Tri-State Tornado Presentation Today Dr. Doswell - Preliminary Results

Everything you thought you knew about the Tri-State Tornado is probably wrong! Dr. Charles Doswell III released his preliminary results today concerning the tornado. There was a whole list of myths associated with the storm that he debunked. Great presentation! I put a bunch of photos on my site

This is probably one of the more important studies, concerning tornadoes, in recent memory. There has only been one other published study on this event - and much of what it found to be true - was not!

Charles Doswell III (and all the others that were involved - Don Burgess, Charlie Crisp, Matt Gilmore, John Hart, Bob Johns, Bob Maddox, and Steve Piltz) released the preliminary results from the Tri-State Tornado. Dr. Doswell, along with a team of other meteorologists and enthusiasts, have put together an INCREDIBLE amount of information concerning this event. Mr. Doswell showed us a power-point today that included maps of the tornado path and damage points. They have interviewed people in each of the counties that were hit by the tornado. They have managed to GPS Plot the damage path through those counties and even rate the tornado from damage photos and information. They had hundreds of dots on their map showing where damage had occurred. They have interviewed a number of eyewitnesses.
They have totally debunked the WeatherWise Article concerning the Tri-State Tornado.

1. The tornado did not occur in the cold sector of the storm
2. The path of the low is incorrect on the old maps that were published in WeatherWise Magazine.
3. The tornado actually started one county earlier than previously thought.
4. The tornado was an F5.
5. There was a large outbreak of tornadoes on that day across the TN and Ohio Valleys. We may never know the full number of tornadoes that touched down. There were a significant number of F3 and F4 tornadoes in TN and KY.
6. They have discovered a strong outflow boundary that set up across KY and TN during the day of the event. This seems to be where a number of the large tornadoes eventually formed.
7. It appears that it was ONE tornado. There is nothing to suggest that it was not one tornado.
8. A strong dry line swept all the way into West TN and West KY.
9. They are going to write a book for the general public.
10. Charles Doswell and the other scientists will release ALL of the data to the public via the internet and other means. ALL of the information that they have discovered will be available to each and every one of us.
11. They will be writing "papers" to be published, in meteorology journals, concerning the event.
12. They are prob one year away from their COMPLETE study.
13. The tornado may have actually traveled a bit further in Indiana than previously thought. It could have been further...but then he also mentioned that it could have been less. Unsure on that. Hard to remember everything!
14. They discovered written data and instrument graphed data, from Weather Bureau Offices, that were previously lost. They are still trying to track down all of this data. Some of it was given to libraries, some of it was filed away in court houses, and some of it appears to simply have been thrown away.
15. They are making computer maps portraying what they believe will represent the upper and lower atmosphere on the day of the event.
16. It snowed on the day after the tornado in the State of Illinois.
17. Aerial photography maps from the 1930s do not show the path of the tornado because they discovered the entire region was clear cut during the 1920s.
18. They found out that portions of the path were followed by concerned citizens in Southeast Missouri on horseback. They did this in order to look for victims of the storm. This helped the team discover that the tornado actually started in Shannon County, Missouri. One county earlier than previously thought. Also eye-witness accounts and the American Red Cross have documents to show the same.
19. It was NOT a bean shaped storm (as the WeatherWise Report indicated) with a tornado in the front of the cell. It was a classic Supercell with the tornado where it should be.
20. Much more will be coming in the months to come!


Ton of photos at the link below
http://www.usawx.com/thejourney290.htm
 
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Exciting news for all of us who have had a fascinating interest in this tornado.

Considering Dr. Doswell's findings, I am now more than intrigued then ever. I was converted to the idea that this was a tornado family. For this to be a singular, violent tornado, longer than originally thought, and of (former) F-5 rating, it makes me more intrigued on this tornado then ever.

Considering also this developed from a classic supercell thunderstorm, the conditions on this day certainly had to be absolutely perfect for this kind of sustained perfection.

I am extremely excited and looking forward to the final results of this intensive study. Many thanks to Dr. Doswell and his scientific team for researching this and drawing answers to some far reaching questions.
 
