Friday, May 14, 2010

NEQ Friday Review, V.2

The subject of today’s NEQ Friday Review is tornado talk!

Dozens of twisters were spawned this week from violent supercell thunderstorms marching their way across the Great Plains. In the true line of fire was Oklahoma where as many as six EF-3 tornadoes were responsible for leveling houses, flipping cars and dropping hail as big as softballs. Two people (revised from five) were killed and dozens more injured.

But why?! Forecasts warned of tornadoes days in advance. They even predicted almost to the hour when the twisters might strike. How did they do it!?

Supercomputers!!! Years ago computer models were capable of forecasting storms two days in advance and meteorologists needed to rely heavily on radar and storm spotters to confirm the location, size and strength of tornadoes. But nowadays meteorologists use supercomputers that crunch large amounts of atmospheric data well in advance of an imminent threat of severe weather, and therefore provide them the power to warn of oncoming storms long before they strike – even weeks!

So then what went wrong?! In my opinion it’s ignorance. Tornadoes occur frequently in Oklahoma and severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings are almost a weekly occurrence at this time of year. Despite the advance warnings, many people disregarded blaring sirens that indicate a tornado is about to crush them! I mean, television stations even showed motorists clogging roadways as tornadoes were forming, just watching in shear awe – and never knowing what uncanny path the tornado would take. Perhaps the population has become desensitized to the seriousness of these storms. Easily they were in harm’s way.

Well, geez… come to think of it, I would be right there with them! Anything for the shot!

Have a great weekend and stay safe!