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Community Comment

Posts tagged: severe weather

Tornadoes pound parts of Arizona?

Good evening, Netizens…

There was bizarre weather afoot in Arizona today. Normally they have an average maximum of three or four tornadoes per year, but never before in their forecasting history have they seen clusters of tornadoes, perhaps as many as six or seven according to various news sources, in one day.

Belemont, Arizona, a sleepy suburban area west of Flagstaff, an early morning tornado hit town shortly after 5:30 AM and although no rating has been done yet some sources rate it as an F3 on the Fujita Scale. Most movies that tell you how to cope with prairie twisters tell you to move to the basement. As one of my clients stated mournfully, hardly anyone in the Flagstaff area have basements. Fortunately he wasn’t directly impacted by the series of storms, although he did have a pile of hail on his porch.

Another storm hit south of Flagstaff minutes later, and a funnel blew trucks off Interstate 17 shortly after noon.

On Tuesday, storms ripped out trees and broke windows in metropolitan Phoenix, flooded roadways, shut airports and dented cars and shattered windows with hail bigger than golf balls in some places.

On Wednesday, semitrailers were sitting along the side of Interstate 40. High winds cast dozens of cars of a freight train off the tracks in Bellemont around 6:30 a.m. No one was injured and the cars did not contain any hazardous materials.

About 30 homes were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable and the people who lived in them were evacuated, authorities said. A shelter was set up for them.

Sparsely populated Arizona typically has four tornadoes a year, but rarely if ever sees twisters come in clusters and cause the kind of damage seen Wednesday, meteorologists said.

Now the question that haunts me is is there a relationship between this meteorological anomaly in Arizona and La Nina? The folks in Arizona never have had such a series of severe storms in recent history. Do you care to speculate? Hurricane in Spokane perhaps? How about a good old-fashioned rock and roll type earthquake?


Pop, fritz— a review of last night’s storm

Good morning, Netizens…

As severe lightning storms go, I suppose last night’s episode rates about a 6 on a 10-scale when it comes to severity or perhaps a 7 if you include the blowout of the Avista transformer yard somewhere near Euclid Avenue. It took the lights of downtown Spokane out in one smooth flash, and I laughed despite myself. Those transformers blowing reminded me so much of Ice Storm, where we sat in our front yard watching the pretty blue flashes in all quadrants of the compass as Spokane’s power grid began melting down. Fortunately things were restored fairly quickly. It simply will not do to have all those downtown bars sitting in the dark.

I was more than a little bit miffed that the alert I posted last night about the approaching storm beat out all three television stations, which I know Jeanie will enjoy. By the time KREM broadcast their first warning, the storm was already hammering away at Airway Heights. I had been monitoring the approaching squall line from the time it hit Davenport with lightning and hail, which is about when the U.S. Weather Bureau first issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Lincoln County. Given the storm’s direction of travel, I knew it was going to hit Spokane.

However, the number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were somewhat overrated by the local weather forecasters. Obviously from the near-raving quality of their commentary at 11:00 PM last night, few if any Spokane TV meteorologists have ever seen a real midwestern-style severe thunderstorm up-close and personal. Instead of one cloud-to-ground strike every 3 minutes, which seemed to be the predominate average in last night’s storm, a truly awesome severe storm in the Midwest is one strike every minute and one-half, sometimes even less. Of course we make a big thing out of an F0 (on the Fujita scale) tornado, where people in the Midwest are used to seeing F2 or F3 tornadoes every year, and occasionally an F4 or an F5. Yes, I have seen both F4’s and F5’s. You never forget such things.

For Spokane last night’s light show was impressive. Several storm chasers West of Spokane reported seeing a wall cloud with rotation aloft, which is a sure sign conditions are ripe for a tornado, but fortunately, none appeared.

According to Avista Utilities, 339 customers are without power, mostly on the West Plains and East Valley locations. Hang in there! They’re working on it as fast as they can.


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