Death Toll Climbs to 178, still climbing, storms still forming
Like something out of a really bad B movie this night of tornadoes continued on towards the dawn when more twisters formed as they marched across the south north towards the Mason Dixie Line and beyond.
It is too early to give any real figure on how many twisters have formed with this storm in particular or how many states it will affect. New Yorkers have been put on notice for strong weather and hail later today, while the latest tornado warnings have been in the Maryland area....
This may surpass the 1974 outbreak and brings to mind the 1925 Tri-State Tornadoes, the 1999 Oklahoma Outbreak. These tornadoes have affected so many large metropolitan areas as well as small towns that have almost been wiped off the map and that will take years of help to rebuild what is left of their lives. The death toll of just under 200 is most likely a low one, but one can hope it will stop here and not continue to climb. Search and rescue is just going out into most of the affected areas from last night, so what we don't know will most likely hurt us. Schools have been destroyed, hospitals, anything in their path..
I stayed up most of the night watching reports online that storm chaser friends were trying to keep up with, with reports flowing faster than they could be reported. My youngest kids were southbound on a train that thankfully stayed just to the east of the worst of the weather throughout the night. A lot of prayers going on here for both people I know and for people I will never know who were in the path of these storms.
Most overused phrase from April of 2011 will probably be "debris ball" as we are now covering the debris ball on radar in real time on TWC and other weather services. I don't remember ever hearing that word as much as I have heard it this April. It was the phrase of the hour when tornadoes were touching down in North Carolina a few weeks ago and the word has marched on into the lexicon of weather watchers.
Death and destruction has marched on as well.
I will be back later with more definitive information but know the lessons we learn from this outbreak are as follows:
1) Tornadoes will and can hit anywhere they want to .... mountainous areas and metropolitan areas alike, they don't just hit trailer parks on the plains.
2) They can travel far distances even faster than the NWS predicts they will, as the last two big outbreaks moved at a faster forward speed than expected. You can go to bed thinking the bad weather will hit around noon and find out you have one hell of a sunrise show slamming into your neighborhood.
3) Big Supercells can maintain their energy even late into the night after the hottest temperatures of the day have faded, these energized systems can keep on going on the energy within the storm and within the larger steering pattern, a sort of inertia.
4) A debris ball is not something that falls out of the sky, like the aluminum siding and insulation material that landed in our driveway two weeks ago, but a signature on the radar that compells us to take immediate action.
5) A wedge tornado looks like a wedge that comes down out of the sky and can be as wide as a mile and travel for a long period of time on the ground, causing extreme damage over a widespread area. This is what caused most of the severe damage in Alabama and other places this April. Not the pretty little rope like tornadoes we see in movies.
Some great weather blogs out there, a few in particular are listed below.
A list of North American Tornadoes from Wikipedia, find your town or region:
Be back later, stay safe and stay informed.
Ps ... condolences to anyone who has lost loved ones and prayers for only good news for those who are still waiting to hear news from those who are still missing.