Moore Tornado an EF-5; $2 Billion Damage Estimate: 3rd Costliest Tornado in History

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:22 PM GMT on May 22, 2013

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The Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013 is now ranked an EF-5, making it one of only 59 U.S. tornadoes to achieve that distinction since record keeping began in 1950. The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma announced Tuesday that their damage survey teams found an area of EF-5 damage near Briarwood Elementary School, with winds of 200 - 210 mph indicated. There were no EF-5 tornadoes observed in 2012, and the last time the U.S. had an EF-5 was on May 24, 2011, when the Oklahoma towns of Calumet, El Reno, Piedmont, and Guthrie were hit by an EF-5 with 210+ mph winds that killed nine people. The maximum width of the 2013 Moore tornado's damage swath was a huge 1.3 miles. Detailed damage survey information in Google Earth Format provided by the Norman, OK NWS office shows that the typical width of the EF-0 and greater damage swath was about 0.6 miles, and the EF-4 damage area was about 0.1 miles across at its widest. EF-4 damage occurred along approximately 4 miles of the tornado's 17-mile long path. The damage swath from the May 20, 2013 tornado as it cut through the most densely built up portions of Moore was roughly 1.5 times as wide as the one from the May 3, 1999 EF-5 tornado. That tornado was the 4th costliest in history ($1.4 billion 2011 dollars), so it is a good bet that the 2013 Moore tornado will end up being even more expensive. This morning, the Oklahoma Insurance Department said the preliminary tornado damage estimate could top $2 billion. This would make the 2013 Moore tornado the 2nd most expensive tornado in history (as ranked by NOAA/SPC) or 3rd most expensive (as ranked by insurance broker Aon Benfield.) The nine billion-dollar tornadoes (2013 dollars) are:

1) Joplin, Missouri, May 22, 2011, $2.9 billion
2) Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 27, 2011, $2.3 billion (not in SPC's list)
3) Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013, $2 billion
4) Topeka, Kansas, June 8, 1966, $1.8 billion
5) Lubbock, Texas, May 11, 1970, $1.5 billion
6) Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma, May 3, 1999, $1.4 billion
7) Hackleburg, Alabama, April 27, 2011, $1.3 billion (not in SPC's list)
8) Xenia, Ohio, April 3, 1974, $1.1 billion
9) Omaha, Nebraska, May 6, 1975, $1 billion


Figure 1. The Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013 (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)


Figure 2. The damage swath of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013. EF-4 damage (red colors) occurred along roughly 4 miles of the 17-mile path, and the EF-4 damage swath was up to 0.1 miles wide. The tornado's maximum width of 1.3 miles (EF-0 and greater damage) occurred over a relatively small portion of the path, before the storm reached Moore. Image credit: NWS Norman.


Figure 3. On May 20, 2013, a supercell thunderstorm in central Oklahoma spawned a destructive tornado that passed just south of Oklahoma City. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of the storm system at 2:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time (19:40 Universal Time), just minutes before the devastating twister began. The red line on the image depicts the tornado’s track. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

There have been bigger tornadoes
The 1.3 mile maximum width of the 2013 Moore tornado's damage swath was not a record. Wikipedia documents that the EF-3 Edmonson, Texas tornado of May 31, 1968 had a damage path width between 2 and 3 miles (3.2 and 4.8 km) wide. The EF-4 Wilber - Hallam, Nebraska tornado on May 22, 2004 was of similar size, with a damage path up to 2.5 miles wide. Doppler radar measurements indicate that the May 4, 1999 Mulhall, Oklahoma EF-4 tornado--which thankfully passed mostly over farmland--would have caused damage over a path 4 miles wide at its peak size, had it encountered a built-up area. The EF-5 tornado that devastated Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007 was 1.7 miles wide.


Figure 4. Damage swath of the Wilber - Hallam, Nebraska EF-4 tornado of May 22, 2004 was up to 2.5 miles wide, making it one of the largest tornadoes on record.


Figure 5. Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, May 22, calls for a "Slight Risk" of severe weather over portions of the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. You can follow today's severe weather from our Severe Weather page.

