Florida's tornadoes and El Niño

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:54 PM GMT on February 05, 2007

Friday's devastating tornadoes in Central Florida, where 20 people lost their lives, marked the second most deadly tornado outbreak in Florida history. Only the February 22-23, 1998 tornado outbreak in Kissimmee, which killed 42 and injured 260, was worse. Two of Friday's tornadoes were rated as EF-3 (Category 3 on the new Enhanced Fujita Scale), with winds near 160 mph. The Enhanced Fujita Scale became the official scale for rating tornadoes as of February 1, 2007, and Friday's tornadoes were the first to be ranked with the new damage scale. The new scale replaces the old Fujita Scale, which required winds of a tornado to be much higher in order to get an F3 or higher rating. Modern engineering studies have determined that devastating damage can occur at much lower wind speeds, and that the Fujita Scale did a poor job of correlating between damage and wind speed. For example, tornadoes capable of causing incredible damage (EF 5 rating) are now known to occur at wind speeds of 200 mph and higher. On the old F-Scale, an F-5 rating started at 261 mph. See the Tornado FAQ for a full comparison of the old Fujita Scale with the new Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Strong and violent tornadoes are rare in Florida, but when they do occur, it tends to be during winter when a moderate or strong El Niño event is occurring. More than 60% of Florida's killer tornadoes occur between midnight and noon, which was also the case with Friday's outbreak. This was the second major Florida tornado outbreak this winter. Earlier this winter, a series of three tornadoes, including two rated at F2, hit near Daytona Beach on Christmas Day, injuring 16 people. During El Niño winters, the jet stream winds tend to be stronger over Florida, a key ingredient needed for tornado activity (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Incidence of strong (F2 and higher) tornadoes over Florida between 1950 and 1998. Note the highest numbers of strong tornadoes occurred during the major El Niño years of 1983 and 1998. Image credit: NOAA.

Jeff Masters

Tornado damage in DeLand, Florida (JuliArtistWU)
Living room furniture left in place while walls were removed by tornado. TV looks perfect! Note the siding wrapped around a pole above TV.
Tornado damage in DeLand, Florida
Tornado damage in DeLand, Florida (JuliArtistWU)
Metal siding-wrapped light pole in trailer park.
Tornado damage in DeLand, Florida

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Log In or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 198 - 148

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4Blog Index

198. hurricane23
2:18 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
(Climate prediction febuary update)

A transition from weak El Niño conditions to ENSO-neutral conditions is expected by March-May 2007.

Most of the statistical and coupled models, including the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS), indicate that SST anomalies will continue to decrease and that ENSO-neutral conditions are likely to develop during March-May 2007 (Fig. 4). There is considerable uncertainty in the forecasts for periods after May 2007.

There forcasting Neutral conditions come spring time.


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
197. weatherguy03
2:09 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
Might be time to get a new computer!..LOL

BTW, thanks for the tornado coverage Dr. Masters. Saw it first hand. Not a pretty site.
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 593 Comments: 29742
195. weatherguy03
2:04 PM GMT on February 08, 2007
Graphics rule!
Member Since: July 5, 2005 Posts: 593 Comments: 29742
193. mrpuertorico
10:58 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
anyone watching the warm waters spreading out from africas coast. It seems that those warm waters have finnaly reached the warm waters off of the coast of south america. And notice the ring around central america pacific side.
Member Since: July 10, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 833
189. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:19 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
0600am UTC
Reunion RSMC Advisory

Tempête Tropicale Modérée 07R (Dora)

10 min sustained winds of 45 knots with center pressure of 990 hPa

24 hours Becoming Extratropical -- 50 knots.
48 hours (EXTRATROPICAL) -- 60 knots
72 hours (EXTRATROPICAL) -- 70 knots
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 64 Comments: 54777
185. LowerCal
6:55 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
She first appeared on-air at The Weather Channel in 1993. Link

Member Since: July 26, 2006 Posts: 59 Comments: 10336
184. SkulDouggery
6:25 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Anybody out there remember when Sharon Resultan started working with TWC? Seems like 1985-ish, ??
Member Since: January 19, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 101
183. weatherboykris
5:30 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
182. weatherboykris
5:24 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
ewwww.cat just vomited.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
181. hurricane23
5:21 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Good evening,

Looking at the cooling in models tonight and in my opinion la nina conditions look almost likely across the pacific ocean.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
180. lightning10
3:07 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
My goodness was it foggy today...

