Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Spring in Tornado Alley

Yesterday the high was 96, with a heat index of 108, and a cold front was on the way. Yep, it's tornado season. Last night's tornado skirted the northern edge of Dallas County. Three people dead (that we know of this morning), ten seriously injured, a hundred more with minor injuries. If the twister had hit just a few miles to the south, the toll would have been much worse.

Thanks to better forecasting tools, people had 22 minutes' warning (although it's not clear whether the unincorporated area where the twister hit had warning sirens.) The pictures this morning showed that even with warning, there wasn't much people could have done to save themselves because homes were scoured right down to the slab. Where there were no structures, the ground was scoured down to bare earth. They showed a large tree that had been torn out of the ground, roots and all. That's not unusual. What is unusual is that the hole where the tree had been was nowhere near the tree. They couldn't find it.

I'm a native of Tornado Alley, so I'm used to tornado watches and tornado warnings. I've grown up with them. But we did not have this much activity when I was growing up. Now we even have tornado swarm outbreaks every season. Last night's tornado wasn't part of a swarm, thank God, but the season isn't over. (Some reports say that there may have been more than one tornado last night, though.)

More severe weather is expected today, again just north of us.

I have something positive to report about springtime, though. Yesterday I saw the first bloom on our Magnolia tree.

Afternoon update: I'm watching the local news, and they believe last night's tornado was an F3 (maximum winds 206 mph.) They showed some flattened metal that the owner said was a jeep, and on top of that was an upside-down motor boat, and on top of that was his wife's Camero. The house and his wife's embroidery shop are gone. They also showed a concrete slab on which some kind of 50 x 100 ft. structure had been standing. The reporter picked up a corner piece of the slab and showed the rust marks where the structure had just been ripped right out of the foundation.