Exciting news for all of us who have had a fascinating interest in this tornado.

Considering Dr. Doswell's findings, I am now more than intrigued then ever. I was converted to the idea that this was a tornado family. For this to be a singular, violent tornado, longer than originally thought, and of (former) F-5 rating, it makes me more intrigued on this tornado then ever.

Considering also this developed from a classic supercell thunderstorm, the conditions on this day certainly had to be absolutely perfect for this kind of sustained perfection.

I am extremely excited and looking forward to the final results of this intensive study. Many thanks to Dr. Doswell and his scientific team for researching this and drawing answers to some far reaching questions.
Dr Doswell spoke to our NWA Meeting last night and I walked away thinking that he was an amazing person. Then I heard him today - EVEN MORE himself and now I KNOW he is an amazing person!!!!

:) I am still pumped!
 
17. Satellite maps from the 1930s do not show the path of the tornado because they discovered the entire region was clear cut during the 1920s.

Sputnik was not launched until 1957, so obviously these were not satellite maps. Please clarify an otherwise excellent post.
 
I was also at Dr. Doswell's talk today. The maps were aerial photo maps, not satellite maps. The beginning point of the track was 15 miles farther southwest than originally believed, which is confirmed by both a credible and detailed eyewitness interview and some old Red Cross records they found. It is possible the track may have ended a couple miles earlier than earlier believed - they are still researching that - but the total length, rather than 219 miles, was at least 232 miles and maybe 234. While Dr. Doswell indicated that it cannot be proven for sure that it was just one tornado, there is no evidence of any substantial gaps in the track, and in the portions of the track (all of IL and IN and much but not all of MO) for which there is good data, there are no gaps in the data of more than a mile or two. (NOT evidence of a gap in the track, just places for which they do not have good data from any of the many sources they used, including as many survivor interviews as possible) Hence, there is nothing in the data to suggest that it was NOT one tornado the entire track.
 
This is probably one of the more important studies, concerning tornadoes, in recent memory. There has only been one other published study on this event - and much of what it found to be true - was not!


17. Satellite maps from the 1930s do not show the path of the tornado because they discovered the entire region was clear cut during the 1920s.

18. They found out that portions of the path were followed by concerned citizens in Southeast Missouri on horseback. They did this in order to look for victims of the storm. This helped the team discover that the tornado actually started in Shannon County, Missouri. One county earlier than previously thought. Also eye-witness accounts and the American Red Cross have documents to show the same.
There were three brief mentions in separate issues of MWR actually, and there were other publications, but not formal (as in peer-reviewed). The Weatherwise article is a major source of the lore and falsities and is what debugged. I don't have a copy of that and it's not in any online databases (that I have access to, at least).

The is the scant scientific literature:

U.S. Weather Bureau (Mar 1925). "SEVERE LOCAL HAIL AND WIND STORMS, MARCH, 1925". Monthly Weather Review, 53 (3). pp. 130
Henry, Alfred J. (Apr 1925). "THE TORNADOES OF MARCH 18, 1925". Monthly Weather Review, 53 (4). pp. 141–145
Root, Clarence J. (Feb 1926). "SOME OUTSTANDING TORNADOES". Monthly Weather Review, 54 (2). pp. 58–60

Also, more info was published in the following based of various sources (some of which since lost):

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991, A Chronology and Analysis of Events. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films: St. Johnsbury, VT. ISBN 1-879362-03-1
--- (2001). The Tornado: Nature's Ultimate Windstorm. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK. ISBN 0-8061-3258-2
--- (2001). F5/F6 Tornadoes. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films: St. Johnsbury, VT.
Flora, Snowden D. (1953). Tornadoes of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK.
Wilson, John W., and Stanley A. Changnon, Jr. (1971). Illinois Tornadoes. Circular 103. Illinois State Water Survey: Urbana-Champaign, IL.

And I think you know now, Beau, what is to come on that Tri-State Tornado site ;-).

