Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornado Death Toll Rising...Worst Since 1974

This YouTube video was shot yesterday in Burmingham, Alabama. It shows the width of the monsterous tornado. The estimate was 1.5 miles wide as it moved along the ground.

For those who are consumed with the task of taking in the extent of the damage and helping those who have lost loved-ones and homes...we send out our thoughts and prayers.

Photolink From WHNT

Our company owns WHNT in Huntsville and I have been watching their live updates of the storm recovery. This morning the sheriff was telling people to not travel. Gas stations are closed and people are getting stranded looking for fuel. Many cars become disabled because of the massive debris in the area. The officials said those driving were causing more problems because their tires become punctured and then the drivers are calling for help to get the cars repaired.

The official death toll this morning was approaching 200 this morning. The long-lived supercell dropped tornadoes from Arkansas to Mississippi to Alabama and Georgia last night. Today the same storm system continues to press to the east coast. There is still a threat for tornadoes in that area through the day.

It will be some hours before NWS crews will be able to assess the damage and the path of yesterday's storms. It does look like EF4 to EF5 scale damage. The last time there was an EF5 tornado in the United States was 2008 when our own Parkersburg was demolished. 8 people died in that storm.

Now would be a great time to donate to the Red Cross. Here is the link:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Historic...Huge Tornado Outbreak Today

It has been a deadly day of extreme storms in Alabama. The huge supercell outbreak continues tonight. The storms have left most of northern Alabama without power. Over 250,000 were in the dark tonight.

This is a collection of pictures from our sister station...WHNT in Huntsville, Alabama. The photolinks show just how powerful these storms were today.

You can see the very large trees snapped above the ground. That indicates the wind had to be well over 100 mph.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville had to switch it's service over to other NWS stations in the state. Their meteorologists were in the storm shelter as the tornado passed over their office.

These people are going to need a lot of help. Reports of complete damage to businesses and homes continue to come in tonight.

Debris as large as cars is falling from the sky over northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia.

The death toll continues to rise. The Weather Channel is reporting dozens of people have been killed today.

This picture is amazing. Look at the size of that wedge tornado. It was taken this morning in the Guntersville, AL area.

We never ask people to stand in harms way to take a picture of severe weather...but this shot is pretty amazing.

This Map shows the number of reported tornadoes today. The damage is beyond imagination in much of northern Alabama.

A few of the tornadoes were reported to be over a mile wide.

Many are also injured. Emergency management officials are starting to search for those missing in the path of the storm.

June 1974 Outbreak

This map shows the track of the supercells that were a part of the largest number of tornadoes in U.S. history. 148 twisters were reported on that day.

Tonight we may have even more as the supercells continue to rush across Alabama and Georgia.

From the looks like the damage would be consistent with EF3 or EF4 tornadoes. There could be some EF5 tornadoes. The storm crews will be out tomorrow to estimate the strength of this event.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama took a direct hit. The mayor is asking for the country to pray for his city.

Monday, April 11, 2011

JDRF Walk...Just Cure It!

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk to cure type 1 diabetes was a huge success Saturday. I love the picture of the little guy on his Dad's shoulders with "Just Cure It." on their t-shirts.

There were thousands of walkers ready to take the weight of Type 1 on their backs.

I talked with so many who had diabetes...or their children have the disease...or they had relatives and friends with type 1. Most of us at least know someone who has to check their blood sugars everyday to stay healthy.

One gentleman told me he and his wife moved to Des Moines from Philadelphia. The have a child with Juvenile Diabetes and said the Des Moines chapter of JDRF is by far more involved and energized than the Philly chapter.

Hats off to the John Deere Financial group. They are the lead cooperate Spencer this year. The goal was to get 250 walkers. On Saturday there were 700 JD walkers! Over $100K was raised from the green-hatted walkers. It was the largest group of walkers ever from one cooperation.

Type 1 diabetes affects people of all ages. Many times it is mistaken for Type 2. You are born with Type 1... Type 2 is brought on by lifestyle...and can be controlled through excessive...medication and diet.