No tornadoes reported on Tuesday; "Slight Risk" of severe weather on Wednesday
The severe weather outbreak of May 18 - 22 peaked on Sunday and Monday. We did not record any tornadoes on Tuesday, though there were many reports of large hail and damaging winds, including three thunderstorms with wind gusts over 74 mph. Tuesday was the first day since May 14 that no tornadoes were recorded in the U.S. And after issuing four consecutive "Moderate Risk" outlooks for severe weather, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is going with only a "Slight Risk" for severe weather on Wednesday in the U.S., with the main severe weather action expected to affect portions of the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. The primary threat will be straight-line wind damage and large hail, though we can't rule out a few tornadoes. During the three-day period May 18 - May 20, 70 tornadoes (preliminary) were recorded by SPC.


Video 1. Charles Cook caught the birth of the May 20, 2013 tornado at Newcastle, OK. It moved from there to Moore where it caused catastrophic devastation.


Video 2. NOAA's GOES-East satellite collected this view of the storm system that spawned a deadly tornado over Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013. The animation runs from 10:45 a.m. through 6:45 p.m., Central Daylight Time. Images courtesy NASA GOES Project Science: ‪http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/‬

The Norman, OK NWS office has an excellent page with detailed info on the Moore tornado.

I did a 10-minute Skype interview with democracynow.org on Tuesday morning, discussing the Moore tornado.

I greatly appreciate all the valuable links members of the WU community have posted here, and I have used many of them in my posts over the past day. Keep up the great work!

How to help
Portlight Strategies, an organization that supports disaster victims with disabilities, will be working with shelter operators and disability stakeholder organizations in Oklahoma to serve the needs of people with disabilities. Further information and how to offer additional support can be found on their website.

Donations can be made to American Red Cross disaster relief at redcross.org/weather or by texting WEATHER to 90999 to donate $10.

Donations can be made on The Salvation Army's website or by texting STORM to 80888 to donate $10. You can also call to make donations of other monetary amounts at (800) 725-2769.

Jeff Masters

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TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1100 PM PDT WED MAY 22 2013

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

1. AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER CENTERED ABOUT 450 MILES
SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF ACAPULCO MEXICO HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN
ORGANIZATION DURING THE PAST SEVERAL HOURS. SOME DEVELOPMENT IS
POSSIBLE AS THE DISTURBANCE MOVES SLOWLY TOWARD THE WEST OR
WEST-NORTHWEST. THIS SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF
BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER AVILA
NNNN
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Waves to {{Aqua}}
Peace & Wellness Back at Ya!

Gettin any Good Rain this week for your veggies?
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Fisky,

U got mail.
I just sent you the body of the Pilot email.
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Hi WaterDog... Enoying your Florida weather?
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FLCrackerGirl

It is so good to see your name. Blessings to you always.

I still have all 4 of my shirts...worn, but loved. Thank you.
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I'm signing off also. Enjoyed the discussion.

flsky, Astrometeor, and Patrap - thanks for introducing new things to explore.

Baha - dry out soon.

Aussie - a good afternoon to you sir.
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Quoting AussieStorm:


Another is spaceweather.com



... And Spaceweather.com is my Other Favorite site.
Thanks Aussie!

Maybe the Sunset Triangle?
Mercury-Venus-Jupiter less than 3 degrees apart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPthe9e-T18
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Good night blog.

Flsky, I hope all of us helped you out in identifying what you saw. I recommend getting Stellarium, nice program, easy to use, I found where you were looking and it was my first time actually using the program, lol. Other than that, enjoy the night sky, I know I do.

One note before I am off, this year is Year of the Comet. Comet ISON will arrive in the fall, NASA can already see it, hoping to be a stellar performance and the first excellent comet in years for the Northern Hemisphere.

Edit: I saw the your post flsky, you are welcome.
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Quoting flsky:


Thanks! I'll research this further before the moon comes up tomorrow.


U got mail
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708. flsky
Quoting Astrometeor:


Wait, I got it, The brightest things near the Moon tonight were: Saturn, Spica, and a little farther up was Arcturus.


Thanks! I'll research this further before the moon comes up tomorrow.
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Titan May Be Headed Toward Wild Weather as its Seasons Begin to Change

Saturn’s moon Titan, long observed by the spacecraft Cassini, might be headed toward some wild weather during its spring and summer based on two new models produced by NASA scientists.
As the seasons change in Titan’s northern hemisphere, a process that takes seven years, waves could start to ripple across the moon’s hydrocarbon seas just as hurricanes begin to swirl over the same region.
The model that attempts to predict the pattern of waves comes as scientists, confused as to why they hadn’t observed any driven by wind on the moon’s sprawling hydrocarbon seas and lakes, improved upon previous models by simultaneously taking into account Titan’s gravity, the viscosity and surface tension of the liquid in the lakes and the air-to-liquid density ratio.

