Brunswick, Ohio, Tornado: Why There Was No Tornado Warning
By Jon Erdman Published: Jun 25, 2014, 9:52 PM EDT weather.comTornado Hits Brunswick, OHStorms and Rain Thru The WeekThere was no tornado warning issued when an EF1 tornado tore through a part of Brunswick, Ohio, on Monday evening, damaging at least 45 homes and businesses, according to a storm survey from the National Weather Service’s office in Cleveland. No injuries were reportedAbove: Reports of severe weather (tornadoes: red tornado symbols, large hail: white circles, high winds/wind damage: blue arrows) from June 23, 2014.In this era of Doppler radar, enhanced spotter networks and social media, how did this happen? The short answer is this was a difficult case for any forecaster, even those with experience, to diagnose in real time. Let’s step through the event starting with the day’s forecast.The Forecast: Nothing Stood OutDay one thunderstorm damaging wind gust outlook for June 23, 2014. Red arrow denotes approximate location of Brunswick, Ohio. (NOAA/NWS/Storm Prediction Center)The large-scale setup, as is often the case in summer, was favorable for thunderstorms over northern Ohio, but not necessarily supercell thunderstorms.A frontal system was approaching from the western Great Lakes, with a warm front lifting northward into the Buckeye State, south of which resided warm and humid air, but not oppressively so by late June standards.While instability (warm, humid air near the surface and in this case, somewhat cooler, drier air aloft) was in play, wind shear – namely, the change in wind speed and direction with height required to sustained supercells – was rather unremarkable.The morning convective outlook from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, a general forecast of both severe and non-severe thunderstorms, only depicted a general area of thunderstorms over northern Ohio, with a small risk (five percent chance within 25 miles of a point) of large hail or damaging winds, as shown above. The day’s TOR:CON forecast from severe weather expert Dr. Greg Forbes assigned a TOR:CON tornado potential index of „2 or less,” a value indicative of a low chance of a tornado and one assigned to many areas of the country quite often in the late spring, summer or fall. There was no severe thunderstorm or tornado watch issued, as forecasters believed thunderstorms would, in the extreme, produce a quick pulse of strong winds or marginal hail, rather than an organized, concentrated area of hail or wind damage.As you can see in the interactive map above, these forecasts were quite accurate. The Ohio Valley severe reports were not concentrated as, say, with a derecho, but were fairly hit-or-miss.Using the Storm Prediction Center’s filtered database to remove duplicate reports, there were a total of 73 reports of severe weather in the Lower 48 States on Monday, less than 50 of which were in the Ohio Valley. An average June day features 228 reports of severe weather nationwide, according to Forbes. However, there was that one tornado.Outflow Boundaries: Local Tornado Generator
Base reflectivity from the NWS-Cleveland Doppler radar from 6:01 to 7:01 p.m. ET on Jun. 23, 2014. Lake breeze (blue arrows) and thunderstorm outflow boundaries (red arrows) denoted at the beginning of the loop.While the large-scale environment was not conducive for supercell thunderstorms and tornadoes, a post-analysis of radar data suggested several factors which combined to generate the Brunswick tornado.There were three distinct boundaries picked up by the NWS-Cleveland Doppler radar, which are pointed out in the radar loop above. First, a lake-breeze boundary, a mini cold front between the cooler air over Lake Erie and warmer, more humid air inland, surged southward, denoted by the blue arrows at the beginning of the radar loop above. This lake-breeze boundary may have been boosted by outflow winds from showers and storms over the east and northeast side of the Cleveland metro in the afternoon.Add to that a pair of thunderstorm outflow boundaries, one moving northward from near Mansfield, Ohio, another surging east from a cluster of thunderstorms arriving from northwest Ohio, and the stage was set for a collision.Boundary Collision + Thunderstorm = Tornado
Base reflectivity (left) and storm-relative velocity (right) from the NWS-Cleveland Doppler radar from 6:46 to 7:10 p.m. ET on Jun. 23, 2014. Rotation detected by radar denoted by red circles at right. (NWS, Gibson Ridge)These boundaries are a source of horizontal vorticity, or spin, in the lowest levels of the atmosphere, as rain, or in one case above, lake-cooled air rushes outward. Think of this similar to rolling a pencil on your desk.When boundaries collide, unstable air is lifted, and either new thunderstorms are formed, or existing storms are given a boost by the uplift.In this case, as you can see in the zoomed-up radar animation above at left, a cluster of thunderstorms was given such a boost after the aforementioned boundaries collided. This prompted the National Weather Service office in Cleveland to issue a severe thunderstorm warning at 6:54 p.m. ET.
