April 28, 2011

"Dozens of tornadoes spawned by a powerful storm system wiped out neighborhoods across a wide swath of the South..."

"... killing at least 201 people in the deadliest outbreak in nearly 40 years... Alabama's state emergency management agency said it had confirmed 131 deaths, while there were 32 in Mississippi, 16 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Kentucky."

Were you in the path of the storms?

56 comments:

Shanna said...

I've been part of the storms for about 2 weeks, but last night was relatively quiet.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TWM said...

We've lost some trees here near Nashville - no damage to us or our house. My parents though had a substantial Oak tree fall across their home. No injuries, but man does that make a mess.

Quayle said...

Here in Dallas we underwent the early "starter" parts of those storms (which, if you watch, develop out of nowhere in the lower Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma)

They were pretty raucous, with nickle-size hail a couple of times, but nothing like the monsters into which they developed to our east.

sunsong said...

This is heartbreaking to witness. I can only imagine what it is like to experience. My thoughts and prayers are with all involved.

Pogo said...

Tornado
by Robert Hedin

The last time any of us saw Gustafson's prize sow
She was rising over the floodlights
Of the poultry barns, pedaling off into a sky
Dark with wreckage.

If ever a sow was beautiful
It was she - 1200 pounds of blue-ribbon pork
Rooted down deep on her wallow, her whole body
Lit with gold chaff.

By morning she was famous.
And when we found Gustafson, he was rocking
In the middle of his pigsty,
Staring west toward the county line.
And all we could hear was the rain
And its thin ticking against the leaves,
The empty swill pail still vibrating in his hands.

storkdoc said...

Had 5 tornado warnings in my part of Kentucky over the last week. Doing a delivery during one. Hard to move a laboring patient into the hall so we didn't

Lincolntf said...

We're in Central North Carolina. On Saturday the State had a toll of 22 dead and 130 injured. None of the casualties or severe damage were local to me. Last night while my wife was teaching a class, all of her students phones started buzzing with "Tornado Emergency Alert" warnings. They could briefly hear the tornado siren (I didn't even know we had one) located at the local airport. We're under a watch for a couple hours more, but things look to be winding down.

traditionalguy said...

The power of a large tornado is awesome...it's more than awesome, it is unreal. When one passes, everything that was in its path is gone.

Shanna said...

It really is awful, but I can't help but be glad we didn't have that heavy loss of life in Arkansas, although we've had quite a bit of property damage (someone who works across the road from me lost her house in Vilonia but they were all safe in the storm shelter).

windbag said...

We're in the mountains here in western NC and are isolated from almost all of the worst forces of nature, especially tornadoes. But at least one destroyed a good portion of Mountain City, Ga, just south of us. Haven't heard any official numbers, but the hospital was full of injured, packed into the hallways awaiting treatment. Friends/co-workers reported the western half of the town was destroyed.

During the night, we received an autodial message telling us of the tornado watch. Have no idea who is responsible for it. Caller ID showed an 800 number. I guess the county 911 service did it.

We could tell that the storm was off to the south, where the tornado touched down, but got little damage here. A limb came down in our neighborhood that my son had to clear when he came home from work.

al said...

Video from storm chaser Reed Timmerman -

The EF4 that hit Tuscaloosa is shown in the video when it starts.

The tornado in Tuscaloosa

Cell phone video of the same tornado

cold pizza said...

3 years in Alabama was the final straw. When it came time to settle down, my SO said: Nothing east of the Mississippi again and nowhere that can be hit by a hurricane or tornado again. We have boring weather in our neck of the woods, but I've found excitement is vastly overrated.

Our condolances to those who've lost so much and now have got to put their lives back together. -cp

wv: "pinger:" the signal from doppler radar.

al said...

For anyone in the Chicago area - WGN TV Meteorologist Tom Skilling has his annual Tornado and Severe Storm Seminar Saturday, April 30, 2011 at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. I've been a few times and it is a great seminar. More information is available here.

If you decide to go - go early. It tends to fill up an hour or so before start time.

