• Todd Yakoubian

You Can Help Save Lives.

As I write this, more than 20 people have died in Tennessee due to the tornadoes Monday night into early Tuesday morning. It's another deadly nighttime tornado event in a portion of the country where it happens very often. This can end and YOU CAN HELP!


I assume many of you who read this blog have a way to receive warnings. However, you may know somebody who does not. NOW is the time to reach out to friends and family. NOW is the time to ask them if they have a way to receive severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.


It's time to take it a step further! Follow up with those individuals again, and again, and again. If it comes to you having to buy them a NOAA weather radio or downloading the KATV weather app, do it for them.


I don't know any of the circumstances surrounding the deaths, but I have a feeling we're going to find out some of them did not have a way to receive warnings. I could be wrong, but based on past events, some don't. I know a person in Nashville who received a text alert 20 minutes before the tornado arrived. That's a major success for the National Weather Service. However, it ends there if people don't receive the warnings and act on it.


Below is an outline of "Fatality Alley". More tornado deaths occur here more than any other place in the country. Why?


Here's research from Dr. Walker Ashley from Northern Illinois University.


Mobile home density. The NIU meteorologist said 44 percent of all fatalities during tornadoes occur in mobile homes, compared to 25 percent in permanent houses. The southeast United States has the highest percentage of mobile-home stock compared with any other region east of the Continental Divide. “Mobile homes make up 30 to 40 percent of the housing stock in some counties in the deep South,” Ashley said. “By far, mobile homes are the most vulnerable structures in a tornadic situation.”


Nighttime tornadoes. The southeast United States has a higher likelihood of killer nighttime tornadoes. Most states within this region have greater percentages of tornado fatalities occurring at night than other states.“I just completed another study that shows tornadoes from the midnight to sunrise period are 2.5 times as likely to kill as daytime events,” Ashley said. Further, nocturnal tornadoes are more difficult to spot, and people are more likely to be asleep when warnings are issued.


Forested areas. Whereas regions within the Great Plains by definition are lacking in tree cover, the mid-South region is more forested, leading to reduced visibility both for the public and spotters.


Early season storms. Storms that occur before the national peak in the severe storm season, which spans May and June, may catch people off guard during a tornado event.


Complacency. In contrast to other parts of the country, the South lacks a focused “tornado season,” which can lead to complacency. “In the South, people think tornado alley is where you get tornadoes,” Ashley said. “That sort of perception also leads to complacency, which in turn leads to higher fatality rates.” He points out that Oklahoma is known worldwide for the frequency of its tornadoes. Yet the state has fewer fatalities than Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi.


Above are the tornadoes so far this year and does not include what happened March 2nd and March 3rd. Early year tornadoes are very typical for the southeastern United States. As the jet stream begins to retreat north during spring, the tornado count will go up in the traditionally known areas of "tornado alley". Right now, yearly tornado numbers are a little above average.

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ARKANSAS WEATHER BLOG

Copyright by Meteorologist Todd Yakoubian 2020

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