Though it seems I just got started on the Grand Canyon project, this day is one to set aside for thinking about tornadoes. This afternoon, I listened on the radio to an interview with a recent immigrant from California to Moore, Oklahoma. With tears in her voice, she spoke of how “scary, really scary” she found frequent tornadoes in her adopted home state. When I interned at Argonne National Lab many many many years ago, a local described the tornado that had passed through the fringe of the lab a few years previously. He said the noise of the approaching tornado made him think of a T. Rex roaring through the forest. This was before the Jurassic Park movies had transformed T. Rex into a helpful bad-guy removing plot device.
On the positive side, just down the road from Moore, college students at the University of Oklahoma are designing ways to use the DOD money invested in drone technology to create drones capable of collecting essential data which will vastly improve the ability to forecast tornadoes and predict their motions more accurately. Check out their work at the Government Technology e-mag page. To understand how important it is to gather data to analyze, consider this NOAA consolidation of data over time which suggests when and where tornadoes are most likely…you can check in on these data on NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center site, daily.