Ground Scouring

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  1. Please read my other post as well (plus Enso's). I'm not arguing against adding indicators to the original EF indicators; in fact, I'm for it. I'm just against the whole inconsistent manner in which the NWS is going about rating tornadoes. The NWS shouldn't be accepting single damage indicators for EF2, EF3, EF4 ratings in some cases but not in others (such as this potential EF5 case). It should be consistently applying its own standards, and include radar data to boot.
  2. I find it extremely ironic that the whole point of the EF-Scale was to establish a set of consistent standards applicable and readily applied equally and to all tornado cases, thereby rectifying the subjectivity of the old F-Scale. The whole imbroglio over radar data (the downgrading of Bennington and El Reno 2013) was based on the NWS establishment's view that only structural damage indicators on the EF-Scale could be used. Yet here we are with the NWS justifying its Moore 2013, Joplin/Philadelphia/El Reno 2011, and other ratings based on non-traditional, non-EF-Scale indicators like oil rigs thrown, ground scouring produced, manhole covers blown off, parking bars torn off, pavement scoured, etc. The whole situation is as absurd as it is scientifically unsound.
  3. I can't believe we're seeing NWS offices applying inconsistent standards to determine how much/how many instances of an X intensity damage is needed for a tornado to be classified at Y intensity. A history of past F5s shows how inconsistent the rating decision is in the case of Vilonia. The 1966 Belmond, IA, tornado was rated F5 based on only on one home, and in far more dubious circumstances (a debris pile next to the foundation, with no scouring and only minimal damage to nearby homes) than in this case, where reasonably well built/well built homes were completely swept away, ground scouring was visible (near the foundation), intense wind rowing occurred (again near the foundation), etc. Valley Mills 1973 was rated F5 because it threw two vehicles hundreds of yards, but only produced F2 building damage. Broken Bow 1982 was rated F5 based on damage to one home. Plainfield 1991 was rated F5 based on ONE patch of extreme ground scouring. Many tornadoes have been rated F3, F4, etc. based on damage at one point, so why not apply the same standard to F5 candidates? If one home was well built, especially if surrounding indicators pointed to F5, then the tornado was an F5/EF5, period. Sadly, this is not the first time Little Rock has been conservative with its ratings. The Clinton tornado from Super Tuesday 2008 was in my view clearly an EF5, having left large foundations bare, trailer chassis twisted into unrecognizable shapes, two-foot-thick trees debarked and snapped off near ground level, destroyed a (steel-reinforced?) boat factory to the ground, produced ground scouring…and was rated EF4. Radar and aerial footage showed EF5 indicators that were ignored because AR just doesn't "get" F5s. Anyway, so long as the NWS remains so inconsistent in its rationale for ratings (as the recent fiasco over radar measurements illustrates), then I'm no longer going to rely on the already-inaccurate NCDC/SPC database for tornado climatology. I'll just use Grazulis or my own estimates. *Rant over*
  4. So is another one in Scott County, MS, per NWS Jackson. That makes at least seven EF3s and one EF4 thus far for the entire outbreak…with an EF5 likely to be announced shortly in AR.
  5. Where can I find a link to the live press conference? Thanks for the correction…I should have checked my big green book twice!
  6. The lack of debris (or at least large debris) near the two slabbed foundations in the center of the second photograph, combined with the impressive scouring and wind-rowing, is to me perhaps the strongest possible indicator of EF5 intensity.
  7. I'm guessing that the reason why the rating has taken some time to release is because an EF5 rating would be a big deal in AR. Hopefully, unlike (perhaps) on 05/24/2011, the rarity of such an event will not have an influence on whether to select the EF5 rating if the data point toward an EF5. Another irony: yesterday was the anniversary of the only F5 on record in AR, that of Sneed (1929).
  8. The Tupelo tornado is now at least EF3 and may be upgraded to EF4 in the near future. Based on these photos below, the Lincoln County, TN, tornado may also be rated EF3 or greater:
  9. Richland, MS, tornado is also now at least an EF3. Mayflower-Vilonia is a certain EF4, perhaps EF5. And what about the Rodentown, AL, and Smithland, TN, tornadoes? We could have three EF4/EF5 tornadoes on our hands.
  10. Unfortunately, at least seven fatalities have been confirmed in the Louisville, MS, area with several spots still inacessible and people trapped (presumably, as they are still "missing").
  11. The ground scouring and shredding/debarking of low vegetation is almost Smithville-esque. Around 1:20, note the evidence of a strong suction vortice, and at 1:31 you can also see intense wind rowing. 1:44 and 2:42 show clear high-end EF4 or EF5 damage if the slabbed homes were anchored well. The homes appear to have been brick, so they may well have been anchored well. If the tornado is indeed EF5, it will be the only one on record in AR since 1950, and only the second since the Sneed F5 of April 1929. Interestingly, at 2:23, in the lower right-hand corner, some pavement *may* have been scoured from a parking lot (dark splotches).
