Reflections on Joplin…Diagnosing Why It May Have Been So Bad…

Yesterday was yet another day in an unfortunate slew of tragic days in the severe weather season of 2011. With over 115 killed (reported so far) in Joplin, MO, last night’s tornado ranks as one of the ten deadliest single tornadoes in US history. The most recent entry on this list of top 25 is 1955. And this is, thus far, the deadliest tornado since the Woodward, OK 1947 tornado. So the question becomes…why?

Satellite Imagery of storm that produced the Joplin tornado, source: http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/archives/8215

I posted less than a month ago, reflecting on the tragedy in Alabama, and discussing some theories and ideas I had in light of the events of April 27th. I brought up the topic of sociometeorology then, and I’ll bring it up again now.

Why are so many people dying in tornadoes this year? We used to think that death tolls of 30-40 were horrible. Now we’re getting 50-100…and I think to a lot of us, it’s staggering. I think the answers to that question though are multi-fold. The first and most obvious answer I think of, that probably won’t satisfy anyone, is this: bad luck. We’ve had large tornadoes barrel through generally large communities this year. Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Raleigh, and Joplin. These were all EF-3 to EF-4+ tornadoes. The deadliest ones were the EF-4s, as you’d expect. We have not seen this happen very often in recent years…and it’s not like they’re missing communities. The Tuscaloosa tornado was a monster between there and Birmingham. The Raleigh tornado was very strong for an EF-3 and hit an area that isn’t frequently hit by large tornadoes. If you’ve seen film of this tornado, it was absolutely massive and incredibly violent as it hit Joplin. This goes back to the analogy I make in the entry I linked to above: If you fire more shots at more targets, you’re inevitably going to hit more of them. Communities in the southern half of the US have grown in recent years, and it’s becoming a measure moreso of bad luck than anything.

We’re also coming out of a La Niña winter, which because of certain atmospheric variables, inherently produces more severe weather events in the Southern US than in normal years….we’ve had a constant barrage of moisture and storms hitting the Pacific Northwest since March. That’s just more available energy to produce severe weather as we transition seasons. We haven’t had a real potent, entrenched La Niña like this since 1998. In addition, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is in a negative phase, possibly a long term negative phase, something we haven’t had in conjunction with a La Niña since the 70s (we’ve had some -ENSO/-PDO events since then, but…I’m talking bigger picture). We’re in a pattern that’s more similar to the 50s or 70s than we’ve seen since then. Thus, I don’t think it’s a huge surprise that there were several devastating tornadoes from those eras.

Storm Velocity Image of Joplin Tornado, source: http://msustormchaser.blogspot.com/2011/05/radar-images-of-joplin-tornado.html

I’m sure proponents of climate change are going to feast on the events of April/May and use them as fodder to “show you” that climate is changing. This is not the time for that debate, nor is there any concrete evidence that climate change has left a fingerprint on these events. We need years of data to make a claim like that. And with tornadoes it is incredibly difficult to make that link because reporting standards, reporting methods (internet, chasers, 24/7 media), and populations changes have skewed the numbers significantly since even the 1990s or 1980s. We’re in transition from an old normal to a new normal in terms of raw numbers. So climate change has no place in the discussion of the recent tornadoes in my opinion.

That was a bad luck tangent. The warnings were more than sufficient for the storm. A major kudos to the NWS office in Springfield, MO. We really don’t know how unbelievably more horrific this would have been without their timely warnings and work yesterday. They and their media partners are responsible for probably saving hundreds of lives. The following is from the IEM Cow, which archives warnings from the NWS. As an aside, if you’re a meteorologist or weather enthusiast, this website is a must to bookmark.

IEM Cow Warning information, with lead times

The information above shows that the first report of a tornado in Joplin occurred approximately 24 minutes after the initial warning was issued. That’s incredible lead time, and that’s a job well done by the SGF office. This is another one of these situations though where we do not know if the warnings were taken seriously however. There were a number of factors that could have contributed…this is just a brief list.

