Southern Weather Storms: Update

The severe weather expected in the Southeastern states has started, kicking off with a tornado that touched down and travelled through Goodman, Missouri on Tuesday night.  Local news channels have reported two people injured and damage to the fire department, an elementary school, and parts of the downtown area. Fortunately, no fatalities have been reported. The tornado was assigned an EF – 2 rating by the National Weather Service based on a damage survey of the area. The town was under a  tornado warning last night.

As the impending storms begin, the more southern states have began preparing for the severe weather. The Governor of Alabama declared a state of emergency Tuesday in anticipation of Wednesday’s forecasts. 50 National Guard soldiers have also been deployed to the area to assist any rescue and recovery efforts during the warning. Schools were closed as well in an effort to keep everyone safe and off the roads.

The PGA Master’s Tour in Augusta, Georgia had to suspend a practice round as storms began around 11am this morning. Warner Robins, a town in central Georgia, is using Facebook as a means of communicating to local residents that they’re city hall has opened the doors to be used as a storm shelter.

Link to article:

Virginia Beach Tornado

An EF-2 tornado touched down in Virginia Beach for roughly 8 miles on Saturday, March 31. At least 12 homes are condemned and 32 people are displaced. I was in Virginia Beach this weekend visiting some friends and family (who were not affected by it) and they mentioned it and knew of people who had been affected by it. More than 200 homes total were damaged in some way by the storm. It is believed that 3 tornadoes total touched down in the area, but the one that did the most damage was the EF2. The others were both EF1 and mainly damaged or knocked down trees.

This is one of those situations where a natural hazard hits an area where it is not nearly as common as it is in other parts of the country. Tornadoes are known to hit the midwest United States, but rarely occur on the coasts. Most of the people in Virginia Beach probably have never even thought of a tornado as being a threat to their way of life. There are probably plenty of people who are aware of any and all hazards, but generally people in Virginia only think of maybe an EF0-1 tornado. This EF-2 tornado is relatively intense for what Virginians can be more prepared for.


An image from NWS with the path of the tornado and other good information about it.

Tornado Potential in Bangladesh and East India

Large thunderstorms, known locally as Kalboishakis, are currently threatening Bangladesh and parts of east India. In the past two days, the city of Sylet recorded 11.5 inches of rain. Along with the Kalboishakis often come tornadoes. We normally associate tornadoes with the southern U.S., but during early spring the climate in this region is similar to that of Tornado Alley in the U.S. – warm, moist air at low levels and drier cooler air at higher levels makes for perfect tornado conditions.

So far, no tornado has formed this season, but the risk for disaster is certainly present. Bangladesh has one of the densest populations in the world, which, coupled with weak infrastructure, makes the area particularly vulnerable to natural hazards. In 1989, a deadly tornado ripped through the Manikgani region killing 1,300 people and leaving 80,000 homeless.

Look out for tornados during the peak risk period of April 5th-11th. After the monsoon season hits in May we can expect the risk of tornadoes to decrease.

Read the AlJazeera story here.

Tornadoes topple RVs in Monroe

Thursday morning an EF0 Tornado touched down in Monroe, Washington around 10:30 a.m. in the area of West Main Street and 170th Drive. The area saw minor property damage including the toppling of two RVs, a trampoline thrown in the air, and a smashed car. Luckily no persons were injured.

“It didn’t last long — probably not much longer than a minute,” meteorologist Danny Mercer said. A couple storms like these are typical this time of year, he said. “Flukey spinoffs come off the Puget Sound convergence zone”  when winds in the upper atmosphere collide over the region, Haner said. Strong tornados have a “good core” of fierce winds and happen during thunderstorms, Haner said.

Car smashed by RV toppled over from tornado. Photo by Jessica Lee of Yakima Herald

Tornado in Houston

On Wednesday March 29, 2017 an EF-1 tornado ripped through the Azalea Place Apartment complex in South Western Houston, Texas. This tornado was about 50 yards wide, with 90 mile per hour winds, and traveled about .27 miles in total. Regardless of its small size, the damage that it inflicted could take up to months to repair. Some of the people directly damaged include two people who were in cars, one of which was bruised by debris which crashed through the roof. One lucky baby, was a literal baby who narrowly escaped pieces of the ceiling which fell in the crib. The residents of the ground floor apartments are drying out their homes as a result of subsequent flooding from this tornado. The good news is that there were no serious injuries and the American Red Cross is on the scene to help families who have been displaced.

90 mile per hour winds sound super fast, and this tornado is only an EF-1. It is weird to think that something that fast, would be considered small. What I find the most interesting about this story is the inclusion of the flooding in the ground-level apartments. The reasons that these apartments flooded was not listed, but I can only think of two reasons for the flooding. The first is that the winds caused a nearby body of water to blow into the apartment complex- which is really only possible if the apartment complex backs a pond, a lake, or a stream. The second possibility is that they strong winds caused damage to the apartment’s pipelines causing flooding. If the flooding is the result of the first case then it proves that disasters tend to perpetrate one another. If the second possibility is the real cause of the flooding then this shows how people can make a disaster so much worse, but more importantly it shows that building for disasters is essential. If this is an area which is prone to tornadoes then there must be some way in which the pipes can be built so they do not break once exposed to intense wind, or built in a location which ensures that falling debris will not break them.

