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Historic Tornado Outbreak April 27, 2011


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It does make for some cool images when the outbreak is in Oklahoma. I wish they could make that semimobile. It would have been nice to gotten it to Alabama this week. Maybe I'll write in a suggestion to NWRT.

However I've never seen the thing and I don't know how hard to would be to move and reassemble.

Haha, yeah, that'd be nice, but it's not going anywhere.

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I had an idea, and it's probably dumb and maybe impossible since it's not done yet (to my knowledge), but when there is a supercell bearing down on a city, why isn't there a system to make the radar sweep 90 degrees instead of 360 or some sort of targeting system to decrease the scan time? I know this would present problems if there were other storms being tracked in the area but most major cities could just have more dopplers to take care of this issue. Again just a thought, and in no way am I an expert, just wanted some thoughts on it.

The old AN/CPS-9 Radar that I used at Whiteman AFB in the early 1960's had sector scan and also short pulse to increase resolution over shorter ranges.

Steve

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The old AN/CPS-9 Radar that I used at Whiteman AFB in the early 1960's had sector scan and also short pulse to increase resolution over shorter ranges.

Steve

Yeah, military radars are so far beyond what's in civilian use there's no comparison; while the software has constantly been updated, the hardware of even the SPY-1 Phased Array is ancient technology; AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radars are the latest..

If one had one for weather purposes, using its ability to form multiple beams, I imagine a met could simply sit at a console and draw boxes around multiple cells that he wanted continuously scanned at a very high rate, and all the while a constant full volume scan of the whole area would still be going on.

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I understand that infrastructure was compromised from morning convection, but this is my opportunity to preach preparedness. Many large events are often preceded by morning convection, some of which is severe and does damage. Especially with an event as well forecast as this, I don't think there should be thousands of people being caught off guard. A $20 weather radio with back up batteries can go a long way. For every inconvenience of being woken up in the middle of the night for a false alarm, there is a life saved and that's worth it.

I know it pains me to hear these stories about "no warning" when in reality it was not receiving a warning. I can't imagine how it feels for the many, many warning forecasters out there who issued good warnings but had people perish anyway. I have already heard some disturbing reactions from the higher ups in DC, and it will be very interesting to see how the service assessment plays out. Will it be a blame game or will we actually figure out some new ways to reach people and disseminate the message.

I've been in that position before, although not this time, as it just missed our CWA. Simply, it's heartbreaking to issue good warnings with plenty of lead time, and still see people perish. My heart and prayers go out to those directly affected by the tornadoes...but also those that provided the excellent warning service. I'm positive that the service assessment will show just how well these professionals did their jobs. I also recognize the amazing service provided by some (or most) facets of the media, especially, but not limited to, James Spann and his crew at ABC33/40 in Birmingham/Tuscaloosa, and those at The Weather Channel. A very loud "Job Well Done" to those folks. Undoubtedly, even with the horrible casualties that did occur, many lives were saved Wednesday that probably would have perished in a similar situation 30 or 40 years ago. Just from what I've seen from afar over the last 2 days, had this occurred 30 or 40 years ago, I fear we'd be talking about a death toll 3 or 4 times higher than what we've seen.

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It's also frustrating when the warnings you put out are ignored. I had a situation once where we had a really nasty storm coming into Fort Huachuca via the South Range. We were getting extreme winds and the lightning frequency was outrageous. I was on the radio telling everyone to take cover and cease outdoor activities. One bright (?) Butter Bar (2nd Lt) decided that the middle of a raging thunderstorm was a great time to line his crew up for inspection outside of their Comm Vans with antennas deployed-12 of them wound up in the hospital due to the lightning strike. In 1964, I and my Duty Forecaster followed a hook all of the way into the Base keeping the Command Post continuously advised. The next day with 6 confirmed tornadoes in his Missile Complex and damage on Base, the Wing Commander was enraged by the fact that not only had he not been informed of what was happening but that the Command Post never issued or passed on any warnings to the people in the complex including contractors in a house trailer parked near a silo that was missed by 50 yards.

Steve

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It's also frustrating when the warnings you put out are ignored. I had a situation once where we had a really nasty storm coming into Fort Huachuca via the South Range. We were getting extreme winds and the lightning frequency was outrageous. I was on the radio telling everyone to take cover and cease outdoor activities. One bright (?) Butter Bar (2nd Lt) decided that the middle of a raging thunderstorm was a great time to line his crew up for inspection outside of their Comm Vans with antennas deployed-12 of them wound up in the hospital due to the lightning strike. In 1964, I and my Duty Forecaster followed a hook all of the way into the Base keeping the Command Post continuously advised. The next day with 6 confirmed tornadoes in his Missile Complex and damage on Base, the Wing Commander was enraged by the fact that not only had he not been informed of what was happening but that the Command Post never issued or passed on any warnings to the people in the complex including contractors in a house trailer parked near a silo that was missed by 50 yards.