1.) Was the tornado just so strong that even if you “followed the rules” and got to the lowest level/interior room you would have survived? EF-4 damage is pretty steep, and the pictures show many houses flattened. I don’t know if most homes have basements in Southwest Missouri or if there are storm cellars given their proximity to the Plains. Even if people utilized those, would they have been safe?

2.) Unlike Alabama, there does not appear to be any precursor storms from earlier in the day to knock off NOAA Weather Radio transmitters or cable/satellite coverage. At least there has not been anything I have heard of.

3.) Another thing I find interesting, and while I’ll openly wonder about this, I’ll doubt it had much impact….is that the CBS and Fox TV affiliates were in negotiations with DirecTV, as the satellite provider did not carry those affiliates in their lineup. However, there were other local channels being carried (ABC, NBC, CW, and PBS).

And lastly…

4.) Did people take the warning seriously? One report I read was that despite tornado sirens wailing in the city, folks at a driving range basically ignored them and kept hitting golf balls. I don’t know if this is true or not or just was an isolated incident. Regardless, it’s disturbing. And this goes back to the older entry I linked to above…about what I call sociometeorology…people’s response to and interactions with the weather. For all we know right now, the primary reason for the obscenely high death toll is my first point…big tornado, big community, even if you follow the rules, you end up in trouble. But, I do want to move to that point.

The NWS issues a lot of warnings. In my experience from working in television and talking to friends/family, people often wait until they themselves see something before reacting to it, be it a tornado, flood, or otherwise. Until they get the most dire warnings, they will not react, and by then it very well may be too late.

The tornado warning originally was issued because of Doppler radar indications of a possible tornado:

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO
517 PM CDT SUN MAY 22 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SPRINGFIELD HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
  NORTHWESTERN NEWTON COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI...
  SOUTHEASTERN CHEROKEE COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST KANSAS...
  SOUTHWESTERN JASPER COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI...

* UNTIL 600 PM CDT.

* AT 514 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A TORNADO NEAR RIVERTON...OR 4 MILES NORTH OF BAXTER SPRINGS...MOVING
  NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE BAXTER SPRINGS...CLIFF VILLAGE...DENNIS
  ACRES...DIAMOND...DUENWEG...DUQUESNE...FIDELITY...GALENA...IRON
  GATES...JOPLIN...LEAWOOD...LOWELL...REDINGS MILL...RIVERTON...
  SAGINAW...SHOAL CREEK DRIVE...SHOAL CREEK ESTATES...SHOAL CREEK
  ESTATE AND SILVER CREEK.

INTERSTATE 44 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 0 AND 13 WILL ALSO BE IMPACTED BY
THIS TORNADO.

IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LARGE
DAMAGING HAIL UP TO GOLF BALL SIZE.

THERE IS ADDITIONAL TORNADO WARNING FOR A SEPARATE STORM ACROSS
CENTRAL AND NORTHERN JASPER COUNTY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN
INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO
COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE
NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

The Severe Weather Statement, or update to this warning, was issued 13 minutes later, at 5:30 local time, with mentions of a funnel cloud being spotted.

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO
530 PM CDT SUN MAY 22 2011

KSC021-MOC097-145-222300-
/O.CON.KSGF.TO.W.0031.000000T0000Z-110522T2300Z/
CHEROKEE KS-JASPER MO-NEWTON MO-
530 PM CDT SUN MAY 22 2011

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 600 PM CDT FOR
NORTHWESTERN NEWTON...SOUTHWESTERN JASPER AND SOUTHEASTERN CHEROKEE
COUNTIES...

AT 524 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A TORNADO NEAR RIVERTON...OR NEAR GALENA...MOVING EAST AT 20
MPH. THIS STORM HAS AS HISTORY OF PRODUCING A FUNNEL CLOUD IN
RIVERTON KANSAS.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE CLIFF VILLAGE...DENNIS ACRES...DIAMOND...
DUENWEG...DUQUESNE...FIDELITY...GALENA...IRON GATES...JOPLIN...
LEAWOOD...LOWELL...REDINGS MILL...RIVERTON...SAGINAW...SHOAL CREEK
DRIVE...SHOAL CREEK ESTATES...SHOAL CREEK ESTATE AND SILVER CREEK.

