Welcome to the Monthly* Mailbag, AtmoLife’s newest feature where we let you crank that #content wheel for us.

*We’ve struggled with the whole recurring post concept, so we can’t guarantee we’ll do it every month, but this was mostly fun and easy to write, so I think we can make it work.

Last week on twitter dot com, we asked y’all to send your questions, weather related or not.

For the most part, your questions were pretty good! We even decided that one of your questions, “Is mayonnaise a weather instrument?” warranted its own article. Here are the rest we felt like answering.

This is a tough one to estimate since any cloud-to-animal lightning strikes not impacting someone’s pets or livestock would almost certainly go unreported. Researching the exact statistics has proven to be beyond my pay grade funded by your AtmoLife subscription fees, but a report from 2007 claims roughly 100 thousand farm animals in the US are killed annually by lighting. As of 2009, the total US livestock population was estimated to be roughly 180 million, meaning approximately 1 in 1,800 farm animals are offed by Zeus each year (dang that’s pretty high).

As for estimating the total number of American animals killed by lightning annually, I would apply this livestock rate to the overall US animal population (which would be a poor assumption for a variety of reasons), but unfortunately my search for a nationwide animal headcount had been fruitless thus far.

We tried to start a tornado prediction contest back during Nader Week, but we didn’t receive nearly the volume of responses we had hoped for, so that sorta fell by the wayside. Perhaps when we have a larger following we can try something like that again. I’m not sure we’ll ever end up doing some kind of day-to-day forecasting competition like the WxChallenge however. They already run a great contest with participation spanning across virtually every collegiate meteorology program, and I don’t see the need to compete with them.

We already put together a list of our Top 100 Meteorology Twitter Accounts to Follow in 2017, but as far as my personal favorites go, and not just for this year but all time, I’d have to say @capitalweather (Consistently awesome group of writers), @NWSPodunk (Fake/parody accounts on twitter are way overdone, but whoever manages this account still manages to be funny in a fresh way), and @shawnmilrad (Good balance of professorly wisdom and snark and also a personal friend of mine from our days at KU).

I actually checked Google Terrain to see if there was something topographical about this risk hole that would inhibit severe weather, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems more likely that The Weather Channel used an oddly precise algorithm (NAM max composite reflectivity?) without any smoothing for a thunderstorm forecast 3 days out, so have your they-called-it/they-blew-it memes ready to go for either outcome.

I haven’t done any actual research on this, but my guess is that floods aren’t considered “scary” by the general public in the same way tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning are.

Tim also sent a couple related follow up questions, “Why doesn’t the NWS, or others, consider purchasing commercial time to air preparedness tips?”, “Why isn’t more effort put into building real time flash flood warning & verification networks?”, “Most importantly, am I doing this whole ask questions thing right? 😂”. My answers for those questions (again, without doing any research) respectively are 1) probably lack of funding, 2) I feel there’s already a pretty robust network of river gauges to help forecasters issue/verify flash flood warnings, and expanding it would also require a lot more funding, and 3) Yes! Good work.

Thanks everyone for sending in your questions! Sorry we couldn’t* answer all of your questions. We’ll do** another mailbag Q&A in May!

*didn’t

**probably

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