Meteorologist looks back on 2012 tornadoes
Presentation focuses on March 2, encourages preparedness
Friday, February 22, 2013 10:00 AM
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville presented information to commemorate the March 2, 2012, tornadoes and discussed how to prepare for severe weather as the one-year anniversary approaches.
TORNADO LESSON: National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Sullivan uses radar, photos and other historical data to look back on the March 2, 2012, tornadoes, during a special presentation at the Trimble County Public Library on Thursday. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchiefirstname.lastname@example.org)
National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Joe Sullivan, speaking Thursday at the Trimble County Public Library, showed the formation and tracking of several tornadoes that struck Indiana and Kentucky nearly a year ago. His presentation focused on the system of tornadoes that traveled nearly 49 miles in 49 minutes, destroying homes near Henryville and Chelsea before crossing the Ohio River and lifting in Trimble County, Ky.
Sullivan noted National Weather Service officials usually find that residents near areas affected by tornadoes often turn a blind eye to future storms or become consumed with fear about any kind of weather event.
"We don't want people to fear the weather," he said.
Instead, Sullivan hopes people take note of emergency alerts for severe weather. Because of computer models used to track storms, area resident usually have several minutes of advanced warning to take cover before storms hit.
Predictions didn't stop the loss of lives and property that day in March, but the warning did give many residents notice of the storms nearly 24 hours in advance.
"It did a really, really good job that day," Sullivan said of the computer model.
The storm warnings issued before the tornadoes on March 2 allowed schools to hold or release students before the storms hit and gave residents enough time to take cover in safe places. Six area deaths were recorded that day.
The super cell of storms that passed through the Indiana and Kentucky area created several tornadoes. Two tornadoes touched down in Henryville before traveling through Jefferson County, Ind., and Trimble County, Ky. The first tornado, an EF 4, created most of the damage. Another tornado, an EF 1, followed in a similar path through the areas.
"It's really unusual for one (tornado) to come right after another one," Sullivan said.
But that March day wasn't like any other throughout recent history.
"There were tornadoes reported in counties where they had never been recorded before (in Eastern Kentucky)," he said.
Even though that day might have been an anomaly, the threat of severe weather always has the chance to occur.
Should an emergency warning be issued, Sullivan encourages residents to take cover in a safe, interior space in their home. People living in mobile homes should take cover in another structure or basement if possible.
"(Mobile homes) are just bad places to be in a tornado," he said.
Sullivan also warned people traveling in vehicles to take cover in a structure or basement, if possible, and to avoid ditches. Heavy rains and debris may cause ditches to become hazardous during severe storms, he said.
Sullivan also noted severe weather activity can take place at almost any time throughout the year.
"In recent years, we haven't had (just one tornado) season," Sullivan said. "We haven't had normal weather in 20 years."