Project: Tornado…The Final Days

The end is near, but the reason has only just begun!
Severe weather season is in full swing, and the 13 Weather Authority has been making sure Stateline students know how to handle it by continuing Project: Tornado.

Within the last three weeks, we have traveled to 19 schools across Northern Illinois educating elementary students on how thunderstorms form and how to stay safe during a tornado. As of today, roughly 2,651 students are prepared for severe weather, and we’re still not done!
Next week, we finish off our final week of Project: Tornado, as we head to Spring Creek Elementary, Rolling Green, Barbour Language Academy, Swan Hillman and St. Mary’s School to educate another 1,200 students. This means almost 4,000 Stateline students will know exactly what to do when severe weather strikes.

Each student receives a Project: Tornado booklet, filled with pictures, games, and important information to help them understand thunderstorm processes, tornadoes, safety, and local historic tornadoes.
Here’s a sneak peek:

PT1 PT2 PT3

 

 

 

 

 

 

PT4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Severe weather ready’ students are from Conklin Elementary, Perry Elementary, Pecatonica Elementary, Keith Country Day, Jefferson Elementary, Immanuel Lutheran School, Ellis Arts Academy, Lincoln-Douglas Elementary, Rockford Lutheran Academy, Thurgood Marshall School, Ralston Elementary, C. Henry Bloom, Holy Family Catholic School, West View Elementary, Shirland School, Highland Grade School, Loves Park Elementary, Lewis Lemon Elementary, and Nashold Elementary.

ptlewislemon

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Posted under event, Exactrack|HD, history, Project: Tornado, safety, science, severe weather, tornado, weather, weather geek, Wind

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on May 15, 2015

A Look Back 48 Years Ago and 11 Days Ago

We are 11 days removed from the EF-4 tornado that ripped through north central Illinois, beginning in Franklin Grove, stretching 43.5 miles through Flagg and into Fairdale. While locals and non-locals are pitching in on the effort of recovery for residents affected by 7 tornadoes on April 9th 2015, many are also remembering the devastation from a tornado that struck the Stateline nearly 48 years ago.

On April 21st, 1967 the city of Belvidere experienced a deadly tornado, with eerily similar damage to the EF-4 tornado on April 9th 2015, but this one was twelve times as deadly.

Let’s flash back to meteorology in the 1900’s. Right after World War 11, the weather community started the use of radars, which were around for about 30 years by the time the Belvidere Tornado occured.
4-9 radar imageIn 1948, less than 20 years before the 1967 tornado, Robert C. Miller and E. J. Fawbush correctly predicted the first tornado in Oklahoma.  10-15 years before the Belvidere Tornado, computers ran their first models of the atmosphere. Just 5 years before the deadly tornado hit Boone County, Keith Browning and Frank Ludlam published a detailed study of a supercell storm, the first one of it’s kind. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years after the Belvidere tornado that Dr. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita invented the “Fujita Scale.”

Are you catching my drift here? While the foundation and structure of much of meteorology was founded, knowledge and awareness was minimal on the atmosphere during the early and mid 20th century. This is a key contributor to the saved lives and safety of many Stateliners on April 9th 2015.

The tornado that devastated Boone County 48 years ago was rated an “F-4” on the Fujita Scale. According to the Fujita Scale, an F-4 tornado *estimates wind speeds between 207 and 260 mph, and typical damage includes well-constructed houses leveled, weak foundation structures blown away, and cars thrown. We now know that the Fujita Scale could over-estimate wind speeds, which is why we now use the Enhanced Fujita Scale (another educational advancement).

Still, the damage we see in photos of the Belvidere Tornado in 1967 grimly mimic the photos being posted from Fairdale within the past 11 days.

According to Jim Allsopp, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, the Belvidere Tornado first struck just before 4PM 2 miles southeast of Cherry Valley. It went on to destroy 300 new cars and 100 employee cars at the Chrysler Plant, which was only a fraction of the damage it would go on to create. The tornado moved on to the southeast side of Belvidere, where 127 homes were destroyed and hundreds more were damaged.

At the time, Belvidere High School had just dismissed students onto buses filled with elementary school students. 12 buses were rolled over and children were flung into muddy fields.
belvtor2

 

In 2011, Ken Anderson (left) told WREX, “My bus (#30) was moved 100 yards by the tornado. I was wedged under a seat, my shirt soaked red with blood. I saw one, little body half buried in the mud. That memory, an 11 year old should never witness. In this picture, I am on the left (shirt tail out). That concerned look on my face marked the end of my childhood.” At Belvidere High School, 13 people were killed and another 300 were injured, which was just a little more than half of the havoc caused that day.

 

 

 

Dale Marks also vividly remembers April 21st 1967, “They tell me I was lucky. I only had both legs and pelvis broken. Our bus was just on the north side of the school. I think there were five people killed on my bus.’
belvtor1The Belvidere Tornado of 1967 went on to kill a total of 24 people and injure another 500.
To read Jim Allsopp’s full synopsis of the event, click here. To read all of the survivor comments from 2011, click here.

