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Historic Tornado Outbreak April 27, 2011


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What if.... what if....

Well the fact remains that the TV personalities told people they would be safe if they 'hunkered down' and now it appears that was bad advice as the death toll rises. "You'll be safe if you get to the lowest level in an interior room" may have stopped people from actually being safe by getting out of the way.

Am I just talking to myself or have we been through this?

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What if.... what if....

Well the fact remains that the TV personalities told people they would be safe if they 'hunkered down' and now it appears that was bad advice as the death toll rises. "You'll be safe if you get to the lowest level in an interior room" may have stopped people from actually being safe by getting out of the way.

Sorry but that is such crap. There is NO WAY you can say that was 'bad advice' since you cannot say that any other response(as in evacuation by automobile)would have had a better outcome. They never guaranteed anyone that they would survive-but they gave the best advice they could. How incredibly irresponsible of you to suggest in your way that the 'tv personalities' are in some way responsible for people dying by telling them to hunker down. Utter bull****.

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What if.... what if....

Well the fact remains that the TV personalities told people they would be safe if they 'hunkered down' and now it appears that was bad advice as the death toll rises. "You'll be safe if you get to the lowest level in an interior room" may have stopped people from actually being safe by getting out of the way.

It would be foolish to ever tell anyone "you'll be safe" from a tornado (it would also be foolish to believe it). What the TV people probably said, or should have, was simply to take shelter in the lowest level of an interior room - which honestly is the best advice you can give someone.

People make their own choices...if they felt they'd be safer trying to flee, then they can try. But that's just not the wisest move.

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That might be an option for some neighborhoods. But even if it's a small neighborhood (30-50 residences), you're going to need a huge shelter. And you'd have to be able to get everyone in the neighborhood there within a few minutes of the tornado siren going off. This could be difficult, especially with elderly or disable people. Finally, you'd still be asking people to go outside in potentially dangerous situations...even if the tornado doesn't get there, hail/wind/lightning would all pose a threat.

I'm just not sure it's a feasible option.

I tend to agree with Tacoman here. I don't know that it's feasible to get everyone to a community shelter fast enough if a tornado warning is issued, especially if your neighborhood is experiencing severe weather already. And do you really want hundreds of people swarming one spot in cars, in severe weather? I tend to think it's better for people to stay where they are, and find the best place to ride the storm out at that location.

Plus no matter what you do, you are always going to have people who don't care about the weather aren't going to take any action at all. They will be the ones fuming about Dancing with the Stars being interrupted as an F5 heads right for their house.

And for the record, I think the NWS and SPC and local mets (especially Spann) did an excellent job yesterday from what I saw.

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I can't believe the criticism of media members, who did an extraordinary job yesterday, based on no data, a lot of speculation, and a lot of crappy alternative plans. Sometimes in extreme natural disasters, people die. It's not optimal, it's quite regrettable, but we live in a society that has fairly large population densities. There is no perfect solution and the one used now is the best in the aggregate.

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I can't believe the criticism of media members, who did an extraordinary job yesterday, based on no data, a lot of speculation, and a lot of crappy alternative plans. Sometimes in extreme natural disasters, people die. It's not optimal, it's quite regrettable, but we live in a society that has fairly large population densities. There is no perfect solution and the one used now is the best in the aggregate.

I think that about sums it up.

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What if.... what if....

Well the fact remains that the TV personalities told people they would be safe if they 'hunkered down' and now it appears that was bad advice as the death toll rises. "You'll be safe if you get to the lowest level in an interior room" may have stopped people from actually being safe by getting out of the way.

Every situation is different, the NWS mets and on camera mets can't predict exactly where the core of the tornado will pass, besides regular traffic patterns heavy rain or hail will further slow traffic- they give the advice that works best the very vast majority of the time.

From TV camera perspective, the population density looked fairly high, there was a lot of foliage, and some terrain.

And if you're going to give a warning to people to evacuate by car, you have to do it early enough for it to work, and with the vagaries of predicting the exact track, you will be forced to "over warn", have people who would have wound up in the periphery (or beyond) of the circulation get into their cars and hope there weren't any accidents of flashing reds at intersections because of electrical blinks caused by wind or lightning.

Its like the flu vaccine or a prescription drug, for a very small number there are side effects, for most there is a great benefit. I don't know how else to explain this.

