Dixie Tornado Outbreak: Late Thoughts

Set aside some of the “wedge” hyperbole for a minute, and note in the video below the otherwise splendid job that James Spann and colleagues did to describe what was going on, and to get existing warnings to the folks of Cullman, AL. For tornado enthusiasts, they documented a large portion of the life cycle of a deadly and destructive tornado, with wild accessory-vortex action, as several others were on the same day.

Now imagine that is your town. What would you do?

In light of the footage above, why was the driver in the next video roaming about in a tornado warning at all? [Don’t watch the next video past 1:50…]

How could she be so unaware? Is driving to work at McDonald’s, as she claimed, this important?

Her amazingly good fortune shows why folks who are not seasoned, veteran storm observers should not be out there on their own trying to see the tornado. The girl who shot this with her cellular telephone reports (rather ineloquently, but I believe truthfully) that the tornado spun her car around and blew it into a building. She’s lucky that she lived to upload this footage, and she knows it.

[As a mildly related aside, I’ll also offer that nobody should be trying actively to observe severe storms, whether as spotter or chaser, who can’t differentiate between the words “there” and “their”, or who are too lazy to capitalize the word “I”, or who spell the word “you” as a single letter. Is basic literacy too much to ask? Such folks instead need either to get their G.E.D., or testify before school boards to improve the wretched educational system that granted their unearned high school diplomas.]

I fully support every effort the atmospheric plus social science communities can make in tandem to improve severe-weather preparedness and knowledge. Ultimately, however, there are those for whom that isn’t going to help, those who refuse to assume the personal responsibility for their own safety. They are part of the reason we atmospheric scientists only can hope to reduce and not entirely eliminate casualties. The others, I touched upon in the previous two posts.

Finally, please view this video of WVUA meteorologist Richard Scott, describing the situation as the violent Tuscaloosa tornado ground through town (killing well over 50 people)…then someone on campus films the tornado just south of the University of Alabama.

What do you see in each of the first two clips? That’s right, Bryant-Denny Stadium. Now, imagine the very same scenario on a fall Saturday afternoon, 80,000 people in there. Or your favorite speedway, jam-packed on race day, with RVs and trailers all around. It can happen. Somewhere, someday, it will. As bad as the casualty toll was with this, it can be far greater. It’s only a matter of time. How is your favorite stadium or large venue event facility prepared for something like this? If you don’t know, demand clear and specific answers until you do.

Now, on another note, I’ll embed a video that has been posted of James Spann from 1989, covering the Huntsville tornado situation. Amazing how much TV weather has changed in 22 years…



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