Saturday, February 03, 2007

Florida Tornadoes

Photos from National Weather Service Forecast Office in Tampa Bay, FL

Groundhog's Day was a tragic day for residents of central Florida as devastating tornadoes ripped through the state. By now, you've probably seen photos and television footage of the damage. The scenes look more like tornado damage across Tornado Alley in the spring, but these photos are from central Florida in the middle of winter. The damage was also done in the middle of the night. Just proof that damaging tornadoes can occur anywhere, anytime of the year, and anytime of the day or night.

At last check, the Associated Press reported at least 20 people were killed in the tornadoes. Tornado warnings were issued before the tornadoes struck, but many people probably did not hear those warnings since the tornadoes hit in the middle of the night.

Like most communities in North Carolina, the communities devastated by Friday morning's tornadoes did not have warning sirens. However, there is a way to be warned of severe weather even in the middle of the night. It's as simple as purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio. These radios sound an alarm anytime a severe weather warning is issued for your area. The latest models can be programmed to sound an alarm for only your county and only the warnings you want to know about like tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings. Many electronic stores and online retailers have these radios in stock for less than $50. NOAA Weather Radios should be a must have in your home just like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

In other news from the Florida tornadoes, this will be the first time the new Enhanced Fujita Scale is used to rate the strength of tornadoes. This new scale replaces the old Fujita scale that has been used in the past. According to the National Weather Service, the new Enhanced Fujita, or EF, scale was developed to rate tornadoes in a more consistent and accurate manner.

The EF scale still rates tornadoes from zero to five, but the ranges in wind speed of each category are said to be more accurate. Twenty-eight damage indicators such as building type, structures, and trees are used to rate tornadoes.

You can read more about Friday morning's tornadoes, NOAA Weather Radio, and the Enhanced Fujita Scale at the following links --

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