March madness

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:22 PM GMT on March 14, 2006

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Violent tornadoes of up to F3 intensity ripped through Missouri, Illinois, and many other states over the weekend, according to preliminary damage surveys conducted by the National Weather Service. The first violent tornado on Saturday that struck St. Mary, MO and killed two people was an F3 tornado (158-206 MPH). Ironically, the two were killed as they fled the tornado in their car. They drove directly into the tornado, which hurled their car into a large propane storage tank. Their house survived the storm--more evidence of why you take shelter in a building during a tornado, and not try to escape in your car.

Two tornadoes struck Springfield, IL on Sunday night, and both were rated as F2 tornadoes with 120 mph winds, according to an NWS storm survey performed yesterday. The tornadoes were over a half mile wide at times, and had damage paths 5.5 and 4 miles long, respectively.

A supercell produced an F3 tornado (158-206 MPH) with a 31 mile long path in Webster County, Missouri. Another F3 tornado with a 40 mile long track passed through mostly rural land between Verona and Christianville, MO. An F2 tornado hit Gravois Mills, and numerous other F0 and F1 tornadoes also passed through Missouri. Damage surveys are not yet complete for some of the other violent tornadoes that affected the area, but I will pass along the results when they become available.


F0 40 MPH TO 72 MPH
F1 73 MPH TO 112 MPH
F2 113 MPH TO 157 MPH
F3 158 MPH TO 206 MPH
F4 207 MPH TO 260 MPH
F5 261 MPH TO 318 MPH

March Madness forecast contest
If you want to try your luck (or skill) at forecasting, The University of Michigan's Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Science is sponsoring its annual "WeatherDance" forecasting contest for the duration of the NCAA basketball tournament. The object is to forecast which of the two teams' campuses will be warmer (or cooler, it alternates between rounds) on the day of the tournament game. Hence the teams that advance in the Weather Tournament will not necessarily be the same teams that advance in the basketball tournament. You can play the men's or women's bracket, or both. It is free to participate--register at to play. One Grand Prize winner will be the guest of the University of Michigan on an expense-paid tornado chase May 29-June 2 in Tornado Alley (but must be at least 18 years of age). Sixteen additional participants will win signed copies of the excellent book, Extreme Weather, by Chris Burt. It's no problem if you don't know where Gonzaga or Northwestern State University are, there are links for each college's home page on the forecast entry page. It's pretty easy to participate, but you must make your first forecast by midnight Wednesday (tomorrow!)

Good luck to all participants!

Jeff Masters

Tornado! (DOAREAPER)
This storm ravaged thru Pettis County, MO in West Central MO. It had just tore thru a mobile home park where a woman was killed and was getting ready to pass over US hwy 65 Just South of Sedalia, MO. It continued in an East to Northeast direction and the Super cell it was generated from actually covered 6 states, spawned many tornadoes and lasted for over 17 hours! It was the same cell that caused damage in Springfeild, IL.
springfield illinois tornado damage (michell)
These are a series of photos taken by my sister-in-law and her fiance both of Springfield. The tornado hit a half mile from their home.
springfield illinois tornado damage

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54. sayhuh
7:15 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
Still not liking 180-240 hr...
53. globalize
6:46 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
No, they should build shelters from mobile home manufacturers and sellers instead.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
52. ForecasterColby
6:35 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
I disagree. While I think it's a good idea, and it could be advertised as a reason to come to one park over another, there's no reason to require it.
51. clueman
6:21 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
i think mobile home parks should have mandatory shelters and anyone near tornadoe alleys should design a storm cellar for their own safety.
50. ForecasterColby
6:18 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
That's midlevel shear, not upper. Upper is quite strong still, though spring is definetly poking through very, very fast. I'm gonna say a storm before the end of April.
49. globalize
5:56 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
KatrinaRita..there will probably be nothing to form for a couple of weeks. Air is much cooler, dryer than was the case just a week ago. Winter is making a little comeback in the Gulf.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
48. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
5:47 PM GMT on March 15, 2006

