Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:10 AM GMT on February 12, 2013
The strong tornado that swept through Hattiesburg and Oak Grove in Lamar County, Mississippi, on Sunday has been rated an EF-4 with 170 mph winds, making it the first violent EF-4 tornado of 2013. The tornado hit Hattiesburg at 5:12 pm CST February 10, injuring 82 people and causing widespread damage over a 20-mile-long path. Miraculously, there were no deaths.The only other violent EF-4 tornado ever to hit Lamar County occurred on April 24, 1908, according to NWS Jackson.
Figure 1. Oak Grove High School football field near Hattiesburg, MS after Sunday's tornado. Damage was rated EF-4 near the high school, and there was clear evidence of the tornado being multi-vortex over a portion of its path. Image credit: NWS Jackson Facebook page.
The 2013 tornado season is off to an unusually busy start--a pattern we also saw last year. The January 29 - 30, 2013 tornado outbreak now has 56 confirmed tornadoes, including the only EF-3 tornado of the year, which hit Adairsville, GA, on January 30, killing one person. The outbreak is now ranked as the second largest January tornado outbreak since records began in 1950 (the largest: 128 tornadoes on January 21 - 22, 1999 .) NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged twelve preliminary reports of tornadoes on Sunday, from Mississippi and Alabama. This brings the tally of preliminary tornado reports for the year to 100. On average, we've had just 72 preliminary tornado reports by February 10 during the previous seven years, 2005 - 2011.
Video 1. Hotel worker Rynal Grant caught this impressive video of the February 10, 2013 Hattiesburg, Mississippi tornado.
Portlight receives $125,000 grant for New Jersey relief efforts
On September 14, 2008, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike on Texas and Louisiana moved members of the wunderground community to put into action their own impromptu relief effort. From this humble beginning has grown a disaster-relief charity I have been proud to support--Portlight.org. Portlight has stood up to support the needs of thousands of people affected by natural disasters since Hurricane Ike. After Hurricane Sandy, Portlight became a clearinghouse for local, state and federal agencies, including the FEMA Functional Needs Task Force--New Jersey, meeting the needs of people with disabilities. This week, Portlight announced that they had received a grant of $125,000 to continue helping in New Jersey in a big way. Congratulations, Portlight!
Figure 2. Vince Sciacca was in a horrific car accident a few years ago, which put him in a coma for nine months and left him with a severe brain injury. Shortly before Superstorm Sandy struck, and after much struggle, he had finally straightened out his equipment needs. The storm came along and destroyed everything. Portlight's project manager, Steve Major, delivered this power chair to Vince on February 2, and will be working with him to replace other equipment, as well.
Visit the Portlight.org. Portlight.org website to find out more or Portlight blog to learn more. Donations are always welcome!
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