Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer Must Be Over! 80s to 40s in late May

Photo courtesy: Scott Sabol, May 24th as temps hovered in the lower 40s

Before eating dinner, I had to look up the instances where we had high temperatures in the 40s AFTER May 24th (today's date). Here they are...

5/29/1984    48
5/25 & 26/1979   49   49
5/25/1925    46 & 47
5/31/1910   46
5/27/1902    49

The bigger question...what were the high temperatures like in these years DAYS BEFORE we plunged into a late fall chill? Has there EVER been an instance where we went from the mid 80s to the mid 40s in a few days this time of year?

YES! It happened in 1925 and 1902

1984:    63 and 55 before we dropped to 48
1979:    72 and 56 before we dropped to 49 and 49
1925:    85 before we dropped to 46 & 47
1910:    69 and 57 before we dropped to 46
1902:    88, 77, 74, 68, 65 before we dropped to 49

What about the last few days?.....

83, 87, 85, 74 before we dropped into the mid 40s late yesterday....daytime temps today have yet to recover!

This marks the ONLY time we've gone from three days in the 80s to the mid 40s in less than 36 hours this late in the spring!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

High Resolution Image of Post-Tornado Moore, OK

Where would we be without Google Maps, high resolution satellite images and the ability to plot all sorts of important data on these images?

My sister used to live in Moore, Oklahoma, She and her family were present in 2011 during some very significant tornado outbreaks that spring. They have moved on but the name Moore, Oklahoma because of the family connection has stuck in my mind since. Earlier in the week, my memory of Moore was infused with adrenaline after the EF5 tornado struck. My family continued to wonder if this tornado was close to my sister's old house. This is where Google Earth/Maps came in very handy.

Using the Google Crisis Response website, I took a screen capture of the satellite image from May 22nd of her house within the context of the neighborhood and the decimated neighborhood only a few thousand feet to the northwest that took a direct hit. This image really hit home.

To put the tremendous size of this tornado into perspective, the image below shows most of the tornado track/damage. The red box on the right side is drawn in the approximate location of the image above. Notice the debris pattern.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oklahoma Tornado Recap


The Moore, Oklahoma tornado has been upgraded to an EF5 with winds of 200-210 mph as determined by damage assessments. The tornado's track length was 17 miles, on the ground for 50 minutes from 2:45PM to 3:35PM CDT and had a maximum width of 1.3 miles according to the NWS office in Norman, Oklahoma. 

The NWS office in Norman, Oklahoma has a comprehensive slide presentation which illustrates the chronology of events leading to the tornado event HERE

Oklahoma Tornado, May 20, 2013 - Courtesy: Christie Lightfritz

What is it like to emerge from a storm cellar after a tornado passes? Check out this video below...

Vivid video of the tornado on the ground

The evolution of the Oklahoma Tornado....

Another angle...

Tornado Path: Courtesy; KFOR-TV

Before people start criticizing the forecasting of this outbreak, remember this:

There WAS advanced warning of severe weather and the strong possibility of tornadoes. In fact, last week I remember mentioning the possibility for severe weather in the middle of the country late last week MORE THAN 5 DAYS OUT! The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma issued a tornado warning 16 minutes before it touched down; 30 minutes before it hit the population center of Moore, Oklahoma.  That might seem like a lot of time but in a tornado situation, this is an eternity.  This doesn't bring back the people lost but it does show that severe weather forecasting is getting better. Ultimately, this will save more lives in the long term.

Now the wind speeds...

Most wind speed measuring devices don't survive the tornado. Only a few dozen tornadoes have has their winds directly measured. Maybe you've seen the "Doppler on Wheels" on storm chasing tv programs. The greatest wind speed EVER measured was done by "DOW" on May 3, 1999.

Although the proliferation of these doppler radars has increased as storm chasing becomes more frequent (partially driven by consumer demand--reality tv), the wind speed data from tornadoes is still determined by examining damage as noted in the first graphic from the NWS Tuesday afternoon.

Now for some historic tornado data...

Has EF5 tornado frequency increased? Data indicates that it has decreased overall since the 1970s

Only 58 tornadoes of EF5 strength have occurred since 1950. Most occurred in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Here is the map with the tornadoes numbered in order of occurrence.