INTERSTATE 44 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 0 AND 13 WILL ALSO BE IMPACTED BY
THIS TORNADO.

IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LARGE
DAMAGING HAIL UP TO BASEBALL SIZE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM CDT SUNDAY EVENING FOR
SOUTHEAST KANSAS AND SOUTHERN MISSOURI.

Then, the next update was issued roughly 9 minutes later at 5:39 PM local time, with the first mention of a tornado on the ground, spotted just across the border in Galena, KS at 5:34 PM:

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO
539 PM CDT SUN MAY 22 2011

KSC021-MOC097-145-222300-
/O.CON.KSGF.TO.W.0031.000000T0000Z-110522T2300Z/
CHEROKEE KS-JASPER MO-NEWTON MO-
539 PM CDT SUN MAY 22 2011

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 600 PM CDT FOR
NORTHWESTERN NEWTON...SOUTHWESTERN JASPER AND SOUTHEASTERN CHEROKEE
COUNTIES...

AT 534 PM CDT...TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS REPORTED A TORNADO NEAR
GALENA...MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH. THIS STORM IS MOVING INTO THE CITY
OF JOPLIN.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE CLIFF VILLAGE...DENNIS ACRES...DIAMOND...
DUENWEG...DUQUESNE...FIDELITY...GALENA...IRON GATES...JOPLIN...
LEAWOOD...LOWELL...REDINGS MILL...RIVERTON...SAGINAW...SHOAL CREEK
DRIVE...SHOAL CREEK ESTATES...SHOAL CREEK ESTATE AND SILVER CREEK.

INTERSTATE 44 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 0 AND 13 WILL ALSO BE IMPACTED BY
THIS TORNADO.

IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING LARGE
DAMAGING HAIL UP TO BASEBALL SIZE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM CDT SUNDAY EVENING FOR
SOUTHEAST KANSAS AND SOUTHERN MISSOURI.

Galena is roughly 6 miles from the St. John’s hospital we’ve seen so many pictures of that was devastated. Doing some quick math based on the speed indicated above, it should have taken roughly 15 minutes from 5:34 to start impacting Joplin, and in fact, the first reports of a tornado in Joplin come at 5:41 PM…or roughly two minutes after the warning update was issued. The reports of major damage and a multi-vortex tornado come at 5:46.

Radar Image/Debris Ball as Joplin tornado exits the city, source: http://msustormchaser.blogspot.com/2011/05/radar-images-of-joplin-tornado.html

I just diagnosed the entire warning sequence, not to make a specific point. The NWS did their jobs…and as far as I’m concerned they did an amazing job. But delving further into it, if the problem of people not taking warnings seriously unless they KNOW they’re in immediate danger prevailed, then they would have only had roughly two minutes to take cover, and by the time they actually got the updated warning, the tornado likely would already be on top of them. I sincerely hope this was not the case, but if it was, we have a major problem on our hands. The NWS does their job…sometimes, yes, they do warn for storms that don’t produce…but that’s not because they’re being extra cautious or saturating the public. If you’re under the gun in the NWS office and you have pull the trigger on warnings, you can’t look at radar and be able to tell that, “Oh, this is probably only an EF-0 tornado.” There are so many subtleties that you can’t make those kind of decisions based on radar or even real time reports. Storms can produce tornadoes instantly, and they can produce big time tornadoes instantly.

