Saturday, July 26, 2014

Virginia Tornado Targeted People With Nowhere To Hide

Overturned campers after a tornado in
Virginia Thursday morning.  
That tornado that hit a Virginia campground Thursday morning demonstrates what can happen when a twister, even one that's not that strong, targets an area where there's nowhere to hide.

Two people died and 36 were injured when the tornado hit the campground. There were more than 1,300 people in the heavily forested area at the time.

The tornado was rated an EF-1, with winds of about 100 mph. So it was a dangerous tornado, but not the strongest you can get. Most people weather EF-1 tornadoes just fine if they are in a well constructed house and hide in the basement or interior room during the storm.

But people at the campground had no sturdy structures to go to.  They were basically sitting ducks.

And it was hard to spread the word that a tornado was coming. Not everybody had TVs or weather radios to warn them.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area about  10 to 20 minutes before the campground was hit.

It's also rare for supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes to form during the early to mid morning, as this one did, notes the Capital Weather Gang.    Most occur in the afternoon and evening, so this was rather unexpected.

There was a rare confluence of instability and jet stream energy that prompted this morning tornado.

It also didn't help that even parts of the campground that didn't get the tornado had straight line winds of up to 70 mph and hail between the sizes of golf and baseballs. That caused added destruction to the flimsy campers and added to the danger faced by the people inside them.

The wind, mostly from the tornado but also the straight line winds,  easily tipped over campers and felled trees on tents. The two people who died were a married couple from New Jersey in a tent when a tree fell on them. Their 13 year old son was badly injured in a nearby tent when a tree fell on him.

Here's a terrifying view from inside one of the campers

Here's a CBS news video of the tornado's aftermath:

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