An Eye On The Storm: Local Weather Caster Inspires Logo


Earlier this spring during a thunderstorm, Angie Loughridge was watching Jim Sublette’s live stream on Subby’s West Central Missouri (WCMO) Weather Advisory Page. Angie was also talking on the phone to her adult daughter in Ozark as Jim, known as Subby, was showing people where to expect high winds and possible tornados on a map.
“Subby was in his broadcast, when he said, ‘We’re going to Respect the Polygon,’” Angie recalled, hearing him stress the phrase like the words were capitalized, “and my daughter said, ‘That needs to be on a T-shirt.’”
Now, it is.
A polygon is a geometric shape with straight sides used by weather services to outline the area on a map under a tornado watch or warning. “Respect the Polygon” means to go immediately to your safe place when a tornado warning is issued if you live in the area inside the polygon.
Angie, a pastor at Victory Church in Adrian, Mo., wanted to help support Subby’s WCMO Advisory Facebook page, which now has more than 8,000 followers in West Central Missouri. People from all over the region log onto the page when storms are expected to listen to Jim explain exactly what is happening in their community.
Jim, who studied meteorology at the University of Missouri, provides forecasts to fire departments and other first responders as deputy director of the Henry County Emergency Management. From his home, Jim reads computer screens showing radar images of storm cells and how a notched area in the front line of a cell indicates the wind is starting to spin, which can result in a funnel cloud.
If a funnel cloud touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.
He also explains computer graphics showing the elements necessary to the formation of an anvil-shaped cloud that rises and hits a cap through instability in the atmosphere, and the wind shear that sets it spinning, which when combined with high humidity levels, results in funnel clouds and tornados.
The difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning, Jim explained, is the difference between having all the fixin’s for tacos on hand — in the case of a tornado, storm cells, instability, wind shear and humidity — and the moment when the elements have come together and you need to stop what you are doing because dinner, so to speak, is on the table.
Jim’s son Remington helps him monitor activity on the screens, and sometimes one of the Nader Boys, who chase tornados in the Midwest, also sits in. The family dog provides background vocals.
“Subby does this as a service to the community,” Angie said. “I thought this would be a great way to say thanks and raise some funds for the expenses he has to pay.”
Jim responds personally to people logging onto his page, greeting members of his immediate and extended family, acknowledging friends logging on, and exchanging jokes. A friend once texted “We’re eating tacos,” in response to his tornado watch/warning analogy.
“I’ve really enjoyed learning about the weather,” Angie said. “It makes it fun.”
Jim keeps a cool eye on hot storm tracks, depicted in yellow, red or a dark crimson, reflecting how much moisture is present. His calm explanations of exactly what is happening and when to take cover reduces the panic and fear that could complicate a scary situation.
The information is also specific to the counties in West Central Missouri, which fall between weather-station radar in Pleasant Hill, serving the Kansas City area and Springfield in the south.
He is not paid for live-streaming storm coverage from his home.
Jim also works four days a week in Urich, but will stay up all night to show people exactly where the storm cells are, which way they are heading, and how fast. In addition to telling people if and when a severe storm will hit their community, he also lets people know when the tornados have moved out of the storm-warned area and they can go back to bed.
The next day, Jim will be out surveying damage in the county to report to the National Weather Service. His weathercasts have been particularly relevant this spring, which saw multiple storm fronts sweep across the Kansas border and into west-central Missouri, spawning several small tornados.
Angie said she received 42 orders for the shirts, which come in three sizes and three colors. Some orders were for multiple shirts, so she is making around 60. She also presented a T-shirt to Jim.
Angie likes the fact that Jim monitors the weather in communities other than Clinton, and responds to questions from people who have relatives in the area or students away at college. Others who have been visiting relatives want to know when it is safe to be on the road home. Her daughter, Jordan Rischer, lives in a house in southern Missouri that doesn’t have a basement, she said. In that situation, “Respecting the Polygon” means going to an interior room in the house, usually a bathroom, that doesn’t have any windows, or small windows that are taped.
Having your safe place ready ahead of time with a flashlight, water, emergency food and a way to receive weather updates is the best way to “Respect the Polygon” and is crucial to avoid being injured. Most fatalities during a tornado are caused by windows exploding inwards due to the pressure differential, and well as injuries from flying debris. A cautionary saying of people who grew on Midwest farms: a tornado can drive a piece of straw through a board.
Angie said she originally heard about Subby’s WCMO Advisory Page from a friend, but before that, didn’t keep a close eye on the weather. Her house has a basement, so sometimes the first she heard of a severe storm heading towards Adrian was a phone call from the fire chief, asking if people could use her basement as a storm shelter. People who live in mobile homes are particularly vulnerable, as is anyone outside or in a vehicle when a tornado hits.
People who log onto Subby’s WCMO Advisory Page live streams also report what is happening in their area — when the high winds, thunderstorms or hail hit, or that the power went out but has come back on, reassuring other followers of the weather advisory page.
Angie is also thinking of making some “Respect the Polygon” baseball caps. For more information, contact her at