Tornado in my own back yard tonight

It would be just my luck, that on the day of the biggest weather story in my area of the year, I’d be out of town. I was in Sacramento on an unexpected trip to find an important and now hard to get electronic part (thanks to it being made in Japan, and now scarce due to earthquake and Tsunami related supply chain issues) when all this happened, and the best I could muster was cell phone reports to my radio station while driving and taking time out to get radar images on my cell phone. KCRA-TV had their copter up, and here is some footage of what looks to be an F1 tornado in Butte County, CA near Durham, just south of Chico.

Of course compared to what was going in in the Midwest Mississippi and Ohio valleys today, this was minor. To add to the craziness, on my way back I got word my home security system had been tripped by an internal motion sensor alarm and police were at my home.

We think it was a malfunction, possibly lightning related, but can’t be sure what actually tripped the alarm.

Glad this day is over.

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59 Responses to Tornado in my own back yard tonight

  1. APE says:

    Anthony,
    Thanks for all the great posts. I was actually a little worried when I heard the warning but didn’t see a post on it that the garage might have been yours and WUWT went up with Harold Camping. Glad to hear everyone is OK there.
    APE

  2. Policyguy says:

    Anthony,

    The unexpected happened and knocked on Chico’s back door.

    My son is concerned that this could happen in Sacramento. This is a weather event that we normally see in the foothills, yes? Couldn’t such a thunderstorm and tornado event happen in and around Sacramento?

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh so long ago when I was a kid, about the late 1960′s, there was a dinky little tornado outside of town (a bit south of Durham…). There was an old barn (and I mean very old, some boards missing and leaning like an old drunk) that was knocked down by the tornado.

    So it made the nightly news.

    It was observed, and was a tornado, but the “damage” was pathetic…

    Looks like the area is still able to “pop a dinky one”… At least during “cold phase” of the PDO cycle…

  4. charles nelson says:

    There’s a famous and really rather pleasent song by a NZ band called Crowded House called…’Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you.’ May I suggest it as the WUWT Anthem?

  5. Well of course it’s your own fault. As the number one denialist website, you are obviously responsible for the rise in CO2, since CO2 is known to cause catastrophic melting, it has obviously softened the earth’s crust. Which clearly was directly responsible for the Japanese earthquake – which caused your visit to find find japanese parts.

    So, next time you decide to set up the world’s premier denialist website, remember that it could cause something as catastrophic as not being in your town to report “yet more proof of global warming”.

    (do I need to say sarc off?)

  6. Brian H says:

    Someone observed that tornadoes tend to prefer level ground. What’s the terrain like thereabouts?

  7. Policyguy says:

    Scottish Sceptic says:
    May 26, 2011 at 12:35 am …
    OMG – Sarc off is overly polite

    What an idiot!!

  8. Policyguy says:

    Please excuse me if I misinterpreted your sarc statement. I’m not sure what is relevant at this point.

  9. tokyoboy says:

    Scottish Sceptic says: May 26, 2011 at 12:35 am
    “…CO2 … has obviously softened the earth’s crust. Which clearly was directly responsible for the Japanese earthquake”

    Oh I haven’t been aware of that clear, trivial, and awful causality. Thanks for your wisdom.

  10. Jason Salit says:

    Could just be me… but the picture isn’t showing up. Maybe your day still isn’t over? =)

  11. John Marshall says:

    Sorry about the tornado but at least your police responded. Here in the UK they do net respond to any alarms. In fact you could get a noise abatement order to stop the noise. Bit of a worry if you happen to be away on holiday at the time.

    Hope the weather improves.

  12. Brian Johnson uk says:

    Did any wind farms get flattened?

  13. Policyguy says: May 26, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Please excuse me if I misinterpreted your sarc statement. I’m not sure what is relevant at this point.

    Oh, sorry, I forgot US spelling should I have written “Sark off”?

    [Warning this is intended to be a gentle jibe at the variation between US and UK culture suggesting something that is plainly ridiculous, with the intention by going over the top to highlight just how ridiculous it is to have suggested it ... inviting the reader (after a brief moment of uncertainty as to the intention) to laugh with the writer in the knowledge that both share the joke.]