But if the NWS is issuing warnings because that is their job, and the people the warnings are intended for are not taking them seriously, how can we solve this problem? It’s an open-ended question I don’t have the answer to. And indeed, the bulk of the fatalities from this horrible storm may just be a case of bad luck and that it was too powerful to matter whether they followed the safety rules or not. But if it ends up that people felt surprised or didn’t react until they saw it, then we have a major conundrum that needs to be dealt with. As cities sprawl further in the south and our population grows, unless we know for sure that people are taking warnings seriously and lose the “it can’t happen to me mentality,” sadly these sorts of catastrophic losses of human life are going to become more common than they’ve ever been.

My own take? I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle, and the surprise, fear, and desperate warnings in the voices on the video below of local TV coverage from the storm makes me believe that people were surprised despite the warnings, and the storm got strong at the worst possible time.

Aerial footage of Joplin damage:

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Fourth Anniversary of Greensburg, KS EF-5

Doppler Radar Velocity Image Showing Astounding Gate to Gate Shear on the Greensburg Tornado (Courtesy: NWS I believe, click to enlarge)

A blog post by Mike Smith reminded me that tonight is the fourth anniversary of the EF-5 tornado that tore through Greensburg, KS. I thought I’d share some radar imagery I saved from the event. I was working on TV in Upstate NY at the time, and I remember watching this unfold that night. It gave me almost the exact same “pit in your stomach” feeling I had while watching the tornado outbreak ravage the Southeast last week. It was obvious from spotters and radar that a large and extremely dangerous tornado was on the ground in Kansas, and it was only a matter of time before it managed to run into a community on its path. Unfortunately that was Greensburg and unfortunately, that was at night. But because of the amazing warnings and preparedness of people in this part of the country, only eleven people lost their lives. It’s certainly 11 too many, but considering the circumstances, it had the potential to be even worse.

As a meteorologist, some particular events stand out to you…this one was one of them for me. I went home and watched coverage streaming online from KSN-TV for several hours that evening. Their chief meteorologist, Dave Freeman, did an absolutely remarkable job handling their station’s wall to wall coverage that evening. It was one of the few times I’ve ever said to myself that I need to write to someone to tell them what a spectacular job they did. Thankfully, that coverage is still online today:

Part One

Part Two

Some other imagery of that storm…

Radar Capture as Tornado Hit Greensburg, KS
Doppler Velocity Image as Tornado Exits Greensburg, KS, with over 160 kts. gate to gate shear

Truly a remarkable night…one we’ll certainly experience again, but one I wish we would not have to witness again.

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Thoughts on the Outbreak…and Sociometeorology

This will be a long entry, but I’ll preface it by saying that I think it will be worth reading and hopefully be interesting. I’ll also preface it by saying that I am a meteorologist who didn’t experience or witness the Super Outbreak of ’74 or Palm Sunday 1965. What I know about those events is what I’ve read about, seen pictures of, heard stories about. What I know about this event is that while I hope and pray to God that we never witness anything like this again, the harsh reality is that we’re one day going to and there’s a chance that it will be worse than this. And I think there needs to be an open discussion about this event in the context of where we stand (in what I’m now coining as) socio-meteorologically.

Preliminary Map of Tornado Tracks (credit: NOAA)

Let me start by making a statement that I think is partially true: I believe that the proverbial “we” (the meteorology and OEM fields) did almost everything right in this event. We may learn in the days and weeks ahead that warnings weren’t received by the people they were intended for because of power problems or other infrastructure problems. And if that’s the case, certainly we’ll learn from it, but I find it difficult to believe that it will end up being the case. Warnings for this event were pretty much given 6-9 days in advance. Henry Margusity of AccuWeather even made the bold statement that he believed 300 more tornadoes would be possible 4/19-5/4. A lot of people I know (including myself) tend to view AccuWeather as often being overdramatic about certain things, but they get publicized, their comments get out there, and this time they ended up being correct. I even recall saying off the cuff to a colleague of mine the Thursday or Friday before that we “should just issue a PDS Tornado Watch for the Southeast next Wednesday now.” The point is, we all saw this coming. The SPC had enhanced wording and risks days in advance…including the first time I’ve ever seen a moderate risk issued on Monday’s third forecast day. The local NWS offices issued enhanced wording, statements, and tornado warnings with plenty of lead time in most cases. The TV meteorologists I watched in Huntsville and Birmingham did an outstanding job conveying and qualifying this information to residents. James Spann and his team of ABC 33/40 in Birmingham deserve some sort of medal for the coverage and warning they provided. Anyone who is in TV meteorology or aspires to one day be in TV meteorology needs to go back and watch their coverage, how they handled it, and how they presented it. They cover severe weather the way it is supposed to be covered.