Steve

In 2003, a funnel cloud was spotted north of Hartford City, IN. I was on the south side of town and headed north to try try to intercept the storm as a part of Skywarn/EMA. As I drove through town, not just a few, but dozens and dozens of people were standing outside along the street and on their porches trying to catch a glimpse of the the funnel as the sirens were blaring.

The sirens are supposed to warn people to take cover. Instead, I felt like I was in a parade with all of people along the street. We work very hard to save lives and protect property, but sometimes it gets frustrating.

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In 2003, a funnel cloud was spotted north of Hartford City, IN. I was on the south side of town and headed north to try try to intercept the storm as a part of Skywarn/EMA. As I drove through town, not just a few, but dozens and dozens of people were standing outside along the street and on their porches trying to catch a glimpse of the the funnel as the sirens were blaring.

The sirens are supposed to warn people to take cover. Instead, I felt like I was in a parade with all of people along the street. We work very hard to save lives and protect property, but sometimes it gets frustrating.

Yeah I would have to say in the North here we don't heed the sirens like those in The South or Plains. It is just a matter of time before that issue will cause a large loss of life.

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AP now reporting 339 dead which makes this the 2nd deadliest tornadic outbreak in U.S. history.

That statement is based on the reports published at the time of the events. Wikipedia lists two outbreaks with more fatalities, one in 1920 and other in 1936. The pages for both those events indicate that fatalities from many outbreaks prior to 1950 may have been undercounted because African-Americans were often excluded from official reports.

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AP now reporting 339 dead which makes this the 2nd deadliest tornadic outbreak in U.S. history.

Anyone know if it's true that over 400 people are missing in Tuscaloosa alone? They mentioned that on TWC last night before I went to bed.

If true, death toll could be over 5 or 600.

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Anyone know if it's true that over 400 people are missing in Tuscaloosa alone? They mentioned that on TWC last night before I went to bed.

If true, death toll could be over 5 or 600.

I would suspect (fortunately) that a high percentage of those have simply gone to relatives etc. That is often the case in these kind of events.

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I would suspect (fortunately) that a high percentage of those have simply gone to relatives etc. That is often the case in these kind of events.

Wouldn't it be the relatives that are reporting them missing? I mean somone is putting the missing people on a list. I know there tends to be a lot of confusion in these situations, so hopefully that is the case.

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I've been in that position before, although not this time, as it just missed our CWA. Simply, it's heartbreaking to issue good warnings with plenty of lead time, and still see people perish. My heart and prayers go out to those directly affected by the tornadoes...but also those that provided the excellent warning service. I'm positive that the service assessment will show just how well these professionals did their jobs. I also recognize the amazing service provided by some (or most) facets of the media, especially, but not limited to, James Spann and his crew at ABC33/40 in Birmingham/Tuscaloosa, and those at The Weather Channel. A very loud "Job Well Done" to those folks. Undoubtedly, even with the horrible casualties that did occur, many lives were saved Wednesday that probably would have perished in a similar situation 30 or 40 years ago. Just from what I've seen from afar over the last 2 days, had this occurred 30 or 40 years ago, I fear we'd be talking about a death toll 3 or 4 times higher than what we've seen.

Ehh, that last statement is tough one. While warnings were lesser in time, you have to take into account population and housing booms. Were there as many communities back then as there is now? Just playing devils advocate there.

Another thing I want to point out is this as far as shelters. There's def an increase in apartment buildings, condo style buildings. this isn't the best/ safest construction housing as far shelters go. A lot of garden style 3-4 story apartment buildings have no basements. Just think it helped contribute to the death toll.

A lot of times, the only images you see are single family dwellings destroyed. But I wonder how many multiple family dwellings got hit during this outbreak.

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Ehh, that last statement is tough one. While warnings were lesser in time, you have to take into account population and housing booms. Were there as many communities back then as there is now? Just playing devils advocate there.

Another thing I want to point out is this as far as shelters. There's def an increase in apartment buildings, condo style buildings. this isn't the best/ safest construction housing as far shelters go. A lot of garden style 3-4 story apartment buildings have no basements. Just think it helped contribute to the death toll.

A lot of times, the only images you see are single family dwellings destroyed. But I wonder how many multiple family dwellings got hit during this outbreak.

