Texas Tech University

"Plan B" Saturday - Springy Again Next Week - Tornado Terminology For Extreme Twisters

Paul Douglas

May 19, 2017

The Star Tribune - The USA is on track for the busiest tornado year since 2011. That was the year Tuscaloosa and Joplin were hit. Why have we suddenly come out of a 5-year tornado drought? Two reasons: the same jet stream pattern that generated a stormy treadmill for the western USA created a wind shear profile ripe for tornadoes. Also, record warmth in the Gulf of Mexico has primed the pump with warmer, more unstable air.

There's a Storm Chaser Traffic Jam in Tornado Alley.

The 3 times I've chased in Oklahoma I wasn't too worried about the actual tornadoes, but rather the erratic, high-speed, rules-be-damned chasers who would have pushed their grandmothers under a speeding bus to get the money shot. As is often the case, a few bad apples ruin it for everyone else Here's an excerpt from CNN:

"..Chaser convergence not only creates a dangerous situation for the chasers, it can prevent first responders from quickly accessing victims of the tornado. I have witnessed ambulances unable to access roads because of the volume of traffic and cars not pulled completely to the side. Chaser convergence also impedes the work of the scientists trying to deploy their instruments in and around the path of the storm. Chris Weiss, a tornado researcher from Texas Tech University, told CNN of a recent encounter in May. "Our research group was coming into position to make measurements on a developing tornado in the Texas Panhandle but could not find any locations to park the radar, as all available vantage points were occupied with chaser traffic," he said. "I am not suggesting that one group has a right to be there over another, but if asked whether science has been impacted at some level over the past few years, I would say yes..."

Read the story here.