EXPLAINER: Why South gets more killer tornadoes at night

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Christine Wiecek, left, and her husband Robert Patchus, second left, talk to neighbors amongst debris of their damaged homes after a tornado struck the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago. Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Forget “The Wizard of Oz.” Tornadoes are causing far more deaths and destruction east and south of Kansas these days. And they’re often doing it in the dark of night.

Tuesday night’s deadly tornado that struck the New Orleans area is the ideal example of what experts say is the 21st century problem with twisters: Killer tornadoes have shifted a bit out of the vast emptiness of the Great Plains, more into the Southeast where there are more people to hit, poorer populations and more trees to obscure twisters from view.

And if that’s not enough, these Southeast twisters are more likely to strike at night when they are more dangerous.

Here’s a closer look at what’s behind the shift:

WHY ARE TORNADOES KILLING MORE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE GREAT PLAINS?

Since 2000, nearly 89% of the 1,653 Americans killed by tornadoes—not counting this week’s victims—lived east of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to an Associated Press analysis of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

Last year, 100 people were killed by tornadoes in Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. One person was killed in Texas.

Cody Scott searches the attic for belongings after a tornado tore the roof off of his father-in-law’s home, in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago. Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

It’s not so much a meteorology problem but a people one, tornado experts said.

“It’s a function of the human-built environment,” said Victor Gensini, a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University who specializes in . “The Mid-South does get a lot of tornadoes, but in the Mid-South we have more things to hit. We have more bull’s eyes on the dartboard. We have more cities. We have more weak frame housing stock. Tornadoes happen more often there at night, which is exactly what we saw last night.”

Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory, said traditional 20th century tornadoes, the type that make Oklahoma and Kansas famous, are less deadly because they go for miles without anything in the way. In 1991, he and his wife chased for 66 miles a tornado in Oklahoma that had winds hit 286 mph. It hit two barns; no one but a few cows were hurt.

Put that storm near New Orleans at night and dozens of people would be killed, probably many more. In the Southeast “all it takes is a weather event to occur and you’ll have people in the way,” Brooks said.

DOES CLIMATE CHANGE HAVE A ROLE?

In 2018, Brooks and Gensini published a scientific study showing deadly tornadoes were happening less frequently in the tornado alley of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas and more frequently in “tornado fatality alley, which is the Mid-South,” Gensini said.

What’s likely happening is that the West is getting drier because of human-caused , which makes it harder for the air to become moist and unstable, which is crucial for tornado formation, they said. The Southeast is getting warmer air, which holds more , which creates that important instability, Gensini said.

A truck lies on this side in front of a destroyed home after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago. Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Climate models predict this type shift 50 years in the future or so, yet it appears to be happening now, Gensini said.

But Gensini, Brooks and University of Ohio meteorology professor Jana Houser emphasized that they don’t see a climate change signal in Tuesday’s deadly Louisiana tornado.

There’s a La Nina, a natural periodic cooling of parts of the Pacific that shifts global weather patterns, and that usually means more tornadoes in the Southeast because of changes in the jet stream and moisture, they said.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT NIGHT TORNADOES ?

Tuesday’s nighttime tornado illustrated a problem because when twisters hit at night, people can’t see them coming as easily and often don’t react as well, the tornado experts said.

About three-quarters of the tornadoes that hit Oklahoma and other Great Plains states occur between 5 and 9 p.m. so people know when to expect them and its more daylight, Brooks said. But in the Southeast they can hit any time, which means more often at night than in Oklahoma, making them more dangerous.

Another reason they happen more at night in the Southeast is because they happen more in the springtime and there are just fewer daylight hours, Gensini said. Spring storms are juicier and stronger than summer ones so they don’t need the sun’s daytime heat to add that extra kick of energy to spur tornadoes, he said.

Responders work amidst debris after a tornado swept through the area in Arabi, La., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. A tornado tore through parts of New Orleans and its suburbs Tuesday night, ripping down power lines and scattering debris in a part of the city that had been heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago. Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

WHAT ABOUT THE LANDSCAPE?

The Southeast is also hurt by having more trees, hills and buildings that block people’s views of incoming storms.

