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Significant Tornado Events (2 Viewers)


Peter Griffin

Member
Messages
16
Location
Newport, NC
Would saturated grounds be more susceptible to ground scouring vs dry/normal ground?
I don't have a degree or anything but I would say definitely depending on soil composition/type. When rain sits in low lying areas it can make the topsoil extremely soft/loose and one would think it would be much easier to lift than more solid dry Earth.

Like I said not an expert maybe someone else will chime in.
 

WIL9287

Member
Messages
3
Location
Altoona and California PA
Special Affiliations
SKYWARN® Volunteer,
(My apologies if there's already a thread in this vein; I checked but I didn't find one.)

So, once upon a time, Talkweather was host to a pretty swell thread called "Significant Tornado Events." I'm sure some of y'all will remember. Full disclosure: I think I initially started the thread in a desperate attempt to get someone to read my blog. Anyhow, thankfully, it quickly evolved beyond that into something I thought was really pretty special. It was a place for lots of knowledgeable folks and newbies alike to post about any particular significant tornado event that tickled their fancy. We swapped stories of obscure events few people even knew existed. We shared hard-to-find photos of popular events. We endlessly debated the proper ratings for any of a thousand different tornadoes. We speculated about which tornadoes were the most intense, which outbreaks were the worst, etc.

It was pretty dang fun. I know there are different threads already started that sort of cover certain aspects of this, but the old thread was always kinda used as a catch-all for stuff that concerned violent tornadoes but didn't really fit elsewhere. I'm not sure what ever became of that thread, but I think it'd be pretty cool to revive it once more. So, sound like a plan?

If we're good to go ahead, I'll be back either tonight or tomorrow with a few things I'd like to share. Y'all are more than welcome to do the same!
Yes!!! I've been waiting for this thread to be brought back from the dead for a couple years now! The original thread was a goldmine!
 

Equus

Member
Messages
1,202
Location
Saragossa, AL
I have the original thread archived before the site went down through mid-2014, but don't really know what to do with it. The discussions here are legendary indeed.
 

Shelby

Member
Messages
14
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
I think the Vilonia, Arkansas tornado is worth a mention here. Deep ground scouring, denuded and debarked trees and low lying shrubs. A 25,000 pound steel tank thrown over 3/4 a mile. The pictures say it all and I think are comparable to some of the most violent tornado damage I have seen.
 

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Shelby

Member
Messages
14
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
I live about an hour and a half from Joplin, Missouri. I was able to take some photos after the destruction. I can’t recall exactly how many days had passed when I took these photos. The thing that stood out the most was the tree damage. I saw a post where someone stated the tree density in this area isn’t that great. This isn’t true because Joplin is in the Ozark Mountains. Almost EVERY tree was debarked, denuded and torn apart. The damage was probably most intense around the Hospital. However, I had a friend who lived east of Joplin and she stated the grass around that area was severely scoured from the ground. Another one of my friends survived the tornado. She heard the roar and woke up 4 blocks away. This incident was so traumatic for her that she lived in Europe for several years and had extensive injuries. I have a photo I can’t find of a close up of the semi-truck wrapped around a denuded tree and a another photo I’ll locate where a photo oh Mother Theresa is embedded in a debarked tree. Hope I am not clogging this thread.
 

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Shelby

Member
Messages
14
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
This looked to be a storm shelter with a vacant foundation and although you can’t tell from the photo deep gouge marks were embedded in the dirt. The swept away house had been cleaned off. Gigantic rocks which I'm assuming lined the driveway had been pushed up against the foundation. This was on the very southern edge of the tornado. Areas around it looked to be EF2 damage except for streak of very intense damage directly in front and on top of this house.
 

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Shelby

Member
Messages
14
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
So, this is pretty wild. On June 18, 1975, a family of eight tornadoes struck roughly between the towns of Bartley and Arnold in Central Nebraska (called the Gothenburg tornado family in reference to the biggest town in the area). Many of the paths were separated by relatively short distances such that it was first reported as a single tornado with a 90-mile length. Five of the tornadoes were rated F3 and one, near Arnold, was rated F4. There were reports of multiple tornadoes on the ground at once, satellite tornadoes, horizontal vortices, etc. At least one of the tornadoes looked rather visually imposing (this was near Peterson, NE):

View attachment 1833

Anyhow, that's not the really interesting bit. No, what makes this event most notable is that it did some distinctly Philadelphia, MS-esque things. To wit:

View attachment 1836

View attachment 1837

View attachment 1838

Bit hard to make it out, but here's what you're looking at. The tornado near Moorefield, NE created a "hole" that measured about 10 ft by 6.5 ft and up to 18.5 inches deep. It also created a "crack" that appears to be about the same length as the hole but much narrower. The sides are sharp and steep in some places and more gradual in others. There are a few broken chunks of sod downstream from these features, but otherwise not much else. There's a mangled windmill barely visible in the background of the first picture, but it apparently wasn't associated with these features and there don't seem to be any other debris/missile-related causes.

Greg Forbes studied the event and postulated that some combination of lightning + suction vortex could've caused it, but he was operating under the assumption that tornadic winds alone couldn't do the job. Of course, we've seen since then that tornadoes can indeed do this sort of thing. He took an interesting approach of using soil shear-strength tests to estimate that velocities in the range of 246-291 mph would be required for wind alone. His objection was that the wind speed at the surface must necessarily be zero given the boundary layer physics involved. That stuff's above my pay grade, but my sense is that it's more a theoretical principle than a practical one - given the turbulence of wind flows in tornadoes, the updrafts and downdrafts, variations in surface roughness, debris loading, etc. it seems clear to me that it doesn't hold up in the real world.

Oh, the later F4 tornado near Arnold also did this:

View attachment 1839

View attachment 1840

The "O" in the first photo represents the approximate starting location of a pair of combines, one of which weighed 18,500 lbs and the other slightly less. The heavier combine was tossed a tenth of a mile to the location marked "L" and the lighter one, pictured in the second photo, came to rest 0.16 miles away in the spot marked "B." Grain bins and other assorted bits of large debris were lofted pretty substantial distances as well. Trees in the direct path of this tornado at its most intense were also reportedly stripped bare, some of them snapped off just a few feet above ground level.

All in all, another rather impressive (and probably underrated) event that's gone mostly unnoticed because of the remote Nebraska location.
Thanks for sharing! I love hearing about these tornadoes. I wonder if these are super intense vortices that are extremely brief but incredibly powerful? What do you think?
 

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