Text of NWS-Cleveland severe thunderstorm warning issued at 6:54 p.m. ET on June 23, 2014. (NWS Cleveland)At that time, there was a signature in Doppler radar suggesting strong, straight-line wind gusts were possible, as shown by the brighter green shadings in the middle radar images above at right.Less than two minutes later, a tighter rotation began to appear in new storm-relative velocity imagery, denoted by the red circle above at right. This was, in fact, the Brunswick tornado.What changed so quickly to spawn this tornado?We mentioned the boundaries as a source of horizontal spin earlier. When a thunderstorm’s updraft passes over these boundaries, their horizontal spin can be tilted and stretched by the thunderstorm’s updraft into the vertical. This may have been how the Brunswick tornado formed.Interestingly, merging thunderstorm cells (illustrated in the first radar loop above) may have also played a factor in the Brunswick case, as recent research on the Moore, Oklahoma, 2013 tornado illustrates.However, just as fast as the rotation appeared, it weakened as the outflow boundaries continued surging past the storm cluster they boosted, cutting off the flow of warm, humid air thunderstorms feed off of.The final storm survey from NWS Cleveland estimated the tornado lasted only five minutes, from 6:55 to 7:00 p.m.Lessons Learned?So, from a forecast perspective, let’s recap:
- Tornado threat Monday was generally low, but not zero.
- A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for strong straight-line (non-tornadic) winds.
- Less than two minutes later, rotation tightened, but lasted no longer than five minutes total.
Suffice it to say, this was an exceedingly difficult short-lived scenario to react to quickly, even for experienced forecasters.The conventional radar reflectivity signature was not in any way suggestive of a tornado, compared to a more classic hook echo in a tornadic supercell.A 2013 study of two years’ worth of National Weather Service tornado warnings found the probability of detection (defined as an event for which a tornado occurred inside a tornado-warned area/time) for non-supercell tornadoes, such as Brunswick, Ohio, was only 46 percent, meaning roughly every other non-supercell tornado is not covered by a tornado warning when it forms.These non-supercell cases are simply more difficult for a forecaster to detect.As unsettling as that sounds, for supercell tornadoes, the probability of detection was found to be 85 percent. Generally speaking, the most destructive, violent tornadoes tend to occur on days where the large-scale setup tends to favor tornadic supercells, and are the easiest to detect on radar.
Simply put, due to various factors – gaps in radar coverage, geometry of the radar beam rising away from the surface with distance, nighttime tornadoes, a lack of spotters at any given time – a tornado cannot be detected every time.(MORE: The Tornado East Texas Never Saw Coming)This puts NWS forecasters in a catch-22:
- Issue more tornado warnings to attempt to capture every tornado, but then risk more false alarms, increasing complacency in response by the public.
- Issue fewer warnings, focusing on stronger tornadoes more likely to claim lives, but then risk missing more EF0, EF1 tornadoes. With fewer weak tornadoes warned, there’s no guarantee more fatalities wouldn’t result.
For now, the answer is close to the first option, as missing tornadoes is less acceptable and palatable than false alarms.(MORE: Tornado Warning False Alarms)It is always good practice to seek shelter for severe thunderstorm warnings. As National Weather Service severe thunderstorm warnings often say, severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning.MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Could This Save You From a Tornado?
