Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 2010 storm season has begun!

On Monday, March 8th, 2010, an EF-2 tornado struck Hammon, Oklahoma. This was the first big tornado event to start the 2010 severe weather season. It had been a quiet year so far across the United States with only one tornado reported in the month of February. A marginal severe weather situation was expected with only small probabilties for tornadoes due to lower dewpoint values and cooler surface temperatures. These were low-topped supercells that formed in western Oklahoma behind a line of thunderstorms. This setup was similar to the Minneapolis tornado that stuck on August 19th of last year. A small packet of instability developed in the area during the afternoon that was just enough energy to trigger the tornadic supercells. Like the Minneapolis tornado, this tornado did not posess the radar vortex signatures to prompt the issuance of a tornado warning from the local National Weather Service office until the tornado had been on the ground for several minutes.

What's even more amazing is the storm video that was captured by chasers. Andy Gabrielson of Severe Studios recorded this incredible footage of the tornado that struck Hammon below:

My initial reaction was that Andy was far too close to this tornado. As awe-inspring as this was and wind speed data that could be used in research, he could have easily been clipped by flying debris through a window or trapped in downed, live power lines. Each person is entitled to make their own decision, but good judgment needs to prevail every situation. One death is too many in this hobby. As a fratenity, it casts a black eye on everyone that goes out to find the storms. Some chasers are in it to make money, but I don't understand how making a couple extra bucks on a video from being so close to the tornado makes up for a lifetime of possibilities. The last thing we need is for the media to pick this story up on the recklessness of storm chasing and run with it. Andy was fortunate to be safe, but this could have been a very tragic outcome. Just wish for everyone to have safe chasing/spotting season in 2010!

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