    [Reply] Sarcasm and irony in a single comment? A recipe for anglo-american confustification! RT-mod

  14. LeeHarvey says:

    @ charles nelson –

    Wouldn’t that be a better anthem for, say, Al Gore?

  15. wws says:

    This reminds of the old joke, “how is a tornado like a divorce in Arkansas?”

    A: Somebody’s gonna lose a trailer! (or a garage, in this case)

    But I think overall that this, at least, is something that Californians don’t need to spend much time worrying about. Earthquakes, maybe. Bankruptcy, probably. 40,000 felons let loose on the streets because the judges say so, Definitely. But tornadoes, naaah.

  16. Cathy says:

    I’m out of my Ohio basement after a bit of concern. Looks like your neighborhood got a bit of what we dodged last night. We are such motes of dust in the face of nature’s force.

  17. Ric Werme says:

    Scottish Sceptic says:
    May 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

    >Oh, sorry, I forgot US spelling should I have written “Sark off”?

    No no, we use sarcasm over here too, but off still implies on/off.

    Better to use /sarc, a degenerate form derived from HTML’s <command>stuff affected by the command</command>. So /sarc implies the preceding stuff was sarcastic. People never think of adding a sarc at the beginning, and that would spoil the effect anyway.

    “Sarc off” could imply there’s no sarcasm in the stuff, which seemed an unlikely interpretation.

    Hmm, that makes me think about “stuff it,” but that’s a whole different colloquialism.

  18. Wade says:

    wws says:
    May 26, 2011 at 5:12 am

    This reminds of the old joke, “how is a tornado like a divorce in Arkansas?”

    A: Somebody’s gonna lose a trailer! (or a garage, in this case)

    I have a similar joke. “What do rednecks and tornadoes have in common? They are both attracted to trailer parks.”

  19. ferd berple says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/04/28/us/tornado-deaths.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23
    “At least 122 people were killed in a tornado outbreak on May 22, bringing the year’s total to nearly 500 and making it the deadliest year since 1953, when 519 people were killed.”

    Very close to the 60 year MDO climate cycle. All the while CO2 has been increasing.

    The folks Hansen should be taking to court are the climate scientists that conspired to subvert peer review to hide alternative views of climate change. Everything else in nature moves in clycles. Why not climate? Governments should have been prepared for a return to the cold of 60 years ago. Instead they were seduced by the hype over ever increasing CO2 leading to ever increase temperature and the prospect of ever increasing taxes.

  20. Frank K. says:

    Scottish Sceptic says:
    May 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Don’t worry – I got the sarcasm.

    By the way, do they say “Beam me up, Scotty.” in Scotland? :^)

  21. Mike G. says:

    I’m glad the last week is over. With that front hanging out, we were under threat of severe weather for most of the last week.

    I’m glad that the last two months are over and we’re about to go into summer heat and humidity. Here in Arkansas, we’ve been under the gun way more than normal, and spent more time in the storm shelter than any other year — yes, there are people in Arkansas who don’t live in trailers.

  22. Frank K. says: May 26, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Don’t worry – I got the sarcasm.

    By the way, do they say “Beam me up, Scotty.” in Scotland? :^)

    No we say “Up US”.

    Oh dear … I’m going to have to explain this. First you have to read this as Us = YOUs.

    Next you have to know the local Glasgow dialect where the plural of “you” is “yous”. So e.g. one might say: “where are yous going”.

    Do have the phrase: “Up yours” … just in case not I’ll avoid any confusion by explaining this is a shortened form of the phrase meaning “stick it up some place where no PV will produce electricity”.

  23. oops … and I should have said that “Up yours” is a traditional greeting between Scotsmen. …. no! No! I can just imagine it now … some American greets a Glaswegian with “Up yours” up to receive a Glasgow kiss …. but it is a mild rebuke (amongst friends) to someone trying to suggest something that is unbelievable.

  24. bob says:

    ” … home security system had been tripped by an internal motion sensor alarm and police were at my home.”

    Better check for bugs, ’cause you are considered a denier and the AGW dirty tricks squad is probably out to get you.