 

 

The Belvidere Tornado of 1967 was an F-4 and was up to 1/2 mile wide. It traveled 25-28 miles on the ground.
fairdale1The tornado that hit Fairdale (left) eleven days ago was an EF-4 that was nearly 1/2 mile wide. It traveled 30 miles on the ground.
But, what about the fatalities and injuries? During the 1967 F-4, 24 people were killed and another 500 were injured. During the 2015 EF-4, 2 people were killed and 22 were injured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education and awareness are saving people’s lives.

The Storm Prediction Center was able to put out the risk of severe weather nearly a week ahead of the April 9th event. The Chicago National Weather Service was able to implement watches and warnings with ample time to get to safety before these tornadoes struck communities. In fact, Ogle County Sheriff Brian Van Vickle stated, “I don’t think you could’ve asked for better warning.” Local TV meteorologists were able to give in depth explanations on air and online about WHY that Thursday could end with severe weather. We all could do this because of advancements in the world of meteorology.
4-9 radar image 2

In my opinion, the most important thing meteorologists can do is continue to explain to you WHY we could see dangerous weather, WHY we saw dangerous weather, or WHY we ended up not seeing dangerous weather. We’re living in a world with Google at our fingertips, with politics overlapping into sciences, and with education being pushed on everyone. We have been raised and trained to ask questions. Why would you believe something just because someone told you? You have the right to question. I think it’s our job to explain to you why it’s a threat, not just the fact that it’s a threat.

In my opinion, one of the most important things we as a community can learn from both of these deadly tornadoes, is the importance of heeding warnings and continuing to educate yourselves and listening to “the why” instead of chalking it up to “sensationalism,” “hype,” and even “TV ratings.”

Because awareness and education is one of the biggest contributing factors in the difference in death and injuries during severe weather.

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Posted under event, history, news, safety, science, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather, weather geek

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on April 20, 2015

It’s Cold, but is it Record Breaking Cold?

February 19, 2015: The Stateline is no stranger to wicked cold winter temperatures, and dangerously cold morning wind chills. We’re used to layering up, warming our cars, and heading out into the bitter cold. This morning was another day to add to the list of uncomfortably cold mornings with hazardous wind chills. But could this one be one for the record books?

Turns out, it might be TWO for the record books.

Potential record number 1:
If Rockford’s high temperature stays in the single digits today, a 79 year old record will be broken. February 15-18, 1936 holds the record for Rockford’s latest consecutive days of single digit temperatures. Yesterday, Rockford hit a high temperature of 8°. If we combine yesterday with today’s forecast of single digit high temperatures, we’ve got ourselves a record of the latest occurrence of 2 or more consecutive single digit high temperatures.

2-19-15 recordbreakingcold2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential record number 2:

If Rockford’s high temperature only climbs to 6° or less, a 56 year record will be broken. On February 19th, 1959 Rockford only reached a high temperature of 7°, which is still the coldest for this date on ever recorded.

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We’re so lucky, right?

-Morgan Kolkmeyer

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Posted under cold blast, history, record weather, statistics, weather, weather geek, winter weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on February 19, 2015

Independence Day Records

Independence Day 2014 will not enter the weather record books. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember it! This year we had a mostly sunny sky with low humidity values. The day started off a bit cool with a low of 52 degrees in Rockford. During the afternoon, we warmed up to a comfortable 79 degrees. Overall, it was a pleasant holiday!

July 4th, 2014 High Temperatures

July 4th, 2014 High Temperatures

Looking back at the climate history books, only 23% of Independence Days in Rockford had a high temperature in the 70s. Most of the time—about 53%—our high is in the 80s. The coolest high temperature occurred on July 4, 1967 with a reading of only 62 degrees. It’s no surprise that July 4, 1967 also had the record cold low temperature. That was 46 degrees!

July 4th Records

July 4th Records

The hottest temperature to ever occur in the Forest City on July 4th happened just two years ago! Back in 2012, we sizzled in 102 degree heat! It has also stayed dry on the 4th of July for the last four years. In fact, about 54% of Independence Days remain dry. Since 1906, only twelve holidays have had rain totaling more than a quarter of an inch!

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, history, record weather, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 4, 2014

Strawberry Moon

The Algonquin Native American tribes of the northern and eastern United States had a unique way of tracking the months and the seasons. Every month has at least one full moon (occasionally a month may have two full moons since the lunar cycle is about 29 days). Every full moon was named after a plant, animal, or weather condition that related to that particular time of year.

For example, the November full moon is called the Beaver Moon. During this time of year, beavers would be actively preparing for winter and the Native Americans would set up their beaver traps before the swamps and creeks froze.

fullstrawberrymoon

The month of June is known for the Strawberry Moon. The reason behind this name is pretty simple. Berries and other wild fruits begin to ripen at this time of year. The Native Americans knew it would soon be time to gather these berries. Since wild strawberries have such a short harvest season, the full moon took on its name.

-Joe

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Posted under history, space

This post was written by qni_it on June 12, 2014