, or straw, into the air. When conditions are right, the rising air will rotate."

Our planet just had the third warmest May in recorded history

Earth experienced its 8th warmest spring on record, and the third warmest May, with average global temperature in May 1.19 degrees F. above the 20th-century average, matching 1998 and 2005 for the third warmest May dating back to 1880. WaPo: "The global temperature has been above average now 339 straight months (more than 28 years). The last time global temperatures were below average (February, 1985)." Xeni

Your car is not a tornado shelter

Last Friday, a tornado near El Reno, Oklahoma killed scientist Tim Samaras, as well as his son and a colleague. The three were tracking the storm in a vehicle — storm chasing, if you will — as part of their ongoing efforts to deploy probes that could capture high-resolution video from inside a tornado. (Samaras' team was one of many practicing a type of science that can basically be described as Twister in real life.) Chasing storms was an important part of what Samaras did. National Geographic reports that tornadoes only developed in roughly two of every 10 storms Samaras tracked, and the probes were only useful in a fraction of the tornadoes they were deployed in.

Samaras' death is tragic, but he wasn't some untrained yahoo out running around on county roads in a tornado for fun. He was there to do a job; a job that would, eventually, help other people survive. That said, if a situation kills experts, you probably don't want to be that untrained person trying to navigate it on your own.

Which brings us to a key point. After a handful of people who survived the Moore tornado credited their survival to driving away from it, people in Oklahoma City apparently responded to Friday's storms by trying to do the same thing. For some, it worked. But others were killed or injured when traffic on highways in the tornado's path ground to a complete halt, clogged with cars full of people who were (either accidentally or intentionally) trying to flee the storm instead of hide from it.

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Storm approaches Pittsburgh

© Bri Anne

Vintage snapshots of wild weather

House of Mirth asked several vernacular photo collectors to share their favorite vintage snapshots of weather events. The wave shot comes from Erin Waters' collection and the tornado photo belongs to Steve Bonnos.

"Knock knock." Who's there? "Snow."

Josh Fitzpatrick, meteorologist with WSAZ TV, posts this photo (don't know who took it), with this factoid: "The deepest snow with the #blizzard of 2013 was 40" inches at Trumbull, CT! 7' foot drifts. "

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Weather Channel naming winter storms

The Weather Channel posted an internal marketing pitch, I mean feature article, about why they've deemed themselves the official naming entity for big winter storms. From the article:
During the upcoming 2012-13 winter season The Weather Channel will name noteworthy winter storms. Our goal is to better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events. The fact is, a storm with a name is easier to follow, which will mean fewer surprises and more preparation…

This is an ambitious project. However, the benefits will be significant. Naming winter storms will raise the awareness of the public, which will lead to more pro-active efforts to plan ahead, resulting in less impact and inconvenience overall…

Finally, it might even be fun and entertaining and that in itself should breed interest from our viewing public and our digital users.

"Why The Weather Channel is Naming Winter Storms" (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)