First EF3 Tornado of 2014 Confirmed After Long, Slow Start to U.S. Tornado Season Jon Erdman and Nick Wiltgen Published: Apr 26, 2014, 5:29 PM EDT weather.com5 Play Video
- Mar. 2-3, 2012: EF4 in Henryville, Ind.; EF3 in West Liberty, Ky.
- May 15, 2013: EF4 in Granbury, Texas
- May 19-20, 2013: EF5 in Moore, Okla.
- May 31, 2013: EF3 in El Reno, Okla.
- Nov, 17, 2013: EF4 in Washington, Ill.
Develop or refresh your plan in case a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning is issued for your area. Download The Weather Channel app for your smartphone or tablet, and sign up for severe weather alerts sent to you via text message or email.(FORECAST: Severe Weather Tracker)MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Wichita Falls, Texas April 1979 Tornado (35 Years Ago)1 / 7Damaged cars at Sikes Senter Mall in Wichita Falls, Texas on Apr. 11, 1979. (Photo credit: Don Burgess/NSSL/Inst. for Disaster Research at Texas Tech Univ.)
On Saturday, officials at the National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina, announced that one of Friday’s tornadoes in eastern North Carolina rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.The April 25 tornado marked the latest wait by far for the first such tornado in any year in modern records dating to 1950, according to the University of Alabama-Huntsville.March 31, 2002 was the previous record latest date of the season’s first F3 or EF3 tornado. The Enhanced-Fujita scale replaced the original Fujita Scale on Feb. 1, 2007.Older, likely incomplete historical records compiled by tornado historian Tom Grazulis in the book Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991 indicate that the last year whose first F3 tornado came later was 99 years ago, when the first F3 of 1915 (rated retroactively by Grazulis) came on May 1.The last U.S. tornado of EF3 intensity or stronger had been during the Nov. 17, 2013 outbreak in the Midwest, making it a a stretch of five months and eight days between EF3 tornadoes in the U.S.According to statistics compiled by severe weather expert, Dr. Greg Forbes (Twitter | Facebook), the period from January through March averaged between eight and nine tornadoes of F/EF3+ intensity in the period 1950-2012.While we have had several episodes of severe thunderstorms in 2014, we’ve been fortunate enough to avoid the volatile combination of low-level wind shear (rapidly changing wind direction and speed with height) and strong instability (very warm and humid air near the surface topped by cold, dry air aloft) known to spawn large, destructive tornado outbreaks. As you can see in the pie chart below, while stronger tornadoes (EF3+) are more rare, they make up a large majority of tornado fatalities each year.
Rotating Supercells Resemble a ‘Mothership’ (PHOTOS)
By Sean Breslin Published: Apr 26, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT weather.com
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So far, this has been one of the quietest tornado years on record, with no tornado fatalities at all at this point in the year for the first time since 2002 and 1950. That pattern has been tied to lower-than-average temperatures through much of the country, including most of the Midwest.Even though meteorologists on Saturday began to walk back some of their more dire predictions, this weekend’s storm resumes the pattern that earned Tornado Alley its name: Rolling, high-energy moisture from the Gulf clashing with colder, drier air of the plateau. Add some heavy-duty wind shearing, and the stage is set for the greenish sky hues that often precede the so-called supercell storms that can throw off tornadoes.RECOMMENDED: Can you outsmart a tornado? Take our quizThe storms come as several states are recognizing National Weather Service’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, which includes municipalities across the country testing their tornado sirens and disaster drills. Accuweather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski predicted the system “may end up being one of the top severe weather events for the season.”Meteorologists are expecting localized storms to start forming Saturday evening along a “dry line” between moist and dry air, with Abilene, Tex., Clinton, Okla., and Dodge City, Kan. in the current path. Because of the system’s timing, much of the tornadic activity could take place in the overnight hours.Cities like Omaha, Neb., Wichita, Kan., Oklahoma City, and Dallas could face severe weather, and Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock, Memphis and Tulsa are also bracing for possible hail and potential twisters.Despite improved warning systems that give most people 13 minutes of warning if a tornado is bearing down (compared to 5 minutes in the 1980s), US twisters continue to be one of the most dangerous weather threats in the world.“In 2013, there were 55 tornado-related fatalities in Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Illinois,” notes the Monitor’s Noelle Swan. “In 2011, 553 people were killed by tornadoes in the deadliest tornado season since 1936.”Such statistics are on the minds of major events organizers like the crew responsible for the annual Memorial Marathon, in Oklahoma City, scheduled to start at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. It’s not clear whether the storms will have moved off by the early morning start time, but racers are being informed about nearby tornado shelters in case they have to move in a hurry.Organizers of the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts and the Norman Music Festival are also keeping an eye on the weather.In Oklahoma City, residents have yet to fully recover from a multiple tornado event around the suburban town of Moore, Oklahoma, last spring, where 24 people perished and entire neighborhoods were knocked to the ground during one particular EF-5 strength twister.That powerful tornado also took the lives of seven children at an elementary school. In response, many Tornado Alley school districts have added steel tornado shelters to their buildings. Local newspapers reported that some districts were rushing to finish those shelters last week as the heavy spring storms began to gather.
Going Wild: 6 National Parks to Visit (PHOTOS)
By Lorraine Boissoneault Published: Apr 26, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT weather.com