The OutBreak: Omens are coming!



The wonders of nature bring into full bloom

Its colors and signs of seasonal bliss;

It draws the heart towards its vividful views

And undo the things that it should not miss

These words are enough to present staggering beauty of Mother Nature. Nature nourishes the life on the planet like a mother, and the hands are like that of a potter, which gives a shape to persisting life forms. At every stage, the beauty and support of nature is inevitable which helps to survive in a wonderful manner.

WAIT…!!! What happens if these hands, which are building blocks of this planet itself, run wild ? What if the mother itself is on the kill ? The answer is formation of “Super Storms”.

People sprinting down the track; walls and rooftops, sheds and fences, TVs, refrigerators and left over casseroles–lift from the earth and disappear in the dark, thick, more than a mile wide tornado. The pieces whirl high in the 200 mph winds, like so much random debris swept clean from the landscape.” This is not a scene of Steven Spielberg’s fiction movie, rather a crude reality when nature strikes.

Tornadoes (or better known as ‘Twisters’) are among earth’s most violent acts. Some are wispy and last only for seconds, whereas others rampage across the landscape for more than an hour, nearly engulfing entire landscape. Although tornadoes have been reported on every continent (taking Antarctica aside) even in India, but they hit United States more than any other country.

The word “tornado” is an altered form of Spanish word “tronada” which means “thunderstorm”. By definition, tornadoes are rotating columns of air that extend from swelling cumulonimbus clouds to the ground. Tornadoes come in many sizes, but are typically in the form of a condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris. Dust kicked up by winds of the parent thunderstorm, heavy rains and hail and the darkness of night in the afternoon are few of the warnings during the arrival of these omens.

No one fully understands tornado dynamics, but certain ingredients seem essential to the witch’s brew from which tornadoes emerge: warm, humid air near the ground, colder air aloft, and shearing winds that change direction and speed with height. Tornadoes swirl high into the sky, but winds close to the ground appear to play a vital role in their birth. A mesocyclone gives rise to tornado, and it pulls in the warm, humid air from the surrounding land and propels it aloft through a powerful updraft. As long as surface winds feeding the updraft flow freely, no funnel develops. But if those winds are cut off –by a cold downdraft, for example –the surrounding mass of spinning air contracts and gains speed, producing a tornado. The more the vortex tightens, the faster the tornado spins –just as an ice skater spins faster by pulling her arms close to her body. Low pressure near the surface, however, can reverse the flow of air in the core –the strong updraft becomes a downdraft –ultimately unraveling the tornado. Tornadoes emit widely on the acoustics spectrum and the sounds are caused by multiple mechanisms. They also emit electromagnetic spectrum with pattern of lightening activity. The most destructive and deadly tornadoes form under the bellies of supercells, large long –lived thunderstorms, whose winds are already in rotation. 40% of all US tornadoes occur in central plains, when cool, dry air from the Rocky Mountains clashes with warm, moist undercurrents from Gulf of Mexico. Warmer the currents, stronger are the tornadoes, and hence, Global Warming is regularly fueling their strength. But, fortunately, only one in a thousand thunderstorms become a supercell, and only one in five or six supercells spawns a tornado.

Because it’s so difficult to measure tornado winds and power, scientists measure tornadoes by damage they cause. On the Fujita scale, developed by ‘Ted Theodore Fujita’ of University of Chicago and NOAA, an F1 storm causes moderate damage with wind speed around 100 mph , F5 is horrific with wind speed over 350 mph, destroying everything which comes in its path, even the concrete structures. F2 , F3 cause moderate damage , F4 is as violent as F5, with wind speed over 320 mph. Watching the damage done by the tornado in Manchester, South Dakota, USA in 2005, scientists are forced to reassign the classification and extend the rating to F6. It is surprising for you to know, that now, there is no city named Manchester in South Dakota on any map of this World.

The Outbreak is the occurrence of several tornadoes over a region, usually due to thunderstorms embedded in the same synoptic-scale weather system. Outbreaks are classified as according to area affected ; in local outbreaks, only a portion of one state is affected ; in regional outbreaks, two or three states contains all tornadoes ; in national outbreaks , tornadoes are reported in many states of the country. National outbreaks are the most deadly. Perhaps, once in every 10-15 years, the synoptic-scale weather pattern produces conditions favorable to the production of many storms, national outbreak, all over the Central USA. The biggest local outbreak ever, was reported in 2005 in Oklahoma City and Kansas City with as many as 66 tornadoes hitting in just 24 hours.

A category 5 cyclone takes at least 3 weeks to completely destroy a state or two. But, if an F5 tornado is left to molder for 3 days, then, certainly there will be no one there to see the damage done in entire continent.

Tornadoes are hitting and they will continue to dismantle and cause more and more damage in centuries to come. All we can do is just wait and watch the disaster and bite our nails in terror. We can hide on their arrival, but we can’t escape. Again, Global Warming is fueling them continuously and heat, their food, is providing them even more energy to spread the thrill, terror and sorrow for thousands. But, most important of all, don’t dare give a blind ear to weather scientists on their warnings, because that might prove to be the last mistake of your life….!!!!


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