look at the shear in the gulf of mx there is no shear in the gulf of mx today and if any thing try to pop up it as a good ch on doing so today
47. RL3AO
4:49 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
the wiki entry looks good--thats one of my favorite sites
46. ForecasterColby
4:28 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
I posted an interesting new graph of trends on my site. Basically, I tried (crudely) to remove the annual ENSO from the numbers of hurricanes. The result was a somewhat smoothed graph, showing brilliantly the more recent trends.
45. LpAngelRob
3:21 PM GMT on March 15, 2006
Wikipedia Entry. Please help if you've got time! Thanks. :-)
Member Since: July 15, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 42
44. smadsen8486
9:35 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
trouper, you could look into a weather radio. I bought mine years ago but you can probably pick up a basic one for $10. Some of the higher priced ones have some really cool features on them. But even the basic ones you set the radio to the noaa station and when a warning is issued it will turn on and start to beep (you can set the volume high if your sleeping) and it will play the message. Only problem is it will sound for any warnings issued within the scope of your local nws area.

Also, if your computer is near your bed you could look into software such as weatherbug which does the same basic function of alarming when a warning is issued. One additional feature of the software is that you can select the beep volume and sound it makes, what warnings you want to be alerted of and what times you want the warning to beep through. Either way you will hear the warning as soon as the nws issues one, giving you maybe an extra minute or two to act.
Member Since: September 18, 2005 Posts: 63 Comments: 245
43. Inyo
6:38 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
well, arctic air is pouring into California (some areas have set all time record lows, imagine if this air mass had arrived in january!). The instablity by this is what is forming small tornados in California (they are calling for a small chance for more in Southern California this weekend) but when this frigid air moves east and hits the air from the gulf, it means bad news for you guys!

hopefully this time the storm sits over CA a while longer and moderates, or something
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 906
42. Hammelmom
5:11 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
Those pictures you have are amazing!!
Member Since: July 31, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
41. Hammelmom
5:10 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
I saw that terrible destruction that the tornado in Springfield did. I remember being in Champaign when I was in college and we had to go to the basement of the frat house to take cover when the tornado came. It hit about a mile from where we were at and the next morning (it happened at night) we went to see the damage and it was horrible. Does anyone remember the Plainfield tornado of 1990? It was an F5. We're starting tornado season early this year.
Member Since: July 31, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
40. Inyo
2:40 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
I did hear about that tornado warning up around Sacramento.. i used to work in the Walnut Grove area and live in Davis. In i believe may 2002 we had a severe weather outbreak with large hail and a few tornados through that area... i actually witnessed a 'hail streak' in a very localized area - heard it coming, looked outside, watched it pass by and into a farm field. The next day, i saw a nicely developed funnel cloud.. but alas, no camera. That was the second funnel cloud i had seen in the area. Tornados are not actually that rare in the Sacramento Delta area or in the Los Angeles/Orange County area... however the tornados in these areas are generally much weaker than those in the midwest.

Skyepony, i was sent that article by a friend. I was very interested since in addition to my interest in weather, i was a vegetation mapper for 3 years :)

as for the mobile homes.. they are definitely not built for wind. However, in California, I'd take a mobile home, tornados nonwithstanding, over a non-retrofitted brick building any day... LA gets maybe 3 or 4 F0 tornados a year and a hurricane every hundred years.. and an earthquake capable of ripping apart brick structures every 10-20 years (we are overdue)
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 906
39. Skyepony (Mod)
1:31 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
Here's an article about the improvement of weather models by incorperating info gathered from plant photosynthesis & improved soil moisture info.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
38. Skyepony (Mod)
1:17 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
Trouper~ would that be like a weather box? Except you get to pick the sound it makes when it goes off...
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
37. Skyepony (Mod)
1:13 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
University of Kansas's damage

