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More Heat, Humidity & Storms... Relief By the Holiday Weekend(!)... EF-5 Oklahoma Tornado Storm Survey & Tidbits

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Updated: 5/22/2013 1:01 am

Another day -- Wed. -- of local storms but earlier in the day & more numerous as we had a good deal of morning sun as well as an upper level disturbance in the area.  For Wed....the upper level disturbance will move east into the Atlantic which puts the First Coast on the "subsident" (sinking air) side of the disturbance so showers & storms should be more scattered but still locally very heavy & especially inland.  Thu. will be another day with afternoon showers & heavy storms as a cool front approaches.  Winds will become south to southwest sending temps. to near 90 degrees & pushing some of the storms to the coast. 
The good news is a cold front will roll through at the end of the week.  Drier air will follow first cutting off the rain Fri. though temps. will still soar to near 90 degrees.  The cooler temps. arrive just in time for the holiday weekend.  Highs will be in the mid 80s Sat. through Memorial Day with lows dipping into the 50s inland, 60s at the beaches.  There will be little chance for much rain -- N - I - C - E!
Photos below are from Tue -- Jason Miles, Yulee - shows the building storms (towering cumulus/cumulonimbus cloud)....Leslie Coursey (Action News) from the Fuller Warren Bridge showing the heavy rain to the southwest (left side of the pic)....Gary Detman -- sunset from the St. Johns Town Center with distant storms (thunderheads/cumulonimbus clouds).

So it looks like we get a break from what has turned into a wet May.  In a month that only averages between 2 & 3" of rain, JIA has had 5"+ & San Marco 7"+.

The mighty Moore, Ok. twister was officially designated as an EF-5.  'EF' means "enhanced Fujita". Click ** here ** for a NOAA comparison of the F vs. EF scale, a system of categorizing the damage caused by tornadoes & designed by Ted Fujita in the 1970s during the "Super Outbreak" in April, 1974 that roared from the Gulf Coast to Ohio.  Click ** here ** for an updated storm survey including maps + some great "information sources" from the Norman, Ok. N.W.S.  Preliminary findings:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
250 PM CDT TUE MAY 21 2013

...NWS DAMAGE SURVEY FOR 5/20/2013 NEWCASTLE/MOORE TORNADO EVENT - UPDATE 3...

...NWS DAMAGE SURVEY HAS NOW RATED THE NEWCASTLE/MOORE TORNADO AS EF5...

.OVERVIEW...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DISPATCHED FOUR DAMAGE SURVEY TEAMS TO THE PATH OF THE NEWCASTLE/MOORE OK TORNADO. NEW STATEMENTS WILL BE ISSUED THROUGHOUT THE DAY AS THESE TEAMS REPORT FINDINGS. THIS INFORMATION REMAINS PRELIMINARY AND THE INFORMATION HERE COULD
CHANGE.

.NEWCASTLE/MOORE TORNADO

RATING:                  EF5
ESTIMATED PEAK WIND:     200-210 MPH
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/:   17 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/:    1.3 MILES
FATALITIES:              N/A
INJURIES:                N/A

START DATE:              MAY 20 2013
START TIME:              2:45 PM CDT
START LOCATION:          4.4 W  NEWCASTLE /GRADY COUNTY /OK
START LAT/LON:           35.2580 / -97.6775

END DATE:                MAY 20 2013
END TIME:                3:35 PM CDT
END LOCATION:            4.8 E OF MOORE OK /CLEVELAND COUNTY /OK
END LAT/LON:             35.3409 / -97.4007

SURVEY SUMMARY: EXPERTS SURVEYING IN MOORE HAVE DETERMINED DAMAGE IS EF5 WITH MAXIMUM WINDS OVER 200 MPH. FOUR SURVEY TEAMS CONTINUE TO INSPECT DAMAGE FROM THIS LONG TRACK TORNADO. INITIAL DAMAGE WAS FOUND AROUND 4.4 MILES WEST OF NEWCASTLE...SOUTH OF TECUMSEH ROAD ALSO KNOWN AS NW 16TH STREET AND EAST LAKE ROAD. THE TORNADO TRACKED NE TO THE INTERSTATE 44 BRIDGE OVER THE CANADIAN RIVER AND THEN TOOK A MORE EASTWARD TRACK THROUGH MOORE. TORNADO DAMAGE ABRUPTLY ENDS
0.3 MILES EAST OF AIR DEPOT ROAD AND N OF SE 134TH ST.

INITIALLY PRODUCING EF0 AND EF1 DAMAGE THE STORM INTENSIFIED VERY RAPIDLY IN 4 MILES OR AROUND 10 MINUTES PRODUCING EF4 DAMAGE BEFORE REACHING INTERSTATE 44. NUMEROUS INDICATIONS OF EF4 DAMAGE WITH SOME AREAS NOW DETERMINED AT EF5 DAMAGE...THE HIGHEST CATEGORY ON THE EF SCALE...WITH OVER 200 MPH WINDS.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SUCH AS MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH WILL BE UPDATED AS THE TEAMS COMPLETE THEIR SURVEYS.

Some of my asides & tidbits:

** the warning was a minimum of 16 min. for the violent tornado but a watch was issued earlier in the afternoon....a general risk was highlighted 4+ days in advance. In fact, I blogged about the upcoming series of severe weather days last week.

** Civil defense sirens worked well for Moore & were activated 15 min. before the tornado struck & were still whaling as the storm raged through the city.  Click ** here ** for info. from the "Business Insider" on the state of the air civil defense warning system in Moore.