  12. Please try to look up the correlation, if any, between the March QBO phase and landfalls based upon similar past evolutions. I would be highly interested. Keep up the great research, as always.
  13. You are certainly memory is somewhat rusty, having been preoccupied with other things besides weather recently. Anyway, do you believe the rest of my post is valid or based upon a spurious guess?
  14. After observing the circumstances surrounding the most recent tornado outbreaks, particularly since 2007, I would venture that technology has to some degree nullified the sense of danger and uncertainty surrounding tornadoes. During large, intense, urban events up until the mid-2000s, instantaneous communication features such as those equipped with cellular apps were nearly non-existant, so in my view tornadoes were seen less as something accessible, something to be watched for thrill or interest, than as something beyond the limits of observation and knowledge...hence, something to be avoided. Thus death tolls were low, the cut-off being 45 or less, à la Jackson, MS, 03/03/1966; Topeka, KS, 06/08/1966; Lubbock, TX, 05/11/1970; the 1974 Super Outbreak tornadoes at Xenia, OH, and Huntsville, AL (the latter after 9:30 p.m. local time and illuminated only by vivid lightning); Wichita Falls, TX, 05/10/1979; Barneveld, WI, 06/08/1984 (also at night); and the 1990s events at Andover, KS, in 1991, Pleasant Grove, AL, in 1998, and Oklahoma City, OK, in 1999—most of which were well-warned events even back in the late 1960s and particularly during the 04/03/1974 Super Outbreak. Certainly, large events like OKC of 05/03/1999 were well-publicized by national media and storm-chaser footage or home video, but such were really not made accessible to a wider audience until about after 2005. To me, the Greensburg, KS, tornado of 05/04/2007 seemed to mark a divergence from the recent past in that footage of actual tornadoes since then has become more widely broadcast, and more frequently, whereas only a relative handful of notable events before 2007 were filmed in such a manner...usually because they hit one of the top major metro areas (OKC 1999), occurred on a day marked by notable severe wx (the Super Outbreak tornadoes like that at Xenia), or caused notable death or destruction and/or did so in an area outside the traditional Plains alley (Worcester, MA, 06/09/1953, as an example of huge death toll [94] / odd location, Udall, KS, 05/25/1955, of death toll, and Topeka 1966 of then-record monetary losses). During such a period, myths about tornado morphology...the famous underpass shelter myth as in KS on 04/26/1991, the myth of hypersonic wind speeds, etc....did occur, but such random knowledge tended not to be amplified or spread by Internet chatter or modern communications, which could more easily erode the evolutionary fight-or-flight danger instinct, make tornadoes a source of thrill rather than danger, and also, by breaking down barriers between rural and urban communities, allow common public misperceptions, and the errors of media misinformation, to spread. In the past, say, a community’s word-of-mouth belief that tornadoes seem to strike just around, not in, the community based upon historical experience, and that therefore the community is protected...but that belief was never really communicated beyond a small group of people, particularly if they lived in such small places like Hackleburg, AL, or Joplin, MO. And anyway, such beliefs are localisms, unlike misinformation about tornado watches vs. warnings, tornadoes vs. downbursts or microbursts, etc....which may more readily spread among widely different and dispersed communities in an age of boundless communications, iPhones, and chatter. My idea is that some major changes have occurred since the late 1990s that have greatly accelerated since 2005, and which were only tested since 2007—when violent tornado activity and bigger/urban outbreaks really picked up—as most of the 2000s were a “low”-activity period in terms of big outbreaks, F4-F5 tornadoes, and big urban tornado activity: Communications industries, due to deregulations in the 1980s and 1990s, began establishing a wider range of network services that increasingly served rural as well as urban areas, thereby breaking down the communications barrier between rural and urban U.S.; The communications revolution, in turn, combined with the rise of urban demographics to allow rural residents to better pursue careers linked to those of their urbanized, service-sector counterparts; The cultural division between urban, media- and service-driven and rural, manufacturing- and communally-based areas weakened, opening the latter up to media and other societal networks; Social mobility and sociability increased exponentially, particularly after 2005 due to innovations in digital communications. I noticed that during the 02/05/2008 and 04/27/2011 outbreaks, as well as during the Greensburg and Joplin, MO, 05/22/2011, tornadoes, many people who were interviewed after the tornado indicated they were using digital devices to speak to people...or were using them to check up on their the tornadoes approached. Also, a lot of people seemed to be driving or were out in the streets, either filming the tornado or going to help/warn neighbors...often while relying on mobile communications...even in traditionally insular communities like Joplin or those in rural Alabama, which in the past often sought shelter first and assisted afterward. While warning fatigue, poor construction of shelters, bad visibility, or pure bad luck might have played a role in some of the many 2011 deaths, I would venture that an increasingly publicized, wired, and all-too-complacent, or less cautious, ethos has taken place in much of rural America, which in many ways is now much more urban than it was just ten years ago. Any thoughts? It’s great to be posting again.