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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 64  |  August 11, 2020

Dennis’ Tidbits


March 24, 2020

Showers aplenty, but no tornadoes for us! 

Dennis 5Here on Sunday evening, another round of showers is visiting Laguna after a pretty nice weekend. At this time (9:30 p.m. on Sunday), our season total stands at 11.71 inches, so we’re right there. We need another 2.24 inches between now and June 30th to finish at 13.95, which is our seasonal normal, and at the current pace, we should reach that mark. 

We’re pretty safe from the wrath of destructive tornadoes out here on the West Coast, but you folks east of the Rockies are bracing for the worst, as the season is underway. No other place in the world has been hit as often and as hard as the greater Oklahoma City area. Since 1892 they have been struck 36 times. The heaviest victim has been the town of Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb southeast of Oklahoma City, which has been ravaged by four EF-5 twisters since 1999. They should rename the town Less. In May of 2013, the largest tornado, an EF-5, touched down near El Reno, Oklahoma, with winds up to 318 mph and a width of 2.6 miles! Picture a tornado that stretches from Crescent Bay to almost Victoria Beach!

Tornadoes may occur at any hour of the day or night, but because of the meteorological combinations that create them, they form most readily during the warmest hours of the day. The greatest number of tornadoes, 82 percent of the total, occurs between noon and midnight, and the greatest single concentration, 23 percent of the total tornado activity, falls between 4 and 6 p.m.

Tornado Characteristics: Their direction of movement is usually from the southwest to northeast, however, tornadoes that are associated with hurricanes may move from an easterly direction. Their length of path averages about four miles but may reach 300 miles. Back in May of 1917, a tornado traveled 303 miles across Illinois and Indiana, lasting 7 hours and 20 minutes. 

A tornado’s normal width is around 300-400 yards but there was a 2.6-mile-wide twister in Oklahoma in May of 2013. An average forward speed is about 25-40 mph but they can range from nearly stationary to almost 70 mph, depending on their parent super cell thunderstorm’s travel speed. The type of cloud that pops out these monsters is always a super cell thunderstorm, a dark, heavy cumulonimbus cloud from which a whirling funnel-shaped pendant extends all the way to the ground. 

When that occurs, the system is officially a tornado. Until that happens, it’s just called a funnel cloud. Here out West, we don’t have the atmospheric dynamics that are needed to create violent tornadoes but once you are east of the continental divide, it’s a whole different ballgame. Precipitation associated with the tornado usually occurs first as rain just preceding the storm, frequently with hail, and as a heavy downpour immediately to the side of the tornado’s path. 

Finally, the sound occurring during a tornado has been described as a roaring rushing noise, closely approximating that made by a train speeding through a tunnel or over a trestle, or the roar of many airplanes.

I witnessed my very first tornado in Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas on April 1, 1967 while attending weather school at the Base. Amarillo is situated at the southern part of Tornado Alley. 

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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