Posted in Climatology, EDUCATION, NORTH AMERICA

(A preview of) Meteorology and Myth Part VII: “The Dead Man Walking”

Today I will share yet another avenue of my research in my “Meteorology and Myth” science education series.

There is room for more research on multiple vortex tornados. I would like to find a good student to work with me on this chapter.

Multiple vortex tornados contain several small but intense vortices revolving around the main tornado funnel cloud. These should not be confused with double (or other multiple) tornados produced by the same supercell thunderstorm.

Multiple vortex tornados produce some spooky images. The individual vortices seems to kick around as if they are alive. Our imaginations sometimes see a human-like figure.

The tornado vortex on the right appears to be “walking away”. The “Dead Man Walking” image in the poster is a still photo of the May 27, 1997 F-5 Tornado which killed 27 people in Jerrell, Texas. The tornado started out as a small rope, but grew into a large, multiple-vortex monster as it slowly walked across the landscape. I will share a documentary of that terrible day.

There is also another documentary worth viewing about this tornado.

YouTube user Antarctic Vortex has posted the full TLC Channel documentary. It is an important part of pop cultural history as well. It looks like the video was transferred from an old VHS tape recording. You can see the tracking lines at various points. Furthermore, the commercial breaks have been retained. This video is about a terrible, tragic event, but it was amusing to see the anachronisms about sharing photographs on America Online, or shopping at Blockbuster stores. The Native American legend is mentioned at time 16 minutes in, as a frightening moment is recreated in the documentary. It also includes a still frame of the “Dead Man Walking” image.

Look for an update to this chapter of Meteorology and Myth later in the 2020-21 academic year.


Agee, E. M., J. T. Snow, and P. R. Clare, 1976: Multiple Vortex Features in the Tornado Cyclone and the Occurrence of Tornado Families. Mon. Wea. Rev., 104, 552–563,<0552:MVFITT>2.0.CO;2.

Clay, Nolan. 2013. “Oklahoma storms: Amateur storm chaser took photo of tornado that killed him”. The Oklahoman. June 4, 2013.

NOAA Storm Prediction Center. 2020. National Severe Storm Laboratory Public Domain Tornado Images. Accessed June 1, 2020.

Wurman, J., 2002: The Multiple-Vortex Structure of a Tornado. Weather and Forecasting, 17, 473–505,<0473:TMVSOA>2.0.CO;2.

Wurman, J., K. Kosiba, P. Robinson, and T. Marshall, 2014: The Role of Multiple-Vortex Tornado Structure in Causing Storm Researcher Fatalities. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Societ., 95, 31–45,

Posted in Climatology, EDUCATION, NORTH AMERICA

(A preview of) Meteorology and Myth Part VI: Satan’s Winds

My series continues with another topic: “Satan’s Winds”.  I put together this conference poster draft. Now I am just waiting to find an outlet for it. Most conferences I attend have canceled their in-person meetings, and are converting to “online conferences” and “virtual sessions”.

I think that this would be a good topic for an undergraduate student to present at a local or regional conference. I need a student to “take the ball and run with it”, and to conduct a thorough literature review.

I know what you are going to say – it is not SATAN — it is Santa Ana — as in the canyon named after the Mexican General. Actually … there is some debate about the origin of the name. You will just have to wait until you hear my explanation. The Santa Anas are certainly a devil of a problem though. Please view this short documentary from KCET Online about the history and importance of Santa Ana.

I also found out that several California pop groups have recorded songs using Santa Ana winds as a theme. The Beach Boys for example. There is a humorous music clip from the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” which sings the problems associated with the devil wind in the style of Franky Valli.

At least the cancellation of so many conferences cannot be blamed on Santa Ana. Look for more updates on this project this fall.


Abatzoglou, J. T., R. Barbero, and N. J. Nauslar, 2013: Diagnosing Santa Ana winds in Southern California with synoptic-scale analysis. Weather Forecasting, 28, 704–710.

Cao, Y., and R. G. Fovell, 2016: Downslope windstorms of San Diego County. Part I: A case study. Monthly Weather Review. 144, 529–552.

Durran, D. R., 1990: Mountain waves and downslope winds. Atmospheric Processes over Complex Terrain, Meteorological Monographs, No. 45, American Meteorological Society, 59–81.

Guzman Morales, J., A. Gershunov, J. Theiss, H. Li, and D. Cayan, 2016: Santa Ana Winds of Southern California: Their climatology, extremes, and behavior spanning six and a half decades. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 2827–2834.

