The Wind From Hell- Continued

In last month’s column I discussed tornadoes in Ohio and locally. This is a continuation of that subject.

The deadliest tornado in the history of the United States was the deadly “tri state tornado” of March 18, 1925. Besides being the deadliest tornado in history, it was also one of the fastest moving and had the longest track on the ground of any tornado reported. This monster formed near the town of Ellington Missouri in the southeastern part of the state around 100 PM local time. Then it traveled on a path northeast into southern Illinois and ultimately dissipated near Princeton Indiana four hours later. This tornado traveled 217 miles on the ground and was estimated to be an EF5 tornado with winds estimated to be over 300 miles per hour. The number of deaths from this tornado was 695 people with most of the deaths being in Illinois. The forward speed of this tornado was estimated to be between 60 and 70 miles per hour along much of its track.

The peak “season” for tornadoes is in the spring with the months of March through May being the “peak” of the season. But tornadoes have formed in every month of the year and in every state in the United States. In fact, earlier this year a rare tornado struck the Los Angeles area. Generally, winter is the season least likely to see tornadoes. But on December 10, 2021, an EF4 long track tornado formed in western Tennessee, crossed into Kentucky, killing 57 people and injuring 533 people along its path. The town of Mayfield Kentucky was the hardest hit. This tornado had a track of over 165 miles. This past winter has seen a record number of winter tornadoes in the southeastern part of the country.

The year 2011 was a year with the most tornadoes and some of the deadliest in recent history. A total of 1705 confirmed tornadoes were recorded that year in the United States. The “super outbreak” of April 25 – 28 in the southeastern United States was one of the largest and deadliest in history. During this outbreak a total of 360 confirmed tornadoes were reported causing 324 fatalities. The state of Alabama was the hardest hit with some towns wiped off the map. Then a month later, on May 22, an EF5 tornado struck Joplin Missouri, killing 155 people.

Normally summer is not a big season for tornadoes in the United States, particularly in Ohio. However, on July 12, 1992, Ohio recorded the highest number of tornadoes of any day since records were kept. A total of 28 tornadoes were reported that day in northern Ohio from Fulton County west of Toledo to Portage County. Damage was reported near the intersection of Ohio route 2 and US route 250 south of Sandusky and in North Ridgeville in Lorain County. The number of tornadoes reported in Ohio during July 1992 was 44 tornadoes and a state record of 61 tornadoes were reported in Ohio during 1992 with some being reported in November that year.

Tornadoes are formed primarily when a cold, dry air mass collides with a warm, humid air mass. Usually, the cold air mass is moving south from Canada and when this is aggravated by a strong low pressure system, the ingredients are all together for large storms that can produce tornadoes. The two major forces that cause a tornado to form are lift and rotation. Warm air rises and when warm humid air is rising rapidly because of the advancing cold air or there is a strong low pressure center this causes greater lift. If the warm air is rising faster than the air is naturally cooled by the altitude, the air mass is unstable and will keep rising until it reaches the upper atmosphere. This creates the large thunderstorm clouds so common in the spring and summer.

But not all thunderstorms produce tornadoes. To create a tornado, there must be rotation of the air within the storm. That rotation is caused by winds converging from different directions or “wind shear”. Usually this is when the air at the lower levels is moving in one direction while the winds at higher levels are moving in another direction. Normally this creates a lot of turbulence in a thunderstorm but not tornadoes because there isn’t enough lift. However, when the temperatures and humidities are the greatest such as in spring, there is more lift that can cause that rotating air to become vertical, then a tornado is formed.

Very frequently in late summer and fall, we see waterspouts over Lake Erie. These are caused by cold air moving over a warner lake which causes the lift from the rising air and the wind has some shear to it which causes the rotation. But these cold air waterspouts are not very dangerous and usually dissipate as they reach land. But they can cause some problems on the beach.

The same phenomenon often happens on hot summer days when a rising column of air on a sunny day may develop a spin caused by the hot air rising and the winds causing sone shear. These are harmless and can stir up dust and hay but are short lived. In a desert, these whirls, or “dust devils” can get quite large and reach high into the sky, but often there isn’t a cloud so these may cause some problems, they are not deadly or dangerous and usually don’t last long.

Source material for this column came from Thunder in the Heartland by Thomas W and Jeanne A Schmidlin, Kent State University Press 1996 and the National Weather Service as well as my studies in Meteorology and Climatology as a student at Kent State University.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 11:01 AM, 05.01.2023