Trying Something New on Meteorological Musings

Update: Questions now closed. Thanks for participating.

During the April tornado onslaught, I have answered numerous questions emailed, Twittered, and posted to me in person. Today, I would like to try something new on the blog and that is for you to post questions in the comments area immediately below this posting. Later today, I’ll come back and answer them.  While they do need to be weather or climate-related (this time, anyway), they don’t have to be about tornadoes.

This way, everyone can see the specific question I am asking.  If people like this, we’ll do it again in the future. We’ll call it “Open Line Sunday.” So, post your questions and I’ll forward to seeing them.

9 thoughts on “Trying Something New on Meteorological Musings

  1. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the number of tornadoes that moved through Chickasaw and Monroe County Ms (the Smithville F5) The preliminary rating in Chickasaw Co. is EF3 but I believe that is because many of the areas where there were injuries and deaths were on the edges of the damage path in less well built structures. Some new, well built homes where no one was home had foundations wiped clean and automobiles tossed. My question is where can you find radar archives? I'm almost positive the this was one tornado and even if the damage path is not continuous, I'm sure it was the same cell.

  2. First, thank you for your blogs. I have learned a lot.
    Question: As deadly as these storms have been, I am personally certain that they would have been much, much more costly in human lives lost without warnings provided across regions. Nonetheless, it appears from images that areas within homes which are traditionally considered safe were not safe from these monsters. Do you know if any information will be forthcoming which identifies what stood and what didn't stand? Where do statistical reports show up? I can't afford an underground shelter. My home sits on a slab. I'm trying to figure out my best options should I ever hear I'm in the path of such a monster. This has given me much to think about.
    Thank you

  3. Hello Mournlight and thank you for your question.


    Assuming you don't have a basement, in most tornadoes, a bathtub in an INTERIOR bathroom (one with four walls around it) offers reasonable protection. Unfortunately, the Wednesday outbreak was not "most" tornadoes.

    Statistically, out of every thousand tornadoes, less than 50 are F-4 intensity and less than five are F-5 intensity. These are the tornadoes that sweep everything away. So, your best bet is to be underground (basement) or in a "safe room" constructed to FEMA standards.

    That said, when all of the studies are complete, we will likely know the conditions surrounding just about every fatality in this horrible event. These questions are sometimes uncomfortable for relatives and friends but they are absolutely essential to learn how to prevent deaths in the future. My friend Tim Marshall, an expert in tornado damage, was literally flown around Alabama in a National Guard helicopter working on the post-storm survey. Why am I telling you this? It is possible that some entirely new lessons will be learned from this event.

    Thanks again for the question.


  4. I'm not a scientist but I saw damage in Birmingham in 1977 that was called F5. Ive seen damage in Mississippi this week that came from a "designated" F3 tornado. In the April 27 tornado in MS I have seen a new well built home completely swept away, the plumbing is gone and had anyone been at home and in the bathroom they would have been thrown about 200 yards away into a debris field. Around a half-mile away there were fatalaties in much less well built structures. I think the EF3 rating comes from this damage being surveyed first. I think also had the two homes been switched in location-people could've survived in an interior safe room in a well built home. I do not believe the 25 to 30 yard area where I saw what I believe is EF5 damage could be survived above ground. From what I have personally seen with one of the April 27 storms- there is a mile wide area where you cannot be in a car or mobile home, a 300-500 yard area where an interior bathroom or safe room in a well built home is relatively safe, but there is a 25-100 yard area where you must be underground.

  5. You are correct and your final sentence is quite insightful.

    In a hypothetical 1 mile wide EF-5 tornado, a subset of the path will be of that intensity. The entire width will not be EF-5.

    That said, the NWS has seemingly adopted a procedure where apparently strong tornadoes are initially rated EF-3 sort of as a "placeholder" until a confirmation survey can occur to rate them EF-4 or -5. This procedure is making a number of people unhappy, apparently with some justification:

    Thank you for the comment. Mike

  6. I would like your thoughts please on the coming apocalypse of 2012. Thank you, sir.

  7. I just wanted to know how often it occurs that New Jeresey has a tornado. THey didn't confirm one in my town but i am certain we had one because their was dead fish sucked up by the tornado from it going on the lake and trees were twisted so i am confused why they said it was straight line winds of 70-100mph hopefully you can help me to understand.

  8. New Jersey has tornadoes — no question. Usually a couple each year.

    I'm not certain about the incident you mention. If there were fish carried out of the water a significant distance it was probably a tornado.