** From our Salvation Army:
Jacksonville, FL (May 21, 2013) - The Salvation Army is on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma with multiple canteens and personnel coordinating with Local and State Emergency Management to serve first responders and those affected by the tornado. We continue to provide service to hard hit areas from yesterdays’ storms which include Shawnee – multiple sites, Carney area, and Cleveland County.

Meals and hydration are being provided for first responders and those affected. Major Steve Morris, Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Commander has been driving around the affected area. Major Morris states “The devastation is far reaching both in human life, property and livestock loss. The Salvation Army is honored to serve and provide sustenance to first responders involved in search and rescue, coordination efforts and more. And, of course, all survivors will be provided spiritual and emotional care."

Canteens involved in the response from Oklahoma include Central Oklahoma Area Command (Oklahoma City), Ardmore, Enid, Lawton, McAlester and Muskogee. Also, disaster response teams from Pine Bluff, Jonesboro and Hot Springs, Arkansas are en route to the Oklahoma City metropolitan area to assist in response. Personnel from across the division are also traveling to the area to form a Divisional Incident Command Team (which helps coordinate the overall response for The Salvation Army). Central Oklahoma Area Command has established a local Incident Command team for response.
The Salvation Army is ready to provide the services mentioned above for as long as we are needed. Additional updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

****Monetary donations are the most critical need as supplies and personnel are mobilized.
• Donors are encouraged to give online ** here **
 or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
• You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”*
• Donations in the form of checks designated to Oklahoma Tornado Relief may also be mailed to:
The Salvation Army
PO Box 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157
Your donations make a real difference.
• A $10 donation feeds a disaster survivor for one day.
• A $30 donation provides one food box, containing staple foods for a family of four, or one household cleanup kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets and other cleaning supplies
• A $100 donation can serve snacks and drinks for 125 survivors and emergency personnel at the scene of a disaster
• A $250 donation can provide one hot meal to 100 people or keep a hydration station operational for 24 hours
• A $500 donation keeps a Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) fully operational for one day

** From the Insurance Information Institute:
DEADLY TORNADO IN MOORE, OKLAHOMA, PROMPTS SWIFT INSURANCE INDUSTRY RESPONSE

As in 1999, Insurers Will Play Key Role in Rebuilding Area

NEW YORK, May 21, 2013 — Following the devastating tornado on Monday, insurance adjusters are on the scene in Moore, Oklahoma, and nearby areas to begin the initial stages of the claims process, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Standard homeowners (click here) and business insurance (click here) policies cover wind damage to the structure of insured buildings and their contents, if caused by tornadoes or thunderstorms.

Homeowners insurance policies also provide for additional living expenses (ALE). ALE coverage pays the added costs of living away from home if you cannot inhabit your house due to damage from an insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

“While replacing and repairing damaged properties may not be a high priority at the moment, the insurance industry will play a significant role in rebuilding Moore and other parts of Oklahoma just as it did following the storms in 1999,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, president of the I.I.I. and an economist. Hartwig added that the United States is in the midst of the most expensive period in recorded history for thunderstorm events, which include damage from tornadoes.

The insurance industry was already staged, and ready to begin the claims process in the area because of a May 19, 2013, tornado in Shawnee, Oklahoma, which killed two people. 
 
Yesterday’s disaster in Moore, Oklahoma, is drawing comparisons to a tornado that significantly damaged parts of the same area more than 14 years ago.

The May 20, 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado caused an even more significant loss of life, and early indications are that it was an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale.  It will take weeks to calculate the number of claims and insured losses resulting from yesterday’s natural disaster.

The tornado that swept through much of the same area on May 3, 1999, killed 41 people, and was deemed to have been an EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. No tornado can be rated higher on this scale for wind strength and intensity. ISO’s Property Claim Services estimated the May 1999 tornado resulted in insured claims payouts of nearly $1 billion (about $1.4 billion in today’s dollars) in Oklahoma and generated about 146,000 claims.

Severe thunderstorms, including tornado events, caused $15 billion in U.S. insured losses in 2012, but that number stood at $25 billion a year earlier because of the two costliest tornado events in U.S. history: the $7.5 billion in insured damages (in 2012 dollars) arising out of the late April 2011 twisters that struck multiple states, most notably Alabama, which accounted for nearly $3 billion of the total damages; and the $7 billion in insured damages (in 2012 dollars) that resulted from the May 2011 tornado outbreak, which also impacted numerous states. Joplin, Missouri, was the hardest hit community in May 2011, incurring $2.2 billion of the $7 billion in damages, making that tornado the single largest insurance event in Missouri’s history.

“Over the past five years, insurers paid some $75 billion to victims of these events. As the events in Moore tragically demonstrate, this trend toward more violent and destructive weather patterns shows no signs of abating,” Hartwig stated.

Damage to vehicles from a tornado is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard auto insurance policy. Three out of four U.S. drivers choose to purchase comprehensive coverage (click here).

Damage to businesses from a tornado is covered under business income (also known as business interruption - click here) insurance, providing the property housing the business was hit directly. These policies cover the revenue a business would have earned, based on its financial records, had the disaster not occurred. The policy also covers additional operating expenses incurred as a result of the disaster, such as the extra expenses involved in operating out of a temporary location.

** I guess it was inevitable: some have tried to tie this tornado outbreak to global warming.  Seriously??!!  Folks...that would be like saying our chilly -- & in some places snowy --  spring is an indication of an upcoming ice age.  The Moore tornado -- while relatively rare -- is not unheard of.  The storm occurred in the middle of tornado alley during the peak of the tornado season.  Senator Boxer from California made no bones about "blaming" global warning for the nasty Oklahoma twister.  To put it mildly, that's a stretch.

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