Any alumni?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
36. Trouper415
1:06 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
I was thinking of a warning device using satellite technology. I heard reports that sirens went off 5 and sometimes 10 minutes into this last round of storms. If you could have an alarm inside your house (you could set the sound) that was connected to a satellite and then to the National Weather Service, there would be no delay in the warning.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 682
35. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
12:59 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
384 hour looks bad for Florida!!

whats is ever one talking about??????
34. Skyepony (Mod)
12:47 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
I looked at it again right now & though it's still the 18Z run, it shows a few nasty frames at the end that wasn't there earlier. Hhmmm. Still a long way out though.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
33. SMU88
12:38 AM GMT on March 15, 2006
Skyepony I looked at Flcrakergirl's link and you are right the 336 hour looks better but the 384 hour looks bad for Florida!!
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 29
32. Skyepony (Mod)
11:50 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
That severe storm system, before it did the damage in the middle of the country, I had notice it spawned a single tornado in Califonia. Now we have another tornado in California.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
31. snowski
11:02 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Here's the Texas Panhandle last Sunday:

30. louastu
9:48 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Assuming you don't have a storm shelter, or some substantial structure nearby.
29. louastu
9:47 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
If you live in a mobile home, and a tornado is coming at you, then the best thing to do is find a ditch, and pray.
28. louastu
9:45 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
I was talking about hurricanes, not tornadoes. Obviously if you are in the path of a tornado, trying to outrun it is a bad idea.
27. ForecasterColby
9:42 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Iou, did we notice the whole 2-people-died-because-they-tried-to-drive-away-from-a-tornado thing?
26. louastu
9:38 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
If I lived in a "motor home" I would drive out of harms way.
25. sayhuh
9:37 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
I think ratings and how mobile homes are rated is something to consider. Society's role in who and how mobile homes are lived in is a wholly different discussion.
24. ForecasterColby
9:36 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
these ppl = the people living in the motor homes.
23. ForecasterColby
9:32 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
I am not aware of the flimsy nature of mobile homes?


Of course I'm aware! This is why they're the first evacuated when a hurricane threatens, because they are thr first to go. I've seen tons of references to their weakness in the media over the years, it's not hidden at all. If they're cheating on wind tests, that's another matter, but what else would these ppl do?
22. globalize
9:26 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Raysfan.. it's not hurricanes and tornados picking on mobile homes, it's hopes of discouraging the building and buying of them.
And sure, certain winds will flatten just about any structure. But you are not aware of the flimsy nature of mobile homes, because the powers that be do not want you to know it.
Question: have you ever seen an article critical of mobile homes in the media?...even when a storm has taken out a whole trailer park, and left the brick homes one block away practically unscathed. Have you ever seen any criticism or questioning of that phenomenon in the 'free press'? You know those 'premanufactured homes' are supposed to have virtually the same wind ratings as any other home. Believe that??!!!
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
21. louastu
9:24 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
I didn't realize they tested mobile homes to 120 mph, but if they are cheating on the test then they certainly need to have charges filed against them.