  25. bob says:

    Wade said: ““What do rednecks and tornadoes have in common? They are both attracted to trailer parks.”

    In the animated movie, “Cars”, Mater said, “I’m happier than a tornado in a trailer park!” Larry The Cable Guy was the voice of Tow Mater.

    It’s a child’s movie, but well worth the dvd rental.

  26. Scottish Sceptic says:
    May 26, 2011 at 3:24 am
    [Reply] Sarcasm and irony in a single comment? A recipe for anglo-american confustification! RT-mod
    As the British queen said recently: “we share a common language, just use it differently”

  27. Austin says:

    I’d get some battery backed wireless cameras for your house and have them go to a system that is not on the network and which is secured in your attic on its own UPS.

  28. JinOH says:

    Welcome to the Midwest ;)

  29. Ian L. McQueen says:

    “Youse” is still in common usage in many places. Here in southern New Brunswick, every waitress will say “What would youse like?” (“Youse” is usually pronounced more like “yez”.) It seems to be a requirement of being hired for the job.

    Ian M

  30. RHS says:

    One note about tornadoes and terrain. A tornado (even if not an EF4 or 5) can form anywhere. Tornadoes have touched down in Salt Lake City which is about the biggest city in a mountain valley. Several years ago a tornado touched down in Manitou Springs CO. Manitou is a really small tourist town west of Colorado Springs. On a side note, there was one which quite literally sent the British out of Washington DC in 1814. Near as I can tell, it is the only recorded tornado in DC proper.
    In the right weather condition, nowhere is completely safe from a tornado.

  31. wws says:

    Leif Svalgaard wrote “As the British queen said recently: “we share a common language, just use it differently”

    or, as I’ve heard put another way, we are 2 countries divided by a common language.

  32. bubbagyro says:

    Anthony:
    Let me know if I can help with the part. I have connections with custom electronics companies in San Jose and Philippines. Just email me with a description and I will hunt for you.
    Bob G

    REPLY: I got it, thanks – Anthony

  33. _Jim says:

    Tornado, land spout (vs water spout) or gustnado – know the difference!

    http://www.slideshare.net/chowd/national-weather-service-storm-spotter-training

    Slide #134 onward discusses land spouts.

    .

  34. James Sexton says:

    In Kansas, I think we refer to those as dust devils.

    @ Scottish Sceptic says:
    May 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

    lol, yes, but so much is lost when a detailed explanation is used. Best to let them question and/or rant to preserve the sarcasm and ironic humor.

  35. ShrNfr says:

    Now, if you could only mount the blades on the wind turbines in such a way that the entire turbine and gear box goes from vertical to horizontal and then drive the wind turbines in the opposite direction of the rotation of the tornado, you could totally avoid all these tornado disasters. Of course, this being CA they need the wind turbines to produce the electricity to drive the wind turbines and with them rotated back they will not generate electricity and will need to use it. Needless to say I am sure that Babs (call me Seniletor) Boxer will introduce some sort of legislation to this effect. If we could only save one red crested tree mouse, it would be worth it in her eyes, I am sure.

  36. polistra says:

    Semi-related: Cliff Mass has a graph showing what happened when a tornado hit a weather instrumentation setup at El Reno. Maybe the most interesting part is the curves for a few minutes before the hit. Corresponds to subjective sensations that tell you “Here she comes!”

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2011/05/tornado-passage-at-weather-station.html

  37. SteveSadlov says:

    Good news is, this cold pool conveyor may start the shift north early next week. The ECWMF is hinting at a large Four Corners High. That would certainly provide a respite if not culmination of a Spring from Hell.

  38. Tom T says:

    You know something is up when you have a tornado watch for Vermont.
    http://www.wcax.com/weather
    Perhaps Gaea is sending a message to Bill McKibben to stop lying about global warming and tornadoes.

  39. Tom T says:

    One would well to leave sarcasm to the experts.

  40. John from CA says:

    link to the youtube vid:

  41. John from CA says:

    let’s try that one again:
    [http://] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSN5ZogyO1M

  42. Murray says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/us/25questions.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&pagewanted=all

    Interesting, even the NYT admits that GW not increasing tornados.

