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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

NWS: Preliminary Tornado Total For April 27th Stands at 312

On April 3rd and 4th in 1974- 148 tornadoes blasted across 13 states from Illinois to North Carolina- Alabama to Ohio.

Numbers vary by a few- but 330 people lost their lives in what was called "The Super Outbreak" that year- 19 years before the Internet started in 1993.

Weather radars of that era were still modified World War 2 machines- weather satellites still fairly rudimentary and radio and TV stations received weather watches and warnings on teletype machines.

Thirty-seven years later- another outbreak- I guess we can call it "The Super-Duper Tornado Outbreak of 2011- struck only 7 states- but so far the numbers are staggering.

Even with super computers a fraction the size of the room-filling IBMs of 1974- highly-advanced Doppler weather radars and computer programs that interpret their information and high-speed Internet-distributed watches and warnings- more than 340 people died.

More incredibly- the National Weather Service (NWS) says that at last count- 312 tornadoes occurred in the 24-hour period of April 27.

Never mind many of the tornado-producing storms moved at freeway speeds- 50 to 70 m.p.h.- the storms were forecasted- watched and warned WELL in advance.

TV stations broadcast live images of many of the twisters from their remote robotic cameras.

Ben Franklin once said "Some people are weatherwise- but most are otherwise."

Ben would have slowly shook his wise head on April 27- 2011.


The Observer said...

I've been mulling this death toll over in my mind, and wondering why so high. It just seems in this day and age it should not be.

It is a populated area. It is an area that is generally economically poorer. It has a lot of trailers and mobile homes. It has a lot of slab construction.

Were warnings heeded? That's my question. And can we make changes in the construction codes in tornado alley that can help? Are some storms (this might be one of them) so strong that they might exceed the safety measures available?

I hope someone is asking the hard questions. Meantime, I did talk to all but one of my basement harboring neighbors about taking refuge in their underground bunkers!

The Observer

Anonymous said...

Well A lot of things we may never know for sure.

Was the speed of the storms a factor?

Was it the way that take cover was done?

The type of houses that the most deaths happened in might shed some info.

All the facts need to be gathered as soon as possible and see if somethings still need to be done or changed in the face of tornados

Groucho K. Marx said...

Great comments/questions T.O. and SD...

Bingo on trailers- mobile homes and slab construction.

We ALL know about mobile homes vs. tornadoes- and in a violent tornado as many of these were- even a house built on a slab is prone to destruction.

Case in point why Oklahoma City weatherdude Gary England told people during the 1999 tornado there to get UNDERGROUND or in a tornado-designed safe room.

The warnings that day for the "high risk" of violent tornadoes was generally known.

MANY school districts and businesses even closed early that day because of that threat I have read.

Yes- the speed of those storms WAS a factor- along with limited visibilities in that part of the country and the size of the tornadoes themselves- many were a half-mile wide or larger.

In such destructive twisters- one MUST get underground in an enclosed room if at all possible.

Oh T.O. (and SD for that matter)- if you're ever around I-435 & 87th Street in those conditions- you're more than welcome in OUR basement.

With both of our medical experiences- we'd BOTH be needed if an EF-4 or 5 (God forbid) ever stuck this burg....