Radar Montage of the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham Supercell (credit: Brian Tang/NCAR)

My point: I truly believe this was one of meteorology’s finest hours. There is no question that many lives were saved Wednesday because of the SPC, the local NWS offices, and local TV meteorologists (as well as national outlets such as The Weather Channel with Dr. Forbes, who also did a fine job and have been doing a fine job all month). But no one in the meteorology community can label Wednesday as a finest hour because of the enormous loss of life.

So if the warning angle and meteorology were close to as good as you could ever do, what went wrong?

We’ll learn more in the coming days and weeks about how the warnings were received by people (did everyone who needed the warning get it and if they did get it did they act on it?), what they did, how the unfortunate victims of these tornadoes died, if there was a pattern in the type of construction that saw the most fatalities (mobile homes vs. single family homes vs. businesses vs. highways, etc.). But as it stands right now, it seems like most people did what they were supposed to do…sheltered in their homes, lowest level, interior room, protected by a mattress, etc. Yet, it seems in the infancy of the aftermath of this event that many people that followed the rules still didn’t survive. Why?

It’s human nature to want to peg reasons for why things happen on some sort of singular thing. Someone or something is to blame for it. I will say something that a lot of people may not agree with (and as we learn more, may not even necessarily be true, but I believe it anyway): I truly believe the only thing you can “blame” for this event is that extremely violent tornadoes went across areas that are more populated than Americans are used to or comfortable with. In the 1974 Super Outbreak, there were roughly 150 tornadoes over 13 states that killed a little over 300 people. This one will likely see more tornadoes with more fatalities despite likely better warnings. Alabama’s population however was 3.4 million in 1970 and roughly 4.8 million today. I hate using gun analogies in this situation, but I think it illustrates my point well: If you fire roughly the same number of bullets at an increasing number of targets, you will likely hit more targets. The population has increased, and with violent tornadoes traversing some of these more populated areas, it is inevitable that we would see a large number of casualties. We have really only had isolated events in the last 35 years…yes there have been large tornado outbreaks, some of which have had an unfortunately large number of fatalities, but if you look at the list of tornado outbreaks since the 70s…many of the deaths have been the result of singular tornadoes in isolated but populated areas. We haven’t really seen multiple strong tornadoes traversing many populated areas. And as the population of some of the more vulnerable areas has increased, sadly it could one day be even worse than this.

So what else is it? I coined the term sociometeorology above, and when I Google search it, I get a grand total of 25 results, which tells me it isn’t a term that’s really been defined or is widely in use. After this month, it needs to be. Sociometeorology, to me, would be the crossroads of how people view and respond to significant weather. I think we’re learning a lot more about what Americans know, understand, and how they react to tornadoes. Some examples:

– Many of the stories I’ve been reading have said that many people in the south do not have basements or storm cellars.

– I read this article from after the North Carolina tornadoes earlier in April about how some have become desensitized to tornado warnings because they’ve occurred very often in places and have not occurred in those places.

– An anecdotal note: In a conversation with my mother yesterday, her comment was, “When I think of tornadoes like that, I think of Oklahoma, Kansas, and ‘The Wizard of Oz.'”

Climatological Tornado Alley Map - credit: NOAA

When we were in school, we were all taught in the couple of weeks of weather we had that Tornado Alley is the map on the left. It’s been engrained in you since you were a kid that the big tornadoes are there. And while this is somewhat true (yes, climatologically, the Plains experience more and more frequent violent tornadoes than you’ll see anywhere else in the country), it’s my opinion that this needs to now be treated as a myth. Tornado Alley no longer exists as we were taught as kids. It never has.

