Year's first deadly tornado kills eight in Oklahoma
The first killer tornado of 2009 swept through Lone Grove, Oklahoma yesterday, killing eight people and seriously injuring 14 more. Lone Grove is a town of 4,600 about 100 miles south of Oklahoma City. The large, 1/2 mile wide twister dropped down from an isolated supercell thunderstorm that formed in advance of a strong cold front that swept through the Great Plains yesterday afternoon. Three other tornadoes were also reported yesterday, two in Oklahoma and one in Texas. It was the first significant severe weather outbreak of the year in the U.S., and it spawned the first tornadoes of the year in Texas and Oklahoma. This year is a far cry from 2008, which had one of the most severe and deadly early tornado seasons on record, and ended up as the second busiest tornado year since record keeping began in 1950. In January of 2008, 84 tornadoes were observed, compared to the 10 (preliminary) observed in 2009. The slower start to tornado season this year reflects the very dry January we had. January 2009 ranked as the 5th driest and 59 warmest in the 114-year record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. It was the record driest January in portions of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, and upstate New York.
The storm that spawned yesterday's tornadoes will drag a cold front across much of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys today. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is giving a Slight Risk of severe weather over these regions today. The main threat will be severe thunderstorms with high winds and hail, rather than tornadoes.
Figure 1. Severe weather reports for February 10, 2009. Image credit: NOAA/SPC.
Figure 2. January 2009 precipitation was the 5th lowest on record for the contiguous U.S. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
Weather Underground Becomes National Sponsor of Portlight Relief Walks
Charleston, SC - Portlight Strategies, Inc., - a national grassroots non-profit organization--announced this week that Weather Underground, Inc., will be National Sponsor of the First Annual Portlight Relief Walk series of national awareness and fund raising events. Hundreds of members of the Weather Underground blog community teamed with Portlight Strategies, Inc., throughout the Fall of 2008 to provide much need relief services and supplies to victims of Hurricane Ike along the Texas coast.
These relief efforts focused on helping people with disabilities, as well as people in small towns and rural areas often marginalized by the larger institutional relief infrastructure.
Portlight Strategies, Inc., has committed to building on the stunning success of this collaborative, grassroots initiative.
In order to expand our community of supporters - and to create a financial reserve to enable strategic, proactive response in the future--Portlight is organizing walk-a-thon style events in 40 U S cities. Organizing committees have already begun meeting to plan these events in their hometowns and communities. Relief Walks will be held on weekends through the Spring and early Summer.
"Weather Underground stepping up to be our National Sponsor is a huge honor" said Paul Timmons, Jr., Portlight Strategies, Inc., Board Chair. "Our Ike efforts were born of hundreds of weather lovers coming together on the www.wunderground.com site. It's a perfect fit that Weather Underground will sponsor our first national event."
"Weather Underground is proud to have facilitated Portlight's initial success"' said Toby Skinner, of Weather Underground, Inc. "And we are pleased to be National Sponsor of Portlight's First Annual National Relief Walk event.
"The Weather Underground community was the Genesis of our post Ike success," said Timmons, "By agreeing to be National Sponsor of our First Annual National Relief Walk event, Weather Underground, Inc., becomes equally integral to our future ability to serve. We are grateful for their support and confidence."
For more information on Portlight Strategies, Inc., including the story of their Ike relief efforts and information on our Relief Walk, please visit: www.portlight.org or their Featured Blog.
I'll have a new blog post on Thursday.