More details are starting to emerge from the enormous tornado to rip through Oklahoma yesterday. Wind speeds were measured over 200 miles per hour. As of Tuesday morning, authorities had put the death toll at 24 but rescue crews were continuing to sort through the rubble looking for more casualties.
Here are a couple YouTube posts from storm chasers who were on the scene for yesterday's devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. Listening to their voices, you can really get a feel for the huge magnitude of this tornado.
Courtesy OklahomanickThis map shows that three major tornadoes have taken very similar paths through this section of Oklahoma in the past 15 years, all occurring in May. The May 3, 1999 tornado killed 36 people and was rated EF-5, the strongest ranking on the tornado scale. The May 8, 2003 tornado was rated EF-4, but no one was killed. It is almost a certainty that the 2013 tornado will also be rated EF-5.
Courtesy NOAANOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) captured this image of the storm system that spawned the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. The storms’ violent updrafts sucked in air that shot up 40,000-50,000 feet or more into the atmosphere. The bubbly white structures you see in the image are known as overshooting cloud tops and are textbook features of violent thunderstorms.
A couple months ago, USA Today reported on global climate change's impact on tornadoes. You can read it here. Trying to draw conclusions about the impacts to this type of weather is twisted, to say the least.
Weather.com's Greg Forbes surveys the damage and gives his insights on the strength of the Oklahoma tornado.
Minnesota-based meteorologist Paul Douglas today gives some great analysis, and some amazing radar images, in the Start Tribune today on why this storm turned out to be so big and powerful. He also reviews the good and the better weather apps to have on your phone or mobile device to help you know when bad weather is coming.
Courtesy Survive-a-stormNational Geographic shares information about how uncommon it is for tornadoes to hit developed, populated areas along with some of the basic science on what makes tornadoes occur.
USA Today reports that the phone is ringing off the hook for this tornado shelter sales company. A 4-by-6 steel shelter that can hold up to six people runs about $4,000. The demand is highest in the southern states where most homes are built without basements.
And here's the link to MDR's earlier post on the tornado, showing its movement in time lapse photography.
The massive tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma today is estimated to have been between 1 to 2 miles wide (!) and stayed on the ground for about 40 minutes. As of this writing it's been designated as an EF4 category storm, but that could change. The damage is hugely extensive and the total loss of life and property won't be determined for a several days to come as workers dig through the rubble and debris. The above time-lapse video shows how the twister started fairly small then quickly grew into a super-destructive force of nature with wind speeds estimated - so far - to have been upwards to 200 miles per hour. The same region around Oklahoma City was ravaged by an EF5 tornado back in May of 1999. A local meteorologist called today's tornado "the worst tornado in the history of the world." The devastation seen in the aftermath of today's monster tornado lends some credence to that statement but time will tell.
Go to Smithsonian.com to put this deadly storm in perspective.
I tried posting a similar clip to this a couple weeks ago and the YouTube clip was pulled down. Now this weird combination of wind, long-lasting lake ice and warming temperatures are causing these ice spikes to surge out of lakes.
People from all walks of life are fascinated by weather and make routine measurements. The “Cooperative Network” operated by the National Weather Service (or NWS) is a network of several thousand volunteers from across the country that routinely make and report weather observations. This Coop has operated continuously since 1890. The group includes about 9,000 weather observes who systematically measure high and low temperatures, rainfall and snow accumulation every day. These observations are archived at the National Climatic Data Center and are a large part of the historical weather record of the country.
Another group, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow networks, or CoCoRaHS, includes 15,000 volunteers who help measure and report precipitation type and amounts every day. Observations of precipitation by a large group of volunteers are critical to understanding storms as precipitation varies widely from place to place even in a single storm. Such observations are useful for assessing flooding hazards and rapid snow melting. You can join CoCoRaHS at http://www.cocorahs.org.
There are also tens of thousands of citizens that serve as NWS severe weather spotters. The NWS relies on these storm spotters, along with radars, satellites and other data to supply observations that help in NWS’ decision making process of issuing and verifying severe weather warnings. The NWS is always looking for volunteers to help get the word out about severe storms. You can find out more about this group and sign up for classes and become a trained spotter at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mkx/?n=spotters. It is a good class to take as we approach severe weather season.
So, if you enjoy making weather observations, join one of these groups and be one of the nation's weather observers!
Courtesy ThorWith several of the past springs being hot flooding years, we geared up our flood cam to chronicle the rise of the Mississippi River outside the windows of SMM. But this spring's gradual melting hasn't created much in flooding conditions. It turns out, however, we now have interesting time lapse captures of the "ebb and melt" of our late snows these past three weeks. You can check it out here. That is, I guess, if you really want to look at more snow!!!
One of the biggest weather events in years has been going on in relative anonymity over the past few days. Cyclone Felleng has been churning over the open waters of the Indian Ocean generating winds of up to 100 mph. Click here to learn more and see some dramatic satellite images of Felleng.
Courtesy ShutterSparks via FlickrToday is Groundhog Day, that special day when world-renown weather prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, (a groundhog, mind you) makes an appearance in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania in order to let us all know just how much more winter we'll have to suffer through. Well, this morning, Phil came out of his rodent hole at 7:25am EST, and - for whatever reason - wasn't able to see his shadow. That's good news. It means we're going to have an early spring, and I'm okay with that - I've had it with winter. But, you might wonder, just how accurate have Phil's forecasts been in the past? According to the records, Phil's been right only about 39% of the time, which probably makes him no worse than most of his colleagues in the weather forecasting game. Anyway, if you want to, you learn all about Phil and Groundhog Day at Earthsky.org. And, happy Groundhog Day!
Courtesy Thor CarlsonTaking a break from the snow shoveling to check out Science Buzz? We sure got a lot of snow in the Twin Cities this weekend, especially when initial predictions were for three to five inches and we ended up with nearly a foot. How does that happen? Meteorology guru Paul Douglas explains it all right here in an very open discussion of why predicting snow fall amounts is so slippery.
How do you feel about our sudden surge into winter? Were you excited to get all this snow? Share your thoughts with other Science Buzz readers.
Not that you probably couldn't guess this, but it's now official. July of 2012 was the hottest month ever in the United States, topping the aggregate temperature record for a month set during the middle of the Dust Bowl years in 1936. You can read all the steamy data on this record here.
The June 29, 2012 derecho swept across from US from west of Chicago to the East Coast, leaving as many as 5 million households without power. The storm traveled at speeds of over 60 mph, with wind gusts approaching 80 mph. At least 22 people were killed.
A derecho (pronounced deh-RAY-cho, a Spanish word meaning “straight ahead”) is an hours-long windstorm associated with a line of severe thunderstorms. It is a result of straight-line winds, not the rotary winds of a tornado—hence its name. Derechos in the United States are most common in the late spring and summer (May through August).
Courtesy Ackerman & Knox: Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere
The extreme winds of a derecho—up to 150 mph in the strongest storms—come about in the following way. Derechos are often associated with a quasi-stationary front in mid-summer. If the atmosphere just north of the front is very unstable, the front may trigger rapidly developing thunderstorms. A line of thunderstorms that forms in the vicinity of the stationary front can, via its cold downdrafts, drag down high-speed air from above. This can cause the high winds of a derecho.
At the same time, the high winds push the line of thunderstorms outward, causing it to bend or “bow.” This results in a bow echo image on weather radar. Once they get going, derechos can cover lots of territory—up to 1000 miles—and leave significant property damage in their wake, even flattening entire forests. In some cases, derechos wreak as much havoc as a hurricane or tornado. About 40% of all thunderstorm-related injuries and deaths occur because of derechos.