STORMTRACKThe Magazine for Storm Spotters and Chasers
September-October 2000(narrative only)
Volume 23, No. 6
TIM MARSHALL, EDITOR
TIM VASQUEZ, WEBMASTER
STORMTRACK is a non-profit publication intended for the scientist and amateur alike who share an avid interest in the acquisition and advancement of knowledge concerning severe storms. It is published bi-monthly by Master Graphics in Lewisville, Texas. David Hoadley founded the publication in 1977 and STORMTRACK has continued to grow and improve ever since. David Hoadley still contributes drawings and sketches. Darlene Egli designed the current cover. Right now, we have about 600 subscribers!
Anyone can submit an article or letter to STORMTRACK. Articles should be single-spaced and contain proper English. Right justified margins are preferred or the editor can retype the text. High contrast photographs reproduce best. Diagrams should be clear and legible, subject to photo-reduction. All articles will be edited.
Subscription rates are: U.S. First Class mail $18/year. For Canadians, it's also $18/year in U.S. Currency. Overseas is $22/year in U.S. Currency. The hardcopy publication will end with the November-December 2001 issue. STORMTRACK is available on-line free of charge at http://www.stormtrack.org. Individual regular back issues are available for $3 each, expanded issues $5 each, and double expanded issues $10 each. Hard copy back issues are available for $18 per year from 1996 through 1999 and the complete 20 year set (1978-1997) can be purchased on CD-ROM for $65. To subscribe or renew, send a check or money order PAYABLE ONLY to Tim Marshall, 4041 Bordeaux Circle, Flower Mound, Texas 75022-7050.
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HARD COPY STORMTRACK TO END WITH NOVEMBER 2001 (25th ANNIVERSARY) ISSUE
Those of you who are up for renewal with this issue and would like to extend your subscription to the end of this publication (seven more issues until November 2001), can do so for $21.00. All subscribers will be asked to renew their subscription with the November 2000 (NEXT) issue and credit will be made for those of you who are renewing in the year 2001 (i.e. those of you renewing in November 2000 will be asked to remit $18.00, January 2001 $15.00, March 2001 $12.00, May 2001 $9.00, July 2001 $6.00 and September 2001 $3.00). A note will be attached to every issue in November 2000 indicating the amount of your subscription owed. No NEW yearly subscribers will be accepted after the January 2001 issue (March 1, 2001) and submitted checks will be returned.. The last issue will be an expanded one. Thanks..
TEMPEST TOURS STORM EXPEDITIONS is accepting reservations for Spring 2001. Ride along with our team of veteran storm chasers as they traverse Tornado Alley in search of nature's most spectacular weather. Space is limited. Complete details are available on-line at www.TempestTours.com
2000 TORNADO CHASES - Highlights from this years chase season include: 1) the incredible Fort Worth, Tx tornado on March 28th and damage survey, 2) tornadoes in Louisiana on April 23rd, 3) Olney, Tx tornado on April 30th, a beautiful LP "spaceship" supercell near Pampa, Tx on May 24th, 5) Throckmorton, Tx tornado on May 26th, and funnel cloud at Jacksboro, Tx on May 27th. 87minutes, VHS, $25 U.S., $30 Canada, $45 overseas (U.S. Currency please). Send check or money order to Tim Marshall, 4041 Bordeaux Circle, Flower Mound, Texas 75022-7050.
I. COMMENTARY STORMTRACK.ORG WEBSITE BEGINS
In October 2000, STORMTRACK ONLINE (STO) merged with the STORM CHASER HOMEPAGE (SCH) and our new combined web site STORMTRACK.ORG was launched. This site will be a group effort. As you know Gilbert Sebenste ran the SCH and Tim Vasquez ran STO. Each site had grown to the point where they were too large to handled by one person. I spoke with Gilbert Sebenste about launching this mega-site while we were attending the 20th Conference on Severe Local Storms in Orlando, Florida and he agreed to the merger. The site was quickly put together thanks to the group of volunteers listed below. Ironically, it was at the 10th Conference of Severe Local Storms in Omaha, Nebraska in 1977 that David Hoadley and a group of chasers developed STORMTRACK magazine. The STORMTRACK.ORG group consists of the following persons along with their email addresses:
Tim Marshall, Senior Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Gilbert Sebenste, Asst. Editor email@example.com
David Hoadley, ST creator firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Vasquez, Webmaster email@example.com
Roger Edwards, FAQ firstname.lastname@example.org
Lon Curtis, Tropics email@example.com
Peter Laws, Skywarn firstname.lastname@example.org
Shannon Key, Library email@example.com
Kevin Scharfenberg, Data firstname.lastname@example.org
Rory Groves, Equipment email@example.com
Shane Adams, Spotlight firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Kerrin, Links email@example.com
Glenn Dixson, Who's Who firstname.lastname@example.org
Lon Curtis will run the TROPICS section which will include hurricanes and hurricane chasing. Lon lives in Belton, Texas and is an assistant District Attorney during the week and a weekend weather anchor on KWTX-TV in Waco, Tx. Lon has chased storms for ten years and was one of the few chasers who witnessed the May 27, 1997 tornado outbreak in central Texas (Jarrell event).
