Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Texas Picks Up the Pieces After Unprecedented Twin Tornadoes Tossed Trucks Across the Skies - "I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before"; Southeast US Braces for More Twisters!

Texans will today start to pick up the pieces of their devastated neighbourhoods after a cluster of tornadoes ripped through major towns and cities in the state yesterday. Homes were reduced to rubble and more than a dozen people injured as the powerful storm swept trucks across the skies and base-ball sized hail stones punched holes in the roofs of cars and homes.

Scenes of devastation in Dallas.
Meteorologists said it was the first time two 'extremely dangerous' tornadoes hit two large metropolitan areas at the same time.  Arlington and Lancaster were worst hit with both areas being declared 'disaster zones', while damage was reported in at least nine cities in five counties. But incredibly no-one so far been reported killed by the staggering series of six to 12 twisters believed to have touched down at some point in the area. 'I have never seen two tornadoes hit two large metropolitan areas at the same time before,' AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity said, reports Newsroom America. Brandy Kemps, who filmed one of the tornadoes in north Texas, told ABC News; 'Debris was flying right in front of me in the air - shingles, dirt, tree limbs. The tornado funnel was coming right at us, then went directly behind the apartment building I was in.' One tornado tore through the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, grabbing two trailer trucks and tossing them, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air. In Sunnyvale, Heather Montoya said the dark funnel shook her entire home and left uprooted trees inside and her furniture scattered all over her property. 'It was insane. We have a lot of windows in our house. The whole house started shaking and in five seconds it was completely done,' she told ABC Dallas. A grandmother in Diamond Creeks, Forney, where 20 to 30 homes were severely damaged, sought refuge in a bath-tub with her grandchildren as the walls of her home collapsed. She was forced to hold on to her 18-month-old grandson's legs as the powerful winds almost swept him away.
Most of Dallas was spared the full wrath of the storm. Yet in Lancaster, where around 300 homes were destroyed, television helicopters panned over exposed homes without roofs and flattened buildings. Broken sheets of plywood blanketed lawns and covered rooftops. A pastor at one Lancaster church saw debris swirling in the wind, then herded more than 30 children, some newborns, into a windowless room to ride out the storm. Nearby at the church's school, about 60 children hid in another windowless room near the women's bathroom. An entire wall of Cedar Valley Christian Academy was taken out in the storm. Pastor Glenn Young said he didn't know when the school might re-open. 'I'm a little concerned,' Young said. 'This is our livelihood.' Residents could be seen walking down the street with firefighters and peering into homes, looking at the damage after the storm passed. Devlin Norwood said he was at his Lancaster home when he heard the storm sirens. He said he made a quick trip to a nearby store when he saw the funnel-shaped tornado lower, kick up debris and head toward his neighbourhood. 'I didn't see any damage until I got back home. We had trees destroyed, fences down, boards down, boards penetrating the roof and the house, shingles damaged,' said Norwood, 50, an accountant and graduate student. Officer Paul Beck said 10 people were injured in the suburb, two of them severely. Assistant Arlington fire chief Jim Self said three people suffered minor injuries there, including two residents of a nursing home who were taken to a hospital after swirling winds clipped the building. Around 50 homes were damaged in the area. 'Of course the windows were flying out, and my sister is paralysed, so I had to get someone to help me get her in a wheelchair to get her out of the room'" said Joy Johnston, who was visiting her 79-year-old sister at the Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "It was terribly loud." At the nearby Omni Mandalay Las Colinas hotel, tornado sirens sounded, alerting guests to get to safety. 'The hotel has not been evacuated but we do have guests under cover,' said a telephone receptionist at 421-room hotel.  The storm is believed to have levelled several homes, and tens of thousands of others are without power. - Daily Mail.
The National Weather Service was investigating reports that up to 18 tornadoes touched down during a relatively short time frame.

