I am absolutely ignorant about tornadoes. I have no experience with them and have only seen the aftermath on television or online.
I admit that I love the blog The Big Storm Picture! He has incredible photos of these huge, bigger than life storms that I cannot even fathom! And he goes looking for them!
My only experience with a really bad storm was when I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains in CA. It was the "storm of '82", it did not involve a tornado, but it ended sadly for many people. But that's a story for another day.
The idea of tornadoes freak me out. An earthquake, no problem. Lived with them my whole life. I was in the Loma Prieta earthquake too. Another story. But the idea that a tornado can wipe a town clean of everything is hard to wrap my head around. How frightening for those people! And the fact that you don't have a whole lot of warning. And you can end up across the street in a tree! I'm not trying to be funny here. That is scary! And imagine trying to keep not only yourself safe, but your children!
Here's a question that I have. Living in California we got used to the fact that storm after storm can keep coming through the same area, sometimes for days. I know that these areas in the midwest have storm after storm come through with tornado watches and warnings for far longer than a day. Has it ever happened that a town got hit by a tornado more than once in a season? The same place? I know I'm showing my ignorance here, but I'm wondering if after you go through that, can you at least relax enough to deal with the devastation.?
After the weather tornadoes sweeping through Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma today, I thought I'd go to my teacher, the internet, and find out about what happened, and tornadoes in particular.
What causes tornadoes?
Thunderstorms develop in warm, moist air in advance of eastward-moving cold fronts. These thunderstorms often produce large hail, strong winds, and tornadoes. Tornadoes in the winter and early spring are often associated with strong, frontal systems that form in the Central States and move east. Occasionally, large outbreaks of tornadoes occur with this type of weather pattern. Several states may be affected by numerous severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
During the spring in the Central Plains, thunderstorms frequently develop along a "dryline," which separates very warm, moist air to the east from hot, dry air to the west. Tornado-producing thunderstorms may form as the dryline moves east during the afternoon hours.
Along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, in the Texas panhandle, and in the southern High Plains, thunderstorms frequently form as air near the ground flows "upslope" toward higher terrain. If other favorable conditions exist, these thunderstorms can produce tornadoes.
Tornadoes occasionally accompany tropical storms and hurricanes that move over land. Tornadoes are most common to the right and ahead of the path of the storm center as it comes onshore.
Before thunderstorms develop, a change in wind direction and an increase in wind speed with increasing height creates an invisible, horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere.
Rising air within the thunderstorm updraft tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical.
An area of rotation, 2-6 miles wide, now extends through much of the storm. Most strong and violent tornadoes form within this area of strong rotation.
My heart goes out to those people who have lost their homes, their belongings, and their sense of peace. You'll be in my prayers tonight.