Peter Laws will run the SKYWARN section. He lives in Lombard, IL.
Shannon Key will run the LIBRARY section. She married Tim Vasquez earlier this year and is pursuing an advanced degree in meteorology. She began chasing storms in 1995 and currently works as an intern at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, Oklahoma.
Kevin Scharfenberg will run the DATA section. He lives in Norman, OK.
Rory Groves will run the EQUIPMENT section. He is an independent software engineer who lives in Prior Lake, MN and has been chasing storms since 1996. He operates the website mobilicious.com and his goal is to integrate technology with storm chasing.
Shane Adams will run the SPOTLIGHT section which features candid interviews of specific chasers. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma and has been chasing since 1996. He works at Vista Sports Grill.
Patrick Kerrin will run the LINKS section. He lives in Ontario, Canada and has been chasing since 1988. He studied meteorology through Mississippi State University and has a B.A. in finance/economics from the University of Western Ontario.
Glenn Dixson will run the Who's Who section. He lives in Hurst, Texas and saw his first tornado on June 13, 1998 in Guthrie, OK.
John Finley, The First Severe Storms Forecaster by Joseph G. Galway
(excerpts from the NOAA Tech Memorandum ERL-NSSL-97 by the late Joseph Galway)
John Park Finley was born in Ann Arbor, MI on April 11, 1854, the son of a prominent and well to do farmer in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He received his primary education in the Ypsilanti school system and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1873 from Michigan State University. After completing his schooling, he returned briefly to the family farm, but in early 1877, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Service (later called the Signal Corps).
When Finley enlisted, he was large in stature, standing 6 feet 3 inches and weighing close to 200 pounds, a weight that would increase beyond control later in his military career. Finley was sent to the Signal Service school at Ft. Whipple, VA. His instruction consisted of courses in military tactics, meteorology, and practical work in meteorological observation. Finley completed his Signal Service schooling and was ordered to Philadelphia, PA to be the assistant to the sergeant in charge of the Signal Service station and remained there until October 1877. It was while he was stationed at Philadelphia that Finley's interest in tornadoes began. In 1878, he prepared his first paper on the subject; the paper was never published.
Finley was then sent to Washington D.C. and was assigned to be an assistant in the "Fact Room". It was here that the Monthly Weather Review and the Weekly Weather Chronicle were prepared. It was the custom of the Signal Service at that time to send an observer into the area that had been devastated by tornadoes to make an extensive survey. In some cases, it was to survey the site of a single tornado that had caused a large death toll. Finley was ordered to make a survey on a rash of tornadoes that occurred in the central plains late in May 1879. He traveled cross country via horse and buggy gathering facts and interviewing eyewitnesses. He prepared an extensive report that was completed by September of 1879. His avid interest in tornadoes impressed his superiors and he was promoted to private first class by the end of 1879 and given permission to continue his tornado studies.
In August 1880, there was an administrative change in the Signal Service =96one which helped catapult Finley into recognition. General Mayer, who had not been overly interested in research, had died and was succeeded by General William Hazen. General Hazen was more research oriented and hired four senior and three junior scientists after he took command and in 1881, established a "Study Room" at Ft. Meyer, to which Finley would be assigned. In 1881, Finley had his May 1879 study formally published in a hardbound book entitled: "Tornadoes of May 29 and 30, 1879 in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa." It was an exhaustive work of 116 pages that contained eyewitness accounts as well as his own observations from viewing the damage. A number of tornado sketches and drawings of the damage appeared within this work. It was during this time that Finley was promoted to Sergeant. Finley also collected all known tornado reports from old records and that covered the period 1794 through 1881 =96a project he initially begun in Philadelphia, PA. In early 1882, he published a report entitled "The Character of 600 Tornadoes". This work consisted of the most comprehensive climatology on tornadoes to date. He even developed a list of forecast rules for tornadoes. Finley re-enlisted in the Signal Corps in March 1882. He suggested that a study of an entire tornado season be done rather than investigating single events and that one work out of Kansas City, MO where a person could more quickly reach the damage areas. His idea was accepted and he was assigned the task of heading the "Tornado Studies" project. Finley moved the base of his operations to Kansas City, MO and traveled extensively through Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan during the spring of 1882 enlisting tornado "spotters" for his reporting network.