Society looks at mobile home owners and sees people who are poor, and uneducated. The people who live in houses made of brick, or stone are seen as people who are rich, well educated people who would be more likely to take action against them if they were doing something to compromise the strength, and endurance of their homes.
20. sayhuh
9:22 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Looking at some of the long run models, I am seeing maybe seeing another setup for severe weather in the midwest toward the 29th/30th. Like Skypony noted..these are a long way out, and I hope I am wrong..I continue to watch, since I seemed to be within 100 miles of about 30 tornados this weekend!
19. ForecasterColby
9:17 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Globalize, I sat under Charley's eye in 100mph winds, and the concrete block house I was in didn't take damage. The worst that happened is some water blew horizontally (!!) into the attic vents.
18. Raysfan70
9:13 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
globalize, why do you think that Hurricanes and Tornadoes pick on mobile homes. I don't think so. I have seen both well built homes and mobile homes rip both of these homes to shreds. Some people can not afford very expensive homes like others. I know a family that make 6 figures a year and they live in a Palm Harbor Home that cost 125,000. They are mobile homes.
Member Since: July 28, 2005 Posts: 138 Comments: 57354
17. globalize
9:00 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
louastu- Thanks kid. Just venting frustration. But there are things about business some know that others don't.
No, mobile home builders won't be summarily shot on their lawns. They will get a quick trial first!!
To speak without emotion, there are ways in which a society is built, a civilization is built. The building of such dwellings as mobile homes undermines society's abilty to advance, to recognize what is truly an abode.
The wind ratings of these structures are a farce. The wind which is applied in a mobile home test project to pass a 120 mph rating can be applied another way, the true way a tornado or hurricane brings the wind, and utterly destroy it. There are so many other factors as well. Five to ten years of structural fatigue reduces what little structural integrity a mobile home initially has to nothing.
The most important thing is that if society allows such pitiful dwellings to be built and marketed, what does it say to the builders of masonry homes, who are building 'houses of stone'? What if the first two little pigs ran to third one's house, and it was built so poorly, it blew away as well. No happy ending!!
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
16. ForecasterColby
8:46 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Globalize, I really hope most of that was sarcasm. I don't think anyone purports that mobile homes are structurally sound, they are perfectly legal, and would you rather people be on the streets? Logic, man.
15. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
8:44 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
1151 AM PST TUE MAR 14 2006









14. louastu
8:30 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
I lived in a trailer park (just recently moved) for about 15 years of my life (I am only 19). I have no idea what revolution you are talking about, and wouldn't agree with one that shoots the owners (maybe lock them up in jail, but not shoot them). I think that trailer parks should be required to provide a storm shelter for every lot. I don't know of anyone who thinks that a mobile home is structurally sound. I think most people realize that if a tornado were to hit their trailer it would give a whole new meaning to the term "mobile home".
13. globalize
8:07 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
I lived in a mobile home much of my young life, so anyone out there who has been forced by financial constraints, or chosen out of naivety or stupidity to buy a mobile home as a dwelling please do not take this to heart; however, soon you will be redeemed. When the revolution comes, all owners and managers of mobile home manufacturies will be dragged from their brick homes and summarily shot on their lawns.
Mobile homes are an outrage and an obscenity. They are not dwellings or homes at all, and only exist due to an aspect of the utter corruption which permeates the American society, and that is the ability to skirt any legal code in existence, if enough political pressure can be exerted.
NEVER believe ANYTHING about a mobile home with regard to structural integrity.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
12. louastu
7:57 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
There are tornado warnings in California right now.
11. Skyepony (Mod)
7:22 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
On FlCrackerGirl's link the've already gone to the 18Z run (kind of early)~ but hey, it looks a lot better already:)
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
10. FLCrackerGirl
7:08 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Ditto on Accurancy Sky...
It's Going Be A LONG Season (sigh)
In Case Anyone Needs It:
GFS Animated Loop
Member Since: August 12, 2004 Posts: 47 Comments: 597
9. Skyepony (Mod)
6:59 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
sayhuh~ This does paint a disturbing picture. Atleast the forecast accuracy on the GFS 336 hrs out isn't all that good. We'll see if the trend holds.

Credit ~NOAA
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 310 Comments: 41425
8. CrazyC83
6:51 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Yep, there were 14 deaths in all this weekend.

Many tornadoes are still to be confirmed, and could be F4 or (less likely) F5...
Member Since: September 19, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 142
7. sayhuh
6:36 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Do I see something possibly blobby forming in the gulf early next week?
6. palmettobug53
6:02 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Don't know what's worse, the instant terror of a tornado that hits and runs or the nail-biting anxiety of watching a 'cane jinking around at sea, wondering where it will go, and how long it will take to be over and done with......
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 245 Comments: 26061
4. DonnaInWI
5:55 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Don't the mobile home parks have a mandatory storm shelter? I recall hearing of legislation just for that purpose. Perhaps it's time to require mobile home parks to have them.
As for tornadoes - I sincerely hope I'll never be in the path of one!

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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