Masters, Nathan. 2012. “SoCal’s Devil Winds: The Santa Anas in Historical Photos and Literature”. KCET, October 25, 2012.

Needham, John. 1988. “The Devil Winds Made Me Do It : Santa Anas Are Enough to Make Anyone’s Hair Stand on End”. Los Angeles Times. March 12, 1988.

Rolinski, T., S.B. Capps, and W. Zhuang, 2019: Santa Ana Winds: A Descriptive Climatology. Weather and Forecasting, 34, 257–275.



(A preview of) Meteorology and Myth Part 5: The Legacy of “Huricán” — A Carib God of Evil

I wanted to share a preview of another chapter in my ongoing science education series “Meteorology and Myth”. The fifth part considers the hurricane gods of the Caribbean Basin.

Mesoamerican history contains many stories of local and regional deities. The native peoples of the Caribbean had to deal with destructive hurricanes occasionally. To the peoples of the Caribbean, Yucatan Peninsula and Gulf of Mexico coasts, hurricanes are nothing but destructive. It is not surprising that hurricane gods would be considered evil, vengeful deities.

How do we know when and where ancient hurricanes struck? There is a new field of Earth Science which studies this question – Paleotempestology. Scientists use various “proxy data” to estimate the number, strength, and location of tropical cyclones which ocurred before modern instrumentation. Well, just click on the poster to view full size and read it now to learn more!

This poster is the start of perhaps a conference presentation. I would like to have a student participate and pick up the research from here. As always, I am looking for students who want to work on research projects and individual investigation studies.

Look for more updates this coming academic year.




Welcome QR Code readers! This post is just a placeholder for another project in my Meteorology and Myth Science Education Series. This new project is titled “The Elusive and Ephemeral Sprites”.

Look for more updates and a re-post when I finish the poster presentation.

In the meantime, if you want to see a good introduction to Lightning Sprite research, please see the YouTube playlist below!


… what a sprite idea!


Art, Allegory and Geographic Education: Cultural and Meteorological Lessons from the Sky Deities of Japan

10-21-2019: This is an update and repost from May of this year. Please check out the YouTube video above. If you go to YouTube, put a “like” or comment if you have a question or compliment!  I will be presenting more about my investigation into the sky deities of Japan at the Applied Geography Conference in October. This presentation grew out of my “Meteorology and Myth” research. The abstract for my presentation: “Art, Allegory and Geographic Education: Cultural and Meteorological Lessons from the Sky Deities of Japan” has been accepted for a special session on Physical Geography. Here is a sample slide:

The following is a slideshow of some of the artwork to be discussed, TBD

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Credit goes to the original artists. No copyright infringement is intended. See the full presentation for all credits and references, TBD.

This year’s AGC will be held in Charlotte, NC October 23-25. See the link here for more information about the conference,



and more art …

More Refs and Links


References and Links for — “Meteorology and Myth Part 3: Krishna’s Monsoon Swing”

Welcome QR code readers! If you scanned the code from my poster, then it brought you here. You are still slightly early. In fact, I’m really not ready. I am still compiling that list of references you are looking for.

This blog post is merely a place holder for an abstract and references for a poster/paper yet to be fully written. I will add to the art gallery and reference list as I go along.

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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: I teach a general education “Weather and Climate” course. Understanding the circulation of the atmosphere can be a difficult topic for introductory students. However, Earth’s wind systems largely explain climate – and climate explains the world. The purpose of my ongoing “Meteorology and Myth” project is to develop teaching modules which present concepts in an interesting way. Students in the arts and humanities often struggle with physical science. Equally, students in geoscience or STEM fields often need a greater appreciation of the arts and humanities.

This story of monsoons is made to bridge topics in geography, environment and atmospheric science, with history, art, folklore and culture. Teachable moments, discussion and debate is encouraged.

Update! I have created a poster version of the topic. I just now need to find the correct market for it. If you have suggestions, please post in the comments.


Video: World of Discovery “Chasing India’s Monsoon”


Julian Butler’s Poster Abstract for the NC Academy of Science Annual Meeting 2019


“Meteorology and Myth: Rationalization of the Thunderstorm and Tornado Deities of Japan” (SEDAAG, 2018).

The following is a paper I read to the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers, held November 19 to 20th. The conference was hosted by East Tennessee State University, at the Millenium Center in Johnson City, TN.


Notice: These images are just JPEG files of my original PowerPoint. The Powerpoint had a lot of animated graphics that you miss out on here. Let me know if you want to see the original! — DE