Monday, February 27, 2017

Strange Tornadoes: Way North This Past Weekend And More Due

Metal and debris is wrapped around trees near a
tornado-damaged church in Conway, Massachusetts
Sunday. Photo by David Molnar/The Republican
Amid the incredible record heat on Saturday where some rare tornadoes that struck parts of the Northeast.

By the way, more severe weather and possible tornadoes are coming this week from Arkansas to the Middle Atlantic coast.

Also, another squirt of strange late winter heat. More on that in a minute.

I've already remarked at how wild it was to have tornadoes this far north in February. One in Massachusetts was truly remarkable.

A confirmed tornado touched down in Goshen and Conway, in western Massachusetts at around 7:15 p.m. Saturday.  This is only about 15 miles south of the Vermont border.

The National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. gave the tornado a high-end EF-1 rating, with winds up to 110 mph. This is almost an EF-2 in the srength scale that ranges from zero to five.

This Massachusetts tornado was no brief spin up that we most often see in New England, the kind that just takes down a few trees and rips some siding off a barn.

This one severely damaged several houses on a path that extended for five miles and grew to a width of 200 years. One injury was reported. Hundreds of trees came down. Residents of Conway reported hearing the tell-tale freight train-like roar of a tornado as it approached, and thus had the sense to run to their basements

NWS meteorologists from Taunton said it was extremely fortunate that nobody was killed.

A tornado on the ground in York County,
Pennsylvania Saturday. 
This is an impressive tornado for New England for any time of year. (Most New England tornadoes strike between Memorial and Labor days.)

This was the first recorded February tornado in New England, and that it was so strong is quite something.

Elsewhere,  the confirmed tornado in Pennsylvania came on the exact one-year anniversary of another tornado in the same Pennsylvania county. Plus, as we know, tornadoes in Pennsylvania during February are quite rare.

That 2016 storm spawned widespread tornadoes and severe thunderstorms from the Carolinas to New England.

In Maryland, an EF-1 tornado extended along an 8.4 mile long path through LaPlata and Waldorf. This is only the seventh tornado reported in either January or February in Maryland since 1950, says the Natonal Weather Service in Baltimore/Washington.

More tornado trouble - or at least severe thunderstorm trouble - appears to be on the horizon.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center says a severe weather outbreak will begin Tuesday, stretching from northeastern Texas into parts of the Ohio Valley.

The area of greatest concern at the moment is in Arkansas and southern Missouri. Details of how the storms will play out, and how many tornadoes form, and how strong they might be, are yet to be worked out.  
A menacing shelf cloud with a severe thunderstorm in
Pennsylvania Saturday. Photo by Marta Poulen.

The severe thunderstorms will move east for Wednesday, affecting a broad area from Louisiana to southern Pennsylvania, and down the coast to about South Carolina.

Strong straight line winds and hail are the biggest threats Wednesday, though there's a good chance there could be a few tornadoes in this broad zone.

This storm will generate another blast of very warm air for late winter in the eastern United States, but it won't be quite as strong and won't last as long as the heat wave last week.

Highs Wednesday will reach the upper 70s in the Washington DC area, around 70 in New York City, and as high as 60 degrees in Vermont.

Sharply colder weather will hit by the end of the week.

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