A Super Supercell

Since I am still getting questions, let me do another posting regarding this week's historic tornado outbreak.

Supercells are the strongest form of thunderstorm. One of the supercells from Wednesday was truly extraordinary.
Brian Tang, National Center for Atmospheric Research via Facebook
Click to enlarge.
This is the supercell thunderstorm that lasted more than eight hours and spawned the huge tornadoes that struck Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Rome, GA.
Preliminary map of tornado tracks
These are the tracks of the tornadoes in the South Wednesday and Wednesday night. I have pointed an arrow to the tornado track caused by the supercell above.

The number, path length, and intensity of the tornadoes is extraordinary.  Here is a similar map of the "Superoutbreak" of April 3-4, 1974.

While the number of tornadoes in 1974 was greater, the path length appears more or less similar.

There is some concern about how this survey has been conducted. Click here if that topic is of interest.

Here is a video of the tornado in Tuscaloosa (note: rough language). On the car radio, you hear the voice of expert meteorologist James Spann of the ABC TV station in Birmingham providing excellent and highly specific warnings as the tornado approached. I have chosen to add this video because of those contending that warning of tornadoes is a "crapshoot" (see below). The warnings of these storms were excellent. The tornado comes into the video at about 4:35.

One thing I have not talked much about was the Doppler radar signatures. Here they were when the tornado was in Tuscaloosa. Reds/pinks are winds blowing away from the radar while greens and blues are blowing toward the radar. At 5:10pm, wind values were maxed out.

I marked the center of rotational winds at 5:10pm and at approximately five minute intervals prior to its arrival in Tuscaloosa. As is usually the case, the Doppler signatures made tracking the tornadoes much easier.

But, even though technology makes it easier, working a tornado outbreak like the four we have had this month is extremely stressful for the meteorologists who must make the warning decisions. Want an amazing statistic? Our WeatherData meteorologists issued 3,263 warnings to our clients from Sunday through Thursday! While I have been praising the National Weather Service (because it warns the public) I want to thank our WeatherData/AccuWeather team for their extraordinary work and dedication to our clients.  


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