First Alert Weather In-Depth: Quad-State Tornado

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Have you seen some of the devastating pictures that are coming out of Mayfield, Kentucky after a tornado whipped through it Friday night?

From a meteorological standpoint, it is produced tremendous amounts of damage that took place in a short amount of time.

A look at the actual map shows the possible path on this particular tornado. And going forward, this will be known as the “Quad-State Tornado”. This had an impact from Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and up toward Kentucky.

This is going to be devastating even from the standpoint of the team that has to go into the field and do a survey of the damage. To accomplish this the National Weather Service goes in and talks to people. They take pictures and aerial photographs. They use GPS and they rate the intensity of this tornado.

At this point, it has a preliminary rating on the Fujita Scale of an EF3 and this means the winds were on the order of 136 to 165 mph.

However, we believe there is a good possibility that this is going to be elevated to an EF4 which would bring the winds closer to 200 mph.
Why do you get a tornado with this kind of intensity? It really comes down to the wind structure of the atmosphere. In this kind of set-up, we get winds coming in from one direction at the surface and then a different direction and speed and in the higher atmosphere. This produces a rotating column of air. That rotating column of air is then drawn into a mesocyclone that is this very intense. It can actually change is the wind structure of the atmosphere and it will draw the column of rotating air into the thunderstorms cell. At that point, it intensifies even more. A wall cloud can develop and evolve into a funnel cloud. This is eventually is lowered down to an actual tornado. Obviously, they then start dealing with some of the horrific damage.

We had our own wind damage to contend with this weekend and I certainly do not want to minimize that, but this just gives you just an idea of the intensity of mother nature.