I really believe in the research that is going on with Type 1. There will be a cure someday. Until then... thanks so much to the volunteers...the walkers and the JDRF staff. Job well done.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tornado Outbreak Saturday

The tornado outbreak last night was long and did a large amount of damage. Our crews were on the air for about 6 hours telling our viewers in the northern counties of our viewing area to take cover. This video shows the amazing power of the tornado that moved through Mapleton, IA last night. The storm chasers were under the storm as it went through the northwest corner of the state. Our live crews were on the scene this morning in Pocahontas. Many farms and homes were damaged or destroyed. There were minor injuries...but no loss of life. Two survey crews are on the way to see how strong the tornadoes were last night. Preliminary damage suggests at least EF2 or EF3. Join us for live coverage tonight...there is another chance for severe weather, but this time to the east of the metro.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week...Family Ready

Severe weather events hit so fast and with such furry...we sometimes don't have the time to think before we react to the crisis.

It is so very important to practice the plan before the emergency occurs.

An emergency kit is essential. You can purchase a full kit like the ones on the top of the page from the Red Cross.

You can also make your own kit with a plastic storage tub that is stored in the emergency shelter area of your home or the basement.

Here is what you need to remember to include.

-Food, Water, Medications and First Aid Kit

-Battery operated NOAA radio, Fresh Batteries.

-Extra Clothing, Blankets


-Cell Phone, Wallet/Credit Cards

5 Key Elements of Your Disaster Plan

1. Learn about local disasters in your area. Weather disasters including Tornadoes, Flooding, High Thunderstorm Wind Damage. But also know if you live near chemical plants or facilities that could poison the area during a severe weather event.

2. Choose 2 locations where you and your family can meet in the event of an emergency. One close to your home and the second in a central location away from your house in case your home is damaged or destroyed.

3. Develop a crisis communications plan. Make sure you have a way to communicate with your family if phone lines are down or cell phone towers are damaged.

4. Have the emergency survival kits for your home and office.

5. Practice your plan.

Preparing Your Home

- Elevate your furnace, water heater and electrical panels if you live in a flood zone.

-Install sewer back-flow valves. This will prevent sewage from backing up in your home during flooding.

- Remove dead or rotting limbs from trees around your home.

- Secure outdoor furniture/patio items so they will not do damage to your home.

Severe Weather Awareness Week...Severe Storms

Severe storms like the one in this picture from NOAA are raging somewhere on the Earth right now. In fact... there are about 1800 thunderstorms occurring over the world. That is over 16 million a year. In Iowa we see our share of thunderstorms. There is a chance for thunderstorms this evening and again over the weekend. Not all are severe. But when the environment is just right for strong storms you might hear us put out a Severe Thunderstorm Watch. It means you need to watch for the possibility of severe storms. The watch usually covers a wide area of the state...several counties will be included in the watch. When you hear a Severe Thunderstorm need to take cover if you live in the very specific area of the warning. Your county will be listed and even the neighborhood where you live will be covered in a polygon. Do not go outside. If you are in your car during a severe thunderstorm...stay in the car. Pull to the side of the road when the rain and wind make it too difficult to see the road ahead. If you are outside...get indoors if you can. If not...stay away from tall poles or trees. In an open area...crouch down and make yourself as small as possible. Large Hail and Damaging wind In 2009 Hardin County was slammed with a huge hail storm. 2" diameter hail fell over the city of Eldora. The hail came with 60 mph wind that shot the stones through homes and cars like bullets out of a gun. The damage was estimated to top the total loss that Parkersburg had in the devastating tornado the year before. Many homes had no windows left after the storm. Siding had huge holes and 22 people were injured. 11 were taken to the hospital for the wounds from the hail. Wind in severe storms can be as damaging as a tornado. Straight line wind can move at 125 mph. That is equivalent to a category 3 hurricane....or an EF2 tornado. Here are more great tips from the NWS to keep you and your family safe during severe weather.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness...Doing the Drill

These pictures are from the tornado that destroyed most of Parkersburg, Iowa in 2008. 8 people died in that tornado. 4 others were killed that same year at a Boyscout Camp in western Iowa.

Today the NWS will sound tornado sirens across the state. This is the tornado drill that gives all of us the chance to practice what we need to do when a real tornado is near our home, business and school.

In the event of a tornado warning....

Get to the lowest level of the building. Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible. Stay away from windows. Take cover under strong furniture or even under a mattress of a bed.

Keep a NOAA weather radio with you. Keep it in your bedroom so it will wake you if there is a tornado warning while you are sleeping.

Keep a safety kit. It should include a battery operated radio with NOAA radio available. Water. First aid supplies. Have your cell phone with you.

