Gov. Pat Quinn asked the White House on Monday to declare 15 Illinois counties to be major disaster areas, after a single storm system this month spawned 24 tornadoes in Illinois that killed six people and damaged...More >
Gov. Pat Quinn asked the White House on Monday to declare 15 Illinois counties to be major disaster areas, after a single storm system this month spawned 24 tornadoes in Illinois that killed six people and damaged or...More >
A federal study of the 2011 Joplin tornado suggests that stronger building codes, more storm shelters and improved emergency communication systems could have significantly reduced the death toll and the costs of...More >
A federal study of the 2011 Joplin tornado suggests that stronger building codes, more storm shelters and improved emergency communication systems could have significantly reduced the death toll and the costs of rebuilding...More >
Monday, November 18 2013 2:46 PM EST2013-11-18 19:46:57 GMT
Strong storms swept through Mid-Michigan Sunday as a cold front moved across the state. The primary threat was wind, and thunderstorm wind gusts in excess of 60mph were recorded throughout Mid-Michigan.More >
The National Weather Service out of Gaylord has confirmed one tornado in Otsego County near Waters, Mich.More >
Friday, July 5 2013 10:04 PM EDT2013-07-06 02:04:13 GMT
FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The National Weather Service says they are receiving reports of at least three mobile homes blown over in Florence County on Tuesday night. The NWS also reports power lines are down,More >
The National Weather Service survey crew members say their preliminary reports show the damage to several overturned mobile homes in the Rosewood Mobile Home Park around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday was caused by an EF-1 tornado. More >
Thursday, June 20 2013 10:09 PM EDT2013-06-21 02:09:27 GMT
The National Weather Service spent Thursday assessing the tornado damage from storms the night before. Though most of the South Plains was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, it was in Sundown that one,More >
The National Weather Service team in Lubbock wasted no time assessing the damage from Wednesday's storm. More >
ATHENS, GA (RNN) - Two years after the historic April 27 tornado outbreak scarred the Alabama and Mississippi landscape and memorabilia - photos, family letters and more - rained down in yards across the south, new research is shedding light on tornado debris patterns.
In cases of more dangerous debris, that research could help predict fall patterns that might protect property and life.
"Twenty years ago, if a picture landed in your yard, you'd stare at it, wonder ‘Who does that belong to?' look for a name on the back, and probably eventually throw it away," said John Knox, associate professor at the University of Georgia.
With people posting pictures to social media, today "It's a completely different situation."
In what Knox says is the most comprehensive study on tornado debris patterns, he and a team of student co-authors analyzed the takeoff and landing points of nearly 1,000 pieces of debris - photos, quilts, even a metal sign - for clues to how debris travels and where it might eventually land.
"The previous most comprehensive study looked at 120 years' worth of newspaper accounts and had only found at most 160-something items. We were way beyond that," he said.
"In the old days, it would have been one object written up in a newspaper. Here we have a wealth of data to keep the error down."
The team gathered their data from photos and items posted to a Facebook page set up by Alabama resident Patty Bullion designed to reunite victims with their memories.
The Facebook page, which has since shut down, allowed those who found photos or other tornado debris in their yards to post pictures and owners to claim the items.
Photos, quilts, family Bibles - nothing was off limits. Some items flew nearly 200 miles before landing in the yards of strangers, often in other states.
Many found their way back home through the power of the internet.
Sometimes, the owners of the memorabilia had died in the storm, leaving relatives the precious artifacts as remaining tokens of loved ones.
In all, nearly 1,700 items were claimed, including a 5-foot metal sign that blew from Smithville, MS.
The sign hung in the Smithville High School football stadium until a tornado destroyed the stadium and lobbed the sign to Russellville, AL, 60 miles away. The sign featured a photo of a former student and high school band member who passed away from bone cancer in 1998.
The sign was identified on the Facebook page within a day and returned to the student's parents.
As Knox's team studied the photos on the page, patterns emerged.
Most of the debris landed approximately 10 degrees to the left of the tornado, except the debris that traveled the farthest.
"What we found from the study was that tornado debris goes in different directions slightly depending on how high up it goes in the thunderstorm," he said.
The items that traveled the farthest, from 150 to 220 miles away from their home base, landed slightly right of the tornado's path.