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It would be foolish to ever tell anyone "you'll be safe" from a tornado (it would also be foolish to believe it). What the TV people probably said, or should have, was simply to take shelter in the lowest level of an interior room - which honestly is the best advice you can give someone.

People make their own choices...if they felt they'd be safer trying to flee, then they can try. But that's just not the wisest move.

Well, I'm not saying it should be used in all situations, just especially rare ones like this in which you know a tornado is probably very violent. You are telling people that their best chance will be to hunker down and they believe that really is their best chance, but it may not actually be.

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Well, I'm not saying it should be used in all situations, just especially rare ones like this in which you know a tornado is probably very violent. You are telling people that their best chance will be to hunker down and they believe that really is their best chance, but it may not actually be.

Based on...

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This is not a met perspective.

F5 in the 1970s is to '_____' on the Enhanced Fujita scale? How much knowledge did those folks surveying damage in 1974 have compared to what they have now? In every industry, we are light years ahead of where we were in 1974. To say an F5 tornado in the 70s has any relevance to how a tornado is rated today (if comparing intensities), is short-sighted - and irrelevant.

I would think the met point of view here would actually argue opposite your point.

Unless you can run a GRLevelx scan of the 74 outbreak using today's Doppler's and computer technology, and THEN go survey the damage with homes built exactly the same, from the same building materials...Why even bring up the Fujita intensity rating of something that happened over 35 years ago and relate it to how well the two systems stack-rank met-wise against one another?

They are the same, the Fujita scale was always a damage scale not a wind scale. The damage is still the same, we've just realized the winds need not be 300 mph to wipe a foundation clean.

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Am I just talking to myself or have we been through this?

This made me truly laugh out loud. As you have already stated, deaths were inevitable given the incredibly bad combination of factors yesterday for death. The more entertaining thing post-disaster is watching people become infatuated with the death toll and then say things like "isn't it horrible." Yeah okay...

I'd rather be talking about the wx behind the outbreak.

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Well, I'm not saying it should be used in all situations, just especially rare ones like this in which you know a tornado is probably very violent. You are telling people that their best chance will be to hunker down and they believe that really is their best chance, but it may not actually be.

You can't definitively tell which tornado will probably be very violent and which won't be.

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I tend to agree with Tacoman here. I don't know that it's feasible to get everyone to a community shelter fast enough if a tornado warning is issued, especially if your neighborhood is experiencing severe weather already. And do you really want hundreds of people swarming one spot in cars, in severe weather? I tend to think it's better for people to stay where they are, and find the best place to ride the storm out at that location.

Plus no matter what you do, you are always going to have people who don't care about the weather aren't going to take any action at all. They will be the ones fuming about Dancing with the Stars being interrupted as an F5 heads right for their house.

I must be thinking about a much smaller neighborhood than you're thinking. I'm thinking about a 90 second maximum walk or so but I live in a fairly densely populated area that would be one of those areas that are difficult to flee due to congestion. So, it might be that there would be multiple multi-family shelters just depending upon the size of the neighborhood. My street has 48 homes on it and putting one in the middle commons area underneath the little "park" would make the maximum walk, door-to-door, about 60 seconds. Almost any shelter requires going outside to at least some extent.

One shelter for 48 homes is infinitely more cost-effective than 48 individual shelters.

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What was the infamous line that Gary England told his viewers on 5/3/99...something like "if you don't get underground, you're going to die."

If a TV met said that yesterday, there probably would've been a mass exodus out on the streets. In cases like this, there are bad options and there are worse options for the public at large. Unfortunately we had really bad luck yesterday.

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From Brent Adair's FB (I'm hoping someone can falsify this statement, please):

Just got information from a search team member in Pleasant Grove, AL....well built homes are no where to be found and people died in there basements. Some basements even damaged or "gone". This tornado may do things to the EF scale we never thought imaginable.

Currently, my boss is looking for someone in Pleasant Grove...a long-time friend and colleague...who lived in Pleasant Grove and had a basement. No one he has talked to in BHM has heard anything from this person, but, if anyone heres anything that contradicts or verifies this statement, please let us know. Thanks.

There is a chaser from Alabama named Brett Adair so I'm not sure if that statement is trying to be attributed to him. Quick glance at his pages doesn't show anything.

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Well, I'm not saying it should be used in all situations, just especially rare ones like this in which you know a tornado is probably very violent. You are telling people that their best chance will be to hunker down and they believe that really is their best chance, but it may not actually be.