Also, here are papers presented at the most recent SLS Conf from the study:

Burgess, Donald W. The Tri-State Tornado of 18 March 1925, Part I: Re-examination of the damage path.
Maddox, Robert A., Consultant, Tucson, AZ; and M. S. Gilmore, C. Crisp, J. A. Hart, C. A. Doswell, and D. W. BurgessThe Tri-State Tornado of 18 March 1925. Part II: Re-examination of the weather conditions supporting the parent storm.


Satellite maps from the 30s? I think you meant aerial photography ;-).

Yes, indeed. They first got in contact with a lady by happenstance, who gave a very reliable description of the beginning of the path. She also mentioned that people were so concerned about victims that they rid horseback from the start point to near where the first fatality occurred NNW of Ellington. This fatality location was confused in the fog of history as the start poing of the actual tornado. The earlier start was later confirmed by a newly dug up Red Cross report. It seems very likely that 15 miles will be added to the beginning.

This survivivg witness also described classic supercell structure, observations which were repeated by other survivors. It was simply a massive wedge (fitting the rolling cloud on the ground descriptions), but otherwise highly visible most of the time. It was also a classic setup, so the lore is indeed demystified. What stands out as unusual is the ~234 mile or so continuous path over ~3.5 hrs (forward movement was confirmed, as we know that's not an exceptional speed).


Good summary and pics Beau (I videotaped Chuck and Ron's presentations), and it indeed was fascinating to learn about the actual meteorological setup and the actual storm morphology, demystifying it and showing it as an event we understand; it simply was of exceptional duration. The confirmed continuity and addition to the path length are very interesting as well. As Przybylinski (a QRT member) said, very often during surveys they found a tornado started earlier than thought.
 
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Okay, apparently, much of the Tri-State Tornado material in the 1971 Illinois State Water Survey document are from the Weaterwise article (Chagnon was an author for both). Here is the citation info for the Weatherwise article:

Changnon, S.A., and R.G. Semonin, 1966: A great tornado disaster. Weatherwise, 19, 56-65
 
There were three brief mentions in separate issues of MWR actually, and there were other publications, but not formal (as in peer-reviewed). The Weatherwise article is a major source of the lore and falsities and is what debugged. I don't have a copy of that and it's not in any online databases (that I have access to, at least).

The is the scant scientific literature:

U.S. Weather Bureau (Mar 1925). "SEVERE LOCAL HAIL AND WIND STORMS, MARCH, 1925". Monthly Weather Review, 53 (3). pp. 130
Henry, Alfred J. (Apr 1925). "THE TORNADOES OF MARCH 18, 1925". Monthly Weather Review, 53 (4). pp. 141–145
Root, Clarence J. (Feb 1926). "SOME OUTSTANDING TORNADOES". Monthly Weather Review, 54 (2). pp. 58–60

Also, more info was published in the following based of various sources (some of which since lost):

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991, A Chronology and Analysis of Events. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films: St. Johnsbury, VT. ISBN 1-879362-03-1
--- (2001). The Tornado: Nature's Ultimate Windstorm. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK. ISBN 0-8061-3258-2
--- (2001). F5/F6 Tornadoes. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films: St. Johnsbury, VT.
Flora, Snowden D. (1953). Tornadoes of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK.
Wilson, John W., and Stanley A. Changnon, Jr. (1971). Illinois Tornadoes. Circular 103. Illinois State Water Survey: Urbana-Champaign, IL.

And I think you know now, Beau, what is to come on that Tri-State Tornado site ;-).

Also, here are papers presented at the most recent SLS Conf from the study:

Burgess, Donald W. The Tri-State Tornado of 18 March 1925, Part I: Re-examination of the damage path.
Maddox, Robert A., Consultant, Tucson, AZ; and M. S. Gilmore, C. Crisp, J. A. Hart, C. A. Doswell, and D. W. BurgessThe Tri-State Tornado of 18 March 1925. Part II: Re-examination of the weather conditions supporting the parent storm.


Satellite maps from the 30s? I think you meant aerial photography ;-).