MadisonMan said...

The last outbreak of this magnitude, the Jumbo Outbreak of Apr 3-4, 1974, killed more than 300.

Great advances in technology and awareness since then.

D.D. Driver said...

And environmentalists will use this tragedy to score political points in favor of carbon rationing in 3. 2. 1....

D.D. Driver said...

...aaaaaaand here you go:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/whats-up-with-all-these-tornadoes-no-one-really-knows/238008/

Just how predictable are these clowns?

Milwaukee said...

This was a big storm, how were the advanced warning systems? Large concentrations of wind mills interfer with Doppler ground radar, and scientist ability to track storms.

MadisonMan said...

This was a big storm, how were the advanced warning systems?

The Storm Prediction Center had the region in a High Risk (a rare designation) of severe weather yesterday morning. The Tornado Watch for the area, issued at 135 PM CDT, noted that it was a Particularly Dangerous Situation. The warnings -- for when the tornadoes were on the ground were timely -- advanced times of 30-45 minutes.

PaulV said...

My brother was to close on a house in Huntsville today. He and the house are good and his wife and girls in Opelika are too. No power, maybe no closing for a few days. He delay moving van for a week. He was fortunate.

MadisonMan said...

..and let me add that ground clutter from Wind Farms for organized storms such as those that occurred yesterday will not interfere with tracking and warning for the storms one bit.

PaulV said...

The college where my brother teaches was closed yesterday because of the prediction. It could have been worse.

Freeman Hunt said...

We were not the in path of these storms, but we've been in the path of many other storms this year, and the weather alerts have always been timely and informative.

Freeman Hunt said...

In fact, the other day I started getting annoyed at how timely and informative they were as my phone was blowing up with constant updates from the weather alert service.

Shanna said...

The warnings -- for when the tornadoes were on the ground were timely -- advanced times of 30-45 minutes.

And yet, they still had such a heavy death toll. Do we know why?

I think everyone in Arkansas has been in the storm shelters and safe rooms, etc. Did people not do that, or were they just inadequate protection against the strength of the storm?

rhhardin said...

Tornados are a lot like women. When the arrive, they're wet and wild. When they're gone, you have no house or car.


- Larry Kenney

Lincolntf said...

Shanna, I don't know why the death toll was what it was. But it's tough to know whether it was "high" or "low" relative to other tornadoes going through populated areas. Until we know just how monstrous these things were and we can compare and contrast.
One thing in NC that may contribute to casualties (while not being anyone's fault) is that the conditions ripe for tornadoes can persist for days on end with not a single problem. Leads to a numbness. When tornadoes are confirmed, the alerts are ubiquitous and constant on both radio and tv, but in communities with thousands of people there will always be a percentage that doesn't get timely word.


wv: under
Where I'll be relative to the house if there's a tornado in my 'hood.

prairie wind said...

Shanna, my impression is that many homes in the south do not have basements, which leaves them with interior rooms as their only protection. Basements are better.

There may be other, better, explanations.

Shanna said...

It is true that many houses down here have no basements (I don't have one). There are a lot of storm shelters out in the country; not so much in the city.

I understand this was a monster tornado, so it could be that there was just not much that could be done. Very, very sad.

Lyssa Lovely Redhead said...

I'm in Chattanooga, but not near the parts that got hit hard, apparently. I haven't been out yet, and I live in a fairly new neighborhood with relatively few trees and underground utilities, so the worst that we had to face was a severely disrupted American Idol last night.

I've seen the shots on TV about some of the surrounding areas, which are very familiar, and it's hard to grasp. I'm trying to get some friends together to help out with the damage for people who were hit badly.

- Lyssa

Lyssa Lovely Redhead said...

We have boring weather in our neck of the woods, but I've found excitement is vastly overrated.

Funny thing is, we're in the TN valley here and weather usually is pretty boring. We get storms, but the mountains usually shield us from the twisters. Not this time, I guess.

michaele said...

