Friday, November 22, 2019
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Dozens die in tornadoes & flooding from TX to IL

More than 40 people were killed during the week of Christmas in severe storms that stretched from Texas to Alabama, from Mississippi to Illinois.

Sunday in Lubbock, Texas (John Weast / Getty Images News)

At least 11 people were killed in Garland, Texas, which is near Dallas, by a tornado that carved a path through there Saturday evening. As many as 11 tornadoes swept North Texas, officials said, the New York Times reports.

(Source: National Weather Service, Fort Worth, Texas

A separate tornado in Texas, rated an EF-3 storm, injured about two dozen people in the town of Rowlett, according to Brian Funderburk, the city manager. Of more than 500 homes inspected, 80 were completely destroyed by the tornado and more than 300 sustained damage.

North of Dallas, a historic blizzard swept through the Texas panhandle and into Oklahoma. A state of emergency was declared in four counties in Texas. Gov Greg Abbott told people, “We need you to remain vigilant,” the New York Times reported. “We need you to listen to local authorities’ warnings about action you need to take.”

The same series of storms has given rise to winter weather advisories and warnings for most of northern Illinois today, including a high-wind warning for the Chicago lakefront.

“It’s going to be a really nasty day,” the Chicago Tribune quoted meteorologist Ricky Castro as saying about today, especially this morning, in Chicago. Travel near Peoria was said to be nearly impossible on Monday, according to a report in the Peoria Journal-Star.

Snow and icing expected in Illinois this morning can cause dangerous driving conditions and power outages, as the ice weighs down power lines. Conditions will be worsened by winds of 30 mph with gusts of about 50 mph, especially in northern and northwestern Illinois.

Authorities in southern states, from Texas to Alabama, have been dealing with tornadoes, heavy rain, flooding, and even snow as far west as El Paso, from this same system of severe storms. The weather has been responsible for at least 10 deaths in Mississippi, one in Arkansas, and six in Tennessee.

Families in other states have suffered losses from the severe storms as well, including six people in Missouri who drowned in their vehicles after being swept off the road in Pulaski County and a family of five in Patoka, Illinois, who were victims of floodwaters in Marian County as they traveled from Minnesota to Kentucky.

Killer tornadoes are rare in December

Very rarely do killer tornadoes strike in the month of December anywhere in the continental US. Greg Carbin tweets from the NWS Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma:

December 2015 completes a three-year streak of Decembers with tornado fatalities (2 in 2013, 5 in 2014). The last time the US had three consecutive Decembers with tornado fatalities was in 1967–69 (10 in 1967 and 1 each in 1968 and 1969).

We cover weather in order to encourage the study and pursuit of science as a career and in direct support of science standards that have been adopted in both Maryland and Illinois, including NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea ESS2.D (Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns; because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted probabilistically; the ocean exerts a major influence on weather and climate by absorbing energy from the sun, releasing it over time, and globally redistributing it through ocean currents), among others.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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