On the Radar
Jonathan is an emergency management coordinator with a passion for all things weather. He currently lives in south-central Pennsylvania with his wife and son.
Major Tornado Outbreak Looming for Today
Mar 01, 2012
A major tornado outbreak is looming and many areas that were affected by the Leap Day tornado outbreak two days ago are threatened again today.
|Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Severe Weather Outlook for Friday, March 2nd, effective at 7AM CDT. Areas in pink are most likely to see damaging severe thunderstorms, large hail, and tornadoes. Image Credit: NOAA/SPC
As of this morning, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., issued a severe weather outlook that indicated a high risk of severe thunderstorms extending southward to the central Gulf States. The highest risk was centered over portions of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Severe thunderstorms are expected to develop during the day, with large hail the main threat during the morning hours. Moisture will surge northeastward out of Missouri into the Ohio Valley, increasing the risk of supercell thunderstorms by midday.
The highest risk for damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes will be during the afternoon hours, when daytime heating and atmospheric conditions will be favorable for supercell thunderstorms capable of producing large hail, damaging winds and strong tornadoes. The atmospheric setup could also support the development of a damaging squall line capable of producing damaging straight-line winds.
Today’s severe weather outbreak has the potential to be more significant than the deadly outbreak that occurred Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. During that outbreak, approximately 36 tornadoes touched down, killing a dozen people and injuring scores more.
|Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Tornado Probability for Friday, March 2. The hatched area is described as having a significant possibility of a tornado. Image credit: NOAA/SPC
Today’s outbreak could occur anywhere in an area stretching from southwest Ohio into southern Indiana and Illinois, south to Kentucky, Tennessee and parts of Alabama, and Mississippi. Major cities in the risk area include Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
By Friday night, the severe weather threat will shift eastward possibly making it as far east as Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia by Saturday morning.
This is a very serious weather situation with the potential for loss of life and widespread property damage. Persons in the affected areas should monitor local media outlets and NOAA weather radio for watches and warnings and be prepared to take cover immediately if dangerous weather approaches.
Tornado Safety Tips
Tornadoes can form rapidly with little or no warning. Some signs that a tornado may be forming include strong winds with visible rotation in the cloud base. Winds may be blowing into the storm, this is called inflow. Whirling dust and debris at ground level may also be visible before a funnel forms.
If a tornado is approaching, it may be preceded by large hail, strong winds, and a loud rumble or road often described as similar to a moving freight train.
After dark, watch for bright blue- or green- flashes at ground level. This is an indication that power lines may be snapped during a tornado or strong winds.
To protect yourself, get below ground level to a basement. If a basement is not available, get to an interior space of the ground floor away from windows. Cover your head with your hands and arms or don a bicycle or motorcycle helmet. If possible, climb into a bathtub and cover yourself with thick padding such as a mattress or blankets.
Make a family plan in case of a tornado. Select a common point to assemble in case family members are separated during the tornado. Conventional communications will likely be unavailable; however text messaging may still be possible depending on the amount of damage the cellular infrastructure took. Select an out-of-town contact to help coordinate after the emergency.
If you are caught in a vehicle during a tornado, drive at a right angle to the storm and try to get as much distance as possible between you and the storm. Tornadoes can change course suddenly, so try to be aware of the storm direction. If you cannot outrun the tornado in your vehicle, exit the vehicle and lie in a ditch, covering your head with your hands and arms. Do not attempt to hide under an overpass.