Storm Shots! Tuesday’s Tornadoes
November 9, 2011

      Click image to view a slideshow of other damage from Tuesday’s storms. 

The National Weather Service has completed their surveys of Tuesday’s damage.  The Kingwood tornado has been classified as an EF1 (86-110 mph winds).  Here is what it found.

“A National Weather Service storm survey has determined that Tuesday’s storm produced an EF-1 tornado in Kingwood located in far northeastern Harris County. The approximate track length of this tornado was one mile and its maximum path width was estimated to be 150 yards. The time of the tornado was approximately 1:37 pm.

“This system produced widespread damage: numerous trees snapped or uprooted … four garage doors blown in … and window and roof damage to numerous homes. Most of the damage occurred along Hidden Lakes Drive. The starting point of the track looks to be near the intersection of Willow Terrace Drive and Hidden Lakes Drive.

“A second storm survey was done just north of Texas City at the ISP plant where minor damage occurred around 6 pm. It was estimated an EF-0 tornado did minor damage in the plant with the main damage being 10 empty trailers that were flipped over by the weak tornado. The length of the path was 1/2 mile long and 25 yards wide.”

This picture was taken by Cierra Grace in Crosby, not a tornado but straight line wind damage.

You are always welcome to send your storms shots to:

hotshots@click2houston.com

Why Are Tornadoes So Deadly This Year?
May 24, 2011

Why are there so many tornadoes this year? What is going on? A couple of things: The United States averages 1,000 tornadoes a year. We are on track to record the busiest tornado season ever recorded.  As of Monday we’ve had an estimated 1,151 tornadoes in 2011. Tornado season goes though June with the numbers dropping off dramatically after that month.

 

As you can see, most tornadoes are the “weaker” ones. A much smaller percentage of tornadoes are the deadly and destructive kind. What is different this year is the monster tornadoes are hitting highly populated cities. One tornado myth is tornadoes don’t hit big cities but this simply isn’t true. Minneapolis, St. Louis, Raleigh, Tuscaloosa and now Joplin were all hit by powerful tornadoes. Unless you are in an underground shelter, it’s tough to survive the EF4s and EF5s. We are nearing 500 deaths this tornado season and that is tremendously above average. Usually we have 60-70 deaths in the USA, but a big factor is where the tornadoes are hitting.

How prepared are you for a natural disaster? Our greatest threat is flooding and hurricanes. According to a national survey, only 7 percent of American household have a disaster plan or disaster kit. I was at a weather conference a few months back and the speaker shared what the problem is: We don’t think it’s going to happen to us.

Research found that the young and those with low incomes perceive less risk. The optimistic feel less risk. Optimism is a great trait to have, but when it comes to severe weather we have to realize “it CAN happen to us.” Many people in our society feel invincible and that bad things happen to the other guys. The biggest factor in not preparing for natural disasters is the length between events. If where you live recently got hit by a hurricane or tornado, you are more likely to be prepared because you now know it can happen. My question for you is: Are you prepared for our hurricane season? Do you have a family plan and do you have a disaster kit? The prepared usually fare much better than those who wait until the last minute.

Why So Many Tornado Deaths?
May 11, 2011

 

This is a theory presented by Accuweather meteorologist Mike Smith.  It took a while to wrap my mind around this idea, but it makes sense and should be a lesson to us in southeast Texas as hurricane season approaches.  First, Smith says it isn’t about the strength of the tornadoes.  Remember St. Louis, the week prior, had an EF-4 tornado going through a heavily populated area and an airport and no one died.  The tornado warnings with the St. Louis tornado and the outbreak April 27 were excellent.  In fact, on average, tornado warnings went out 24 minutes before the tornadoes hit.  What Smith presents is power failures stopped many people from getting these important tornado warnings.  Prior to the tornado outbreak, power went out for much of state because of morning storms west of Alabama.  The image below shows 260,000 people didn’t have power the entire day.  Without TV or radio, some people didn’t know what was coming their way.  This highlights the importance of having a NOAA weather radio or a battery-operated TV/radio.  A lot of us went through this same type of scenario with Hurricane Ike.  We lost power and it took days/weeks for us to get it back.  Have we learned our lesson?  I sure hope so.

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

Latest on the Killer Tornado Outbreak
May 5, 2011

The average lead time is 18 minutes.

  • Warnings were in effect for more than 90 percent of the tornadoes.
  • To date, NOAA estimates the outbreak spawned 305 tornadoes, making this the largest tornado outbreak in history – surpassing the April 3-4, 1974, outbreak with 148 tornadoes. So far, the National Weather Service has surveyed damage from 178 tornadoes and determined that two topped the scale at EF-5, four were EF-4, and 21 were EF-3. Dozens more have been categorized as EF-2 or lower.
  • NOAA estimates there were more than 600 tornadoes during the month of April 2011, shattering previous records. The previous April tornado record was 267, set in 1974. The previous record number of tornadoes during any month was 542, set in May 2003. So far there have been an estimated 881 tornadoes in 2011. The annual tornado record is 1,817, set in 2004. May is historically the most active month for tornadoes.
  • With an estimated 327 deaths, this is the 3rd deadliest tornado outbreak on record, behind 1925 with 747 and 1932 with 332. So far, 2011 is the 13th deadliest year for tornadoes on record with 369. The deadliest year on record is 1925 with 794.

Courtesy: NOAA To view past weather quiz answers, click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers

Most Tornadoes in April
April 26, 2011

 This record was set in 1974.

This month alone tornadoes have killed 44 people, and we are mostly likely on the way to setting a new record for the amount of tornadoes in the month of April.  I say “most likely” because the 574 reported tornadoes are sightings, not confirmed tornadoes.  Oftentimes multiple sightings of the same tornado are reported.  It will take some time until all of the data is sorted through and the number of confirmed tornadoes is determined.  The 574 tornadoes will probably end up being quite a bit smaller, but still likely to be the record for the most active April on record. 

Typically, May and June are more active tornado months but that may not be the case this year.  With all of the energy being spent most likely we’ll see the tornado threat move farther north and east with the numbers going down.  Looking at history, an active April leads to quieter May and June.   

To view past weather quiz answers click here:

Past Weather Quiz Answers