Yes, indeed. They first got in contact with a lady by happenstance, who gave a very reliable description of the beginning of the path. She also mentioned that people were so concerned about victims that they rid horseback from the start point to near where the first fatality occurred NNW of Ellington. This fatality location was confused in the fog of history as the start poing of the actual tornado. The earlier start was later confirmed by a newly dug up Red Cross report. It seems very likely that 15 miles will be added to the beginning.

This survivivg witness also described classic supercell structure, observations which were repeated by other survivors. It was simply a massive wedge (fitting the rolling cloud on the ground descriptions), but otherwise highly visible most of the time. It was also a classic setup, so the lore is indeed demystified. What stands out as unusual is the ~234 mile or so continuous path over ~3.5 hrs (forward movement was confirmed, as we know that's not an exceptional speed).


Good summary and pics Beau (I videotaped Chuck and Ron's presentations), and it indeed was fascinating to learn about the actual meteorological setup and the actual storm morphology, demystifying it and showing it as an event we understand; it simply was of exceptional duration. The confirmed continuity and addition to the path length are very interesting as well. As Przybylinski (a QRT member) said, very often during surveys they found a tornado started earlier than thought.

Man it is hard to remember everything that is said...I wish I would have taped it :)

Are the tapes going to be available? Definately an incredible day! Listening to Dr. Doswell you could just hear his enthuisam concerning the whole study. It is also amazing that all of it was led and paid for by volunteers.

So was there only one peer-reviewed study on this tornado? Dr. Doswell said that they had only been one other formal study? Was that correct?
 
Just one point of clarification. This study is actually a joint effort including Bob Johns, Don Burgess, Robert Maddux, and a few others.
 
Thanks, great post and I am also fascinated to hear about these new findings. Please keep us posted. I have been reading the few books I can find about the Tri State.

Just one point about the actual tornado. And I am not doubting it was an F5, but all the black and white pics I've seen from it's damage path seem to indicate F3 or thereabouts to me. I have probably not seen all the pics out there, but a mile wide F5 would leave a pretty horrible path. Completely scoured by a mile wide, nothing left presumably.

I am always interested in the descriptions of this tornado, that huge rolling black cloud barreling along at 100kmh.
 
"I have probably not seen all the pics out there, but a mile wide F5 would leave a pretty horrible path. Completely scoured by a mile wide, nothing left presumably."

Don't forget that a tornado gets rated based on the worst it does - that does not mean that every point on its entire path had F5 damage.
 
Just one point of clarification. This study is actually a joint effort including Bob Johns, Don Burgess, Robert Maddux, and a few others.
Yes...I wish I had a photo of the group. Perhaps Scott can remember the number? Seems like the photo showed eight people maybe more? He has the video ;) so maybe he can count them. They are still doing the surveys in the counties that were impacted by this tornado.

It is also impressive that all of this is being funded by volunteers. All of their time is being DONATED :)
 
The full (I hope) list of participants is: Don Burgess, Charlie Crisp, Chuck Doswell, Matt Gilmore, John Hart, Bob Johns, Bob Maddox, and Steve Piltz. Indeed these men are working almost entirely on their own money and time, including funding their own trips to the area. It's important to note the findings discussed in the original post are from not just Dr. Doswell but the entire group.

The meteorological findings are certainly very interesting, but some of the stories they are getting from the remaining survivors are truly amazing (not just about surviving the storm itself, but the ways in which people responded to such a disaster in the early 20th century, the local politics, etc.). Also, the methods they used to uncover some of these new results are very unique. If you ever watched an episode of the TV series "Cold Case", think of the meteorological version of it. I won't go into any specifics on any of this because they will almost certainly end up in the book! :)
 
It is extremely interesting to learn that this is now considered to be a single tornado. We know supercells can go on for ages (I think there was a ~12 hr one last year), but to be in a perfect state of balance to produce a tornado for 3 1/2 hours is pretty special!
 
The full (I hope) list of participants is: Don Burgess, Charlie Crisp, Chuck Doswell, Matt Gilmore, John Hart, Bob Johns, Bob Maddox, and Steve Piltz. Indeed these men are working almost entirely on their own money and time, including funding their own trips to the area. It's important to note the findings discussed in the original post are from not just Dr. Doswell but the entire group.

