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Thread: 2013-02-10 MISC: MS

  1. #1
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    Post 2013-02-10 MISC: MS

    It looks like a potentially significant tornado likely impacted Hattiesburg, MS between 2315 and 2320.

    Edit: Southern MS TV station Facebook site with damage reports and photos:

    https://www.facebook.com/WDAMTV
    Last edited by Andy Wehrle; 02-10-2013 at 05:56 PM.

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    Hattiesburg area tornado:

    http://www.breakingnews.com/item/ahZ...user-j_hollima

    Storm still going strong in southern Wayne County with a possible strong tornado.

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    Video out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPDvBMp18us

    Hate to say it but it has the "look" of a violent tornado...especially the way it morphed from chaotic multiple vorticies to a solid wedge in a matter of seconds (IE Joplin). Minimum EF3.

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    Default Hattiesburg tornado rated EF4

    http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jan/?n=2013_02_10_11_tor

    Absolutely stunning that no one was killed given the location, time of year, and a violent tornado passing directly through a city.

    What went right yesterday that went so drastically wrong at Tuscaloosa and Joplin in 2011? Did those events (and perhaps even going back to Yazoo City, 2010) serve to increase awareness, particularly in Dixie Alley?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Wehrle View Post
    http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jan/?n=2013_02_10_11_tor

    What went right yesterday that went so drastically wrong at Tuscaloosa and Joplin in 2011?
    Things went the way they were supposed to yesterday. Things didn't go well at all in Joplin.

    Consider some similarities: Hattiesburg population: 47,000. Joplin, 55,000.
    The tornadoes were the same time of day: Hattiesburg, 5:15pm. Joplin, 5:41pm. Both on Sunday.
    Both towns have tornado sirens.
    Joplin tornado F-5; Hattiesburg, F-4.

    Part of the differences 161 versus zero was the HAT tornado was F-4. Considering that wind force is to the fourth power, there is much more force in a 5 than a 4. But, I don't believe that is the whole reason.

    Here is what went wrong in Joplin:
    • Tornado was rain-wrapped and invisible (not the case in HAT). Invisible made people completely dependent on the warning system.
    • The 24-consecutive tornado warnings for JLN prior to May 22, 2011, were false alarms. People were "trained" not to take TORs seriously.
    • Tornado sirens activated in JLN from 5:11 to 5:14pm for a tornado warning that did not include Joplin. When people turned on radio/TV they heard, "this tornado warning does not include Joplin." They went about their business (and, they didn't think much of tornado warnings to begin with).
    • Tornado warning for JLN issued at 5:17 due tornado forming over Riverton, KS. Because it was forecast to move northeast sirens were not reactivated in JLN. The sirens were silent as tornado moved toward the city. And, without the sirens, people went about their business since they were assured the original warning wasn't for JLN.
    • At 5:34, NWS got the location and movement correct.
    • 5:36, report of funnel cloud "over Galena." This was well west of JLN when tornado was just west of city (but invisible from city).
    • At 5:38, the tornado was reported "6 mi. NE of Galena, moving northeast." This was well north of JLN and would miss the city.
    • Broadcasters are reporting locations all over the place rather than "tornado moving into city, take cover!" Take a look at this video (begins 5:37pm): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDOLjlzQYSs The broadcasters are talking about "funnel over Galena" in a normal tone of voice. They have no idea a tornado is on their tower cam (confirmed this in interviews for my book) because they have been led to believe the tornado was going to miss the city. Their tower cam can see the tornado because it is NNE of the tornado. JLN is east and there is a dense curtain of rain between the town and the TOR.

    • Sirens weren't turned on again until tornado was doing damage. Turned off again after only 3 minutes just as tornado crossed into city.


    I document all of this and explain how it contributed to the worst death toll since the NWS issued what we now think of as tornado warnings in 1957 in my book,When the Sirens Were Silent. My goal in documenting this is to make sure it never happens again.