Redefining Tornado Alleys in America, credit: Michael Frates/University of Akron (http://www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1085452.pdf)

Michael Frates of the University of Akron did some research last year that I’ve really only seen get widely publicized recently (though there was a Discovery Channel article last April). His determination was that there are technically four tornado alleys in the US: The traditional tornado alley I posted above, Dixie Alley (NE Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia), Carolina Alley (NC/SC), and Hoosier Alley (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky). In my opinion, this map needs to be in every weather section of every science textbook that exists.

I believe people living in these areas, especially Dixie and Hoosier Alleys, should have their homes built with the same foresight that most homes in traditional Tornado Alley have….storm cellars and/or well-built basements need to be absolutely required in every new home built in the South from now on. I don’t think that can guarantee you protection and safety when an EF-5 comes rolling through, but even that is better than the lowest level/interior room. And I believe that mobile home communities need to go beyond anchoring trailers…they need to have some sort of mass underground bunker for people to get to in the event of a tornado. How this gets done logistically, I do not know, but I think this discussion needs to start happening.

In reference to the article linked above about being desensitized to warnings, I think the National Weather Service needs to have a frank and open discussion with the public about this. For as much good as they do, the false alarm rate (FAR) on tornado warnings is still very high. Just doing a simple search on the Iowa State archive can produce some results that are disappointing in terms of percentage of warnings verified. I have always been a major, major proponent of overwarning in severe weather…the “better safe than sorry in this situation” mentality. I have always argued in conversations to support the NWS with warnings. And in many cases of warnings that don’t verify, they don’t have much choice. But based on the last few weeks, this conversation about how FAR can be reduced needs to happen, because as was seen in North Carolina, it’s evident that people do not always take things seriously (and yes, you can blame people for being irresponsible…but that’s really unfair). Storm based warnings replacing countywide warnings was a huge step in the right direction. But things can always be done better, and to me it seems they need to be.

What we witnessed last week was tragic on every possible level. I hope and pray that residents of the South can put their lives back together. But the truth is, this is going to happen again. While we pause to reflect and hopefully help others to recover, it would behoove us as a community of meteorologists, emergency managers, engineers, and politicians to have a very frank and open discussion about this concept of sociometeorology, about what is currently required of residents outside traditional Tornado Alley and what needs to be, and how we can offset the negative aspects of overwarning for other storms. I hope this can happen soon, because we’re inevitably going to see more tornado outbreaks in the future…and we may see ones that are even worse than this. There are a number of very large cities that sit in incredibly vulnerable areas. Weather has the ability to surprise. Everything you thought you believed is sometimes debunked. While it would be nice to hope this never happens again, it will, and I hope we can learn from this year to help mitigate how bad it might be next time.

Some links of interest about the outbreak and flooding:

Just go back through Alabamawx.com for tons of photos and videos…some powerful, some heartbreaking, some just incredible.

NCAR article on the meteorology behind the outbreak

Dr. Judith Curry on the climate change angle (including some insensitive and misguided comments from experts).

NWS New Orleans page on major flooding in the lower Mississippi

NWS Jackson, MS page on tornadoes in their CWA

NWS Shreveport, LA page on tornadoes in their CWA

NWS Little Rock page on severe weather/tornadoes/flooding in Central Arkansas

NWS Memphis page on river crests from record Mississippi River flooding

NWS Huntsville, AL storm survey page

Latest storm survey info from NWS Birmingham

Morristown (Chattanooga) NWS Page on the outbreak

Peachtree City (Atlanta) NWS Page on the outbreak

NWS Paducah, KY page on flooding

Storm surveys from Maryland, DC, Virginia

Storm surveys from Central Pennsylvania

Storm survey info from Herkimer County, NY

Storm surveys from NWS Binghamton, NY

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