Finally, there seems to be evidence supporting the theory
that storms are stronger and more numerous in a La Niña (when Pacific Ocean
temperatures are cool) and the numbers this year have added a lot of weight
to that theory. This may be a record year.
This particular tornado remained on the ground,
tracking just south of due east, striking mostly rural areas north of
Seneca, Missouri and the extreme northwestern part of Neosho before driving
east another 36 miles and taking aim on Newtonia, Missouri. It left a path
of destruction up to a mile wide and 74 miles long. Reports from Monett, Missouri a short time later
included 1-2 inch hail and sheet metal falling from the sky. Cars were
reported being blown through the air for distances of a quarter of a mile.
24 square blocks of Picher were destroyed and the death toll was 21 at
the time of this posting; 6 in Picher and 15 north of Seneca. I'm sorry to admit that I did not archive later frames which would show the impact on Seneca and further rotation of the super cell.
The hook barely registers on this radar, in part due to the fact that it is
a Base Reflectivity image, showing a low elevation angle. A storm Relative
image with a slightly higher elevation angle would show much greater detail.
I wasn't really paying much attention at the time and didn't swap images. Another factor to consider
is the speed at which the tornado developed, less than ten minutes. The
reflectivity radar would have required at least one or two more sweeps before verifying
a tornado. Amateur Radio / Skywarn Spotters had already reported it, thus
confirming the NWS Warnings, but you would have to have been totally blind
to miss this one.
You will often hear the term "rotation" when forecasters or TV
meteorologists talk of severe thunderstorms and this slideshow illustrates the phenomena. Watch the cell just east (to the right) of
Coffeyville, KS and you will notice that it expands and intensifies
dramatically. As it passes Chetopa, you will notice that it has formed a
tail that begins a counter-clockwise rotation. Also notice that the cell to the north dissipates as the Picher Cell
intensifies. This is common with Super Cell Clusters and it is something
that storm spotters should anticipate. Always watch your backside!
Please note: the play controls are below the image.
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