Spent the night in the basement without electricity and getting weather news from a battery operated radio. One volatile possibly tornado producing cell after another came ripping through our east TN town. The hail was large and plentiful and did terrible damage to my beloved flower beds, trees and bushes. I know we are very fortunate that our house seems OK but I am in mourning for my peonies, iris, hosta and daylilies. They are in tatters.

Lyssa Lovely Redhead said...

Shanna, I'm only speculating, and I have heard some stories about full fledged homes which were ripped off their foundations, but I would guess that the major losses of life came from areas where people not only had no basements, but no actual houses- trailers and manufactured homes are popular here, and they are simply not built to withstand these sorts of storms.

Unless you have time to evacuate, I'm not really sure what you can do in those situations.

- Lyssa

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I have some friends who are sick of California and are considering closing their business, selling everything and moving to Arkansas or southern Missouri. (Ozarks areas)

They are now having second thoughts and Montana is now looking better.

Everyone stay safe!!!

Michael said...

Flew into Atlanta last night in horrible turbulence but nothing like the poor souls in Alabama or North Georgia. I lived for ten years in the San Francisco Bay area and during that time I think there was one thunderstorm with lightening. It was on the front page of the paper.

Here in the deep south the spring is a time of profound beauty and renewal and of death that arrives in darkness and on a whirlwind.

Christy said...

I've spent the morning calling around here in East Tennessee checking on family. We were blessed, just smashed windshields and windows from hail damage so far. Checking out roofs for damage is next.

Golf ball sized hail is sitting in the freezer. News was reporting teacup sized hail. Teacups are apparently between baseball and softball sized, but what an odd, to me, choice of descriptor.

We had 4 tornado alerts last night and frankly, by the 4th it was so late and we were so exhausted from the excitement, we didn't shelter in the basement. Our underground corner with no windows is the room with the exercise equipment - not designed for comfort. What a lousy excuse!

The school system does not allow kids out during certain alerts. With alerts and watches starting at 2 pm and predicted until the early morning hours, however, at some point they just decided to sent kids home during the best available window of opportunity. Do all schools have such a policy?

ark said...

I'm in the middle of it right now (in New Jersey). Tornado warnings for locations within 20 miles, but nont right here at the moment. I'm fortunate enough to be in a sheltered location on the side of a hill, so right now all I'm seeing is a lot of rain.

Crimso said...

I'm about 40 mi north of Huntsville, and was able to follow the activities of the monster north of Birmingham through the tornado warnings and emergencies the Huntsville NWS was issuing. You may not know it, but you NEED a weather radio. Our day yesterday began about 5 am when the weather radio woke us up with a warning. Our town has minor damage. I watched from my cellar door as a storm passed through going from SW to NE. As it was at its most intense, the trees were blowing back INTO the storm. Rotation. It was a wild ride. I was in Louisville on April 3 1974. It reminded me of that.

rhhardin said...

Golf ball sized hail is sitting in the freezer. News was reporting teacup sized hail. Teacups are apparently between baseball and softball sized, but what an odd, to me, choice of descriptor.

Sports equipment is called for, actually, for hail.

Tumors are vegetable sized.

Milwaukee said...

MadisonMan said...

..and let me add that ground clutter from Wind Farms for organized storms such as those that occurred yesterday will not interfere with tracking and warning for the storms one bit.


It is reassuring to have you speak with such authority. Would wind farms not interfere because that storm was so large? Or that wind farms won't interfere with the radar at all? There are different opinions about that. Here is one link, I'm sure we could find more.

http://www.usatoday.com/weather/research/2009-10-13-wind-farms-weather-radar_N.htm

Freeman Hunt said...

selling everything and moving to Arkansas or southern Missouri. (Ozarks areas)

They should do it. I don't remember our area ever having a monster tornado. Probably because the terrain is not flat enough here to sustain one.

MadisonMan said...

Wind farms interfere with the radar return, yes, but as noted in the article you link to, it's more an annoyance than anything else, and any good radar meteorologist is going to recognize what he or she sees when the signal appears where a wind farm sits.

