Many of you may not know that my background is in severe thunderstorms meteorology and understanding the environments associated with those thunderstorms. Its the subject of my PhD but also my passion, and I depart to stormchase in the great plains in about a weeks time. I pay close attention to the happenings of weather across the world and I felt it important to raise this here. This is very much the dark side of what can happen when the atmosphere turns violent.
Unfortunately yesterday in Alabama one of the more devastating thunderstorm related disasters occured and obliterated large portions of multiple cities. While outbreaks commonly occur in the Great Plains states of sparse population, every now and again a heavily populated area is hit by an outbreak, and in this case one of amazing ferocity which produced likely in excess of 100 confirmed tornadoes, many rated at the top end of the scale. 284 people are dead at last count and the death toll continues to rise in Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Missisippi, Arkansas and Tenesse. Over 1 million people are without power in Alabama, and thousands of homes have been completely destroyed. To put it into perspective this is very much like their black saturday and it would be sad if we didn't pay this event the same attention as they did in that time of crisis. The last event of a similar scale was the superoutbreak of 1974, which killed 313, and on current indications this event will exceed it, the number of dead is completely unknown but a classic example of what happens when violent tornadoes occur in highly populated cities, and the dangers of technological failure surrounding the warning system (ironically knocked out by morning thunderstorms). The worst part about these storms for me was knowing they were likely to happen, and seeing my worst fears realised. These people had little warning of these deadly tornadoes, and the only place was underground in a purpose built shelter and unfortunately many had no chance. I spent most of yesterday feeling physically ill as I watched what unfolded with no control. My deepest sympathies are with the victims, and I will be making a donation of 50% of money from image sales that arise from my storm images on this trip and from past trips to the appeal as well. Please contact me if you would like to join in a similar venture for storm related images.
If you haven't been following, take a look at the following but I warn you the images may haunt you like they have me. There is extensive video, but I don't feel it appropriate to show so please PM me if you would like a link to some of the more impressive videos.
WARNING: THIS LINK CONTAINS PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES THAT SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND DISTURBING, IF YOU ARE OF A SENSITIVE DISPOSITION I SUGGEST YOU DO NOT CLICK.
In light of this terrible event, if you feel you want to contribute to the recovery of these peoples lives donate to the American red cross at :[URL="http://www.redcross.org"] [url]www.redcross.org[\url] any donation I think would be appreciated, as many of those affected have lost loved ones and come from poor backgrounds.
Just thought I'd bring that to peoples attention.