This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tornado season...again..and it's only February

National Weather Service map for February 29
Yesterday was a grim day for the midwest and especially southern Illinois. The midwest was hit by a huge storm system that spawned several tornados, one of which was an intensity F4 out of the scale of F5. (Notice the yellow area on the NWS map to the left.)  12 people have died, and several hundred were injured. Six people were killed in the small town of Harrisburg, IL. In an eerie similarity to events last year in Joplin, Missouri, the medical center in Harrisburg was severly damaged by the tornado. Three of the deaths were in Missouri, and three in Tennessee.Tornados were also reported in Kentucky, and winds in excess of 100 mph were reported in northwestern Alabama.

This has been one of the wierdest winters I've experienced in my 10 years in Illinois--nearly snowless and warm. Yesterday it was 56 by 8:00 in the morning as the winds blew (very strongly) up from the Gulf of Mexico--that's the dark brown area extending through central Illinois and Indiana.  On the other hand, not all that far away, Michigan got hit with snow and freezing rain (pink and purple areas up near Canada). I have always wished that weather maps didn't stop at the border--friends in Toronto were also getting walloped by snow and freezing rain.

Here's a handy reference: a map of temperature extremes for whatever days you want to specify from Weather Underground.  It's showing record high temperatures in the mid-west, and record cold temperatures in the southwest and northwest. It was just created this week by Dr. Jeff Masters to allow viewers to look at record extremes, both in the US and internationally. Instructions for using it in detail are under Masters blog entry on the lower right adjacent to the map.

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