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 41 Comments: 630
3:07 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Remember a song by Leon Everett called Hurricane?
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2157
178. Patrap
2:54 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 454 Comments: 144361
177. SteveDa1
2:51 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Wow, that is cool patrap. Between the 27th and 28th it really exploded...
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1321
176. Skyepony (Mod)
2:51 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Randyman~ when you right click & go to properties, notice the size, before you copy. If it's over 200000 link it.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 44046
175. Patrap
2:49 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
LSU earth scan Lab
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 454 Comments: 144361
174. Patrap
2:37 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 454 Comments: 144361
173. SteveDa1
2:28 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
BTW everyone, I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me some links about the weather. I recently formatted my computer and I forgot to keep all my favorites with me...

Go to my blog and post some if you want to help :)
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1321
172. Patrap
2:22 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Fishing invest Lake Ponchatrain..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 454 Comments: 144361
171. SteveDa1
2:21 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
The northeast has less of a chance because of the cold and I live near Montreal. I would love to get another snowfall but i think I still have to wait at least 10 days...

I read that too 882mb on Accuweather.
Member Since: October 17, 2006 Posts: 60 Comments: 1321
170. 882MB
12:54 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Just look at what ACCUWEATHER has to say:(The weather is always changing, sometimes very subtly, and other times very dramatically. Next week will shift from extreme cold to winter storms. The Pacific jet stream will finally cross the country. Consequently, cold air from the north and moist air from the south will cross paths, and the intersection may have a lot of snow and ice. The first storm, in what could be a series of nasty weather events, will form over the central states Monday with rain in Texas, ice in Kansas and snow farther north. This system will track across the Mississippi Valley Monday night and reach the East on Tuesday. A significant amount of snow is possible from Missouri to Maryland. A second storm may come along later next week.)This is the storm that could be a big one the second one!
Member Since: September 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1017
169. 882MB
12:46 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Hey everybody, Models still in good agreement in an ACTIVE WEATHER PATTERN FOR THE GULF COAST, SOUTHEAST AND NORTHEAST!Looks like one STORM AFTER ANOTHER!
Member Since: September 29, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1017
168. Randyman
12:19 AM GMT on February 08, 2007
Victims of Christmas twister feel abandoned

Rebecca Mahoney | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted February 7, 2007

DeLAND -- A Christmas Day tornado ripped apart Georgiana Durden's porch, punching holes in the roof of her mobile home and leaving her DeLand neighborhood in tatters.

Weeks later, she's still waiting for help with repairs.

Yes No
Yes No
Yes No
On Friday, another storm tore through Central Florida, damaging homes, toppling trees and reducing communities to rubble.

Within days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency rolled in to help, along with high-powered politicians and aid from scores of volunteers.

Victims of Volusia County's December storms lost as much as those whose lives were thrown into disarray last week.

But the disparity in attention and aid has left Christmas Day victims feeling overlooked and underserved by the government and charities now hard at work elsewhere.

"I feel sad that these people lost their homes, but we did, too," Durden said Tuesday, as she stood outside her home in Fernwood Estates. "What's the matter with us? We're not different; we're the same."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is reconsidering its denial of the state's request for a federal disaster declaration after the Christmas storms, which would have provided money for temporary housing, home repairs, loans and other financial aid.

Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, hopes to change that over breakfast in Washington this morning with the head of FEMA, R. David Paulison.

"I'm hoping we have the appeal resolved by that time," Mica said, "or you'll see a large nuclear cloud over Washington, D.C."

Mica, however, was one of many politicians who toured devastated areas after last week's tornadoes, but not after the Christmas Day storms. Senator Bill Nelson also got his first look at the damage last week. Gov. Charlie Crist visited Central Florida three times since Friday's storms, but neither he nor former Gov. Jeb Bush showed up after the Christmas tornado.

"It's not right the way we are being treated," said Linda Berryman, 56, who estimates the Dec. 25 storm caused about $13,000 in damage to her DeLand home.

If the politicians had toured her neighborhood and others pummeled by the December storm, they might have seen how bad the damage was and worked harder to get federal aid, Berryman said.

Durden said a FEMA inspector did show up in her mobile-home park Tuesday. Residents immediately crowded around him, she said, thinking the government had arrived. They soon learned that he was there by mistake.