“We now know that the wind speeds predicted during the times Cassini has observed Titan have been below the threshold necessary to generate waves," Alex Hayes, a member of Cassini’s radar team, said in a press release. "What is exciting, however, is that the wind speeds predicted during northern spring and summer approach those necessary to generate wind waves in liquid ethane and/or methane. It may soon be possible to catch a wave in one of the solar system’s most exotic locations.”
The other model, which has to do with hurricanes, predicts that the warming of the northern hemisphere could bring on the storms also known as tropical cyclones, similar to those on Earth that gain their energy from the build-up of heat from seawater evaporation.
However, scientists are wary of promising anything yet.
"For these hurricanes to develop at Titan, there needs to be the right mix of hydrocarbons in these seas, and we still don't know their exact composition," Tetsuya Tokano, who led the creation of the model, said. "If we see hurricanes, that would be one good indicator that there is enough methane in these lakes to support this kind of activity. So far, scientists haven't yet been able to detect methane directly."
As Scott Edington, Cassini's deput proncet scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “If you think being a weather forecaster on Earth is difficult, it can be even more challenging at Titan. We know there are weather processes similar to Earth’s at work on this strange world, but differences arise due to the presence of unfamiliar liquids like methane.”
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Quoting flsky:


Possibly. I noticed it when the moon was about 45 degrees from the eastern horizon.


Wait, I got it, The brightest things near the Moon tonight were: Saturn, Spica, and a little farther up was Arcturus.
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705. flsky
Quoting AussieStorm:

I posted a link about that earlier. Could it be this? Link


Possibly. I noticed it when the moon was about 45 degrees from the eastern horizon.
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Night guys.
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00Z GFS is running.
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Note to self: When offering advice, go and make sure one knows how to operate software without getting disoriented.

lol, I opened up Stellarium for my first time ever (mother uses it frequently) and was like, "Weeee!" Now I can't figure out how to find the moon, lol. I found Uranus, though. Seriously, I did.
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Planets Dancing in the Twilight

Get ready to watch the west at the end of this month for a fantastic celestial show! This month you will see Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury appear above the horizon as a bright trio.

At the beginning of May you will not be able to see Mercury or Venus. Jupiter still reigns fairly high above the horizon after sunset. However, as the end of the month approaches you will see Venus pop up, Jupiter fall down, and Mercury, being true to its namesake, speeding up out of the West and handily bypassing Venus.

This is a wonderful sight to behold, and one in which you won't need anything but your own eyes. Of course, you can use binoculars or a telescope to catch a few details. The moons of Jupiter may look to almost touch Venus as they close in on each other; the disc of Mercury will start to changes its phase from a tiny full disc to a little more than two thirds full. Venus will remain almost fully lit during the trio, but keep your eyes peeled as both it and Mercury rise higher in June; they are the only two planets we see from Earth that have phases that change like our Moon.

The beauty doesn't end after these planets set in the twilight. Saturn is rising up early in the east, and many other gorgeous objects are always up there waiting for your eyes to spy on their secrets. You can find star parties held by astronomy clubs in your area by using the apps below or use the website!

Join our vibrant stargazing community!
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Quoting flsky:


Thanks for this link. I'm assuming I'm seeing 2 of the three planets, but don't know which.

I posted a link about that earlier. Could it be this? Link
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Quoting flsky:


Ha! Caught me there! One too many glasses of wine tonight, I guess. What I'm REALLY interested in is the star/planet position around the moon tonight. Usually, when the sky is this clear, and the moon is this bright, I don't see any stars this close to the moon. Thinking they're planets, but would like some confirmation.


This WU blog post explains what is going on in the sky:
http://www.wunderground.com/blog/Susie77/show.htm l
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Quoting flsky:


Ha! Caught me there! One too many glasses of wine tonight, I guess. What I'm REALLY interested in is the star/planet position around the moon tonight. Usually, when the sky is this clear, and the moon is this bright, I don't see any stars this close to the moon. Thinking they're planets, but would like some confirmation.