Finley returned to Washington D.C. in the fall of 1882 to compile the tornado reports he collected during the spring and summer. On October 4, 1882, Sgt. Finley received orders from General Hazen to enroll at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD as a graduate student to continue his investigation on the subject of tornadoes. While at college, Finley fell in love and married Julia Larkin in November 1882. However, in December 1882, Finley fell ill and was hospitalized from "nervous exhaustion". Evidently the demands of college were too great and Finley had to drop out. Still undaunted, Finley continued his tornado research and gathered spotter reports during the spring of 1883. These reports were published in the April, May, and June issues of Monthly Weather Review.
On February 19, 1884, a tornado outbreak occurred in the southeast U.S. Finley recorded 60 tornadoes with an estimated death toll at 800. Experimental tornado predictions began on March 10, 1884. These were made from the 7am weather map and covered an eight-hour period. A second prediction was made after a study of the 3pm weather map. When conditions favorable for tornadoes were predicted, 28 of his 100 predictions were fully verified. Still, Finley made history by being the first U.S. severe storms forecaster and showed that tornadoes can be predicted. In June 1884, Finley indicated that he had assembled a network of 957 tornado spotters across the U.S. As a result of his tornado studies, Finley was promoted to Second Lieutenant in July 1884. He was sent to Ft. Meyer again for instruction in military signaling and advanced meteorology. He began to speak before various educational and scientific groups about his tornado work, and used the opportunity to solicit more spotters. By June of 1885, Finley had expanded his tornado reporting network to 1307 spotters.
Some of Finley's superiors felt that his tornado forecasts would instill fear and cause panic among the public. Thus, in 1885, he was instructed to use the phrase "violent local storms" instead of "tornado". These instructions were also given to the directors of some of the weather services. At a time when Finley's tornado studies were at their peak, events were transpiring that would threaten his military career. Budgetary limitations imposed by Congress forced the training center at Ft. Meyer to close. Thus, Finley was removed from his course of instruction. Also, Finley was one of four officers accused of harsh and abusive treatment on enlisted personnel. Fortunately, General Hazen stepped in and Finley was placed in charge of the Meteorological Records Division in early 1886. His primary duties would be to check the meteorological observations and correct errors found in them. However, the General allowed Finley to also continue his studies on tornadoes. By the summer of 1886, Finley had published four professional papers and increased his spotter network to 1562 volunteers.
In January 1887, General Hazen died and was succeeded by General Greely who would put more restraint on Finley's tornado work. Finley was ordered to discontinue his tornado predictions as "it is believed that the harm done by such a prediction would eventually be greater than that which results from the tornado itself." However, Finley still collected tornado reports from his spotters and the number of spotters had increased to 2376 by June 1887. He remained in command of the Records Division and he devoted himself to his duties with marked zeal. By June 1888, he had 2403 tornado spotters reporting to him, the highest ever. Finley continued his climatology work on tornadoes and even set forth suggestions on conducting tornado damage surveys. He also suggested methods on how to build tornado cellars and how to warn the public by ringing church bells in "some peculiar manner".
During the summer of 1889, Finley was relieved of his responsibilities at the Records Division and was assigned to the Signal Corps station at Boston, MA. He was placed in charge of inspecting telegraph lines in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and traveled a great deal. While in Boston, he was informed that he had won first prize on his tornado essays by the American Meteorological Society. In May 1890, Finley was ordered to San Francisco to assume charge of the new forecast office there. Finley adapted quickly to the change and began forecasting west coast weather. On December 1, 1890, a large storm was detected approaching the coast, and Finley predicted the end of the drought. Heavy rains swept the length of California for two or three days bringing much needed relief. Finley received praise and recognition for his correct forecast from the populace and press. Finley was promoted to First Lieutenant in July 1891 and was assigned to the 9th Infantry in Ft. Ontario in Oswego, NY, thus, ending his career as a military meteorologist. Finleys' post was assumed by Mr. Mark Harrington, the first civilian head of the weather bureau.