"It was an insult, this guy showing up," Durden said.

The latest slight came on Tuesday, when Crist expanded a statewide hurricane-relief fund to include tornado victims, but not those affected by the Dec. 25 storms.

"We have a policy that it has to be a FEMA disaster-declared area before we can go in to help," said Fonda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Disaster Recovery Fund. "No, we cannot help them [the Christmas tornado victims] at this time."

FEMA's response has frustrated and baffled local officials, who say they don't understand why victims of the same kind of tragedy are not treated equally.

"My heart's breaking for them. Their lives have been devastated just like the people that have lost their homes and everything in this [latest] tornado," County Chairman Frank Bruno said. "They feel that it's totally unfair. . . . I agree with them."

The county is offering some assistance to low-income residents of both storms but doesn't have the money to offer the kind of aid FEMA can provide, Bruno said.

"We can't afford to give long-term individual disaster relief," Bruno said. "That's just not in our budget."

The reason the latest victims are getting so much help is probably because the magnitude of the Feb. 2 storms was so much greater than the earlier storm, Stetson University political-science professor T. Wayne Bailey said.

Even though damage estimates for the storms are similar, the Feb. 2 tornadoes killed 20 people and damaged many more homes across a three-county area.

"When there are deaths, that does establish a profound link to the amount of help available," Bailey said.

By contrast, December's storm fell on a holiday and did not gain national media attention, he said.

"Certainly the Dec. 25 storm was not making headlines on CNN," Bailey said. "We were deep into turkey and college football. The result is that the holiday drowned out the pleas of the victims of this first strike."

Meanwhile, December victims like Durden are slowly working to put their lives back together -- even as they still cling to hope that help is on its way.

Said Durden, "I pray every day that we are going to get the help we need."

Etan Horowitz and Nancy Imperiale of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Rebecca Mahoney can be reached at 386-851-7914 or rmahoney@orlandosentinel.

Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 224
167. 1900hurricane
10:41 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
It looks like the Houston area could see some severe weather in a few days. Here is the Houston GFS meteogram.

Look at the third chart. I have never seen the red line go so high! Here is part of the key to the meteogram.

Stability Indices

The stability indices are measures of the potential for strong or severe weather. The indices shown here are the Lifted Index (LI) and the Total-Totals Index (TTI).
The LI, indicated by the red line, is a measure of the thunderstorm potential which accounts for low level moisture availability.
LI values greater than 0 mean thunderstorms are unlikely
LI values between 0 and -2 mean thunderstorms are possible with good trigger
LI values between -3 and -5 mean thunderstorms are probable
LI values less than -5 mean a strong potential for severe thunderstorms

The orange and yellow bars indicate the value of the TTI.
TTI is a derived index, and is dimensionless.
TTI is a measure of the vertical stability of the atmosphere, and over central and eastern North America is also a good indicator of the potential for severe weather.
Values of TTI of around 40-45 indicate the potential for thunderstorms. Around 50, severe thunderstorms are possible. Around 55, storms producing tornados are possible. This rule-of-thumb does not hold over western North America where there is alot of high terrain (Rocky Mountains and West Coast).
The base line for the bar graph of TTI is 40.

The LI is at about -6, and TTI is up around 60!
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 62 Comments: 12283
166. Randyman
10:41 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 224
165. Randyman
10:36 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 224
164. Randyman
10:28 PM GMT on February 07, 2007

...still experimenting with images guys...I'll be posting many more over the forthcoming weeks until I get this thing down pat...
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 224
163. Randyman
10:17 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Guys, that article is from tornadochaser.net...I'm just practicing copying and pasting photos, maps, etc...I'm getting there...
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 224
162. ryang
10:13 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 329 Comments: 12486
161. Randyman
10:11 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
The Perfect Storm for tornado and storm chasers would be one where it is a slow moving storm, with many long lived tornadoes in a low precipitation enviroment away from any populated area but great roads, oh and no hail. Most people, when they hear the phrase The Perfect Storm, think of fall of 1991, when the Andrea Gail left Gloucester, Massachusetts...headed for the fishing grounds off the North Atlantic.

