Natural disasters can be terrifying.  While we get our share of weather here in Atlantic Canada, we are fortunate that we don’t get the worst of what Mother Nature has to offer. 

Last weekend was a deadly one in parts of Texas, mostly in the eastern regions of the state. Dozens of twisters were reported as cold air pushed down on a very warm, moist air mass. Preliminary ratings for the twisters indicate that they ranged from EF0 to EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.  The Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-Scale) rates the intensity of tornadoes in the United States and Canada based on the damage they cause.

As is often the case, the strongest tornadoes – EF3s developed around the supper hour.  According to the Weather Service, one of the last tornadoes observed was said to have been on the ground continuously for 51 miles – almost 100 kms!

TV reports highlighted one ground observer – or chaser, who referred to what he saw as a “wedge tornado”.  I thought I should explain that:

In this case, “Wedge" is informal storm observers' slang for a tornado that looks wider than the distance between the ground and the base of the cloud.  There is no scientific meaning to it.  Many factors such as tornado size, cloud base height, moisture content of the air and surrounding terrain can regulate a tornado's apparent width.  Although many famous "wedge" tornadoes have been violent, producing EF4-EF5 damage on the Fujita scale, a tornado's size does not necessarily indicate anything about its strength.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who were impacted by this rash of deadly weather. 

Chief Meteorologist