Practice the safety plan with your family. Have a meeting place later so you can find each other after the storm.
Tornado Drill Today The FCC prohibits the use of live Emergency Alert System (EAS) warning codes for test messages. A waiver was granted by the FCC which authorizes the use of real TOR EAS/NOAA Weather Radio codes for the test. Therefore, the tornado warning test messages will be sent using the TOR code with the 1050 HZ tone alert on NOAA All Hazards Radio. 9:50 AM - Storm Prediction Center (SPC) coordinates with Iowa National Weather Service (NWS) offices about a test tornado watch for Iowa. 10:00 AM - SPC issues Test Tornado Watch for Iowa. Each Iowa WFO will issue test Watch Coordination Notification messages. Test watch will be toned and alerted on NOAA All Hazards Radio and sent through the Emergency Alert System (EAS). 10:10 AM - NWS Sioux Falls and Omaha issue test tornado warnings for their Iowa counties. 10:15 AM- NWS Des Moines and Quad Cities issue test tornado warnings for their Iowa counties. 10:20 AM - NWS La Crosses issues test tornado warning for their Iowa counties. 10:30-10:35 AM - All Iowa NWS offices issues a Severe Weather Statement to terminate the test warnings. 11:00 AM - Test tornado watch expires.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week...Warnings

Today we are going over the warnings that are issued to keep you and your family safe.

The key is to remember when a warning is issued it means severe weather his happening right now.

A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted...or has been indicated by Doppler radar. The vortex signature on the radar is often called a hook echo. It shows rotation in the storm that looks like a tornado.

The tornado siren on the top of the page shows modern-day design. The tornado sirens are built for outdoor use. It can be heard inside...but is intended to warn those who are outside during a tornado warning.

In the last few years...the NWS has started using the tornado siren for extreme wind events. The sirens will sound when there are wind speeds over 70 mph. It is not a completely uniform procedure. Some cities are not sounding the sirens with the high wind warnings. In the metro of Des will hear the sirens with the high-wind events.

There is also a picture of the NOAA weather radio we sell through Fareway Stores and the Ah-Ha store at the Science Center of Iowa. This radio is perfect for the home and for personal use in the car and during outdoor activities. It has a battery and AC hook-up for the house and office. It makes it completely portable.

Here is where you can find the codes to make sure your radio sounds in the area where you live. Always watch 13 HD and Iowa's Weather Plus for the most complete coverage of severe weather. You will see the severe weather crawls and when necessary...wall-to-wall coverage of severe weather in our viewing area. More storm warning information is available here:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week...Flooding

Flooding kills more people every year than any other severe storm event.

We start off the severe weather awareness week in Iowa with that startling fact.

NOAA has the U.S. Spring Flood Risk map that outlines the high risk for flooding over the northern counties of Iowa and the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa.

Water over roads is one of the most deceptive and deadly risk of flooding. It is impossible to see what lurks below the water. An open manhole cover or a portion of the road that is washed away is impossible to see.

Flood insurance for our homes may not be what you think would cover you in the event flood water runs through your home. At the very your insurance provider. Ask if your home is completely covered if a flood damages your property.

6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. If the water is rushing fast is nearly impossible to stand up in the torrent of water.

18 to 24 inches of water over the road can lift your car and send it down stream. Cars float. Consider the buoyancy of an aircraft carrier. It floats with massive tons of steel.

A 3000 pound car can easily be lifted by 18 to 24 inches of water. The moving water can then sweep the car off the road. The water will eventually seep into the cracks of doors and windows...effectively trapping those inside the car.

Know where the flood-prone areas are in your area.

Keep your NOAA all-hazards radio in your home, car and office. You will hear this all week! We have a portable NOAA radio for sale at all Fairway Stores and the Ah-Ha store at the Science Center of Iowa. They are under 30 bucks and can save your life.

Check out all the details of flood safety and the myths and facts of stay safe during flooding in Iowa.

Record Highs and Severe Weather Sunday

What an end to our weekend and start of severe weather awareness week in Iowa. You can see the hail that was found in New Sharon, IA yesterday and the severe weather reports map with the swath of hail and wind damage through the center of the country yesterday.

You can see a complete list of the severe weather accounts at:,FSD,MPX,ARX,OAX,EAX,DVN/201104032100/201104040700/0100
Those storm blew up during the afternoon hours over the area we told you to watch last Friday. The southeastern corner of the state had the best potential for storms after we hit record highs and a cold front moved into the state with very different temperatures today.

Des Moines had a high of 87! That beat the old record by 5 degrees. Ottumwa hit 86 and Lamoni cranked out 87....both new record highs for the day.

It is cold today...windy too. A wind advisory is in effect until 6 PM. Much warmer temperatures come back to Iowa tomorrow.