What Went Wrong?

| May 1, 2011 @ 8:15 am | 5 Replies

Photo taken in Pleasant Grove Saturday...

Experts across the country are asking, “What went wrong?”

In this day of long lead time tornado warnings, wall to wall television coverage, sensitive Doppler radars, computer models, fairly accurate forecasts five days out, Skycams and streaming video from the field, what happened to allow 350 fatalities from a single tornado outbreak?

I invite them all to fly to Alabama, drive to any number of locations from Hackleburg to Phil Campbell to Tuscaloosa to Hueytown to Pleasant Grove to McDonald’s Chapel to Pratt City to Cullman to Ohatchee to Harvest to Cordova to Argo to a number of other places.

They will find tornado damage that was nearly unsurvivable unless you were under ground in a reinforced shelter.

The forecasts were excellent and widely distributed. The warnings were outstanding. People I talked to in the field today were aware and ready. Most were watching the television coverage, waiting for the storms to move into their prescribed safe places.

But, in the center of the path of the EF4/5 tornadoes, they had little chance. If they were just outside the core, it was the luck of the draw. Did the closet survive? Or was it the bathroom? Center of the house, lowest floor is the best choice in a home without a basement. Some chose the wrong house, leaving a house that remained intact for one that was destroyed.

What went wrong? There were so many storms and nearly all of them were producing tornadoes.  Moving fast, at over a mile a minute.  Nearly all of the tornadoes were strong or violent. These tornadoes had an uncanny ability to pick out population centers. That’s what went wrong.

Do you have a story to share from this terrible event? A survival story? A personal tragedy? A close call? A fateful decision? A lesson learned? Please share it here…

Be sure to read Karen Spann’s thoughts after visiting the war zone yesterday…

Category: Alabama's Weather, Severe Weather

About the Author ()

Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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