Significant Tornado Events (5 Viewers)


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36
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Raleigh, NC
Incredible that 22 people were killed in the space of only 2 miles and likely a few minutes, I've head about this thing before and I do wish there were more high-quality photographs of its damage available; I can't help but wonder if this thing achieved F5 intensity but the construction material of the buildings it struck was likely dubious at best, so they couldn't go any higher than F4 with ranking it.
It may have been capable but I doubt it given that its short track over a fairly populated area. It certainly was violent though. There were frail buildings along its path for sure but reports and aerial photos indicate that the tornado leveled some fairly large and ostensibly well built homes as well.
A death toll that high from such a brief tornado suggests that it was likely genuinely violent. That’s extremely impressive, and not to mention tragic.
Ten members of the same extended family perished in the tornado as well. I think the area basically doubling or tripling in population due to Hilda, the erratic nature of hurricane spinups, and the time of day(630am) all contributed to the high fatality rate as well. Add in no basements and you've got a bad situation. Even today those circumstances and the violent nature of the tornado would make for a terrible end result.
 
Messages
252
Location
Missouri
It may have been capable but I doubt it given that its short track over a fairly populated area. It certainly was violent though. There were frail buildings along its path for sure but reports and aerial photos indicate that the tornado leveled some fairly large and ostensibly well built homes as well.

Ten members of the same extended family perished in the tornado as well. I think the area basically doubling or tripling in population due to Hilda, the erratic nature of hurricane spinups, and the time of day(630am) all contributed to the high fatality rate as well. Add in no basements and you've got a bad situation. Even today those circumstances and the violent nature of the tornado would make for a terrible end result.
Hurricane-spawned tornadoes are usually weak, correct? Are there any ideas on what would allow one to achieve such rapid intensity in extremely short time?
 
Messages
36
Location
Raleigh, NC
Hurricane-spawned tornadoes are usually weak, correct? Are there any ideas on what would allow one to achieve such rapid intensity in extremely short time?
Yeah they're mostly of the EF0-EF2 variety. The most prolific tornado producing hurricanes seem to be majors that weaken before striking the Gulf Coast. Ivan, Rita, and Katrina all come to mind in addition to Hilda and Carla. TS Lee as well but that's different. So I'd speculate the drier, colder air that gets entrained into a decaying tropical system acts to enhance instability(lapse rates, surface heating)in the RFQ area where low-level shear is highest. You can also get low-topped mini sups when the RFQ is void of tropical convection. Maybe enhanced mid-level shear impinging on the strong low-level circulation plays a role as well. I'll defer to people that know more than me in making definitive statements but that makes sense to me.
 
Messages
252
Location
Missouri
Yeah they're mostly of the EF0-EF2 variety. The most prolific tornado producing hurricanes seem to be majors that weaken before striking the Gulf Coast. Ivan, Rita, and Katrina all come to mind in addition to Hilda and Carla. TS Lee as well but that's different. So I'd speculate the drier, colder air that gets entrained into a decaying tropical system acts to enhance instability(lapse rates, surface heating)in the RFQ area where low-level shear is highest. You can also get low-topped mini sups when the RFQ is void of tropical convection. Maybe enhanced mid-level shear impinging on the strong low-level circulation plays a role as well. I'll defer to people that know more than me in making definitive statements but that makes sense to me.
Are they usually narrow, drillbit type tornadoes? I imagine there isn't a whole lot of (if any) hurricane-spawned wedges.
 
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252
Location
Missouri
Think I may have been that youtube commenter in question! What a coincidence...I saw the video of the Dalton tornado, was reminded of Wilkin County, remarked on the similarities between the 4 of the drill bits mentioned in the last couple of pages, did a quick google search on Pampa 1995 to see if any information had been recovered since I last looked up the subject. One thing lead to another and I found both the tornadotalk article and this thread, with all the information compiled recently!

I believe I got my original information about the data loss from my correspondence in 2013 with Jose Garcia at NWS Amarillo. I am sad to say that in an ironic twist (no pun intended) of fate, I've failed to keep up with the topic in the last several years, and have actually lost that conversation along with a lot of my meteorological knowledge. Any new data about the event is still sure to turn a head, though - and I am sure I am not the only one. Pampa's legendary status combined with the lack of readily available information online lends to a bit of mystique, I think.

