A huge number of tornadoes raged across the US in this massive storm that is rotating over the middle states. This is one of the biggest tornado events in the last 30 years. Despite the obvious dangers of building European-style houses in tornado alley, we still do it, over and over. I believe that only houses that are built like hills should be allowed in this area.
Tornadoes tore across the nation's midsection for a second night Saturday, 24 hours after a storm leveled Greensburg, Kansas.
A tornado struck Sweetwater, Oklahoma, about 8:15 p.m. Saturday, causing major damage to a high school and other buildings.
"The tornado came through and just dead-center punched Sweetwater," Roger Mills County Sheriff Joe Hay told KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. He said there was extensive damage but just one minor injury in the small town.
Video of the high school in Sweetwater showed a collapsed wall of the gymnasium. An all purpose building at the school was severely damaged.
More than 75 tornado touchdowns were reported on Saturday -- 40 of them between 6 and 9 p.m., the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center said.
KOCO's Matt Leinbauer reported seeing damage from another confirmed tornado just east of Arnett, Oklahoma.
A massive tornado killed at least nine people in southwestern Kansas on Friday night and destroyed nearly everything in its path.
Rescue crews pulled some people alive from the rubble, and more are expected to be found in upcoming days, Greensburg City Administrator Steve Hewitt said.
All the agony and death, one would wonder why everyone insists on building residences that are useless if a tornado hits. In older buildings, there are basements but many modern houses are built 'California' style which means, on a cement pad. Looking at pictures of this storm's damage, it is obvious that slab houses were nearly as terrible death traps as trailers.
Speaking of trailers, some communities have passed laws mandating storm shelters for trailer parks. The majority of deaths from tornadoes are people stuck in trailers during storms. The death toll in Sweetwater, Kansas, would have been much worse if it weren't for the tornado alarms. But even with alarms, if people live in trailers, they don't have too many places to go for shelter and the pictures also shows stores that were completely destroyed.
This tornado didn't hit during business hours but again, stores need tornado shelters big enough for staff and customers. I know for a fact, no Walmart has such facilities, for example. Nor do schools. In Oklahoma, a school was hit. In other storms this year, schools were hit and children died.
This is because halls are no shelter in F4 or F5 tornadoes. I have been in tornadoes in the past. One, in Kansas, summer of 1967, the tornado missed the University of Kansas. But our tornado shelter could hold only 45 people and there where over 65 people needing shelter. Being curious, I decided to not crouch in the halls of Oliver Hall but to go outside and see what was going on. I wandered all around, staying on the lee side of the hills. It was interesting.
But my worst tornado experience was at Yerkes Observatory in 1955. My mother was told houses wouldn't be damaged by a tornado if you open the windows facing the opposite side, the east. The theory was, it would equalize the pressure.
So that dark day in my life, I was asleep outside, I wandered a lot, alone, except for the dog. The Yerkes tornado alarm woke me up. My mother and father and five of the children ran into the storm cellar leaving me outside.
I ran into the house with the winds screaming and leaves flying over head. The house was empty. I tried to turn on the lights, standing on my tip-toes. Nothing happened. The power lines were taken out by the tornado.
I ran upstairs to see if the family was there. No one. The rain suddenly began to stream into the open window of my bedroom. Being only a very young child, I was scared to run over and shut it. So I jumped into my Victorian steel-framed bed and pulled a quilt over my head.
It was quite strange. The room felt like it was warping only it wasn't because of a tornado. It was the negative charge making a connection with the oak tree, my bed and the edge of this very violent storm. Then I was hit by the lightning bolt.
Since those days, people no longer leave windows open in tornadoes, the fact is, you have to take shelter. And in Texas several years ago, an F5, a tornado that probably had the highest wind speed ever, sucked people out of their basements, tore off the highway pavement and sucked all the water out of ponds.
This weekend's tornadoes were probably F4s and F5s. The last picture I screen-captured from CNN shows a hardwood tree ripped out of the ground. I dig up lots of old tree stumps with backhoes. Yesterday, I spent 3 hours using the backhoe and an axe, taking out a hardwood stump that was only 2 1/2 feet in diameter. It was very difficult and the stump was so heavy, I had trouble dragging it away. Last week, I spent 6 hours digging a vast, deep hole, digging up a 4' oak stump. The stump weighed over a ton, with roots!
Well, this tornado ripped right out of the ground, massive trees, and not just toppling it but removing it totally and dropping all 5,000 lbs on top of a truck! I have cleared tornado damage from F2 tornadoes. Trees that are knocked down simply fall down with the roots pried from the ground but not stripped clean and certainly no flying off into town! Tops of trees can be torn as if twisted off, but this tornado on Friday was many times more powerful.
The picture at the top of this story shows how the jet stream this weekend is snaking all the way up to the Arctic and then down again. When jet streams do this, storms will form on the lower sections and ride northwards and eastwards. Where the jet stream rides north, storm systems form. Moisture from the Pacific feeds into this front and the difference in wind direction and temperature interact with diffrences in moisture levels to produce this long storm fronts.
This satellite photograph shows how huge this storm system still is after three days! The Jet Stream is stuck in place because of the two stationary highs, one on the West Coast and the other on the East Coast. It has been sunny and breezy here on my mountain. We have had a very wet and cold year so far and this is the first dry week we have had in a long time. According to a Jet stream forecast shown above, by Tuesday, the jet stream will be much closer to normal, moving to Canada and the two lower loops will become storms, one over the Atlantic Ocean and one over the Four Corners region in the Southwest.
