Mayor: “We Were Blessed” – No Fatalities as Tornado with Winds Up to 170mph Tears Through the Deep South


Damage to Music Building at University of Southern Mississippi (WDAM)

Damage to Music Building at University of Southern Mississippi (WDAM)

UPDATE: 536pm CT – The National Weather Service office in Mobile, AL has released the preliminary storm survey results confirming two tornado tracks in their forecast area produced by the same storm that impacted Hattiesburg, MS.  The storm survey team found EF-1 intensity damage in Wayne County with a tornado tracking nearly 17 miles in a discontinuous path.  The tornado first touched down near the community of Clara and then tracked to Denham before lifting.

Additionally, EF-0 damage was found in Northwest Perry County – an extension of the track of the same tornado that moved through Hattiesburg and Petal, MS.

Additional details will be forthcoming over the next few days after survey teams complete their data, especially looking on Tuesday in the Washington and Clarke County areas in Southwest Alabama.

UPDATE: 505pm CT – The National Weather Service in Jackson, MS has just upgraded the intensity from the Hattiesburg / Oak Grove tornado that impacted Lamar and Forrest Counties yesterday.  The tornado was preliminarily rated EF-3, but that rating has since been upgraded as damage consistent with 170mph winds was observed in the area of Oak Grove High School.  This violent tornado was only the second violent tornado (EF-4 or EF-5) recorded in Lamar or Forrest Counties since record keeping beginning, the other tornado being the April 24, 1908 Purvis tornado which was on the ground for 155 miles and impacted a wide ares from Louisiana into Mississippi (Source: NWS Jackson MS).

The  NWS storm survey teams have also preliminarily confirmed EF-2 tornado damage in Southwest Marion County – a separate track from the tornado that hit Hattiesburg.  This confirms the suspicions in the original  post that the storm “cycled” and produced separate tornadoes – as indicated by radar signatures.

— Original Post Below:

“We were blessed”.  That is what the Mayor of Hattiesburg, Mississippi said repeatedly when interviews on CNN after a strong tornado tore through the city on an otherwise calm Sunday afternoon in February.  As he stated repeatedly, even though the University of Southern Mississippi, several high schools, and the American Red Cross center were all directly hit by this storm, there were only limited injuries and not fatalities.  The fact that we’re reporting on damage to buildings, NOT fatalities is key in this story, and with storms like these, timing is everything.

First off, with students already on a long weekend break with Mardi Gras coming up, so the tornado occurring on the middle day in a four-day weekend meaning that the campus was relatively quiet.  Throw in the fact that the campus is a short two-hour drive from New Orleans, many students were likely out of town for one reason or another.  Additionally, the Elam Arms residence hall was hit by the tornado, blowing out windows to the multi-story residence hall… But the residence hall has not been used for some time, and according to a July 15, 2011 story from WDAM in Hattiesburg, the university was hoping to tear down the dormitory because “it’s considered to be in a prime location, for a developer to put in a business…. An excellent site for a hotel.”

According the University website, several structures in the southern portion of the campus were damaged including Jazz Station, the Mannoni Performing Arts Center, Ogletree Alumni House, and Elam Arms.

Mississippi is no stranger to strong tornadoes as we have seen in years past in places like Yazoo City.  This storm was similar to previous supercells producing long-lived tornadoes.  The supercell tracked from Southern Walthall County in Southern Mississippi through the counties of Marion, Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Jones and Wayne.  The same storm was also responsible for damage near Millry and Coffeeville in Washington and Clarke Counties in Southwest Alabama.

