3 Years Ago Today: Greensburg..

Yesterday, was May 3rd, today, is May 4th. For many in The United States, these are dates that are just considered “ordinary” days. But, in Oklahoma and Kansas, they are anything but. They are dates that we reflect back on the strength of Mother Nature. Thanks largely to advances in weather forecasting, we were able to forecast the severe weather more easily on May 4th, 2007 then we could on May 3rd, 1999. That day, the Storm Predicition Center was ready for the storms and issued a MODERATE RISK threat for severe weather. The lead up to SPC issuing a MODERATE RISK was a slow moving low pressure system, a warm front trying to move north and a bulging dryline to the west. All this on top of an atmosphere that had a potential energy level that was off the charts (5,500 j/kg). The following map shows the set up during that afternoon.

Storms starting developing that afternoon but the storm that hit Greensburg did not develop until around 5:00pm. Basically, during the peak heating of the day. The amazing part, is that this storm actually developed in The Texas Panhandle around that time, moved across The Oklahoma Panhandle and then into Kansas. When it moved across The Oklahoma Panhandle, it did not produce any tornado warnings, but numerous severe thunderstorm warnings. The tornadoes that occurred in Oklahoma came from other supercells.  The storm that hit Greensburg, did not get it’s first TORNADO WARNING until almost 3 hours later at roughly 830 and reports of the tornado actually being confirmed did not come in until 9:00pm. As frightening as it was to see this tornado, the fact that tornado warnings were being issued this late at night was a sign that this night was going to be a long one. The atmopshere was holding so much energy that even once the sun set and the heating of the day was lost, there was still so much energy available to keep these storms sustained well into the evening hours. . With daylight now gone, the only glimpse of the tornado we could see was when lightning would flash, lighting up the sky. When it did, this is what we saw..

A large wedge shape tornado that was reported to be at least a half-mile wide. The velocity image from that night was a text-book picture of how a velocity image works when trying to find a tornado. When you have green and red colors right next to each other, that shows a strong amount of rotation.

Around 9:30pm, a TORNADO EMERGENCY was issued for Greensburg. These type of warnings are very rare and were actually born off of the Moore tornado back in 1999. By then, the tornado had grown to 1.7 miles in width and was headed straight towards Greensburg. This storm, 1.7 miles wide, slammed into the town of Greensburg..a town that is only 1.5 miles wide with winds over 200 mph.The storm reports from the end of that day looked like this.

Reading some of the reports that came in that night were ones that would turn your stomach. Here are a few…

*** 10 FATAL, 63 INJ *** OF 9 PERSONS TRANSPORTED TO WESTERN PLAINS HOSPITAL, DODGE CITY, ONE WAS DEAD ON ARRIVAL. 55 OTHERS WERE TRANSPORTED TO PRATT HOSPITAL. (DDC)

*** 1 FATAL, 1 INJ *** HUSBAND KILLED AND WIFE INJURED WHEN HOUSE WAS DESTROYED. 2 HOUSES COMPLETELY DESTROYED, ONE GONE FROM ITS FOUNDATION AND NO REMAINS FROM THE HOU (DD

14 people died that night in Greensburg. And while that number sounds incredibly high, it could have been much worse had it not been for The Storm Chasers, The National Weather Service and The Media getting the message out to the public

-Damon

Advertisements

There are no comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: