Saturday, May 25, 2013

What You Should Know About the Moore Oklahoma Tornado

By now most of us have heard the news and have stayed riveted to the television screen regarding the Moore Oklahoma Tornado. The tornado caused widespread death and destruction on May 21, 2013. Not only is it a unique tornado in many aspects, there are a few questions that everyone may be wondering.

·       What makes this tornado different from any other? The difference in this tornado is not just its wind strength but the duration and size. At possibly a mile wide, the Moore Oklahoma Tornado stayed on the ground at an astounding 40 minutes; enough time to cause major destruction and declare Moore, Oklahoma a national disaster area. The storm has been declared an EF-4 and in some reports, an EF-5. It left a trail of destruction 17 miles long and is one of the strongest storms to hit the United States thus far.

·       Why didn’t people stay home that day or seek shelter sooner? Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes are much harder to predict. According to “When predicting severe weather (including tornadoes) a day or two in advance, we look for the development of temperature and wind flow patterns in the atmosphere which can cause enough moisture, instability, lift, and wind shear for tornadic thunderstorms. Those are the four needed ingredients. But it is not as easy as it sounds. "How much is enough" of those is not a hard fast number, but varies a lot from situation to situation, and sometimes is unknown! A large variety of weather patterns can lead to tornadoes; and often, similar patterns may produce no severe weather at all. To further complicate it, the various computer models we use days in advance can have major biases and flaws when the forecaster tries to interpret them on the scale of thunderstorms.Many times tornadoes form without warning and while the possibility of severe weather may exist at the time, there aren’t any clear rules on when and if a tornado will strike; it’s something you can’t plan for or know for certain. In the 80’s the warning time was only five minutes. The warning time for this devastating tornado was 16 minutes, a huge difference in the ability to save lives.

·       Is Global Warming to blame? Regardless of your beliefs on Global Warming and its effect on the weather, there isn’t enough data to prove that it increases the number of tornadoes. If anything, it has changed the tornado season’s timing. While a climate change would increase the numbers due to warmer, moister air; the wind shear itself would be decreased, causing weaker storms, which has not been the case. Mainly, there is less predictability of an “average” tornado season. There have been increases in activity and some years the tornadic activity has been less than typical.

The people of Moore, Oklahoma have a long, hard road ahead of them. It will take years to rebuild and the loss of lives cannot be replaced. With advances in technology, there will be more that can be learned from this disaster so that lives and loss of property can be decreased in the future. If you want to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma you can visit this link to find a variety of relief organizations.

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