"What we think happened there was those are objects that went higher in the storm and were affected by the jet stream," he said.
The item that traveled the farthest was a photo from Phil Campbell, AL, that landed in Lenior City, TN, 220 miles away.
Knox says the information on flight paths could come in handy for scenarios in future storms, for instance, in the case of toxic or radioactive debris.
"This is not hypothetical … it's one of those scary disaster scenarios where it's not just the tornado but the debris from the tornado that can cause problems," Knox said.
"It's not that farfetched. These tornadoes were dancing around nuclear power plants in the Tennessee Valley and around medical facilities and such."
And, in time, that data could lead to debris forecasting.
"We aren't there yet. I could envision a day where we'd have a necessity to issue a debris warning. We still need more work on it," he said.
Knox said he has even been asked about possibly of someday using the project to help find victims picked up by storms and thrown from their homes.
"I honestly have never thought about that," he said. "The noise and signal get all muddled up at short distances so I don't know if it would be that effective but there's an application we never thought of."
Knox and his team said they took great care to protect the privacy of those they were studying. The team only researched publicly available photos and did not contact victims.
"The people come first," Knox said.
"These are real lives that have been upended and I think that message came through to the students."
The study was recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
In all, more than 300 people died in the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak, according to NOAA.
Many of the tornadoes were EF4 and EF5 tornadoes, the strongest ratings on the Fujita scale, based on intensity.
Smithville, MS, and the Alabama towns of Tuscaloosa, Hackleburg, and Phil Campbell were among the hardest hit.
Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
The first dust storm of the 2013 summer season developed in Pima County July 10 and was followed by a second storm July 12. The storms continued through the summer until the September end to the monsoon.More >
The first dust storm of the 2013 summer season developed in Pima County July 10 and was followed by a second storm July 12.More >
The Assumption Parish, LA sinkhole continues to grow. The ground opened up on August 3, 2012 and residents were evacuated from their homes. Click here to see the photos from August 2012 until now.More >
The Assumption Parish, LA sinkhole continues to grow. The ground opened up on August 3, 2012 and residents were evacuated from their homes. The sinkhole, or slurry, is consuming land and trees. Many images are from the Assumption Parish Police Jury. Click here to see the photos from August until now. More >
A wintry storm pushing through the western half of the country is bringing bitterly cold temperatures that prompted safety warnings for residents in the Rockies and threatened crops as far south as California.More >
The jet stream hunkered to the south Wednesday, promising to bring nearly a week of temperatures that could dip to minus 20 or worse in the northern midsection of the country, and forcing much of the rest of the nation to...More >
An icy blast of arctic air sent temperatures plunging as much as 40 degrees below normal Tuesday across the western half of the nation soon after a storm snarled roadways in the Rockies and threatened citrus crops...More >
An icy blast of arctic air sent temperatures plunging as much as 40 degrees below normal Tuesday across the western half of the nation soon after a storm snarled roadways in the Rockies and threatened citrus crops in...More >
Sunday, December 1 2013 11:15 PM EST2013-12-02 04:15:06 GMT
Freezing rain caused some spinouts and crashes in the eastern-most parts of our area on Sunday morning, but the Pioneer Valley had nothing on what Central Massachusetts residents dealt with. Around 7More >
Freezing rain caused some spinouts and crashes in the eastern-most parts of our area on Sunday morning, but the Pioneer Valley had nothing on what Central Massachusetts residents dealt with.
A winter storm that hit parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas was expected to be worse, but with temperatures creeping above freezing the outcome was less dramatic than forecasters had feared.More >
Thanksgiving travelers scrambled to book earlier flights Tuesday to avoid a sprawling storm bearing down on the East Coast with a messy mix of snow, rain and wind that threatened to snarl one of the busiest travel days of...More >
Tuesday, November 26 2013 6:56 AM EST2013-11-26 11:56:17 GMT
We are in for a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm! Several inches are expected, but be careful, because all that beautiful white snow can be deadly. Heart attacks, back strain and muscle soreness are just a fewMore >
We are in for a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm! Several inches are expected, but be careful, because all that beautiful white snow can be deadly. Heart attacks, back strain and muscle soreness are just a few of the problems attributed to shoveling snow.More >