I also keep seeing 'mobile home, mobile home, mobile home' in the storm surveys. Also seems like many of the houses(not all, but many) were older or not necessarily extremely well constructed-especially in some of the small towns, rural, and semi rural areas.

I also wonder about the demographic (and even socio-economic) breakdown of the injuries and fatalities. I know from dealing with my own elderly parents how often the elderly will have a 'it is just fate' or 'it is God's will' or some such fatalistic attitude-and often will simply not seek shelter. My own parents say they will not even bother-"We've lived this long and if it is our time, then it is our time" etc

. It can be very difficult to deal with. And I know other elderly people who simply do not pay attention to the weather or have the same attitude-they just don't seek appropriate shelter.

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AP now reporting 339 dead which makes this the 2nd deadliest tornadic outbreak in U.S. history.

I honestly never thought I would see a death toll from tornadic activity that high again in our day and age. But with so many intense tornadoes churning into densely populated areas it is perhaps almost inevitable even when warnings are timely, heard, and responded to by the general public. Community shelters for mobile home parks and public housing projects could help. I think SPC and NWS forecasters did a terrific job along with local media. I remember in late winter you thought this was going to be a very rough season for various scientific reasons, and I shudder to think we are just now entering May.

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I honestly never thought I would see a death toll from tornadic activity that high again in our day and age. But with so many intense tornadoes churning into densely populated areas it is perhaps almost inevitable even when warnings are timely, heard, and responded to by the general public. Community shelters for mobile home parks and public housing projects could help. I think SPC and NWS forecasters did a terrific job along with local media. I remember in late winter you thought this was going to be a very rough season for various scientific reasons, and I shudder to think we are just now entering May.

I never thought I would ever see a death toll that high either., but then, we were dealing with a strong system, and the consensus was that strong tornadoes were going to come out of it. I just wish they would have torn up some farm fields instead..... I was looking at the Birmingham, AL NWS office website, and they have a map of their CWA, and they had as many as 11 confirmed tornadoes in their CWA alone. I remember the speculations that it would be a rough severe season, makes me wonder if I want the sever potential to shift to this region..

Looks like we are in a quiet pattern for now

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I posted this in the other thread but I guess I can post it here too.

When I was a kid growing up I lived in a trailer park for a while (I think it was from the time I was six to eight or there abouts, hard to remember exactly), my parents were very average middle class. Dad was a factory worker and my mom stayed at home and raised me. I can remember when we had really bad storms late in the evening and overnight the police department would always send a car out to our mobile home park with an intercom device on it saying tornado warning get to shelter. Perhaps when a situation arises where the power is out over a wide urban area and there is a long enough lead time this event will bring back something like that protocol again? I wonder if we will see something like that put into place. I know in the other thread OceanStWx was saying the higher ups, higher than the director of the NWS even, was asking why so many people died. If it was higher than the director of the NWS that tells me its either the Commerce Secy (since the NWS is in the Commerce Dept) or its the President himself. Therefore we are going to see some changes made but I don't know what could have been done in storms of this magnitude and storms that were so prevalent in such heavily populated areas. I do think its a decent idea to consider though sending out authorities with intercoms on the cars alerting people a tornado is coming and to take shelter, especially with a long lead time and when the power is out- but perhaps I am not thinking everything through.

I have been very quiet here on everything over these last few days I have been in tremendous shock over this whole event. I cannot believe what I have just witnessed. I never believed that I would see such loss of life from tornadoes in this day and age, just goes to show you that no matter what the technology if you put a nasty tornado in a major urban area the loss of life can be tremendous no matter what. I think some of the home constructors may have to start considering putting safe rooms in homes as part of the construction, don't know that it should be required but should probably be strongly considered.

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We now have two EF-5's...

The Hackleburg, AL & Smithville, MS tor's.

Birmingham mentions they had the foremost national expert in storm damage assessment to assist their team in determining the strength of the Hackleburg storm. That would have to be Tim Marshall IMHO.

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I wonder if any storm chasers got hurt or killed in this. I would think at least some of the deaths were do to with curious weenies who wanted to watch and photograph it with thier Iphone instead of running from it. Yeah there's an EF4 in your area, but if it's a matter of life and death you may have to settle for a quick glimpse. I know I'd make the wrong choice.

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I wonder if any storm chasers got hurt or killed in this. I would think at least some of the deaths were do to with curious weenies who wanted to watch and photograph it with thier Iphone instead of running from it. Yeah there's an EF4 in your area, but if it's a matter of life and death you may have to settle for a quick glimpse. I know I'd make the wrong choice.

There is an unconfirmed report that 4 amateur chasers were killed - reported by Brett Adair. I have not heard any confirmation of this though.

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