Tuesday, May 11, 2010

PBS Nova: "The Hunt for the Supertwister" airs right after deadly 2010 tornado outbreaks in OK, deep South

On Tuesday May 11 PBS Nova presented “The Hunt for the Supertwister” and depicted the work of modern tornado chasers, as well as presenting simulations (in pixar-like animation) and computer simulations of how supercell thunderstorms form tornadoes. The link for the film is here. The film shows several outbreaks in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.


An interesting middle-section episode of the documentary concerns the long-track supertwister that struck La Plata, MD in April 2002, on the East Coast, outside of Torndao Alley. The film speculates on what might have happened had the storm tracked further west and gone through Washington DC. But in the DC area, the violent storms tend to track across southern Maryland, with flat land and a lot of water. Sometimes there are pockets of violent weather just east of the Catoctins around Frederick. The configuration of the Blue Ridge seems to affect the track of the most violent storms in the DC area, but sometimes violent storms form when moist southeast winds are blocked by the Blue Ridge and bounce back as a cold front approaches.

I witnessed a small tornado along Route 9 near Rehoboth Beach driving back (it didn’t hit anything), one month before 9/11, in August 2001.

The deep South (Mississippi and Alabama) seems as susceptible to tornadoes as the Great Plains.

Oklahoma tornados from May 10, 2010 from Tornadovideos.net on youtube (and Discovery)



Wikipedia attribution link for NOAA diagram of tornado

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