A little bit to add on to the various events that have been discussed. Back in the day I talked a bit with Max from extremeplanet.me about the Pampa storm, he mentioned that he had a limited edition addendum at the end of one of his books where Grazulis noted that his personal photogrammetry indicated wind speeds of approximately 300 mph 100 ft AGL. That combined with its spectacular rotation, numerous feats of strength, and extreme vehicle damage leads me to the belief that Pampa was perhaps the strongest of the four drill bits. Grazulis himself did say he thought it had the highest wind speeds of any tornado he'd seen at the time of the writing; Garcia noted that had it occurred in modern times, with the updated EF scale, it would have almost certainly attained an EF5 rating. The main difficulty in actually confirming all that is the lack of photos displaying affected vegetation which, I think, would arguably be more useful than an example of what would have happened if the tornado actually struck a well built residential structure at full strength. Buildings can only take so much before they blow away, after all...tree trunks and ground scouring leave a bit more evidence to be evaluated. We do have this video shot, for what it's worth:


Very low resolution, but many of these trees look to be severely stripped and snapped off low to the ground. A pity we don't have a close up shot with higher color quality, then we'd be able to gauge the level of debarking.

It would not surprise me if Dalton were itself a bit underrated. As I recall, the building that was destroyed was struck while the circulation was still in the process of transitioning from its organizing to its mature stage. (Also of note, that process looked quite similar to Pampa's own.) The most violent rotation, similar to Elie, seems to occur somewhere around the shrinking stage. And to point out a further commonality with its compatriots, the twister lasted for exactly the same number of minutes (31) as Wilkin!

Wilkin used to have a NWS page detailing its damage and the rationale for its rating. Sadly, like much of the information about Pampa, it seems that page is now gone. I recall that it may have said that trees at the surveyed damage sites were stripped but not debarked...memory's a bit fuzzy on that. Given some of the photos of more severe tree damage posted in this thread I wouldn't be surprised if they missed a few areas, I definitely see at least one debarked trunk here. The ground scouring was certainly quite impressive, the NWS page had a ground level shot showing beets torn out of the earth in a concentrated swath and of course we've got that awesome aerial footage to go on.

Agreed with eric that Elie earned its higher rating more due to chance and circumstance than strength. I think though that it actually didn't travel over the same place twice - didn't retrace its footsteps, so to speak. extremeplanet.me had an analysis of the event (also now sadly disappeared, I'm sensing a trend here) and the tornado's path. My thoughts on the matter are that drill bit tornadoes probably do tend to be a bit underrated in general, their extremely narrow width means they need to hit an object pretty much dead on. Couple that with their usually occurring up north over plains and they don't have the opportunity to leave as many indicators of their intensity. Elie however by pure (bad) luck managed to strike pretty much every house in the immediate area, thus leaving no doubt. If it turned out that it was actually the weakest of the 4, frankly I'm not sure I would be surprised.

But it's all academic anyhow, the weather nerd equivalent of arguing over sports teams if you will. Have to say I haven't had an opportunity to do that in a long time though! I do wonder if in the future, as our knowledge of the subject grows, we'll start increasingly parsing out the common characteristics of the different forms of tornadoes. Terminology like drill bit, dust bowl, wedge, etc. could become a bit more formalized, much like the different breeds of supercells are now (HP, classic, LP).
Another thing I've noticed about drillbits is they tend to have much shorter path lengths and as a result, less likely to hit something; not too knowledgeable of long-lived drillbits.
 

warneagle

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Yeah they're mostly of the EF0-EF2 variety. The most prolific tornado producing hurricanes seem to be majors that weaken before striking the Gulf Coast. Ivan, Rita, and Katrina all come to mind in addition to Hilda and Carla. TS Lee as well but that's different. So I'd speculate the drier, colder air that gets entrained into a decaying tropical system acts to enhance instability(lapse rates, surface heating)in the RFQ area where low-level shear is highest. You can also get low-topped mini sups when the RFQ is void of tropical convection. Maybe enhanced mid-level shear impinging on the strong low-level circulation plays a role as well. I'll defer to people that know more than me in making definitive statements but that makes sense to me.
Katrina dropped an F2 in Peach County, Georgia that wiped out a credit union about a third of a mile from my dad's office, as well as some of the big pecan orchard that runs behind it. Thankfully it was pretty narrow (about 50 yd) and moving in the other direction, and he only lost some shingles. It was after closing time so nobody was in the credit union at the time. I couldn't find any damage photos, but you can see a bit of footage of the damage to the credit union in the second video on this page: https://www.13wmaz.com/article/news...hurricane-katrina-hit-central-ga/93-557331899

The only tornado-related fatality during Katrina was from another F2 Carroll County, Georgia, about 100 miles to the northwest. Katrina produced 6 F2s in total.
 
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Messages
252
Location
Missouri
So apparently Charles City had the fastest documented windspeeds of any tornado of all time lol. Amazing what people belie

View attachment 4189
Yeah, I get that reconstructing the pre-1970 ratings with the information that was available at the time was difficult, but the level of inconsistency is still kind of surprising.
Well apparently Charles City had the fastest windspeeds documented in any tornado ever, lol. Amazing that it's still considered F5 after all these years.