Over the course of the next decade, Finley was shipped around the country from New York to Kansas to Florida and then on to the Philippines where he contracted chronic neuritis and dysentery. He was hospitalized there for four months. He performed his regimental duties until March 1903 when he was sent to the remote Pacific Island of Mindanao. He was appointed Governor of the district and was stationed in Zamboanga where his ability as a military administrator would be realized. The island was inhabited with Moros, a fierce and savage race that was tribal by nature. When they were not attacking settlements, they would wage war with each other. It was Finley's job to subdue the Moros. Finley assembled chieftains from the various tribes and informed them of his wish for them to disarm. He had frequent meetings and would often travel through the jungle unarmed, spending nights in the native villages. Not all of the chieftains obeyed him and he had to launch several successful military campaigns against the hostile Moro factions. Finley was promoted to Major in December 1907 while Governor of Zamboanga.
Finley had not completely divorced himself from his interest in meteorology. He wrote and gave lectures primarily on typhoons and monsoons. He wrote a note to the Monthly Weather Review in 1909 listing meteorological terms in English, Spanish, Malay, and two Moro dialects. In July, 1913, Finley was promoted to Lt. Colonel and was ordered to Manila in the Philippines. His work among the Moro was over and so was his post as Governor. He remained there until September 1914, when he was shipped back to the U.S to report for duty to the 29th Infantry at Ft. Niagara, NY. Again, he traveled around the U.S. to various assignments and was promoted to full Colonel in July 1916. Finley retired from service on April 11, 1918. He was 64 years old and had completed 41 years of military service.
After his retirement, Finley became a private meteorologist and established the National Storm Insurance Bureau in New York City in 1920. Using his vast accumulation of climatological data he amassed over the years, he provided insurance underwriters with assessments of risk to life, property, and crops from tornadoes, windstorms, and hail for all areas of the country. He became well known throughout the insurance field as his publications and lectures attest. Finley also became a charter member and fellow of the American Meteorological Society. In the late 1920's, he became interested in aviation weather and wrote numerous weather surveys following aviation disasters.
Finley returned to his native Michigan in 1932 with his wife and two daughters and he opened the National Weather and Aviation School in Ann Arbor. He taught courses on theoretical and applied meteorology and climatology. Particular attention was given to weather forecasting, especially in its relation to aviation. Unfortunately, Finley's wife Julia died during this time. However, the 80 year old Finley did remarry and his second wife was named Flora. Finley continued teaching until 1939 when he was 85 years old. Four years later, on November 24, 1943, the 89 year old Finley died at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, MI. John Park Finley's obituary appeared in the November 26, 1943 edition of the Ann Arbor, MI newspaper.
JOHN FINLEY'S FIRST TORNADO DAMAGE SURVEY by TimMarshall
In late May 1879, a tornado outbreak occurred in the Midwest. John Park Finley, a young army cadet, was ordered to conduct a damage survey that eventually resulted in a published book entitled: "Tornadoes of May 29 and 30th, 1879 in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa." I am fortunate to own a copy of the book and have read it several times. It is an incredible work. Mr. Finley recorded numerous eyewitness accounts, documented the time of tornado occurrences, and even calculated the forward speeds of the tornadoes. From eyewitness accounts, he was able to establish the sequence of weather before, during, and after tornado passage. He studied tree fall patterns to determine the direction of the wind and time sequence that the trees fell. He analyzed the construction of housing and found that homes not anchored well didn't perform well in high winds. John Finley also knew how to present his findings, using sketches of the tornadoes and debris patterns to make his point. Finley also presented humorous stories in his work. In every sense of the word, he reminded me a great deal of the late Dr. Ted Fujita and how he attacked his tornado studies.
Yes, John Finley was a man before his time =96 the first pioneer of tornado studies in the U.S. Imagine being sent to the Midwest in 1879 to survey the tornado damage at that time. It was primitive to say the least. This was before vehicles, telephones, or electrical power. He encountered great obstacles along his journey. He wrote, "Hardly three days out of an entire month was the weather at all pleasant or conducive to good work. Bridges were washed away, streams swollen to rushing rivers, and roads turned into soft, sinking morasses, almost impassable to man or beast. Yet in twenty days, I traveled over 500 miles with horse and buggy, and also did considerable walking. Heavy winds and rains, which prevailed over this section of the country from the 1st to the 12th of June, obliterated much of the evidence distinguishing the tracks of the tornadoes. At times, the condition of the country made it impossible to visit portions of the storm tracks from which I could have gathered valuable information. This compelled me to rely too often upon second-hand evidence, although, in every instance, I did not fail to make strenuous efforts in every possible manner to verify it."
