Moore tornado likely to be upgraded

There’s been some confusing reporting on the rating of the tornadoes that devastated Moore, OK, yesterday. Earlier today some outlets reported it was an F4, this afternoon others reported an F5. I’ve dug around and can’t be certain, but what appears to be happening is various parts of the twister’s path are being analyzed and those findings help assigned a rating on the Fujita Scale for that portion of the ground track. In addition, the scale now used is the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is why you see the EF designation popping up. The original F designation cuts off for an F5 at winds greater than 261 MPH, the EF scale cuts off at 200 MPH. The reason the older scale is considered obsolete has to do with how wind works. Momenta of wind or swirling debris moves with the square of the velocity, but a newer metric called energy dissipated is proportional to the cube.

It is likely some EF5 portions will come to light and that may be beginning already. When you see cars tossed like they are above, on top of a shredded steel-reinforced cinder-block storm-rated hospital, that’s usually gonna be as bad at it gets. If surface winds in a hurricane were to get as strong as they did yesterday in Moore, we would have to extend the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Intensity Scale to at least Category Seven. Whether it crosses the 261 MPH threshold remains to be seen, but that is extremely rare and depends on precise measurements at the greatest max intensity which are almost impossible to gather directly without exposing very specialized equipment to the wall of the vortex. It’s also just academic at this point.

Oklahoma: clean up, death toll revised DOWN, Sen Coburn miscalculates

In a battered region where good news is hard to come by, the death toll on Oklahoma has been revised down and currently stands at 24. Meanwhile, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Naturally) just couldn’t resist, he shot his mouth off demanding budget cut offsets before he’d vote for federal aid while bodies were just getting pulled from the rubble, and he’s getting slammed on Facebook for it. A sample of that below the fold: [Read more…]

Christi ready to flip-flop on climate change?

New Jersey Governor Chris Christi has ticked off movement conservatives in a lot of ways. One of them was recognizing the role climate change can play in tropical cyclones. It’s hard to say for sure from a single off the cuff comment, but he may now be considering a run for the wingnut vote:

MotherJones — (August 2011) Chris Christie, the combative Republican governor of New Jersey, thinks that climate change is a problem and humans are causing it. “Climate change is real…[and] impacting our state,” he said in August 2011. “Human activity plays a role in these changes.” … in simply acknowledging that climate change is not some liberal conspiracy, Christie is standing out from the GOP pack.

(May 2013) —  And so we circle back now to Christie on the boardwalk. Should New Jersey have prepared with climate change in mind? No, the governor said, “’cause I don’t think there’s been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change.”

That’s a subtle statement, it could be taken in several ways. His actual record on the issue, though, pulling out of agreements and whacking clean energy funding, is mediocre at best. Regardless, Christi picked a bad time to limber up for the obligatory flip-flop, if that’s what it was, his remark came right before Oklahoma was pummeled by a slew of tornadoes sure to reignite the issue.

Guess who voted against emergency management & disaster relief?

Oklahoma ranks third in the nation on disaster relief. That puts an unwelcome spotlight on two of the slimiest purportedly God fear’n denizens in DC. US Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe have more than anti-science lunacy and extreme right-wing fundamentalism in common. Both these clowns are deficit hawks who have repeatedly voted against disaster relief and tried to kill funding for FEMA: [Read more…]

Tornado forms and devastates Oklahoma on cue

 I moved the video under the fold because it was annoying readers — DS

Like something out of The Day After Tomorrow, a massive EF5 twister formed while cable news stations covered it live and swept through neighborhoods and schools in and around Oklahoma City this afternoon. Death and destruction is just now starting to emerge and if there any readers in that region, please, let us know you are OK.

I’ll now dispense with the usual dice roll analogy: this is exactly what some consequences of climate change are predicted to look like. More at Weatherdude’s Diary and Jeff Masters. Masters sent me this prerelease on what he’s working on for later tonight which included this: [Read more…]