Deadly Tornadoes Hit Texas And Kansas

A picture of a perfectly formed tornado from a storm spotter in Kansas, May 2013.

Picture perfect tornado in Kansas May 2103 – youtube

Fatal tornados swept through my neck of the woods in North Texas on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, and they came as a surprise. Big storms were predicted, but the tornado index was low, and standard storm warnings were updating on my NOAA weather radio.

Because large tornadoes caught North Texans by surprise, several people were killed southeast of Ft. Worth, and over 100 were injured when the first tornado whipped through two housing subdivisions in the town of Granbury. Then another twister hit about 40 miles west of Ft. Worth in the town of Millsap, damaging buildings.

Tornadoes In A Blender

A storm spotter photo of Saturday's tornado in Kansas.

Storm spotter photo of Saturday’s tornado in Kansas.

Three days later, warnings were out for the midwest on Saturday, May 18, 2103 when some of the most perfectly-formed tornadoes raced through Kansas. The storm spotters took some incredible pictures of the tornadoes, and this makes it easy to see how a tornado is like an atmospheric “drain” – the water vapor in the upper atmosphere spirals down to the ground with extreme force and spins like a blender when the conditions are just right.

What are the perfect ingredients that make a picture-book tornado?

  • a warm, dry ground surface to the south-southwest
  • a warm, humid air flow from the southeast
  • cold air coming from the north-northwest
  • a torrent Jet Stream overhead that switches on the “blender”

Making History

There is no doubt that today’s climate and extreme weather changes are making history. To date, Des Moines, Iowa has not seen a tornado in over 1-year. It’s coming, though, but not in the traditional fashion like years ago. Climate change brings storm change …

On May 3, 1999, 74 tornadoes were spawned in Kansas and Oklahoma, including a F5 tornado which struck the suburbs of Oklahoma City. The number of tornado outbreaks seems to be decreasing, yet the power of tornadoes today appears stronger and more unpredictable.

Keep Your Eye To The Sky

As today’s weather makes history, keep your eye to the sky and go buy a NOAA weather radio…