The concept of directional wind shear had not been discovered yet, but Finley wrote about the changes of wind with height, which he called "currents". "For several hours before the storm, the wind blew hard from the SE, as the lower current carried no clouds. The upper current was from the SW, brisk, carrying a thin sheet of clouds", he said. Finley also recorded that many eyewitnesses experienced changes in air temperature after tornadoes. "After the cloud passed, a cold brisk wind set in from the W, veering to the NW, causing the family to shiver, the change in temperature being painfully evident. There was but a slight interval between the rain/hail and the tornado cloud, say about five minutes, when precipitation entirely ceased", he said. Finley found that the air was very oppressive before the tornadoes but "rain and hail invariably preceded the tornado cloud from ten to thirty minutes, nearly always attended by a southerly wind."
From eyewitness accounts, as well as a study of the weather records, Finley came up with the following tornado weather scenario: "As an area of low barometer advances to the Lower Missouri Valley, warm and cold currents set in towards it from the north and south, respectively. Warm and moist regions emanate from the Gulf and the cold and comparatively dry air from regions of the British Possessions. The marked contrasts of temperature and moisture, invariably fortell an atmospheric disturbance of unusual violence, for which this region is peculiarly fitted =85the euphonious title =91Battleground of Tornadoes'."
b. Tornado Characteristics
Finley noted that a number of eyewitnesses reported a roaring sound with the tornado. "The roaring of the storm was so great that the family, while in the cellar, did not hear or know of the destruction that was going on above them," he wrote. In another account, he wrote: "The roaring was so great, that they could not hear the screaming of their daughter for assistance in an adjoining room, even though the door between the two rooms was open." In another instance, he wrote: "The roaring was intense and could be heard a distance of about 17 miles."
Finley found it difficult to obtain accurate eyewitness accounts of the storm. "Very few who were directly within the storms' path could intelligently observe the various effects, as their whole attention was directed to efforts for protection and many were paralyzed with fear", he wrote. In another instance, he stated that: "Many persons in the course of the storm had no clocks, and those who had, considered the time of no importance, or were so frightened that they were at their wits end to provide a means of safety for life and property." Still, Finley found enough eyewitnesses to give him the information he needed. By knowing the times of tornado occurrence and the distance between the observations, Finley was able to calculate the forward speeds of the tornadoes. "The time of this destruction was given as 7:30pm, which would agree very well with the time at Dawson's Mills at 7:10pm, making the progressive velocity of the storm between these two points at about 36 miles per hour", he calculated.
Although Finley did not have knowledge of storm structure, I believe he described the clear slot and/or an occluding updraft when he wrote: "The cloud from which the funnel descended seemed to be about a mile in width and hung quite low down, with comparatively clear sky all around it.". Finley also described the converging winds of a tornado when he wrote the wind was "drawing the trees inward towards its center from either side."
Finley clearly described an anticyclonic tornado when he stated "the funnel revolved contrary to the hands of a watch." He also described merging tornadoes: "Two tornadoes traveled side by side, the smaller one constantly approaching the larger, until it joined with it on the farm of John O. Howard." He also documented what I believe were multi-vortex tornadoes: "In about three minutes, another funnel formed on the right of the former, extending part way down to the ground, and still another formed on the left, reaching entirely down to the ground. The main funnel appeared to be stationary, until these smaller ones formed, when it moved with its companions towards Fanny Creek." In another instance, he wrote about a tornado that was "throwing up jets of vapor through the vortex." I believe he described inflow jets when he wrote: "The velocity of the SW current was no doubt, from 50 to 70 mph and at times perhaps greater. This was the straight wind before it arrived within the compass of the whirling cloud."
c. Agonies of Death
Finley described in graphic detail the "agonies of death" experienced by some of the tornado victims: "All of the parties were covered with mud from head to foot; eyes, mouths, and ears filled, and clothing torn into shreds. The mother and two children were left in the rubbish; the former having her head crushed, and her long hair, which reached below her waist, was partly cut and pulled from her head, twisted into a rope, and found several feet from her body. That portion of her hair left upon her head was twisted into little wisps and mixed with mud." He wrote that: "The bodies of the children, after having been washed for days, were still covered with specks of fine dirt and leaves which seemed to be driven into the flesh." He documented 42 deaths and 185 injuries in the areas visited during this tornado outbreak.
Finley saw some of the horror sustained by the tornado survivors: "The effect upon the people was pitiful in the extreme. Night after night hundreds of people never went to bed, but remained dressed and with their lanterns trimmed, watching for a fresh onslaught which the expected momentarily. Every dark cloud or sudden increase in the velocity of the wind seemed to fill them with evil forebodings which could not be allayed until every vestige of supposed danger had vanished."
d. Humorous Events
John Finley did have a sense of humor when he wrote the following incident: "Mr. Constable, who sat upon the fence, watched the approaching ominous looking cloud, did not move from his place of observation, thinking that the cloud would certainly pass him without injury, it being so narrow. But before he was aware of his perilous position, he was caught up by the whirling current of air, and carried across the road into a pasture, a distance of about 80 feet. Afterwards, he found himself covered with mud from head to foot =96a badly frightened, but wiser man."