Indianapolis Tornado Damages Homes In Marion and Hendricks Counties
Published: Jun 25, 2014, 9:56 PM EDT weather.comTornado Tosses Camper Onto HouseA confirmed tornado tracked through western and northern Indianapolis on Tuesday afternoon, damaging homes and forcing thousands to take shelter.The National Weather Service (NWS) gave the storm an EF1 rating, with wind speeds up to 100 mph, with an estimated 75 to 100 homes in the metro area receiving at least minor damage. Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers told the Associated Press no injuries were reported.The twister was first spotted near Plainfield, southwest of downtown Indianapolis. At least 200 cars and a building were damaged at an auto auction site.Buildings in the city’s commercial district were also hit. One house was heavily damaged when a camper was tossed onto its roof, destroying the camper and leaving a large hole in the home. Nearly two dozen homes in Hendricks County were damaged, according to the NWS Indianapolis storm survey.(MORE: How This Tornado Struck Without Warning)The Wayne Township Fire Department said three homes in the Cameron Meadows subdivision, near the Marion County line, were seriously damaged, while several more sustained less substantial damage.”We were fortunate that a lot of people had gone to work and the people that were home had received extensive warnings,” Mike Pruitt, Wayne Township Fire Capt., told the Associated Press.The most significant damage in the city of Indianapolis was along Raceway Road, where a pair of homes had their roofs removed, according to NWS Indianapolis.The tornado lasted only about eight minutes, however, some tree damage was observed as far northeast as the suburb of Speedway.Photos over social media show debris on houses, vehicles and trees.People inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, west of the city, were escorted to the basement when the storm hit.(TRACK IT: Severe Weather Forecast)This was only the fifth tornado in the Hoosier State so far this year, according to preliminary data from NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.The storms also brought heavy rain to Indianapolis, prompting flash flood warnings.PHOTOS: Tornado Hits Near Indianapolis1 / 7Plainfield, IndianaPhoto taken in Plainfield, Tuesday afternoon, and it illustrates the reported tornado in Indianapolis. (Chimney_Safety/Twitter)
5 bombs in Cairo metro stations, 5 hurt
Militants have stepped up attacks in Egypt, mostly against security forces, since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and the authorities launched a deadly crackdown on his supporters.Four bombs exploded within minutes of each other at three metro stations as commuters made their way to work during morning rush hour, while a fifth went off hours later at another station, a police official told AFP.One struck at Ghamra station, in central Cairo, and the others hit Hadayek al-Kobba in the north, and Shubra al-Kheima and Ezbet al-Nakhl on the outskirts of the capital.All of the blasts were caused by „very primary” devices of „low intensity” that were placed in trash cans on platforms of the stations, the police official said.Four people were wounded by the first string of blasts, senior health ministry official Ahmed Al-Ansari told AFP, while a fifth was hurt in Ezbet al-Nakhl, the police official said.View galleryPassengers await the arrival of a train at a metro line station in Cairo on February 21, 2012 (AFP P …Interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel Latif said a man who had been carrying one explosive device in his bag was among the wounded at Shubra al-Kheima.Latif said the man „appeared to be a Muslim Brotherhood member” as an image of a four-finger salute used by Morsi supporters was found on his telephone.The authorities have blamed the Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, for the attacks rocking the country and have blacklisted the Islamist movement as a terrorist organisation.Another makeshift bomb placed under a car exploded near a courthouse north of Cairo, wounding a woman, and a second was defused at the site, said Abdel Latif.The attacks come after a court last week confirmed death sentences on 183 Islamists, including Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie, and nearly a month after Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the ex-army chief who led Morsi’s ouster, was elected president.View galleryEgyptian security forces are deployed outside the police institute near Cairo’s Turah prison on …Since Morsi’s ouster, a crackdown on his supporters has left more than 1,400 people dead and seen at least 15,000 jailed.Much of the violence is focused in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, but militants have extended their reach to Cairo and the Nile Delta, carrying out a series of high-profile assaults in the heart of the capital.An Al-Qaeda inspired jihadist group based in the Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), has claimed some of the deadliest attacks on security forces, as well as a failed assassination attempt against the interior minister in September.A little-known jihadist group, Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt), has also claimed a string of attacks on police in Cairo.The government says the militants have killed about 500 people, most of them security personnel.
