Pat Shingleton: "How they Form and the First Tornado Spotters..."
We experienced two episodes of hail Monday evening. At 7:45 Cedarcrest Avenue reported pea sized hail and Gonzales reported the same as the cluster of thundershowers tracked through Ascension Parish. Experts believe that hailstones accumulate layers by rising and falling through up-drafts and down-drafts within the storm cell. A developing hailstone moves into a weak updraft and tumbles down into a region of super-cooled water droplets. The hailstone gathers a film of chilly water that immediately turns to ice. The pellet may fall for a considerable distance, catching an upward blast of air, then propels into freezing temperatures to gain another layer of ice. Other experts contend that instead of riding up and down in the drafts of thunderstorms, the hailstone develops from a small nucleus into a larger pellet in one, long, continuous descent. During the slow fall, the ice stone may remain almost stationary at times, suspended by powerful updrafts. As it floats through the layers of clouds, more coating occurs. The National Weather Service will initiate Tornado Awareness Month in April. From April through early October many sections of the United States will experience episodes of tornadoes. The Dixie Alley that incorporates Louisiana Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee Georgia and Kentucky has now overtaken Tornado Alley in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. Capt. Robert Miller and Maj. Ernest Fawbush believed a tornado was going to hit Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma 69 years ago. This event marked the first time in weather forecasting that a tornado warning was issued and by the time the two officers ended their shift, nothing happened. They believed that their analysis and previous research could have initiated a false alarm for the Air Force base and its occupants. However, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., a massive storm erupted with strong thunderstorms, hail and damaging winds. Just as they predicted, multiple twisters caused $6 million in damage but no injuries. The scientists proved that predictions on when a tornado could hit were possible.They made their prediction based on an archaic radar scope, climatological data, atmospheric analysis and "gut" instincts. The Air Force gave them the responsibility for severe weather forecasts for all domestic military bases. March 25, 1948, is recognized as the first tornado warning day.