In another incident Finley wrote: "Among the most wonderful freaks of the storm was the transportation of a cow belonging to Mr. Jasper Martin. The cow was tied to a picket near his house before the storm. But after the storm subsided, the cow was noticed walking towards Mr. Casey's house on the north side of the creek, having a portion of the lariat rope still upon her horns and her body in a dreadfully muddy condition. On tracing her tracks backward
about 100 rods down the creek to the NW, a point was reached where her foot prints terminated in a full imprint of the beast in the plastic mud. From this spot, the distance was measured back to the picket pin on the opposite side of the creek, covering nearly 140 rods. The growth of timber along the creek, averaging 30 to 40 yards in width, was very heavy and almost impenetrable, making it impossible for the cow to have passed through it alive. So the most rational conclusion to come to was, that she was carried over the tops of the trees, a height of 30 to 60 feet, before landing in the cornfield."
Finley then added this: "Two hogs were found in the cellar quietly eating sweetmeats and drinking milk as it nothing had happened. They must have been carried there by the force of the wind as it would have been quite an unprecedented feat for the hogs to have jumped voluntarily into a deep cellar."
e. Tornado damage studies
I was quite impressed with Finleys detailed descriptions of the tornado damage. He clearly understood there were differences in building construction when he wrote: "It required but comparatively a small manifestation of force to destroy the frail building, as it was diminutive and loosely put together." He further wrote of another building: "Heavy iron rods ran lengthwise on the building, connecting together the heavy oak sills; similar rods also passed through the sills into the heavy stone masonry below them, making the foundation doubly secure. The house was built to view the weather and resist the hard Kansas blows. This house was so well constructed, that it did not go to pieces." Finley went further and estimated the wind velocity of a tornado: "It is plainly evident that the movement of air at the rate of 200 to 300 mph is sufficient to demolish the strongest building."
Finley analyzed tree fall patterns to determine which trees fell first. He drew several diagrams depicting the "first" and "second" winds as the tornado passed. Dr. Fujita used the same phrases to describe the wind damage from Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Finley also saw that the translation and rotation of winds caused greater damage on the right side of the tornado. He wrote: "The left or west side of the tornado damage path was always the narrowest. The progressive movement of the cloud, which coincided with the direction of wind on the right side, increased its velocity and power of destruction."
f. Correct deductions
Near the end of the book, Finley summarized his findings and made several correct deductions which have stood the test of time. He found no evidence to prove that explosive effects from low barometric pressure caused building damage. In an age before air conditioning, he reasoned that most people had their doors and windows open to accept any breezes in the hot, humid air and so this would alleviate any barometric pressure build up. He also dispelled the myth that tornadoes followed valleys: "In its path, the tornado traversed alternately hills and valleys, doing similar damage in both, and maintaining perfect disregard of topography in order to preserve its characteristic course." Finley also found no evidence that tornadoes were caused by electricity and he noted that lightning occurred in the precipitation areas ahead and behind the tornado.
Drawing upon his knowledge of meteorology, Finley explained how a tornado developed: "The tornado is formed, fed, and maintained by the rapid ascent of continued warm and moist currents, whose moisture is condensed by the cold of expansion and elevation, liberating latent heat and thereby accelerating the powerful upward movement, which constitutes the principal current of the tornado.". Finley accurately described the transportation of flying debris: "A receipt for lumber was discovered 40 miles to the NE. This paper was no doubt carried upward through the funnel cloud, and shot outward into the strong upper current from the SW." This statement was made about 50 years before the jet stream was identified.
John Finley foresaw the need to know in advance the weather conditions favorable for producing tornadoes. He also knew that it was important to get to the damaged areas as soon as possible after a tornado in order to obtain the most accurate information about the storm. Coming from Washington D.C. by train to conduct a survey took several days, and valuable time was lost. Finley wrote: "Permit me to suggest that it would be advisable to station a special observer during the months of May, June, and July at Kansas City (a point easily communicated with from any part of the Lower Missouri Valley), who shall receive special reports and instructions from Washington regarding atmospheric disturbances, and report same to the various telegraphic stations throughout the valley.". Little did he realize that almost a century would pass before the National Severe Storms Forecast Center was established in Kansas City.
