IN SEARCH OF STORM TRUTH:
Scientists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville are studying the April tornadoes, according to a July 11 report at www.wsfa.com. Using a one-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team will analyze radar data and then blend it with storm surveys and other information. They want to learn more about how the tornadoes formed, what made that day’s storms so powerful, and what can be done to make tornado warnings more effective.
The leader of the storm research team is Kevin Knupp, a professor of atmospheric sciences at UAH, according to Eryn Brown of The Los Angeles Times. Brown tells us that Knupp grew up in twister country on his family’s Iowa farm and wrote his first scholarly paper about tornadoes in 1976 as an Iowa State University undergraduate. “As a teen, he once convinced his father to stop the car on the way home from band practice so he could watch a funnel cloud approach,” Brown says. “The family was soon engulfed in 60 mph winds. Knupp thinks they were run over by a weak tornado. No one was hurt.” Read Brown’s July 9 feature, “Alabama tornado team scours paths of killer storms,” at www.articles.latimes.com.
WE’RE NO. 1:
Alabama has the dubious distinction of having experienced more EF-5 tornadoes than any other state, according to a July 7 Associated Press report. Seven EF-5s, the most severe type of tornado, have struck the state since 1950, when modern record keeping begin. Alabama moved out of a tie at six with Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas when the National Weather Service upgraded an April 27 tornado in DeKalb County from EF-4 to EF-5.
All seven EF5s occurred in April in the northern half of Alabama, according to a July 6 report by Trang Do at www.waff.com. “What happens in the atmosphere is a little more volatile here versus what you get a little bit farther south,” Jeff Castle, a meteorologist at WAFF-TV 48 Huntsville, said.
The storm in DeKalb County was upgraded to an EF-5 after additional information was gathered in a June damage survey, according to a July 07 report by Keith Clines of The Huntsville Times. Clines cites a chilling detail from that survey regarding the effects of the storm: “An anchored liberty safe weighing 800 pounds was pulled off its anchorage and thrown into a wooded area 600 feet away.
When found, the safe’s door had been ripped open and completely off.”
Sadly, the AP reports that two more fatalities in Dekalb County have been attributed to the storm, putting the statewide death toll from the April outbreak at 243.
IT’S NOT OVER, PEOPLE:
The number of stormrelief volunteers has dropped off since the weeks following the April storms, but some agencies still need volunteers to do longer-term relief work, according to a July 11 report by Kent Faulk of The Birmingham News. “Now we’ve got to rebuild their lives, and that’s the phase we’re moving into,” Anna Bates, volunteer coordinator with Christian Service Mission, told Faulk. You can read Faulk’s article at www.al.com.
TAKE THE NEEDLE:
The American Red Cross has issued an urgent appeal for blood donors, citing a critical summer blood shortage. Many donors are busy or traveling, school is out and donations have dropped, but the demand for blood products remains steady, according to a July 11 press release
from the organization. All blood types are needed, but especially O negative, which can be used to treat any patient. And remember, an adequate blood supply can be critically important in saving lives during a natural disaster, such as the recent storms. According to the release, the Red Cross has responded to more than 40 major disasters across more than 30 states since April. If you want to read more, go to www.redcross.org.
Cullman is making significant strides in tornado recovery, with dozens of businesses back open and homes being rebuilt, according to a July 8 report by Paris Jackson of WVTM-TV 13. You can find her story, “Fact Finder: Cullman, Alabama tornado clean-up progress,” at www2.alabamas13.com
RESTORE THE PRETTY VALLEY:
The Shoal Creek Restoration Project is dedicated to helping storm victims in the hard-hit Shoal Creek Valley in St. Clair County rebuild their homes, especially residents who lack insurance or the money to rebuild. Lisa Rogers of The Gadsden Times visited the area and met Scott White, a native of the Valley and one of five people chosen to head up the project. “Welcome to what used to be one of the prettiest valleys in the world,” Scott White told Rogers as he drove down Shoal Creek Road. Read the July 11 article, “Project making a difference in storm-ravaged Shoal Creek,” at www.gadsdentimes.com
WE’LL LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR YOU:
A group of high-school journalists got the chance to go to Tuscaloosa, see the results of the storm and write about their experiences, according to a July 7 report by Stan Ingold of Alabama Public Radio.
Also on APR, Pat Duggins covered a recently community meeting in Tuscaloosa held to solicit comments from area residents regarding rebuilding efforts. Duggins reports that residents of hard-hit Alberta City want stuff like greenspace and affordable housing, and want to preserve such features as the neon sign at the venerable Moon Winx Lodge. Listen at www.publicbroadcasting.net/wual/news .
RIGHT ON, PASCO:
The Pasco County (Fla.), school district is collecting books and other supplies to send to a school in Franklin County (Ala.) affected by the April tornadoes. Officials at the two districts put together a wish list of supplies, according to a July 11 report at www.baynews9. com. Pasco will also send older computers, projectors, televisions. The district is also accepting donations of laptops to send to Franklin County, as well.
INDY ROCKS, DUDE!
Lazy Hawk Promotions of Indianapolis, Ind., staged an Alabama tornado relief benefit concert at a venue called The Vollrath July 8, according to indyconcerts.com. The bill included alt/heavy metal bands Apex Predator, Dell Zell and The Holland Account, and prog-rockers Syn Aestia and SinnerFold. Demaggio from Kokomo, Ind., opened. Over 100 people attended, according to the site, and $842 was donated to the Red Cross for the Alabama Tornado Relief Fund.