Tornadoes that have devastated parts of Dallas and Fort Worth are vertical funnels of rapidly spinning air.
Giant tornadoes, believed in this case to be around 46-56,000 feet tall, have winds of up to 150 miles an hour. 
"We're at just the beginning of a very unusual" tornado season, NBC weather anchor Al Roker said on TODAY. April 2011 saw a record 758 tornadoes, he added, "hopefully we're not on track for that this year." Weather.com meteorologist Greg Forbes told TODAY that the season is already "running about 50 percent above average for the number of tornadoes. We've had record heat," he added, and "that warmth is a big ingredient that provides the instability for the storms." On Tuesday, one twister was seen on video tossing semi-trailers into the air with ease. The storm system moved into the Southeast on Wednesday and the weather.com published a map showing the danger area for thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes there. The danger zone stretched from the Texas coast and parts of East Texas to northern Florida, and from Kansas to Virginia. The greatest chances of a severe storm Wednesday were in Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, Mobile and Lake Charles. - MSNBC.
WATCH: Survivors reflect on the damage caused by the tornadoes in Dallas.


FIRE IN THE SKY: Solar System Disturbances - San Antonio Fireball Leaves Area Residents Wondering?!

People who reported seeing a fiery ball of light in the cloudless noon sky Monday really did see an unidentified flying object.  The flying object has not been identified.

But no one has conjectured that it held little green men with giant eyes.  It was likely falling space debris or a meteor, according to the National Weather Service.  "It could definitely have caused that," said meteorologist Pat McDonald. "It's the only thing we can think that could have caused that."  A space rock or piece of an old satellite burning up as it hits the Earth's atmosphere is not a rare occurrence, said Joe Wheelock, the public affairs specialist at the McDonald Observatory.  "It's not uncommon at all," he said.  Jane Marke, an amateur astronomer, said she was at a traffic light near the airport when she saw a bright light streaking across the eastern sky at 11:49 a.m.  "I saw a brightness of light fall from the sky, going very fast," Marke said. "I would say it was about 1 magnitude. That's about as bright as you can get."  She said she believes it was a meteor, though it could have been "a piece of space junk." 

A San Antonio Express-News photographer driving between Kerrville and Comfort saw what he described as a very bright ball of light low in the sky at 11:50 a.m.  Around the same time, a 911 caller reported seeing some sort of airborne fiery object that appeared to be falling near Johns Road north of Interstate 10 in Boerne. A police officer was dispatched but didn't find anything, a department clerk said.  Sheriff's offices in Kendall County and Kerr County reported receiving no calls about the object.  The Army, which operates an ammunition storage and transfer facility at Camp Stanley in Northwest Bexar County, reported no unusual activity Monday morning.  "All the ranges at Camp Stanley are closed, so we weren't testing ammunition and we haven't had any incident today regarding the storage and transfer facilities," said Phil Reidinger, an Army spokesman at Fort Sam Houston.  The Air Force said none of its planes at two local bases was involved in an incident that could have caused the flash.  "We don't have anything that would generate a great flash of light in the sky," said Dave Smith, a spokesman with the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB.  For those who missed the fireball, the good news is that the Lyrid meteor shower can be seen April 21-22.  Colin McDonald, Zeke MacCormack, Sig Christenson and Scott Huddleston contributed to this report. - My San Antonio.
WATCH: Fireball over San Antonio.


THE SEASON OF THE WINDS: Massive Storm Leaves 4 Dead in Japan!

A huge storm killed at least four people in Japan, police said Wednesday, as violent wind and rain battered the nation and disrupted transport for a second day.

The huge storm overturned trucks and cars in Japan, as wind and rains batter the nation.
The storm has moved east and is now covering all of the north of Honshu and much of Hokkaido, buffeting the region with strong winds caused by what meteorologists say is a severe low-pressure system.  On Sado island, on Honshu’s northwest, gusts of up to 156 kilometers per hour were recorded.  The dead included a 96-year-old man who fell from the roof of a three-story house during high winds and a 28-year-old woman who was hit by a falling tree while walking a dog. 

The stormy weather also cut electricity supplies to 132,000 households in the northern Tohoku region as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, according to the utility.  Transport was widely disrupted on Tuesday as the storm moved through Japan, with about 600 domestic flights cancelled, affecting some 74,000 passengers.  On Wednesday, 72 flights were grounded, stranding around 6,000 people.  Many commuter lines and some shinkansen bullet train services were also suspended because of the wind. - Japan Today.