  43. Dave Springer says:

    Those little rope tornadoes are pretty from a distance of a few miles. I’ve seen exactly one of them in Texas in the past 18 years I lived here. But strangely enough the closest I’ve been to one was about a mile away in the 1970′s in southern California in the city of Irvine about 10 miles inland from the beach. I didn’t even know it was there as it was so rain wrapped I couldn’t see the curb or centerline of the road I was driving on. Later, hearing about it on the news, I went over for a look at where it touched down. It picked a small car up off the road and set it down unharmed on the sidewalk. Knocked over a dozen trees. Took out some fences around back yards. Stripped a lot of shingles off of roofs. And took the roof off a few less sturdy structures like carports.

  44. Dave Springer says:

    RHS says:
    May 26, 2011 at 8:15 am

    “In the right weather condition, nowhere is completely safe from a tornado.”

    True but hilly terrain tends to break up the inflow and make them less severe. The nastiest ones tend to flat terrain where they ain’t nothin’ but bobbwar and switch grass to block the inflow.

  45. _Jim says:

    Dave Springer says on May 26, 2011 at 11:57 am:

    True but hilly terrain tends to break up the inflow and make them less severe.

    Cite please?

    Something with Moller or Doswell listed as author or coauthor?

    BTW,
    a) Having looked at the overflight of the looong Huntsville tornado damage NE of town, up hill and down dale didn’t seem to hinder it’s progress:

    b) the 7 story or so hospital in Joplin seemed to represent no obstacle and the tall buildings in Ft. Worth represented no obstacle(s) either.

    2000 Fort Worth tornado (picture of downtown cowtown at link below):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Fort_Worth_tornado

    “The tornado passed through the west side of Fort Worth at about 6:18 p.m. It tore a 4-mile (5-km) path through the city, blowing out windows and causing significant damage to many of the downtown high rise buildings. The tornado dissipated around 6:28 p.m., and at its worst, was approximately one-quarter mile wide (0.4 km).

    The tornado was classified as a low end F3 on the Fujita scale. Two people were killed by the tornado and 80 were injured, with six seriously injured. The heavy rain and hail that followed damaged many interior areas of buildings which were exposed by the tornado’s winds.”

    .

  46. mike g says:

    Speaking of Arkansas trailer homes, the redneck word of the day is: rectum. Usage: “I had two nice four-wheelers sitting outside the trailer until the tornado come through and rectum.”

  47. mike g says:

    As Paul Hogan would say, “that’s not a tornado, this (the one that leveled Phil Campbell, AL) is a tornado.”

  48. Barbara Skolaut says:

    “Oh, sorry, I forgot US spelling should I have written “Sark off”?”

    No, Scottish Sceptic, honey – we spell it “sarcasm” (with a “c”) in the States. I think “Sark” is French. ;-p

    [Please tell me I don't have to explain that.]

  49. Jeff (of Colorado) says:

    We have had a lightning strike set off our house alarm. It struck 2 meters from the master bathroom and set off the motion detector. Didn’t help the tree much. Good thing we were not home or using the loo. Probably the bright flash confused the sensor and it interpreted it as motion. It didn’t set off the glass break sensors, small children running through the house popping balloons can do that. A full moon shining down through a skylight and past a moving ceiling fan can also set off the motion alarm.

  50. Mac the Knife says:

    Anthony,

    Is your little dog by chance named ‘Toto’ ?
    Just checking……

    (There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home…)

  51. Mac the Knife says:

    Scottish Sceptic says:
    May 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Policyguy says: May 26, 2011 at 1:35 am

    “Please excuse me if I misinterpreted your sarc statement. I’m not sure what is relevant at this point.”

    Scottish Skeptic,

    I think the relatively new word ‘sarchasm’ applies here… };>)

    def.: Sarchasm:
    The abyss between the creator of witticisms and the intended recipient who does not find the humor in it.

