We see major weather events in our area often. Tornadoes are one of those events, and are the most devastating form of weather here. The image to the left is of a Supercell Thunderstorm that was producing a tornado.
Many of you know that a recent event occurred on New Year's Day 2022 in areas such as Hopkinsville, Ky. In a fairly rare event, there were no warnings issued prior to the tornadoes hitting many of the affected areas. This event is still being investigated for what happened, as well as to figure out why warnings were not issued.
What is a tornado?: In simple terms, a tornado is a violently rotating column of wind that has connected to the ground and cloud base at the same time.
Please note that not all tornadoes have a visible funnel. The funnel is created through condensation and can actually be less than 1/2 the width of the tornado itself.
Radar images, such as the one to the right, help researchers understand the complex structures of these storms. We can use radar today to estimate the path each storm will take. Most warnings come from this information.
Issue At Hand: Such as what happened on January 1st, 2022, radar indicated warnings were not issued or seen, which left residents un-aware of the danger heading their way.
Radar image of a tornado in progress
There really are 3 levels now. Watch, Warning, Emergency.
Tornado classification is designed around the damage and wind speed created by these storms. The scale is called the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF for short). It is rated from EF0 (lowest) to the extremely rare EF5.
For information on how the National Weather Service rates these storms, please visit https://www.weather.gov/mkx/taw-tornado_classification_safety
That would be the Moore, OK EF5 on May 20, 2013. It had an estimated wind speed at times of 210mph. This storm followed a track very similar to the official record storm that occurred on May 3, 1999. That storm packed an estimated wind speed of 301-323mph.
This is not a safe practice at all. Overpasses create a wind-tunnel effect and can actually make the wind pressure more severe. You should always find a sturdy, site built structure. Stay in the center most area of the lowest floor of those structures. Mobile homes and vehicles are known as Death Traps in tornado events. If not structure is available, get into the nearest ditch and cover your head and neck.
We do not. We use data from the NWS and NOAA to determine where to be and when. In the event of a storm, check out local news and radio outlets or purchase a NOAA Weather Radio.
We do not offer storm spotting or research tours. Tornadoes are incredibly dangerous storms and we do not have the ability to have non-trained spotters or meteorologists with us for safety reasons.
We do not feel that our chases focus solely on the storm itself and we utilize a lot of video for wildlife viewing during these events. These videos are usually only studied for animal reactions. There are many storm spotter videos on YouTube that you can view to see these storms.
Please do not attempt to video tornadoes. This is an incredibly dangerous activity that can result in injuries or worse. Your photos and video of immediately before and immediately after the danger of wildlife or domestic animal activity is however appreciated!
We may share these photos or videos with other researchers or post them online. We will always credit the contributor when doing so.
We are taking to the field to observe animals during and prior to weather events. We hope to find a link between their activity prior to storms and a way to warn cities of possible dangerous weather.
This is a fledgling part of meteorology, but we will work to find if we can use animals to help save human lives.
Donate today to help us continue this research as well as continue all other projects that we are currently involved in!
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