When there’s a tornado warning in the Southeast, often people are “out to their front porch and they don’t really see anything, and it just kind of looks like, you know, a dark sky,” Houser said. “They may be less likely to actually heed those warnings than if they are walking out their door and they see a tornado on the horizon, even if it’s far away. So there’s a little bit of geography that plays a role there.”

ANY GOOD NEWS FOR THE REGION?

The one advantage in the Southeast have is that they are easier for meteorologists to forecast the conditions ripe for bad outbreaks much earlier. Tuesday’s severe storm was warned about eight days in advance by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, which is unusual, Brooks said.



© 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation:
EXPLAINER: Why South gets more killer tornadoes at night (2022, March 23)
retrieved 23 March 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-south-killer-tornadoes-night.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

% %item_read_more_button%% Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks — #metaverse #vr #ar #wordpress

Hexbyte Glen Cove Martian Image: the ridges of ‘South Séítah’

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This annotated image indicates the location of several prominent geologic features visible in a mosaic composed of 84 pictures taken by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard Perseverance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA’s Perseverance rover captures a geologic feature with details that offer clues to the area’s mysterious past.

Ask any space explorer, and they’ll have a favorite photograph or two from their mission. For Jorge Núñez, an astrobiologist and planetary scientist working on the science team of NASA’s Perseverance rover, one of his current favorites is a rover’s-eye panorama of the “South Séítah” region of Mars’ Jezero Crater. Exploring the geologic unit was among the major objectives of the team’s first science campaign because it may contain some of the deepest, and potentially oldest, rocks in the giant crater.

“Just like any excited tourist approaching the end of a major road trip, we stopped at a lookout to get a first view of our destination,” said Núñez, who is based at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “This panorama is spectacular because you feel like you are there. It shows not only the incredible scale of the area, but also all the exploration possibilities South Séítah has to offer. With multiple intriguing rocky outcrops and ridgelines, each one is seemingly better than the last. If it’s not a field geologist’s dream, it’s pretty close.”

This image indicates the location of several prominent geologic features visible in a mosaic composed of 84 pictures taken by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Composed of 84 individual enhanced-color images that were later stitched together, the mosaic was taken on Sept. 12 (the 201st Martian day, or sol, of the mission) by the Mastcam-Z camera system as the rover was parked on an elevated overlook just outside its entry point into South Séítah. Perseverance had just completed a record 190-yard (175-meter) drive the previous sol.

The mosaic was taken at the highest magnification and stretched to allow subtle color differences in the rocks and soil to be visible to the naked eye. Left of center and halfway up the image are the gray, darker gray, and Swiss-coffee-colored rocky outcrops of the ridge nicknamed “Faillefeu” (after a medieval abbey in the French Alps). The distinctly thin, at times tilted layering evident in several of Faillefeu’s rocks would have been high on the science team’s list of things to explore, because tilted layering suggests the possibility of tectonic activity. But similar features—along with other compelling geology—were visible on another ridgeline that the mission’s science team opted to explore instead.

The “Martre Ridge” (named after a commune in southeastern France) is like Faillefeu except three times as big. It contains not only low-lying flat rocks near the base of the ridge, but also rocky outcrops with thin layering at the base and massive caprocks near and at the ridge’s peak. The caprocks are usually made of harder, more resistant material than those stacked below them, suggesting potential differences in how the material was deposited.

“Another cool thing about this image is that one can also see in the background, on the right, the path Perseverance took as it made its way to South Séítah,” said Núñez. “And finally, there is the peak of ‘Santa Cruz’ far in the distance. We’re currently not planning on going there; it’s too far out of our way. But it is geologically interesting, reinforcing just how much great stuff the team gets to pick and choose from here at Jezero. It also looks cool.”



Citation:
Martian Image: the ridges of ‘South Séítah’ (2021, October 16)
retrieved 17 October 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-martian-image-ridges-south-stah.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Read More Hexbyte Glen Cove Educational Blog Repost With Backlinks —

Hexbyte Glen Cove South America ravaged by unprecedented drought and fires thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove South America ravaged by unprecedented drought and fires

Hexbyte Glen Cove

In this file picture taken on September 13, 2020 a man gestures in a burnt area of the Pantanal in Brazil, part of a large area ravaged by fires

Under stress from a historic drought, large swathes of forest and wetlands in central South America known for their exceptional biodiversity have been ravaged by devastating fires.

