Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The 9th Anniversary of the Greensburg Tornado

At this time nine years ago, thunderstorms were weakening in northwest Oklahoma and meteorologists in the region were wondering if the tornado watch issued for there and for southwest Kansas was going to be a bust.

Unfortunately, the watch turned out to be an accurate forecast.

Between 9:55 and 10pm, the town of 1,500 was reduced to utter rubble. There are F-5 tornadoes like the Wichita-Andover tornado and then there are F-5 Tornadoes like Greensburg. Larry Schwarm game me permission to use the photo below in Warnings.
Larry, a native of Greensburg, noted the surreal feeling of being the tallest intact object simply by standing. 

Up to that time, the Greensburg tornado was the strongest ever observed by the WSR-88D network of radars. 

There were many heroes that evening: Mike Umschied and the warning team at the Dodge City National Weather Service; Merril Teller, Jay Prater, and Dave Freeman, the chief meteorologists of each of the Wichita television stations. 
Their work that evening was television meteorology at its very best.

Also to be thanked are storm chasers like Lanny Dean and Dick McGowan who pulled people out of the wreckage and summoned aid as well as earlier assisting in the warning operation.

The warnings that night saved more than 200 lives. It was one of the all-time pinnacles of achievement of weather science. 

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