30. June 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip 2011: Tornado Season 2011 Up Close… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

The route we planned from Florida to Pennsylvania took us right across some of the destruction paths from this past spring’s Tornado “Superoutbreak” of April 25-28.  On this trip I crossed three of this past spring’s tornado paths, each are discussed below.

While part of me as a “weather weenie” finds a fascination in getting to see a tornado in action (I’ve never seen one…but that’s for another discussion), I also find incredible sorrow in seeing what can get left in it wake and the pure helplessness society experiences about it.  You rarely can get more than 10 minutes’ notice once landfall has been detected, and if the tornado is large enough (such as with Joplin, MO), even 10 minutes won’t help save your valuables; the best you can do is protect yourself.

The pictures here are not mine, we proceeded so quickly through each of these areas I didn’t have the time to get the camera ready.

This experience also had me thinking about those poor folks who were innocently driving on I-59, I-81 or I-91 and suddenly a tornado screams across in their path!  I also thought about all the victims, dead and alive, and the families dealing with the aftereffects.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

About a week before I left for my vacation, a college friend had sent me some pictures from his trips to Joplin, Missouri to help clean up.

Joplin, Missouri.  This isn’t my friend’s picture, but his are VERY similar!
After this once-in-a-generation awful tornado season, here’s hoping for a safe and effective cleanup and recovery.
The Red Cross is still working with victims of all these storms — please take a moment to consider helping out, either by donating supplies through a local charity collection, or else via the American Red Cross website itself.  You can also text “REDCROSS” to the number 90999 for a quick and easy $10 donation to be added to your cell phone bill.  This is a contribution to their generic disaster relief fund, which is also supporting the midwest flooding and southwest wildfire relief efforts.

Trenton, GA

Remnants of home swept off a ridge overlooking Trenton, GA after an EF-3 tornado on April 27, 2011.  Photo: National Weather Service

We weren’t expecting it, but as we proceeded northeastward up Interstate 59 in Georgia, we pass through the small town of Trenton that’s abuzz with bulldozer and crane activity.  The trees that lined the interstate were destroyed.  We see piles of rubble on top of foundations.  Zipping by at 70+ mph, we saw it all so fast, it was tough to process what we had seen.

Two were killed in Trenton, GA.

I had a little bit of Fujita-scale forensics education in college, so I remember that piles of rubble on foundations being indicative of strong EF-3/weak EF-4 damage.  I looked up the details of the storm and the National Weather Service, Peachtree, GA office actually tracked not one but TWO tornados through Trenton, GA during the April 2011 superoutbreak.  Look for the “Dade/Walker” tornadoes in the far northwest corner of Georgia on the interactive map.

Glade Springs, VA

On I-81 in extreme southwest Virginia, as the sun was setting, the family was admiring the orangeish glow on the mountains to our east as we drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Then we see a swath of dead trees cut into the side of the mountain.  And again with the bulldozers!  This was the town of Glade Springs, VA, which experienced an EF-2 tornado the night of April 27th.

Another tornado damage path across the interstate???

Springfield, MA

This one really took me by surprise, since I made a last-minute decision to take I-91 straight south through Massachusetts out of Vermont on Monday.

On June 1st, a tornado struck downtown Springfield, killing 4 people.  The National Weather Service confirmed it as an EF-3.

Reminiscent of the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season that our family experienced, just south of downtown Springfield, blue tarps dominated the rooftops.  Once again we were greeted with the telltale broken tree trunks and blown over road signs.  The track of the storm was nearly perpendicular to I-91.

I was thinking about how old the town of Springfield, Mass. is and how old many of those buildings must have been.  Statistically, such strong tornadic thunderstorms are rare in New England.