Experts say the wildfires in a region that spans Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay—especially the region between the Paraguay, Parana and Uruguay rivers—have become critical in 2020.

“There has been a dramatic increase in fires. In Argentina there has been an increase of around 170 percent, it’s very serious,” said Elisabeth Mohle, an environmental politics researcher at Argentina’s San Martin National University (UNSM).

She says it’s part of a wider problem affecting multiple regions around the world this year, including in Brazil’s Amazonas state, Australia, California, and the Gran Chaco, South America’s second largest forest after the Amazon.

The Pantanal—the world’s largest wetlands that span Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay—is experiencing its worst drought in 47 years.

The Parana river—one of the most powerful on the planet that originates in Brazil and empties into the River Plate estuary—is at its lowest level since 1970.

In August it was down to 80-centimeters in Rosario, eastern Argentina, rather than the usual 3-4 meters for that time of year.

It’s the same thing with the Paraguay river that is at its lowest level “in half a century,” according to Paraguay’s national weather center in Asuncion.

The fires have killed wildlife, including this alligator beside the Transpantaneira park road in the Pantanal wetlands in Brazil

‘Desert of ashes’

The fires are being fanned by ideal conditions, including , temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and the dry season in which farmers use slash-and-burn techniques to try to regenerate the soil.

In Paraguay, “the fires … at the end of September and first week of October, broke all records,” Eduardo Mingo, a top official at the national weather center, told AFP.

The number of fires were up 46 percent in 2020, according to authorities.

Paraguay’s capital Asuncion and several towns in northeastern Argentina and southern Brazil spent days and even weeks submerged under a thick fog due to the intense fires.

And without the usual rainfall that moistens the soil, the wetlands have been particularly badly affected.

Images from the Brazilian Pantanal of the charred carcases of birds, snakes, caimans and trees have shocked the world.

In this file picture taken on September 27, 2020 a ring tailed coati receives medical attention from vets at the Guilherme de Arruda Environmental Education and Inspection centre in the Transpantaneira area of the Pantanal in Mato Grosso State, Brazil

A quarter of the area was devastated between January and September, while the Paraguayan Pantanal had already been badly affected by fires in 2019.

The Parana Delta that is home to species such as the jaguar, Pampas cat and several rodents, has been hit by fires of an unprecedented intensity since January, leaving a “desert of ashes” over tens of thousands of hectares of wetlands.

“Reptiles, migratory birds, and tortoises have died,” Cesar Massi, a naturalist in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, told AFP.

“I remember that during the last drought in 2008, there were fires. But this year they’ve been stronger, more intense and lasted longer.”

Reduced protection budgets

Agriculture is a massive source of income for the countries in this region but the slash-and-burn techniques used aggravate the situation.

In the north of Argentina “despite COVID-19 restrictions, between March 15 and September 30… twice the area of Buenos Aires was deforested,” according to Greenpeace.

Red glow from fire is seen at the wetlands of Pantanal in Brazil on September 13, 2020

The Mighty Earth NGO says that Paraguay’s dry forests are “one of the main sites of deforestation in the world, mostly due to the expansion of pastureland and more recently soyabean plantations.”

Argentina’s government has accused cattle farmers of setting fires to “increase pastureland area” in the Parana Delta.

One problem is that NGOs don’t have the necessary funding from governments to enforce rules and instigate large restoration or protection projects.

“The provincial government has less and less of a budget for prevention, there are no surveillance posts, the environmental police have been disassembled,” Alfredo Leytes, a member of the Ambiente en Lucha environmental collective based in Cordoba, Argentina, told AFP.

In Brazil “there has been a 58 percent decrease in ‘Brigadistas’ contracts,” said Alica Thuault from the Centro de Vida institute, referring to the volunteers that mobilized to tackle fires. She attributes blame firmly at the feet of President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic.

Mohle wants different players, including farmers and ecologists, to work together “to regulate the use of land to ensure a more sustainable development than currently exists.”



© 2020 AFP

Citation:
South America ravaged by unprecedented drought and fires (2020, October 24)
retrieved 25 October 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-south-america-ravaged-unprecedented-drought.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.