Watch them closely. Remember Twinkle Twinkle little star....It actually works in the night sky, planets don't twinkle.

I do know that we have three planets coming into alignment, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.


I'll be back in a moment to see what is around the Moon tonight.
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695. flsky
Quoting AussieStorm:


Another is spaceweather.com


Thanks for this link. I'm assuming I'm seeing 2 of the three planets, but don't know which.
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Quoting gulfbreeze:
Aussie you and the people in the S/US have a lot in common. Oh by the way what is your local Time?


Local time here is 1:36pm Thursday
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693. flsky
Quoting daddyjames:


astrological or astronomical? Could it be a Leo?


Ha! Caught me there! One too many glasses of wine tonight, I guess. What I'm REALLY interested in is the star/planet position around the moon tonight. Usually, when the sky is this clear, and the moon is this bright, I don't see any stars this close to the moon. Thinking they're planets, but would like some confirmation.
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Quoting FLCrackerGirl:


Here's some quickie linkage:
Moon Rings, Halos & Coronas

My favorite space weather site:
Solarham


On the Treasure Coast, we're seeing a lunar halo aka moon ring rainbow.
Very Moist Atmosphere Bright moon a few extra solar space wind protons tonight = Pretty Moon :o)

According to Solarham:
WED 5/23 - Radiation Storm: A Moderate S2 Level Radiation Storm is now in progress. Protons streaming past Earth following the solar flare is currently on the rise






Another is spaceweather.com

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Don't know if anyone has seen this yet, it is pretty cool, every once in a while I go through the archives, today I just clicked on the site for fun and BAM!, got an amazing sprite photo + aurora. The only one known of its kind. That's one lucky photographer.

Astronomy Picture of the Day



Explanation: What's that in the sky? It is a rarely seen form of lightning confirmed only about 25 years ago: a red sprite. Recent research has shown that following a powerful positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike, red sprites may start as 100-meter balls of ionized air that shoot down from about 80-km high at 10 percent the speed of light and are quickly followed by a group of upward streaking ionized balls. The above image, taken a few days ago above central South Dakota, USA, captured a bright red sprite, and is a candidate for the first color image ever recorded of a sprite and aurora together. Distant storm clouds cross the bottom of the image, while streaks of colorful aurora are visible in the background. Red sprites take only a fraction of a second to occur and are best seen when powerful thunderstorms are visible from the side.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The people in England didn't like him so the emigrated him to the USA as punishment. I'm just glad he wasn't a convict or he would of been sent here. LOL
Aussie you and the people in the S/US have a lot in common. Oh by the way what is your local Time?
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Yeah, it's definitely a risk. I thought about going out into my garage to capture the Hattiesburg tornado on video, but I don't like taking chances with my life. If I had done it, I would have had some great footage because the tornado was only about 150-200 yards from me.


Heck, we had an EF0-EF1 pass a block away from me. I was huddled in the closet with a mattress over my head with the little one between my legs.

I like to say that it was because I have to set a good example, but . . . ;-)
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The people in England didn't like him so the emigrated him to the USA as punishment. I'm just glad he wasn't a convict or he would of been sent here. LOL


LOL - I have relatives in Perth. We joke that they are "a bunch of crooks". Their reply "better than a bunch of religious nuts."
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Lol. The comment I quoted was #666.
I didn't know my post was 666 now see what you mean. I just am not a fan of Piers Morgan. All of the media is to quick to jump Fox, CNN, ABC et.
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Quoting IFuSAYso:

Allot of old shipping containers are cheap.


Actually, been looking into this as an option to build a house.

A little elbow grease, and it is actually possible. And relatively inexpensive too (per square foot).

Sometimes difficult to get permits for it though.
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Quoting daddyjames:


Wow, i think that is the Orr Horse Farm in the background. That guy is extremely dumb/lucky to do something like that. Could have been #25 . . .


Yeah, it's definitely a risk. I thought about going out into my garage to capture the Hattiesburg tornado on video, but I don't like taking chances with my life. If I had done it, I would have had some great footage because the tornado was only about 150-200 yards from me.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting gulfbreeze:
I take what I hear from CNN & Fox and find out the truth is somewhere in between. But I can't take seeing Piers Morgan! I wish they would put his as#@@ back on a boat to England!

