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Thread: 1925-03-18 - Tri State Tornado - "Lost" photos found.

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    Stormtrack supporter Scott Sims's Avatar
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    Default 1925-03-18 - Tri State Tornado - "Lost" photos found.

    My local paper(The Southern Illinoisan) had an article this weekend commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Tri-State Tornado. A local family had a few "lost" photo's of the damage aftermath included with the article.

    The PAH-WFO has a good page summarizing the big points of the most deadly US tornado on record.

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    Member Kate Pfeister's Avatar
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    Hi neighbor (Carbondale!)

    very cool, thanks for putting them up... Going to pick up a copy tonight.

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    I've been chasing storms for almost 7 months now, and have learned a lot in that short time. I don't care what anybody else says....I'm convinced that the Tri-State Tornado was just a landspout.

  4. #4

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    I wasn't sure where to put this, but this seemed to be the most logical place. I've been working on a blog post about the Tri-State tornado and I put together this map of surface conditions at 18z, or about an hour before the tornado touched down. I see a new paper was just published from the reanalysis project, which is excellent timing, because now I can check it out and see how far off the mark I am.

    Anyway, here's the map:



    The warm front was lifting north at the time, and by the time the tornado struck temps ranged from low to upper 60s, with dews generally from mid-50s to low 60s. Many areas only saw a couple hours of sunshine between the stratiform rain in the early morning and the outbreak after noon. The tornado obviously formed rather close to the sfc low, probably just on the cool side of the warm front, and stayed in pretty much the same relative location until it eventually got too far out ahead and ran into cooler air in southwest Indiana. Seems to have been a pretty textbook high-shear, low-CAPE day. The rest of the outbreak was quite impressive as well, and probably substantially larger than we know.
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    Don't know if anyone else has seen this article I just stumbled across from the Electronic Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology:

    http://www.ejssm.org/ojs/index.php/e...le/view/114/88

    The authors conclude that no single factor seems to explain why the tornado so was long-lived and so violent -- the parent low pressure area/storm system wasn't unusually intense. However, they turned up evidence that a sharp dryline was in play, that the tornado formed very close to the triple point, and that the dryline/cold front/warm front moved along at just the right pace to keep the parent supercell in a favorable tornadic environment for an extended period.

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    Hi Elaine, I read the entire article and parts of it twice. It is an excellent article and they did great forensic work. That said, I believe the available data -- 80 years later -- is not sufficiently fine-grained to help us understand why that tornado was so devastating and long-lived.

    It is not at all surprising to me that the tornado was near the warm front. But, I suspect the helicity was actually much higher than they were able to discern from the limited data.

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    Member Zack Hargrove's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Smith View Post
    Hi Elaine, I read the entire article and parts of it twice. It is an excellent article and they did great forensic work. That said, I believe the available data -- 80 years later -- is not sufficiently fine-grained to help us understand why that tornado was so devastating and long-lived.

    It is not at all surprising to me that the tornado was near the warm front. But, I suspect the helicity was actually much higher than they were able to discern from the limited data.
    My graduate adviser is actually Dr. Matthew Gilmore who has been a huge part of this project. He's been working hand in hand with Maddox on this study for a while. Its amazing how little actual research has been done on the Tri-State tornado. The simulation side of this project is actually what I'm working on for my Master's thesis. We are using the 20th century reanalysis data and have an ensemble of 56 members we are simulating using WRF-ARW. The 56 members were developed simply using surface pressure obs (the whole idea of 20CR - which has shown to have surprisingly accurate results from previous simulations). Initial results have produced a few runs with supercell(s) in the correct area and I have just started the actual analysis. We will be nesting the best storms down to around 100 meters eventually and we plan to analyze the heck out of them, including trajectory analyses. As you said, it will be tough to ever know for sure what the parameters were for that day, but we should have some interesting results from the simulation part of the project. I am hoping to get a first paper submitted by the end of this summer.

  8. #8

    Default 1925-03-18 The Great Tri-State Tornado

    I was surprised there wasn't already a thread for this, being perhaps the most infamous tornado of all time. I've been doing research for my blog post and I came across some pretty surprising facts. The tornado obviously destroyed and swept away thousands of homes, but it also did some other interesting things. The maximum width I could find based on damage reports was right around 1.3 miles wide. This was just northwest of Carmi, about when it destroyed the Newman School. There are reports of ground scouring (and in one case, scouring of a wheat field) in several spots along the path as well. Additionally, several victims were thrown over half a mile.

    A tornado north and east of Gallatin, TN on the same day also produced significant ground and wheat-field scouring, as well as demolishing dozens of homes and a large church, as did at least one tornado in Kentucky. Another tornado near the Indiana/Kentucky state line was said to be nearly a mile wide.

    Here's my blog post if anyone's interested:

    March 18, 1925 -- The Great Tri-State Tornado

    Edit: Ah man, I feel stupid now. I noticed the thread for this tornado about 30 seconds after posting this. Sorry guys. Could someone please move my post there? Thanks!
    Last edited by Shawn Schuman; 06-10-2013 at 12:30 AM. Reason: I'm not very observant
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    Here is some footage -- including aerial shots from a crop duster -- that purport to show the aftermath of the Tri State Tornado (including shots of raging fires):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgCJb7ovp_M

    No indication where this film was shot but I'm guessing the Murphysboro and West Frankfort area as those were the largest towns hit.

  10. #10

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    Yeah, that was Murphysboro. At various points you can see the Brown Shoe Company, the John A. Logan School and the M&O Railroad Shop. I came across a slightly clearer version of the film a few months ago when I was doing my research, but I can't seem to find it anymore. I'd love to see the original at some point.

    As devastating as the tornado itself was, the resulting fires were just as bad. I'll never forget reading the accounts of survivors who could hear the screams coming from people trapped in the basements of their homes and at the Blue Front Hotel as the fires engulfed them. There was simply nothing anyone could do to help them. Very chilling accounts.
    Significant tornado events and other assorted meteorological ramblings:
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