What I can’t figure out is why this isn’t a red-letter day? It’s Meteorologist Mark’s birthday, after all! I’m always surprised to see the mail running and banks open on the 27th. Mystery of mysteries….
As for our weather, well, it’s certainly no mystery. It’s absolutely beautiful…and calm…and quiet… Did I order this for my birthday? Absolutely not! What a ridiculous question. But, it is what it is. I guess we could use some sunshine, though? Our next system is getting fired up to our west today, and that will come in here on us tomorrow. Heavy rainfall is expected, so be aware of that, especially Wednesday night. On Thursday, the rain tapers off and we’ll be all set for a really nice weekend, folks. Can you imagine a nice weekend? How long has it been?
Remember, this is severe weather awareness week. Today ‘s topic from the NWS is tornadoes. Yes, my favorite weather topic was saved for today!
Keep in mind, when a tornado warning is issued you need to put as many walls between you and the storm as you possibly can. If you have a basement, that’s a great place to be. Just be mindful that you still need protection, as sometimes homes collapse into basements. Seek shelter in a far corner, and protect yourself from falling debris. If in a vehicle, get into a safer structure. Cars can become unsurvivable missiles. Trailers and mobile homes are just as bad. Abandon them and seek sturdy shelter. DO NOT waste time cracking windows open. The “pressure will blow your house up” myth is a dangerous myth that has probably gotten people hurt. No one’s house is so air tight that pressure can’t change adequately enough. Plus, you have bigger problems if the tornado is that close to you. Never seek shelter at an underpass on the interstate or wherever you might find one. Winds increase dramatically with height in a tornado (get as low as you can go), so putting yourself up in the rafters of an underpass sets you up for disaster. Plus, wind tends to funnel under the overpass, creating a wind tunnel effect that will suck you out (we’ve seen it happen too many times).
March, April and May are the peak of our tornado season, though they can occur any time of the year. Most of our tornadoes around the plateau are weak, but heaven knows we’ve had our share of strong ones. The most recent one was the Leap Day tornado (Feb. 29, 2012) that hit Rinnie, claiming 2 lives. That tornado hit about a mile from my mom and dad (too close!). Before that, we had the violent EF-3 that tore through Tansi in November of 2002, claiming 4 lives. Notice that was November. Fall is our secondary tornado season.
The most powerful tornadoes to ever hit the plateau occurred on April 3, 1974 during a super outbreak of tornadoes that hit the eastern US. An F-4 tore through Jamestown, killing 7, while another F-4 hit near Cookeville that evening. Also, another F-4 hit near Byrdstown. We had an F-3 hit Plateau Rd. that night and it was the last significant tornado of the outbreak. In all, 148 tornadoes hit 13 states that evening.
I don’t think I ever fully appreciated the terror and power in a tornado until I finally caught my first one in Jackson, TN on Feb. 5, 2008. The half-mile wide EF-4 had 175 mph winds as it raced by me going 65 mph. I didn’t chase for several years after that, but I finally got my nerve back in time to go with some friends out to Oklahoma for a chase in 2013. We caught a little bitty one out there and nearly had another come down right on top of us (always remember to look up! ha). We narrowly missed an EF-5 that was about 20 miles to our north. The destruction from that thing was something I still can’t describe.
Hopefully this tornado season will be easy on us. This early spring weather is concerning, but a lot more has to come together to get big storms. There may be some thunderstorms around here tomorrow night, but it looks like they will stay below severe limits. It’s the heavy rainfall that will be of concern.
And then there’s that pretty weekend! I’ll believe it when I see it! ha
And don’t forget, I fly out to the Space Coast tomorrow evening to see my first rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center Thursday evening! I’m so excited to see the GOES-S satellite launched into space! I’ll have MUCH more on that as we get to Thursday.
What a birthday week, right?!
You all have a great day and don’t forget that today is METEOROLOGIST MARK’S BIRTHDAY!!!! The gifs people are using to wish me happy birthday with on Facebook are absolutely hilarious. You need to check them out asap! You’d think I was into the weather or something…..