Finley did make a few incorrect deductions while deciphering tornado damage. He believed that trees had to be twisted in a tornado: "I examined the ground and found that twelve trees were blown down; part were torn up by the roots and others simply bent to the ground. Not one of them was twisted showing in all probability the base of the funnel did not really reach the ground." He also believed that tornadoes could skip around, as he was told this by so many eyewitnesses. Some errors in perception got by him when he wrote: "the lower part of the funnel appeared to be about the size of a water bucket."
John Park Finley was a remarkable man. This one book showed his skill in meteorology and engineering. He had gumption for detail. I for one am glad that he left us this work. He may not have understood all of the things we now know today, but I felt he documented as much as he could leaving enough information for us to figure out at later date.
ALANREED, TX TORNADO: MAY 20, 1999 by Tim Marshall
Today was the climatological maximum for tornadoes in the Texas panhandle and the weather set up was near perfect there for severe weather. The morning (12Z) upper air maps showed broad west-southwest flow across much of the western U.S. with a weak lee-side trough. At 250mb, a strong subtropical jet extended from Tucson, AZ to Midland, TX. (60-70 knots) with weaker westerly flow extending up to Amarillo. At 500mb, southwest flow (30-40 knots) extended from the Texas panhandle northward into Nebraska. Upstream temperatures did not change west of Amarillo but were cooler by a few degrees further north. Unfortunately, there was weak flow at 700mb with 20 knots in west Texas and 10 knots further north. Also, 700mb temperatures were between 11 and 12 C over west Texas. At 850mb, a strong low-level jet was in place across west Texas with temperatures there between 15 and 18 C.
A cold front had passed a few days ago, and surface moisture was returning into west Texas. At 15Z, dewpoints in the low 60's F extended from north Texas into central Nebraska. A nice southeast wind was occurring at Childress (along the Red River) and was channeling moisture into the Texas panhandle enhancing low-level convergence. A surface low pressure center was located around Lamar, CO with weak cold front extending northeast to Imperial, NE and southwest down to Clayton, NM. A dryline extended southward from the low to west of Amarillo and Lubbock. The ETA model (not shown) progged a dryline bulge around Amarillo by 00z. I like the Texas panhandle in such situations and placed my forecast ellipse around Shamrock, Texas -my target town. At 13Z, the Storms Prediction Center (SPC) issued a slight risk for a large area extending from south-central Nebraska down to Lubbock, Texas.
I left Flower Mound around 9:30am and proceeded to Wichita Falls, TX on Rt. 287 where I met Mark Wainwright, a free lance photographer for Pioneer Productions, who accompanied me on this chase. We reached Clarendon, TX by 3pm and I called Carson Eads (who couldn't chase) and he informed me that a Tornado Watch was going to be issued shortly for the Texas panhandle. I stopped at the rest area on a hill on the west side of Clarendon and watched turkey towers grow and die on the dryline to my west. Skies to my east were clear with a brisk southeast wind. "Ah, love these panhandle situations", I said with delight. The first Cb formed just after 3:30pm to my northwest and Mark and I headed north to intercept it. By 5pm, we were at Pampa, TX with a flat rain free base to our west. A heavy precipitation core was noted and I was beginning to get concerned that the core would overwhelm the updraft and roar out from the storm especially with weak winds at 700mb. The storm began moving slowly to the south and looked more like an HP (high precipitation) supercell as the precipitation core extended around the back side of the updraft. The updraft began to ingest cooler air from the precipitation area and a wall cloud formed about 5:15pm. Cloud bases lowered as the storm picked up momentum and Mark and I retreated southbound on Rt. 70 south of Pampa.
"Where did all these chasers come from", I exclaimed. We passed dozens of vehicles with chasers taking a look at the storm. The storm looked outflow dominant now with a heavy precipitation core and the wall cloud was breaking up. Around 6pm, we turned east on FM 2477 and headed around the north side of Lake McClellan. Then I caught sight of the east side of the updraft. Wow. What storm structure! The storm updraft was a vertical cylinder with tremendous cloud striations on its east side. The precipitation area had wrapped and occluded a portion of the updraft to our west. However, it was beginning to rain and hail at our location, but we stayed put seeing rotation occurring in the occluded portion of the updraft. We stopped at the top of the caprock on the southeast side of Lake McClellan and watched a long horizontal funnel extend toward the ground over a period of several minutes. At 6:21pm, a brief dust whirl formed beneath the funnel. Then the tornado lifted and it took several more minutes for the funnel to rope out. By now, golf ball hail was falling and we headed south to I-40 then jogged west to Rt. 70. We passed through a thin veil of rotating precipitation curtains when suddenly, a rogue hailstone shattered my windshield leaving a six inch diameter crater. Fine glass shards sprayed the interior of my vehicle sprinkling my camera equipment and me with powdered glass. A hole at the base of the crater provided additional air conditioning. Marks' car was not damaged.