Based on an initial review of the radar data from this storm, the same supercell appeared to have cycled at several points along this 3.5 hour, nearly 170 mile long path.  The National Weather Service Offices in New Orleans, Jackson and Mobile will likely be performing damage assessments over the next several days.  It will be interesting to see where the damage paths are confirmed to have started/stopped, but the most likely points for breaks in the paths appear to be located near the following locations in that path:

  • Near the Marion / Lamar County, MS line – slight jog in the storm path to the right
  • Southwest Wayne County, MS – Just west of Camp Eight Road in the De Soto National Forest
  • Clarke County, AL – The storm appears to have crossed US-84 roughly 5 miles east of Coffeeville, AL
Radar-based rotation path for the Hattiesburg, MS supercell.  Note the path changes and possible locations for breaks in the path (cycling supercell).

Radar-based rotation path for the Hattiesburg, MS supercell. Note the path changes and possible locations for breaks in the path (cycling supercell).

In all, it is pretty likely that there were multiple tornadoes along this path.  The worst of the damage appears to be EF-2 to EF-3 in intensity, with the Hattiesburg tornado causing damage consistent with a tornado of at least EF-3 strength.  EF2 and greater tornadoes are rated as strong, so regardless of the damage, it is clear to say that the area was impacted by a strong tornado.

Tornadoes are rated by the damage they produce.

EF0…WEAK……65 TO 85 MPH
EF1…WEAK……86 TO 110 MPH
EF2…STRONG….111 TO 135 MPH
EF3…STRONG….136 TO 165 MPH
EF4…VIOLENT…166 TO 200 MPH
EF5…VIOLENT…>200 MPH

On a related topic the National Weather Service in Mobile tweeted the following graphic.  Incredibly their 30 minute forecast for this supercell was HIGHLY accurate both temporally and spatially.  The storm passed within a mile of Robinson’s Junction at 0027 UTC – right in line w/ the forecast graphic below.  The use of Social Media in this case to not only get out the tornado warnings, but to EMPHASIZE areas that are at greater risk represents a MAJOR opportunity for the National Weather Service to enhance their communication with customers.

NWS Mobile – Projected Path of Tornadic Supercell – VERY ACCURATE 30 MIN FORECAST – Storm passed w/in a mile of Robinson’s Junction at 0027 UTC.

32 Maps that Explain the World


GREAT post from Business Insider.  For those of you who love maps, current events, politics, social media, pretty much any hot topic, you’ll find at least one of these 32 maps hitting on key point of interest.  Definitely worth your time to look through and see the visual representations of the world around us!

32 Maps that Explain the Entire World

Maps That Explain The World – Business Insider.

Viral PSA “Dumb Ways To Die” Takes Youtube By Storm


Everyone gets tired of the typical Public Service Announcement (PSA) that you hear and immediately tune out on the radio or television.  However there is a PSA taking Australia, Youtube and the internet by storm!  This is a brilliant way to approach PSAs – from a cost perspective, the viral nature of the ad, the simplicity of the approach.  It’s definitely worth the time to watch and share!

So what is the title of this PSA??? Well it’s called “Dumb Ways to Die”…  You’ll have to watch the video below to see what it’s about!  But you’ll get to the end and be quite surprised at where the video is going, especially since it doesn’t even seem like a PSA!!  Or you can even download it from ITunes here, check out their website – http://dumbwaystodie.com/, look at the hashtag on twitter #DumbWaysToDie.  The lyrics are available after the video and additional story links are below as well. Continue reading

Surviving the Coming 50% Budget Cuts – Part II


Marc Faber (Link to Business Insider Story)

As reported by the Drudge Report and Business Insider this afternoon, Marc Faber, investor and economist known for his spot-on assessment of the world economy and author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report told CNBC in an interview on Monday, “The debt burden in the U.S. and other Western countries will continue to increase leading to a “colossal mess” within the next five to 10 years.  Additionally, bureaucracies in the U.S., as well as Europe, are far too big, and are a burden on the economy.”

So, what does he propose as the solution to the problem?  “My medicine for the U.S. is: Reduce government by minimum 50 percent.  The impact would be immediately an improvement in the economy.”