The article talks about this tornado only hitting one specific Apartment complex, which just solidifies that tornadoes are some of the most unpredictable of all storms. The good news is that there were no serious injuries and no deaths.

Severe Thunderstorms in Texas and Oklahoma

An out break of severe weather last night and this morning in Texas and Oklahoma caused lots of damage. The storm flooded roads and knocked out power for over 200,000 people in northern Texas. The thunderstorm also produced damaging wind sheer that knocked over trees and caused property damage. The same storm also produced baseball size hail that shattered car wind shields casing people to be sent to the hospital.  Along with the flooding, hail, and wind sheer the thunderstorm also spawned at least 14 tornadoes. Which is very impressive. All of the tornadoes were in Texas, so the damage sustained in Oklahoma was not a tornado but due to the wind sheer over 95 mphs.  So far there has only been one person reported dead.

2.7″ hail a few moments ago in Seymour, TX @NWSNorman

Geospatial data and analysis for disaster relief

This post is an excerpt from Geospatial Data and Analysis, by Aurelia Moser, Jon Bruner, and Bill Day. If you click on the link below, it will take you to the post, but it also has a link to read more from this book and contains some really cool and useful information!

This post talks more about the recovery process of disasters and how technology has advanced to allow disaster relief agencies to use geospatial data that goes down to the level of individuals, as well as maps showing key infrastructure and up-to-date damage assessments created on the fly, in order to manage response efforts. Ten years ago, geospatial data was not rich enough to map these real-time movements of people and resources, but now that smart phones are ubiquitous around the world, this is something that is available and is being used very heavily in recent disasters.

A few examples are mentioned in the post about how drones are being used more and more and that their videos can be transformed into 3D models. Skycatch is the main industry behind this development. It originally sold this transforming software to construction companies working on very large projects, but it ended up joining the relief effort following the Nepal earthquake in 2015. “Data from the drones was used to identify damaged buildings, map paths for heavy equipment, and plan for the restoration of heritage sites.”

These are just a few of many advancements in technology we have made (and an idea of what else we can do with this technology) with regards to enhancing the relief and recovery processes following disasters and catastrophes.


6 life-threatening tornado myths debunked

AccuWeather Storm Chaser Reed Timmer catches a tornado blasting right over an overpass in Clinton, Mississippi, on April 15, 2011. (Photo/Reed Timmer)

While this isn’t a disaster story, it does potentially help with preventing further harm done by a Tornado. A big part of what we have talked about this semester is educating the public about hazards and other potential disasters. It plays a huge part in mitigating catastrophes. In this case, the focus is the infamous Tornado. I have personally heard about all six of these myths and most of them I was told growing up (having two wanna-be meteorologists as parents helped) were not necessarily true, but sometimes with friends or even in school, I heard that they were true. The main ones being the green sky indicator and the overpass. Up until reading this article, I was not entirely sure what to believe.

It is another example of how we as a society really need to make an effort to come to an accepted conclusion so that the public can be more prepared and can know what is best to do in case of a weather emergency.

String of Tornadoes hits the Midwest

Monday and Tuesday this week, several tornadoes and storms have hit the midwest from Oklahoma and Arkansas, as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin. 28 tornadoes have been confirmed so far, with at least 1 EF-3, a couple EF-2 tornadoes, and several EF-1 tornadoes. These super cell storms have produced hail and caused dangerous travel conditions. A semi-truck was overturned and an airport was shut down due to high winds.

Several homes have been damaged, some of those were completely destroyed. Trees have also been uprooted, and power lines taken down. One of these tornadoes had a track of 36.7 miles. Some of the photos with the article show the process of recovery, as people collect items from the wreckage of a home that has been destroyed. Several people have been injured, but fortunately there have been no fatalities from this storm. Seeing the damage that an EF-2 can cause, it is difficult to imagine what the impact of an EF-5 would look like on a community.

Original Story:

Severe Storms in the Central US

A system of super-cell thunderstorms hit the central US yesterday and created several tornadoes that killed three people. The storm was very large and affected people from Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Even in New York City, there was a lightning strike to the runway which caused a hole and shutdown that particular runway. Many homes have been destroyed by the tornadoes, and even more have been damaged. Thousands are without power, due to downed power lines.

This storm system reached our area today, causing the high winds and the quick downpour seen not long after Wednesday’s Natural Hazards class. Here at Mary Washington, there are many scattered sticks and even a few benches have been knocked over, one by Monroe and another by George Washington hall. The sirens were used this afternoon as well, which I have only heard once prior to this.

Original Story: