Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tornado Outbreak Blasts Indiana, Ohio, And Still Watching the Tropics

Large tornado near Defiance, Ohio Wednesday
Photo by Jaycee Riley.  
We're past the time in the spring and early summer when we get those terrible Midwest tornado outbreaks, but as yesterday proved, you can get these tornado swarms any time of year.

Wednesday, numerous tornadoes touched down in Indiana and Ohio, and some of them were quite large, and as you'd expect, there was a LOT of property damage.

Surprisingly and happily, there are no reports of any serious injuries. About 15 to 20 people did receive relatively minor injuries caused by flying debris.

It didn't hurt that the National Weather Service kept issuing timely warnings, so people were able to take cover ahead of the twisters.

Such was the case in hard-hit Kokomo, Indiana, where a Starbucks restaurant manager hustled patrons into a rest room just before the tornado hit, flattening the building.

The stronger interior walls of restrooms held, so everybody in there was fine. It wouldn't have been the case had they been out in the main area of the Starbucks. There's dramatic video of the Starbucks blowing over from a worker inside a nearby Chile's restaurant, which stayed intact during the tornado.

The Kokomo Tribune reported roughly 500 people displaced from their tornado-damaged homes. The tornado there was considered a quite strong EF3 with winds of 165 mph or so.

Electricity is still out in parts of Kokomo and schools are closed today. Wednesday's tornado took a path similar to another destructive tornado that damaged some of the same neighborhoods in November, 2013.

The supercells that scattered the tornadoes in Indiana continued on into Ohio, where there were more large ones, mainly over rural areas.

That region is not out of the woods. Indiana and especially Ohio are at risk for tornadoes and severe storms today, but the threat of tornadoes is lower today than it was yesterday.


Forecasters are still watching a big patch of showers and storms entering the Caribbean Sea today for signs that it could develop into Tropical Storm Hermine.

The thing is still totally disorganized, but is producing enough huge thunderstorms to raise the risk of severe flash flooding and mudslides in Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic today.

Forecasts are pretty consistent that this thing will eventually head toward the Bahamas and Florida, but what will this "thing" be?

Heat content in the ocean water east of Florida is at record highs, and that would tend to help a tropical storm or hurricane develop.

But that's not the only ingredient. If upper level winds are wrong, it won't develop. Still, Florida, the Bahamas and possibly eventually the Gulf of Mexico coastline should watch and see what this thing does.

Here's the view from inside a Chili's Restaurant in Kokomo, Indiana as a tornado blew over the Starbucks next door on Wednesday:

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