This would be one of the worst situations imo given the fast forward movement of the tornadoes, sending people out of their homes-to where exactly? For most people, hunkering down in their homes was the best solution. You cannot say that any other option would not have resulted in higher fatalities-especially in this situation. I simply cannot grasp your reasoning here(and I do apologize for my profanity in my previous post).

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What was the infamous line that Gary England told his viewers on 5/3/99...something like "if you don't get underground, you're going to die."

If a TV met said that yesterday, there probably would've been a mass exodus down into the streets.

FYP

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Well, I'm not saying it should be used in all situations, just especially rare ones like this in which you know a tornado is probably very violent. You are telling people that their best chance will be to hunker down and they believe that really is their best chance, but it may not actually be.

Well then what would be? People have been trying to explain that there really isn't a better option. Telling people to evacuate would only work if we knew well in advance exactly when and where a tornado would be. Look what happened with Houston and Hurricane Rita a number of years ago...you tell people to evacuate a major metro area and you are going to instantly create huge traffic jams. Works to an extent for hurricanes, but would be the worst case scenario for tornados, for obvious reasons.

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Every situation is different, the NWS mets and on camera mets can't predict exactly where the core of the tornado will pass, besides regular traffic patterns heavy rain or hail will further slow traffic- they give the advice that works best the very vast majority of the time.

From TV camera perspective, the population density looked fairly high, there was a lot of foliage, and some terrain.

And if you're going to give a warning to people to evacuate by car, you have to do it early enough for it to work, and with the vagaries of predicting the exact track, you will be forced to "over warn", have people who would have wound up in the periphery (or beyond) of the circulation get into their cars and hope there weren't any accidents of flashing reds at intersections because of electrical blinks caused by wind or lightning.

Its like the flu vaccine or a prescription drug, for a very small number there are side effects, for most there is a great benefit. I don't know how else to explain this.

Yeah, I do understand that, but you may be giving people the false assumption that they will be safe if they do as they are told, even in the face of a tornado that has a low survivability rate. If people believe that they will survive if they go to an interior room, even though the tornado isn't going to leave anything on the foundation, you've just given someone who may have lived if they would have ran away the wrong advice. If they think 'well he said I'm going to be safe' so I guess I won't try to run from the storm.

I'm probably not wording it right, or something though, sorry.

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I must be thinking about a much smaller neighborhood than you're thinking. I'm thinking about a 90 second maximum walk or so but I live in a fairly densely populated area that would be one of those areas that are difficult to flee due to congestion. So, it might be that there would be multiple multi-family shelters just depending upon the size of the neighborhood. My street has 48 homes on it and putting one in the middle commons area underneath the little "park" would make the maximum walk, door-to-door, about 60 seconds. Almost any shelter requires going outside to at least some extent.

One shelter for 48 homes is infinitely more cost-effective than 48 individual shelters.

Yeah, I suppose it could work for some very small, compact neighborhoods (or apartment buildings). But certainly not very well for most.

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They are the same, the Fujita scale was always a damage scale not a wind scale. The damage is still the same, we've just realized the winds need not be 300 mph to wipe a foundation clean.

The Fujita scale was a wind scale. Fujita linked up the Beaufort scale with the Mach scale. The F-scale actually went to F12 (Mach 1) but F6 was considered inconeivable (nor would resulting damage be recognizable from F5). Since wind could not be directly measured it was inferred based on damage. Even Fujita, before his death, realized his scale was not relevent to cheaply built suburban housing, hence the EF scale.

fscale.jpg

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I had a pretty good idea it would be a bad afternoon, and I'm no expert reading skew-Ts, looking at the 18Z special balloon releases, and people had the past 3 days picked out as especially dangerous this time last week.

Two of the 18Z soundings, high instability and incredible helicity.

JAN.gif

BMX.gif

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Yeah, I suppose it could work for some very small, compact neighborhoods (or apartment buildings). But certainly not very well for most.

I believe the trailer park affected in the Andover, KS tornado had a community shelter, underground, I assume.

Every trailer park should have one, since more common strength tornadoes can do so much damage to those.

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Huntsville authorities saying power and/or infrastructure restoration may take up to 5-7 days. Most likely a microcosm of the obliteration of food, fuel, shelter, etc. in areas across the region. This of course pales in the face of so many lives lost, but still compounds an already terrible aftermath.

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