  52. SteveSadlov says:

    Well, this is not so good. This implies the Four Corners High may not be very strong or long lived. Note especially the mention of continued abnormally cold packages of air coming into the SW US well into Jun:

    =======================================================

    MODELS CONTINUE TO BRING YET ANOTHER SYSTEM DOWN NEAR OUR CWA WITH THE SOUTHERN EXTENT OF PRECIP EXPECTED TO IMPACT NORTHERN CALIFORNIA MONDAY. SOLUTIONS DISAGREE WITH HOW FAR SOUTH THE LONGWAVE TROF WILL MAKE IT BEFORE IT BEGINS TO STALL OR SLIGHTLY RETROGRADE. WILL LET EVENING CREW TAKE A LOOK AT THE NEW SOLUTIONS AND MAKE CHANGES IF NEEDED. SIMILAR TO THE SYSTEM THIS WEEKEND… EVEN IF WE DO NOT RECEIVE ANY RAINFALL…TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE TO BE COLDER THAN NORMAL. CPC KEEPS US RUNNING BELOW NORMAL THROUGH
    JUNE 9TH.

  53. _Jim says:

    Jeff (of Colorado) says on May 26, 2011 at 5:06 pm:

    We have had a lightning strike set off our house alarm. It struck 2 meters from the master bathroom and set off the motion detector.

    Could have been the secondary effect of the vibration from the ensuing thunderclap … the primary effect on the system having been the approximately 1 millisecond 10,000 Ampere (or so) electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) coupled into the wiring from just yards away.

    It never ceases to amaze me the number of residential (and some business) alarm calls the poh-leece department is dispatched on when a T-storm rolls through town.

    .

  54. _Jim says:

    SteveSadlov says on May 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm:

    Well, this is not so good. …

    Noted, Steve. (Noted all your postings as a matter of fact. Tnx for the info, insight)

    .

  55. savethesharks says:

    All of that extremely unstable air moving over the west, coupled with normal early summertime heating, no doubt helped contribute to this.

    This type of cold air instability happens and is to be expected over the west coast….even though such a twister is an anomaly.

    Poltergeist weather, no doubt.

    La Nina and the cold PDO at work.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  56. _Jim says:

    savethesharks says on May 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm:


    This type of cold air instability happens and is to be expected over the west coast … even though such a twister is an anomaly.

    Thinking is this was a “land spout” (technically speaking; weak ‘nado in any case!)

    A few videos and a RADAR capture below presented to support the point.

    First, an example via the folks at stormtrack.org: “Nice landspout tornado…”
    http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/showthread.php?25071-Nice-landspout-tornado

    And, from WGN Chicago “Dear Tom (Skilling), What is a “landspout”?”
    http://weblogs.wgntv.com/chicago-weather/tom-skilling-blog/2009/04/what-is-a-landspout.html

    It’s a colloquial term for a tornado, usually rather weak as tornadoes go, produced by a thunderstorm that is still in its initial stages of intensification (during which time it rarely produces severe weather). Landspouts are so-named because, in appearance, they resemble weak Florida Keys waterspouts over land.

    Most tornadoes are produced by a special breed of thunderstorms known as “supercell thunderstorms” — enormous, severe, rotating (in the sense that air in the 10-50 mile wind field in which supercells are embedded spirals inward) and, most uniquely, they persist for hours. Most thunderstorms move through a life cycle of an hour or less, then die away. Landspouts are the products of non-rotating thunderstorms that, in other respects, are not severe.

    Now, a few videos of the ‘spout near Durham and Chico California on the 25th:

    Funnel cloud over Durham Dayton Hwy

    Raw Video – Durham Tornado

    **California Tornado (Radar – GREarth) **

    Cities effected: Willows, Orland, Glenn, Hamilton City, Chico, Durham, Oroville, Paradise.
    Counties effected: Glenn, Butte.
    Damage: Damage to house, garage, trees, crops, vehicles.
    Music: Modern Warfare 2 Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer.

    Notice this particular T-storm cell dies out not too long after the TVS indication (on RADAR image) is indicated, kinda paralleling the scenario Tom Skilling painted in his descriptive answer above for a landspout.

    .

  57. SteveSadlov says:

    We’ve got another cold front in here today. Weaker than the one on Wed. But pretty cold aloft. Track is still punching into the Great Basin.

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