We stopped just south of the cloud base and watched the rain wrapped mesocyclone. The storm was now HP and outflow was interfering with the updraft. No rotation was noted in the cloud base at this time, although, there were plenty of inflow bands off to our east. We headed south to Clarendon, TX then took FM 2471 eastbound. Lo and behold we ran into Howie "Cb" Bluestein who was busy scanning the storm in his radar truck. We headed back to Rt. 287 and drove back to Childress, TX where we saw a nice sunset and got blasted by blowing dust. Mark and I stopped at the Kettle restaurant for some dinner and soon, a number of other storm chasers stopped too. It was a great social gathering, sharing chase stories of the day. We lined up our camcorders on the table and showed our videos. What a great chase -but it was 2am before I got home. The chase covered 708 miles in 16.6 hours.
ACUS KMKC 201306MKC AC 201259
CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK...REF AFOS NMCGPH94O. 13Z CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK - 5/20/99
VALID 201300Z - 211200Z
THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS TO THE RIGHT OF A LINE FROM 55 ENE HLC 20 SW BIE 20 NNE TOP 20 WSW CNU 30 E OKC 15 N SPS 65 NW ABI 30 ESE LBB 20 N PVW 30 NW AMA 15 NW CAO 40 NW TAD 15 ENE COS 35 E LIC 30 ENE GLD 55 ENE HLC.
THIS MORNING A STATIONARY FRONT EXTENDS NEWD FROM AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IN SERN CO THROUGH WRN KS...CNTRL NB AND INTO SERN SD. DRYLINE EXTENDED SWD FROM THE LOW THROUGH ERN NM. WIDESPREAD AREA OF SCATTERED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED PRIMARILY WITH WARM ADVECTION ALONG LOW LEVEL JET EXTENDS FROM OK NWD THROUGH KS...NB...SD...IA AND MN. FRONT SHOULD BEGIN TO MOVE SEWD BY AFTERNOON AS SHORTWAVE TROUGH OVER CO/NM MOVES INTO THE CNTRL/SRN PLAINS...VEERING THE MID/UPPER FLOW.
MOISTURE SHOULD CONTINUE RETURNING NWD TODAY THROUGH THE SRN/CNTRL PLAINS SUPPORTED BY A RATHER STRONG LOW LEVEL JET THIS MORNING. MODERATE WLY FLOW ALOFT ADVECTING MID LEVEL DRY AIR OVER THE AREA SHOULD ALLOW LOW CLOUDS AND CONVECTIVE DEBRIS TO MIX OUT. DIABATIC HEATING...LOW LEVEL MOISTURE ADVECTION AND STEEP LAPSE RATES WILL SUPPORT AT LEAST MODERATE INSTABILITY FROM NRN TX INTO OK AND KS. BY AFTERNOON...AREAS THAT RECEIVE HEATING SHOULD HAVE A WELL MIXED BOUNDARY LAYER WITH MLCAPES FROM 1500 TO 2000 J/KG. DEEP LAYER SHEAR PROFILES SHOULD IMPROVE DURING THE DAY AS UPPER SPEED MAX/SHORTWAVE APPROACHES.
APPROACHING SHORTWAVE TROUGH WILL PROVIDE FAVORABLE LARGE SCALE SUPPORT FOR STORMS TO REDEVELOP TODAY OVER THE SLGT RISK AREA ALONG AND EAST OF THE DRYLINE FROM WRN KS THROUGH WRN/CNTRL OK AND NWRN TX. OTHER STORMS WILL LIKELY DEVELOP IN THE UPSLOPE REGION OF THE COLORADO HIGH PLAINS. THERMODYNAMIC AND SHEAR PROFILES AND THE MODE OF CONVECTIVE INITIATION WILL SUPPORT ISOLATED SUPERCELLS WITH LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WIND THE PRIMARY THREAT. A FEW TORNADOES WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE...ESPECIALLY FROM OK INTO KS WHERE STORM RELATIVE FLOW COULD BE STRONGER. STRENGTH OF CAP SUGGESTS STORMS SHOULD BE MORE ISOLATED OVER THE SRN PORTIONS OF RISK AREA...HOWEVER ACTIVITY SHOULD EVENTUALLY EVOLVE INTO A SQUALL LINE AS COLD FRONT SAGS SWD INTO KS AND OK THIS EVENING. DIAL..