After a brief review of recent history and the fundamentals of meteorology and climatology, it has been possible to determine that the causes of the recent heat in Europe has its origins in a climatic phenomenon known for many decades as the "Jet Stream", strong winds whirling around the North Pole, having a decisive influence on the Northern Hemisphere and the rest of the world. Let us see in detail what is this thing called the "Jet Stream".
It is a current of very strong winds in the stratosphere whirling around the North Pole, from west to east, and they do it varying speeds, for not very well understood reasons. Some years they blow at very high speeds, making the current fairly straight; other years they slow down and start 'snaking' and twisting in their path, making deep entrances to the equator, and far north to the North Pole. Figure 1 (and the next ones) gives some idea about how climatologists understand this process.
At the same time, in the temperate region enclosing North America and Europe, the now slower Jet Stream and its accompanying depressions at the surface (low pressures) can be diverted by other atmospheric general circulation factors. The regions where the atmospheric pressure is high – anticyclones – behave as hills or stability islands in the atmosphere around which flow the Jet Stream and its depressions (low pressures or "cyclones"). Unlike real mountains, high atmospheric pressures are temporal features and also move eastwards in those latitudes.
The weak circulation also creates problems farther north. With strong circulation, depressions carrying rains generally travel through Great Britain and enter the European continent. With a weak circulation, instead, "blocking anticyclones" can settle in some regions deflecting rain carrying currents, causing droughts and heat waves, as happened in Great Britain during the summer of 1976 and the recent summer of 2003.
Anyone can try to predict the next 24 hour weather assuming the high pressure systems seen on the weather charts will move slightly to the east, carrying along dry and good weather, while the low pressures will flow around their flanks carrying rain and snow.
On occasions, however, for not too well understood reasons, a high pressure system remains "nailed" in some place. This is known as a "blocking anticyclone" and can remain there for days, weeks, even months, acting as a real mountain around which all other weather systems must flow. Given that anticyclones are areas of clear and calm air, the geographic regions under them experience dry and good weather in summer, and cold weather with nocturnal frosts in winter. A summer high that remains too long in any place soon becomes a problem: it can be easily provoke a drought or a heat wave (See figure 3).
Weather systems occillate. They also can have stability points. Some can last for many thousands of years such as when the Jet Stream decides to form a loop that runs into the Artic and then down over the middle of the USA and then up over the Atlantic just before the British Isles and then down again over Central Europe: this loopy path then gets locked into place and terrific storms rage on the northern side and glaciers form and we get an Ice Age. Indeed, the loops look almost like the ones we see right now. Just shift them slightly to the east.
One thing is certain: mega storms can destroy civilizations.
The Super Outbreak is the largest tornado outbreak on record. On April 3–4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 states and one Canadian province: Ontario, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and New York. It extensively damaged approximately 900 square miles (1,440 square kilometers) along a total combined path length of 2,600 miles (4,160 km).
It is believed such an outbreak of this magnitude occurs once every 500 years, according to a 2004 special report of the 30th anniversary of the outbreak on WHAS-TV in Louisville.
I remember that year really well. In Tucson, it was cold! We had sudden freezes. And I had a baby. Since I was going to school, I lived in real cheap housing. And to keep the baby warm, I bought an old mink coat from Value Village and turned it into a fancy velvet lined quilt for my baby. Well, we are just about to exit an el Nino period and these sorts of storms seem to happen more often during el Ninos. I may be mistaken, by the year I was hit by lighning was also a year I was nearly lost in a sudden blizzard, trying to get home from kindergarten.
We had lots of blizzards this winter. Just last month, I was terrified this mega-storm that dropped 7" of rain would be a blizzard instead! Americans are becoming sort of fearful of hurricanes but they ignore the obvious reverse which is what we are seeing this year: the mega-storms form over LAND rather than sea!
But already, el Nino is forming. And this means hurricanes will again rule the seas. And with them, you get not only lots of rain but tornadoes AND sea surges! A triple whammy.
In an El Nino, the warming of the eastern Pacific feeds moisture and energy into storms approaching California and the Southern tier of states. But during a La Nina, colder-than-normal temperatures in the eastern Pacific bring severe droughts and increases in the intensity and frequency of hurricanes along the Atlantic seaboard.
In addition to the droughts in the Southwest and Southeast, La Ninas also bring more winter storms in the Pacific Northwest, more forest fires in the South, and a sharp increase in the number of tornadoes during the spring in the Ohio River and Tennessee River Valley regions, according to Mr. O'Brien and other scientists who have studied the connections between the cold-water phenomenon and atmospheric weather systems.
Click here for Hobbit House plans.And all this takes me back to the insanity of building European-style houses that evolved in a place with nearly no tornadoes: talk about stupid! Hobbits have the right idea: houses should be hills. And if everyone in Tornado Alley were to rebuild with re-inforced concrete, houses that curve with the land and have doors that do not ever face west but only face east, why, no one will ever have to worry about tornadoes.
Of course, we get huge snow storms so the hills have to be at least 1 1/2 stories tall, perferably 2 stories with a ramp leading up to the front door. This way, you simply close the shutters when the tornado alarm sounds and even if it is a terrible F5 tornado, the people snug in their homes can laugh. I wish I lived in such a place when I was a child in Wisconsin! Indeed, these structures can be good in snow: the roof won't collapse and like my place here, the kids can take their sleds onto the roof and have fun!
I love sledding.