That it has lead to false tornado alerts (whatever that is -- it's not National Weather Service terminology) as noted in the article surprises me. It makes me think a newbie TV Meteorologist saw the radar and freaked out, not realizing that that particular signal is always there. Or it could be that the various algorithms that run to detect tornadic vortex signatures in the Doppler return triggered because of the signal, but nothing happened because the meteorologist on duty realized what was up.

cold pizza said...

Many years ago, I was part of a military honor guard waiting at a cemetary on the outskirts of a small town in northern Alabama. A tornado watch was in effect and the only shelter for hundreds of yards around was the hole in the ground in front of us. We joked about it while keeping an eye on the clouds whipping by.

That was almost as much fun as being the bugler during a thunderstorm at another funeral in Georgia. -cp

wv: shiretra: a famous hobbit crooner.

MadisonMan said...

If you look at a map of F5 tornadoes (the strongest -- they occur very rarely) -- you'll notice a distinct hole over Arkansas and Missouri.

Link.

Shanna said...

Interesting about the lack of F5's, but we do have tornados rather frequently. The thing is they generally go to the same places.

They should do it. I don't remember our area ever having a monster tornado. Probably because the terrain is not flat enough here to sustain one.

Also, tell them to check the records of where the tornados usually go. In the LR area, they follow the same pattern over and over again. My neighborhood hardly ever gets anything, but a few miles over they always get it. Freemans right, it has something to do with the terrain. Hills are good. Arkansas has lots of hills.

Freeman Hunt said...

That was almost as much fun as being the bugler during a thunderstorm at another funeral in Georgia.

At first I read that as burglar. Heh.

In the LR area, they follow the same pattern over and over again. My neighborhood hardly ever gets anything, but a few miles over they always get it.

Same. Around here, it's nothing in the hilly city parts, everything in the flat farm land parts. So you can live in the city or on a hilly farm, and you'll be fine.

MadisonMan said...

That was said about the mountains of Pennsylvania where I grew up...until the big outbreak of 1985, when the Moshannon Tornado -- a kilometer wide! -- went up and down several ridges as it traversed northern PA.

If a storm is powerful enough, it doesn't matter if you're in a town, on a mountain, next to a river, whatever. The tornado will hit you. Smaller storms and weaker tornadoes that won't kill many are more likely to be influenced by the little things.

Freeman Hunt said...

That's interesting, MadisonMan. Didn't know that.

Titus said...

Was there something gay going on in those places recently?

Shanna said...

If a storm is powerful enough, it doesn't matter if you're in a town, on a mountain, next to a river, whatever.

At least it helps deflect most of them.

A coworker was saying that a few years back tornados hit the quapaw quarter in LR, and the guy on tv said he was never worried because the houses stood for a 100 years and then bam. Whoops!

Lincolntf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lincolntf said...

Speaking of tornadoes in unexpected places, in 1953 my hometown of Worcester, MA, (smack dab in the middle of the State) was hit by a tornado that ultimately killed 94 people and left 10,000 homeless. I think it's regarded as an F-4.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Worcester_Tornado

There's a book put out by a local publisher/bookstore where I used to work called "Tornado! 84 Minutes, 94 Lives" by John M. O'Toole (Tatnuck Bookseller Press), for anyone who lives in the area and/or is interested.

MadisonMan said...

Lincolntf, the day before, there was a deadly tornado in Flint, MI -- an F5 -- that was the last single storm to kill more than 100 people.

That was quite a storm system to spawn those two tornadoes on consecutive days so far north.

Lincolntf said...

MadisonMan said...

You want to know something a little freaky? I never put two and two together before, but the only guy from the Army I remain in contact with (give or take a few casuals) was born and raised in flint, MI while I was born in raised in Worcester. Can't wait to call him and let him know our parents were traumatized by the same natural disaster. He'll get a kick out of it.

peter hoh said...

Learned tonight that family friends in Alabama are safe, their house unscathed. Their next door neighbors' house was completely destroyed.

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