Perfect Storm
Large View of the Perfect Storm infrared image at 1200 UTC (0700 EST) on October 30, 1991 NOAA IMAGEGOES 7 (Infrared) Courtsey NOAA -NWS

Called The Perfect Storm because it was three storms combined into one — created an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic ocean, where boats encountered waves of 100 feet (30 meters). This storm was one of the strongest and most terrifying that many could remember. Wolfgang Petersen directed The Perfect Storm moive, starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

But when we talk about the perfect storm with tornado and storm chasing, we are talking about an event that would be easy to film up close, that drops many tornadoes over several hours. Have I seen the perefect storm myself yet? Not yet, but almost. In 2000, I was able to film a slow moving storm with my car motor turned off, parked in the path of the oncoming tornado.

2000t.jpg (8049 bytes)I wrote: "During this time I didn't have to move my car once. I sat in the same place for at least 20 minutes making it easy to photograph. This slow tornado movement was truly a chasers dream for photographing and a rare occurrence for tornado photography."

But this was just one tornado. Another chase I might call nearly the perfect storm was in 2002.
Tornado Photos step by stepThis storm kept dropping tornado after tornado. We did have to keep driving to keep up with the movement of the storm, but it almost continually had a tornado on the ground for almost 35 minutes. We had a good view of it most of the time and got some great video of it.

Still, I would say I haven't met the prefect storm that I keep dreaming of getting. I know that many other chasers dream of chasing some big tornado event. Even after a great year of chasing tornadoes, most chasers still wish for more tornadoes, bigger tornadoes, a closer encounter. The perfect storm, the grandest of tornado events seems to be just one more chase away. Maybe someday we will be able to say at the end of the chase, today was the perfect storm. But maybe not. Maybe the possibility of a greater event than todays, or yesterdays will make the perfect storm an event only to be chased, but never attained. Even as near as I got in 2003 to an F3 tornado near O'Neil Nebraska, I wonder if I can better that event.
Chase 2003 Tornado Photos and stories
I wrote after that chase: "I realized I had made a stupid mistake and left no way to escape. I was stuck in my car and had to ride out the tornado in the worst possibly location. The large building seemed to be holding, but large debris passed over the top of the car and flew by the sides of the building."

Tornado and storm chasing will always give all of us chasers the possibility of one greater event than the last, one more possibility of new video never gotten before. Maybe the perfect storm is and will always be, the hope of tomorrows encounter. Most chasers I have talked with are never totally satisifed with their latest encounter. For most chasers, I believe the perfect storm is still waiting for us to find. I will be there looking for it (The Perfect Storm), and I know many of you will be there also. See you on the plains of the US looking for that perfect storm.
Member Since: July 26, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 224
156. hurricane23
8:09 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Posted By: StSimonsIslandGAGuy at 2:09 PM EST on February 07, 2007.

MichaelSTL where did you get that map from? It is awesome!

You can find the map at wikipedia and much more useful information.

Traditionally, areas of tropical cyclone formation are divided into seven basins. These include the north Atlantic Ocean, the eastern and western parts of the Pacific Ocean (considered separately because tropical cyclones rarely form in the central Pacific), the southwestern Pacific, the southwestern and southeastern Indian Oceans, and the northern Indian Ocean. The western Pacific is the most active and the north Indian the least active. An average of 86 tropical cyclones of tropical storm intensity form annually worldwide, with 47 reaching hurricane/typhoon strength, and 20 becoming intense tropical cyclones (at least of Category 3 intensity.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873
153. Skyepony (Mod)
7:03 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
NOAA news they put out a push for their radios, good list of features & some events where a radio saved scores of people.

NOAA budget request
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 44046
152. Skyepony (Mod)
6:55 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Yeah when those shingles started flying by from left to right I'd of had to run for underground.

A NOAA box has batteries for back up too...I'll have to send that on to the newspaper so pushing for sirens around here.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 44046
151. Skyepony (Mod)
6:52 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Michael, seems the stronger storms thing has been across the globe.


Thanks for checking the #'s went there to look around all they had was the hurricanes & then I's pulled away.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 431 Comments: 44046
149. weatherboykris
6:49 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
I'm good.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
148. hurricane23
6:46 PM GMT on February 07, 2007
Iam doing ok guys off from work today.Probably going to play basketball at the gym with some friends later.How about yourself?
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13873

Viewing: 198 - 148

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4Blog Index

Top of Page
Ad Blocker Enabled

Category 6â„¢


Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

Local Weather

Light Rain
47 °F
Light Rain

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Huron
Fall Color in Pictured Rocks
Pictured Rocks Beach Day
Pictured Rocks dunes and clouds