50%  Really???  That’s out of touch.. that’s extreme.. that’s… that’s.. that’s… just the right answer??? Continue reading

Heroes of Isaac – Team Braithwaite Foundation – Facing and Overcoming The Storms


Image

You need to read this story because it embodies the challenges we face, and how we each can respond.  This is definitely a story that needs to be shared with as many people as possible, not because of the tragedy, but because of the American spirit embodied in this story – We help one another, we step up in times of trouble, and when we’re hit and knocked down, we get back up and keep going – just like the Shaffers in Braithwaite Louisiana.

After Hurricane Isaac, the Shaffer family set up the Team Braithwaite Foundation to help families impacted by Hurricane Isaac.  They’ve given clothes away, and received a number of donations from those who were not hit as hard by the storm.

But another storm hit this weekend when thieves stole nearly $15,000 worth of supplies meant for victims of the storm. Continue reading

Lessons from History… If “You Didn’t Build That” Then Who Did?


“Now, we can look abroad and see large cities, handsome villages, fine fields, and rich gardens. We see good, smooth roads, strong bridges, and well finished houses.”

One of the greatest challenges with humanity is the personal and corporate failure to learn from history.  When we experience a natural disaster, or calamity we often say, “wow, this is the worst event since…” or “I’ve never seen anything like this…”  However when we say such things, we join in on the failure to know and remember history, and to look at the good and the bad. Continue reading

“Worst Drought Since 1956” – A look at what comes next…


This week it’s hard to miss the hundreds of articles and thoughts on the severity of the current drought, and how it is the worst drought in aerial coverage since 1956″

Huffington Post – “The percentage of affected land is the largest since December 1956, when 58 percent of the country was covered by drought, and it rivals even some years in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s”

LA Times – “The drought gripping the Midwest and about 80% of the country is the most widespread since 1956, stoking massive wildfires and decimating the nation’s breadbasket crops”

UK Telegraph – “The United States is experiencing its widest-spread drought in 56 years, according to a release by the nation’s meteorological agency.”

Continue reading

Radar Derived Storm Paths from the 4/14/2012 Tornado Outbreak


Click the Image to Open an Interactive Map Depicting Rotation Paths for Spotter Confirmed Tornadoes

[UPDATED: 4/17/2012 – 12am CT – Several National Weather Service Forecast Offices have completed preliminary storm surveys.  The product I created Saturday evening has been verifying very well, especially with the long-tracked storms.  Comparisons will be added for each tornado below.]

First off.. my thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by today’s tornadoes, especially in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa.  I’ve put together path tracks of the tornadoes based on radar data.

I hope this has helped some people today save lives, and in the days to come, I hope it helps people recover faster from the storms.

Below is an interactive map that is based on spotter confirmed significant tornadic storms.  The points on the map UNOFFICIALLY depict the most likely areas where a tornado went based on radar products from the National Weather Service.  It will likely take several days for authorities in the area to fully assess the damage, but in the mean time, I hope this helps people as a starting point.  Once official damage surveys are released, I’ll be merging them into the map. Also, please note that while the radar may indicate a continuous path, detailed damage assessments and storm surveys may end up splitting these storms into separate tornadoes.

Continue reading

Your Response to Disasters… Does It Really Make A Difference?


Over the past year, we’ve been inundated with story after story of Billion Dollar Natural Disasters.  We have come to hear about these events on our smartphones, tablets, laptops, Twitter, Facebook, and broadcast news reports.  But when it comes down to it, when it happens in another community, it sounds bad, but it’s really just hard to understand how significant of an impact it really is.  On the flip side of the coin, when it happens to you and your town, or even more locally – to your family, most people would end up being overwhelmed with the situation, not knowing how to respond.  Let’s look at other areas in life – what about the loss of a family member – a parent, a sibling, a child?  How many people have lost jobs in the past year?  Have you been affected, or has this happened as well to your family or friends?  Do you know someone who seemed to have the world in front of them and then in an instant, it was all turned upside down? Continue reading