Tuesday, November 19, 2013

More Thoughts On Sunday's Deadly, Odd Tornado Outbreak

Some random, some weird notes on Sunday's tornado outbreak in the Midwest.

  • The outbreak was remarkably well forecast.  The map in this post (click on it to make it bigger) shows in pink and orange, the areas that meteorologists thought 12 to 24 hours before the bad weather began where they thought the worst of it would be. The red dots, indicating where tornados hit, and the blue dots, where there were reports of other wind damage, lined up almost perfectly with the forecast.
  • Warnings went out quickly. Eight people died in the storms, but it would have been a lot worse without timely warnings that went out. The National Weather Service also used social media and smart phone alerts to tell people of the danger. In a Washington, Illinois church, a whole bunch of cell phones beeped on with warnings during Sunday services, giving people a chance to take cover. 
    A powerful tornado left these
    swirl marks in farm fields near
    Washington, Illinois.  
  • Tornado outbreaks usually occur in the spring and early summer. May and June are usually the biggest month for tornadoes. The nation's three biggest tornado outbreaks this year were in January, October, and no, November.
  • We are still running way behind normal in the number of tornadoes the nation has seen this year. However, many of the tornado swarms turned out to be unusually destructive. According to severe weather expert Dr. Jeff Masters, five of the seven disasters so far this year that caused at least $1 billion in damage were from outbreaks of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

As always with these things, more dramatic videos are coming out. They're fascinating to watch, but people were clearly putting themselves in danger to get the shot.

Here's a video made from a guy who probably shouldn't have been taking videos of a tornado approaching and beginning to destroy his house before he finally takes cover at the last second.

And here's another video, taken from inside a car pulled over on an Indiana highway. The video demonstrates how surprising tornadoes can be, especially when they become nearly invisible in the cloak of a heavy downpour.

It just looks like heavy rain, until.....

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