The people in England didn't like him so the emigrated him to the USA as punishment. I'm just glad he wasn't a convict or he would of been sent here. LOL
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Quoting Patrap:
This Guy gets Dangerously Close to Moore Tornado Until It Tears Into His House




Wow, i think that is the Orr Horse Farm in the background. That guy is extremely dumb/lucky to do something like that. Could have been #25 . . .
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I fear the anti-post......
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Quoting drs2008:
dig a trench.put in old school bus. Shelter!!

Allot of old shipping containers are cheap.
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Quoting gulfbreeze:
I have been called a lot of things but anti-post is a first LOL.


Lol. The comment I quoted was #666.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting flsky:
Anyone know of a good astrological site? I'm curious about what I'm seeing around the moon in Central Florida. TIA


Here's some quickie linkage:
Moon Rings, Halos & Coronas

My favorite space weather site:
Solarham


On the Treasure Coast, we're seeing a lunar halo aka moon ring rainbow.
Very Moist Atmosphere Bright moon a few extra solar space wind protons tonight = Pretty Moon :o)

According to Solarham:
WED 5/23 - Radiation Storm: A Moderate S2 Level Radiation Storm is now in progress. Protons streaming past Earth following the solar flare is currently on the rise




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Quoting MississippiWx:


You are the anti-post. Be sure to bathe with holy water tonight. ;-)
I have been called a lot of things but anti-post is a first LOL.
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Quoting beell:
Thanks, TA. Made a quick check using questionable search terms. Didn't see much.

Don't quite understand your add-on. Though we were talking about the role of TV in the lower than expected fatality count.

We were. My point was that because people were actually able to see this monster tornado doing damage and headed towards their city (as opposed to visibility problems of the storm because of vegetation or rain) they were more apt to take shelter well ahead of time, leading to a reduced fatality count.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
Now that someone mentions Twc.. I have seen Twc building already 4 times...

Its located in the I-75/The Perimeter. .. you can see it from the east highway ramps.
I was kinda let down, expected more than what I saw, I have to check it out by the inside now.

Gnite
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Quoting MississippiWx:


You are the anti-post. Be sure to bathe with holy water tonight. ;-)


LOL!!!..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16223
Quoting gulfbreeze:
Having people like Piers Morgan on the air will not Help.


You are the anti-post. Be sure to bathe with holy water tonight. ;-)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10284
Quoting beell:


Where are these theories going around at? Just curious.
And yes, "The fact that we were able to watch its whole evolution on air probably helped as well." Which is SOP on severe weather days in central OK.


The night before forecasters said that storms would be popping up at 2pm.

Tuned into local station a few minutes after two, and they already had the chopper on the storm that produced the tornado. All three stations were up and running on this storm. In many ways, given the availability of mobile tech, if you are not aware of what is happening it is because you choose not to be aware.
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671. beell
Thanks, TA. Made a quick check using questionable search terms. Didn't see much.

Don't quite understand your add-on. Though we were talking about the role of TV in the lower than expected fatality count.
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I take what I hear from CNN & Fox and find out the truth is somewhere in between. But I can't take seeing Piers Morgan! I wish they would put his as#@@ back on a boat to England!
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Quoting beell:


Where are these theories going around at? Just curious.
And yes, "The fact that we were able to watch its whole evolution on air probably helped as well." Which is SOP in on severe weather days in central OK.

Just seen discussion between other meteorologists on different forums. It's also being discussed a lot on The Weather Channel (between Carl Parker, Chris Warren, and Jim Cantore).

...And I meant the evolution of the actual tornado. From its wall cloud to the rope to the cone to the wedge, back to the cone, back to the rope, and then a wall cloud.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32813
May 22, 1960

Today, 53 years ago, the world's strongest earthquake ever recorded struck Valdivia, Chile. Major tsunami.

Magnitude: 9.5... strongest ever
2000-6000 deaths



Nice cool fact for ya.. Gnite
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667. beell
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



One of the main theories going around, which I agree with, is that everybody was at school or work (the reason we thought the fatality count was going to be high in the first place).

Come to find out, the tornado tracked across a mainly residential area, where nobody was home because of their jobs.



Where are these theories going around at? Just curious.
And yes, "The fact that we were able to watch its whole evolution on air probably helped as well." Which is SOP on severe weather days in central OK.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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