528.jpg
 
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Messages
252
Location
Missouri
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This picture of the Carney OK 2013 tornado reminds me of the 1999 Moore tornado given the size and radar presentation. This tornado was more underrated than Shawnee and Moore (2013)but, the vortices during its early stages we're almost certainly above 200 MPH. The horizontal vortex look as textbook I will ever see.

It had GTG shear over 200 MPH right when it was about to hit Carney
At 2:37 in this vid you can something a virtually identical horizontal vortex on Red Rock, man that thing was incredible and likely had an insane amount of violent potential.

 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
556
Location
Riverside, Ohio
So apparently Charles City had the fastest documented windspeeds of any tornado of all time lol. Amazing what people belie

View attachment 4189

Well apparently Charles City had the fastest windspeeds documented in any tornado ever, lol. Amazing that it's still considered F5 after all these years.

View attachment 4190
I’ve said this before, but estimating wind speed based on spiral markings is complete and utter pseudoscience. Unfortunately, Dr. Fujita used this method for some of his ratings, namely Goessel and Xenia. Both of those have undeserved reputations for being remarkably violent because of this. In reality, there wasn’t much that was really remarkable about them at all. Both would be rated EF4 today.

Oh and I know this is blasphemy, but I take Plainfield’s F5 rating with a healthy dose of skepticism. I mean come on it was based on CORN! Not removal of grass, topsoil, or any typical type of scouring that is known to be associated with violent tornadoes. I do not buy it.Yes, Fujita revolutionized the field, but people need to stop taking his old studies as gospel. Some of his methods and calls do not hold up to modern-day scrutiny.
 
Messages
252
Location
Missouri
I’ve said this before, but estimating wind speed based on spiral markings is complete and utter pseudoscience. Unfortunately, Dr. Fujita used this method for some of his ratings, namely Goessel and Xenia. Both of those have undeserved reputations for being remarkably violent because of this. In reality, there wasn’t much that was really remarkable about them at all. Both would be rated EF4 today.

Oh and I know this is blasphemy, but I take Plainfield’s F5 rating with a healthy dose of skepticism. I mean come on it was based on CORN! Not removal of grass, topsoil, or any typical type of scouring that is known to be associated with violent tornadoes. I do not buy it.Yes, Fujita revolutionized the field, but people need to stop taking his old studies as gospel. Some of his methods and calls do not hold up to modern-day scrutiny.
Out of curiosity, was spiral markings used as wind speed estimates once considered reliable, and only now since we have much better methods of measuring tornado intensity it looks foolish in retrospect? Fujita was also big on photogrammetry, correct? Has this also been proven to be pseudoscience?
Concerning Plainfield, I thought it did cause some ground scouring as well, not just rip up cornstalks, but I'd have to dig up damage pics of it again.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
556
Location
Riverside, Ohio
Out of curiosity, was spiral markings used as wind speed estimates once considered reliable, and only now since we have much better methods of measuring tornado intensity it looks foolish in retrospect? Fujita was also big on photogrammetry, correct? Has this also been proven to be pseudoscience?
Concerning Plainfield, I thought it did cause some ground scouring as well, not just rip up cornstalks, but I'd have to dig up damage pics of it again.
It’s not that modern surveying techniques have rendered use of spiral markings useless, it’s that it was useless from the very beginning. I am in no way a mathematician (quite the opposite), but it was based on the concept that one could somehow calculate wind speed based on shapes left on the ground. However, for reasons that are over my head conceptually, it turns out that this is impossible and always has been. It was considered legitimate at the time though if that’s what you’re asking.

Regarding Plainfield, yeah it supposedly removed some topsoil, but that was in a farm field. That makes it much less conclusive. Dirt in farm fields is not as packed down due to the fact they are plowed yearly, and the dirt doesn’t have a solid layer of vegetation over it. Ground scouring is only useful as contextual evidence of a violent tornado when it occurs in grassy areas where the soil isn’t already exposed to begin with.

Regarding photogrammetry, I’m not sure what the consensus is these days. I’ve never heard doubt cast upon it, but you don’t really hear much about it anymore either.
 
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Messages
252
Location
Missouri
Finally found some damage pics from the Possum Trot-Sneed, AR tornado of 1929:

What's left of a home from Sneed on top, Possum Trot on bottom:

Sneed 1.png

Remains of a farmhouse:

Sneed 2.png

School and church:

Sneed 3.jpg

Mangled car thrown over 300 yards:

Sneed 4.png

Remains of the Pleasant Valley schoolhouse:
Sneed 5.jpgSneed 7.jpg

Leveled homes in and around Sneed:

Sneed 8.jpg

Sneed 9.jpg

The community of Guion, AR was struck by a separate tornado an F4, that day. A view of Guion taken several days afterward when the Red Cross arrived.

Sneed 6.jpg
 

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