Saturday, March 1, 2008

Close Enough

Sunday was a nice day. Kind of windy but it got up to 76 degrees. We were well into Sunday dinner (supper to some of y'all). Wife had made her special spaghetti for us and and we were chowing down pretty well when the tornado siren went off. Being hungry I kept eating. Being sane my wife grabbed her cat, and our son who was eating with us turn on the TV. Seems there was a large circulation forming over western Oklahoma City. In fact is it was forming about four miles west of my house. As I proceeded to gulp down my meal they showed the hook and intensity on dopler radar and the location. The sucker was now less than three miles from my house. My wife was already in the basement and my son then grabbed his cat and joined her. So with my wife and son in the basement with two of the cats, I of course grabbed my camera and went out the front door. I could see the lowering and that it was moving fast. The city lights and the lightning gave a fair view of it. Then there was so much scud, that I lost it for a while. Then it cleared off again and it was straight down the street and about a mile south of the house. So I of course started taking pictures with my super duper new camera that I just barely know how to use yet. It was set on "dark of night" and 1600ASA. So I thought I 'might' get lucky. The picture above is the best of the lot.

The top picture shows what was happening, but of course you could see it much better than the camera can. The bottom picture is a print of the top one marked up to show where stuff was. The interested parties and storm freaks of my acquaintence will be able to pick out the particulars on the top photo.
Now lest you think I be totally stupid, stupid maybe, but not totally, there is something missing from the photo and from the event. The cyclone has not dropped a tornado to the ground, because there were no power line or transformer flashes. Inside a city a tornado on the ground would be producing those constantly. So I knew I was safe, and besides I could see the animal itself.

After a bit, I went in checked the TV radar and map and could see it was clear of us. So I hollared down into the basement to my people that they could come up now. So Wife took her cat out of the clothes dryer where he had been put for safety's sake (and because he wanted to come outside with me) and came up. We went back to the cold meal, but kept the TV on just in case.

Now you see this near miss of the whole downtown Oklahoma City by a cyclone full of funnels is not a story because (1) It didn't actually get low enough and no funnels came down, thus no destruction. (2) Nobody could get any real good pictures of it because it was too dark and it was covered in scud. (3) And anyway they already had some footage of some minor tornados from an hour of two before west of OKC that were better visuals. So the dragon flys over the town but does not breath fire and it means nothing.


BB-Idaho said...

Some many years back (Minneapolis, circa 1972)I was at work and noticed it was unusally dark.
Standing next to the glass 10x30 window pane, I was startled to see a maple tree go tumbling by, roots and all. Someone shouted "Get away from the windows!" The lights went out and the roof peeled away like we were in a large sardine can. It blew around inside the factory and left hailstones everywhere. So, a basement sounds like a good place to go. In fact, the cat would have so share the inside of the dryer with me.....

Erudite Redneck said...

Re, "I of course grabbed my camera and went out the front door."

Of course!

And then snow today.

drlobojo said...

"And then snow today."
Yes, depressing ain't it.

BB-I: In truth, if our house ever got a direct hit, I doubt being in the basement would be safe enough.
About the only size storm that could survive the "Heat Island" effect of the OKC sprawl would be an F four or five and that would suck up everything.

Was the Minneaplois storm a tornado or a microburst?

drlobojo said...

When my wife came home from school Monday, she related the stories her kids were telling about the giant tornado that came over them Sunday. I hadn't realized that it was just north of I-40 and heading east which would have put it directly over the community where her kids live. They said they could up up into it. I have no doubt they could. It seems that there are no cellars or basements in that part of town. The said their parents were really scared and didn't know what to do.
I find it amazing that anyone can live in Oklahoma and not know what to do in a tornado (I mean other than go out and take pictures).

So my wife spent a chunk of her day telling her kids what to do, and what not to do, in a situation like that. Hopfully the kids will remember if it happens again. Had it torn through that neighborhood the casulties would have been very very high.

BB-Idaho said...

"a tornado or a microburst?" Not sure we knew about microbursts back then. A red pickup truck from a couple blocks away ended up inverted in our driveway and our kid's sandbox ended up a block away in the opposite direction of the 'whatever'. Is a microburst
like a vigorous downdraft or wall cloud thing?

drlobojo said...

My bad as they say. First micro-burst were not generally recognized officially then. So you're right they wouldn't have said that about it then. It wasn't until they killed several hundred passengers on three or four planes that the weather bureau decided they weren't just an academic concept.

Picture a giant bowl of really heavy cold air being pushed up by the convection of warm air in a thunderstorm.
All of a sudden the bowl is heavier than the upward pressure. It then tips to one side or the other and dumps out all of that heavy air. That cold air falls down out of the sky at a steep angle then hits the ground and surges out like a tidal wave of air, pushing things in front of it.

Even a small micro-burst can knock a plane around, especially when they are landing and are close to the ground. Sailors having been dealing with them for thousands of years, think killer squalls.

A micro burst can do as much "straight line" wind damage as an F-1 or 2 tornado. Generally the damage is not circular and disipates after a mile or two. of course none of that matters in you an under one.

Micro-burst are much more common that tornadoes, but couldn't be detected on the old radar systems.

pecheur said...

Be careful over there. Glad you're safe.

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