Obama: Climate change steps making a difference
One year after unveiling an aggressive plan, Obama said new emissions limits on power plants, renewable energy projects and new incentives for green technology have cleared the way for further action in the U.S. and abroad, despite steadfast opposition from much of Congress.”When you take those first steps, even if they’re hard, and even if there are politics sometimes, you start building momentum and you start mobilizing larger and larger communities,” Obama said. „Every step makes a difference.”Obama’s remarks to the League of Conservation Voters served as a progress report for his climate plan, which the president laid out with much fanfare last June at Georgetown University. Twelve months later, much of the plan is in motion, although the most ambitious steps are still up in the air and will take years to be fully realized.Change won’t be instantaneous, Obama cautioned. „There’s no silver bullet.”Indeed, many of the steps he’s taking are modest, limited in scope by hostility from both parties to putting a price on carbon pollution, which would require new laws from Congress. Still, Obama said he’s seeking to tackle the problem but cutting it up into smaller pieces.View galleryPresident Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capitol Dinner at the Ronald Reag …”We’re moving, and it’s making a difference,” he told a supportive crowd at LCV’s annual dinner. The environmental group backed Obama early in his 2008 campaign.The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a nonpartisan group formerly associated with the Pew Center, said this week that Obama has made at least some progress on most of the 75 goals he laid out last June. Those steps will require follow-through, but if the administration keeps up the pace it achieved in the past year, the U.S. could meet its 17 percent goal, the center said.The centerpiece of Obama’s plan, carbon limits on existing power plants, is on track after the Environmental Protection Agency met its deadline to issue a draft, although the timeline for states to comply has been delayed in some cases. Still, the limits have drawn major opposition from Republicans and some Democrats and will face legal challenges that could threaten their durability.”The president has no more elections to win, yet he allows the narrow interests of his most extreme political allies to dictate an agenda that puts jobs and opportunity out of reach,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.Obama delighted in mocking Republicans in Congress who dispute climate change or refuse to take a position on the grounds that they’re lawmakers, not scientists.View galleryPresident Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capitol Dinner at the Ronald Reag …”Folks will tell you climate change is a hoax, or a fad, or a plot. It’s a liberal plot!” Obama said, standing in front of a giant American flag for a speech that had all the trappings of a campaign rally.Obama has also started the clock on carbon limits for new power plants, although the low cost of cleaner-burning natural gas means few new coal-fired plants will be built in the U.S. anyway.Obama’s administration has approved 10 new renewable energy projects on public lands, but is less than halfway toward its goal of increasing solar, wind and geothermal output by 8,100 megawatts. The administration has also proposed nine new standards for energy efficiency and finalized eight others, seeking to curb emissions from appliances and other equipment.Yet on the international front, momentum has been elusive. Ahead of global climate talks next year in Paris, there are fresh signs that countries like Australia are prodding Canada and others to resist global moves to curb carbon. That could dissuade even bigger polluters, like China, from acting.Heather Zichal, the former White House adviser who spearheaded Obama’s plan, said the president is well on its way to carrying out the domestic steps he promised last year.”The question is, What degree of success will the administration have in bringing other countries to the table?” she said._Reach Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
What Happens When Lightning Hits Your Car? Here’s How to Stay Safe
By Chrissy Warrilow Published: Jun 25, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT weather.comiWitness Weather LightningFrom the Florida Everglades. Credit: dhwicker An Atlanta woman was struck by lightning Tuesday, but she wasn’t standing in the open.She was driving her car.“All of a sudden, a very blinding white light filled the whole car. My whole body went numb then started tingling like when your foot wakes up,” Teresa Adams told WSB-TV.Adams further explained that she was talking on her cell phone while driving home through the thunderstorm. To her shock, lightning struck the vehicle and the current entered her body.“I didn’t know this could happen, because I always thought if you had rubber tires you were good,” Adams said to WSB.Rubber tires are not enough to keep you safe from a lightning storm. Let us explain why.When Lightning Hits A CarAntoine Taveneaux A Faraday cage in operation, illustrating the concept of safety from electricity within a hollow, metal object. (Antoine Taveneaux/Discovery Palace in Paris/Wikipedia)It is a widespread myth that the reason vehicles provide protection from lightning is due to the tires.In actuality, lightning flows around the outside of a car, and the majority of the current flows from the car’s metal cage into the ground below. In essence, a car acts like a mobile Faraday cage.However, not all vehicles are created equal.Convertibles do not have metal roofs, which compromises the Faraday cage affect. In addition, some vehicles are manufactured out of non-metal parts, which impedes electricity’s ability to flow through the car.Another caveat with regards to lightning safety within vehicles is the fact that some portions of the current can flow through the vehicle’s electrical systems and metal appendages including radios, cell phone chargers, GPS units as well as car door handles, foot pedals, the steering column and the steering wheel. The National Lightning Safety Institute reports that some vehicles struck by lightning experience external damage, including pitting and arcing, as well as internal damage to electronic systems and components.Bottom line, if you’re away from home, the best way to stay safe during a lightning storm is to head for a metal-topped vehicle. However, it is important to fold your hands in your lap and avoid touching anything metal within the car. You also should not to touch the radio or talk on the cell phone, especially if it is connected to your vehicle. If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road, turn on your hazard lights, turn off the engine and wait out the storm.At what point is it safe to exit the vehicle?Once the electrical current has passed through the vehicle and entered into the ground, it is technically safe to exit the vehicle. However, it is best to wait until the thunderstorm has passed before getting out of your car.MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Lightning Strike Wreaks Havoc On CarPlay Video