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 , 11:19 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
March roared in like a lion today across much of the U.S., as a powerful storm system brought heavy snow, flooding, high winds, ice storms, and deadly tornadoes. The Storm Prediction Center placed a large, multi-state area under their highest level of tornado risk today, and we may see the largest tornado outbreak of the year. Dozens of tornadoes have touched down across the Midwest and Southeast in the past 24 hours, and many more will touch down by morning as a powerful cold front sweeps across the Eastern U.S. At least one strong tornado has been confirmed--an EF-3 (Enhanced Fujita Scale 3--winds of 136-165 mph) tornado that hit Howell County, Missouri, killing one person and injuring three at 6:33am Thursday. This tornado had a 15 mile long path up to 1/4 mile wide.
Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image of the Enterprise, AL tornado ten minutes before it hit.
Figure 2. Doppler winds image of the Enterprise, AL tornado ten minutes before it hit.
Another strong or violent tornado hit Enterprise, Alabama at 1:10pm CST today, killing 18 and injuring at least 50. The tornado completely destroyed the football stadium and injured children at the Enterprise High School, which lost a portion of its roof. Radar imagery of the Enterprise storm (Figures 1) shows a classic hook echo characteristic of a strong or violent tornado. The Doppler winds (Figure 2) showed the classic signature of a strong tornado--blue colors right next to red colors, indicating winds moving towards and away from the radar in a tightly rotating storm. I've also saved a radar animation of the tornado as it passed over Enterprise.
Today is an appropriate day to welcome our new featured blogger, Mike Theiss. Mike is a professional weather photographer and storm chaser, and will be sharing his awesome storm photos with us for the coming tornado season. He wasn't able to make it to today's storms, unfortunately, but will be in Tornado Alley for much of the next three months documenting this year's tornado season. He also intercepts all landfalling U.S. hurricanes (check out his amazing Katrina videos), so be sure to tune in this hurricane season to his blog.
My condolences and prayers go out to all those affected by today's storms, particularly those in Enterprise. The March 1, 2007 tornado will scar the memories of those who lived through it for a long time to come.
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