    It has sold very well and will go out of print shortly. If you would like to purchase the book, please order one right away if you want the hardcopy (Amazon). Of course, the Kindle and Nook versions will continue to be available ($2.99). And, there is always the library.

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    0:35: "...It does look like there is a tornado on the ground in the southern portions of Joplin just to the south of our station here, it is taking out those power lines...if you live in southern Jasper (Joplin would be considered southern Jasper County) or northern Newton TAKE COVER RIGHT NOW I AM TELLING YOU TO TAKE COVER RIGHT NOW!"

    Sounds pretty urgent to me. Although, as you note there was a lot of confusion with the Joplin storm due to the violent tornado forming shortly before it moved into the city, whereas with Hattiesburg it (or a preceding tornado from the same storm) had been on the ground for some time and there were already reports of significant damage for the media to pass along to their viewers.

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    Andy: Watch the video a second time. They initially have a routine, almost bored, tone to their voice because they don't think JLN is threatened ("over Galena"). TOR is reportedly moving northeast. Then, they see the power flashes and have the horrible realization the tornado is moving into JLN and they start shouting at people to "take cover!"

    I interviewed Caitlin McArtle for the book and I asked her what she was thinking at that moment. Her exact words, "I was shocked the tornado was in that location."
    Last edited by Mike Smith; 02-11-2013 at 10:13 PM. Reason: correction of Caitlin's name

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    "with Hattiesburg it (or a preceding tornado from the same storm) had been on the ground for some time and there were already reports of significant damage for the media to pass along"

    That's one BIG reason fatalities were avoided. The tornado was clearly visible, seen by many from miles away, and part of an outbreak that was being covered by The Weather Channel and (I presume) local TV mets.

    This is one reason I believe that if, God forbid, a single tornado ever causes 1,000 or more deaths (as some predict), it will NOT happen in a high risk or super-mega-outbreak setup like 1974 or 2011 -- SPC, TWC, storm chasers, and every TV met would be all over it and people would be prepared.

    Another difference between Hattiesburg and Joplin: fewer people out, about and away from home (and away from a source of shelter) on a Sunday in mid-February as opposed to a Sunday in late May.

    Another similarity: both tornadoes occurred in 10% hatched "slight risk" areas, with regular (not PDS) TOR watches in effect.

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    I think you can also point to the fact that the Hattiesburg tornado only caused one isolated spot of EF4 damage (so far as I've seen, anyway) near Oak Grove HS, rather than a long stretch of extremely intense damage we saw with those other tornadoes. Joplin left a huge swath of EF4 (and some EF5) damage essentially right across the residential center of the city. It didn't appear the Hattiesburg tornado passed through nearly as populated an area, though I could be wrong. Saying that the cities are of roughly equivalent size misses the point that they didn't actually strike similarly populated areas. Birmingham's population is probably 200,000+, but we shouldn't say that the TCL tornado struck a city of 200,000 because it didn't really strike the city itself.

    Also, from what I understand, most of the damage was EF3 and lower. Still significant, but nothing like JLN or TCL or some of the other recent violent tornadoes. As long as you have a couple seconds to get to the interior of your home (or whatever other shelter is available) you're much more likely to survive EF2 or EF3 damage than you are EF4 or EF5. If the majority of the track had been EF4 damage, I'm sure we'd have seen a much more grim outcome.
    Last edited by Shawn Schuman; 02-12-2013 at 11:50 AM.
    Significant tornado events and other assorted meteorological ramblings:
    http://stormstalker.wordpress.com

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    Some very interesting discussion here.

    Elaine, keeping in mind that spring comes earlier to Mississippi than Missouri and the temperature was 72 in HAT before the tornado struck, I think there was probably more similarities in the respective Sunday afternoons during the 5 o'clock hour than might immediately be apparent.

    Again, I am NOT contending there would have been no loss of life in JLN if the warning system had functioned perfectly. I think "scores" is the right order of magnitude. But 161 is a huge outlier in the tornado warning era.

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