The meteorological findings are certainly very interesting, but some of the stories they are getting from the remaining survivors are truly amazing (not just about surviving the storm itself, but the ways in which people responded to such a disaster in the early 20th century, the local politics, etc.). Also, the methods they used to uncover some of these new results are very unique. If you ever watched an episode of the TV series "Cold Case", think of the meteorological version of it. I won't go into any specifics on any of this because they will almost certainly end up in the book! :)

Thanks for all of the names...I have added that to the top post.
 
The full (I hope) list of participants is: Don Burgess, Charlie Crisp, Chuck Doswell, Matt Gilmore, John Hart, Bob Johns, Bob Maddox, and Steve Piltz. Indeed these men are working almost entirely on their own money and time, including funding their own trips to the area. It's important to note the findings discussed in the original post are from not just Dr. Doswell but the entire group.
That is the full list.

EDIT: See, http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/seminars/abs.php?id=99 .
 
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Man it is hard to remember everything that is said...I wish I would have taped it :)

Are the tapes going to be available? Definately an incredible day! Listening to Dr. Doswell you could just hear his enthuisam concerning the whole study. It is also amazing that all of it was led and paid for by volunteers.

So was there only one peer-reviewed study on this tornado? Dr. Doswell said that they had only been one other formal study? Was that correct?
For many talks and conferences taping is not permitted, however, this was NWS speakers speaking at a NWS event, so it's fine. I still asked Chuck out of courtesy. I'll put up some video.

There was one paper that was solely on the event. There were a couple other MWR papers from around that time that mention it and have information not available in that paper. That's where I came up with three, Chuck is correct in that only one was on solely on the event. There are also various other scientific papers that mention the event obviously, and some info may be gleaned from those too, but I don't remember if there were any unique tidbits.
 
For many talks and conferences taping is not permitted, however, this was NWS speakers speaking at a NWS event, so it's fine. I still asked Chuck out of courtesy. I'll put up some video.

There was one paper that was solely on the event. There were a couple other MWR papers from around that time that mention it and have information not available in that paper. That's where I came up with three, Chuck is correct in that only one was on solely on the event. There are also various other scientific papers that mention the event obviously, and some info may be gleaned from those too, but I don't remember if there were any unique tidbits.
I believe Rick said that the NWS taped it as well. Unsure as to whether they are going to put anything up on the web site. Would be nice to have the audio available.
 
Thanks yeppers that would be it. I did a weatherwise search and couldn't find it. I actually have issues back to 1949! I am still looking for a few years though...if anyone ever wants to sell their collection let me know the dates ;)

The Jackson MS tornado cover is amazing. There are some awesome articles in the early years of the publication...I think I actually like the early years more than what they publish today. Either way - :) cool that we have some weather magazines just for those interested in weather!
 
Exciting news for all of us who have had a fascinating interest in this tornado.

Considering Dr. Doswell's findings, I am now more than intrigued then ever. I was converted to the idea that this was a tornado family. For this to be a singular, violent tornado, longer than originally thought, and of (former) F-5 rating, it makes me more intrigued on this tornado then ever.

Considering also this developed from a classic supercell thunderstorm, the conditions on this day certainly had to be absolutely perfect for this kind of sustained perfection.

I am extremely excited and looking forward to the final results of this intensive study. Many thanks to Dr. Doswell and his scientific team for researching this and drawing answers to some far reaching questions.

I second that wholeheartedly, as when I first read about this tornado, I was completely amazed, but also saddened before of the amount of lives lost, but I too had begun to wonder in recent years of the possibility, that the Tir-State tornado, might've been a series of tornadoes in a cyclical supercell, but with with a new stronger tornado forming in place of a weaker previous tornado, but I'm really glad that my original thoughts on this tornado, proved to be quite significant, but these recint finding by Dr Dosweel and the rest of the team, I take my hat off to them for the great work and effort that is still going into this research :)

I too am very excited to hear what the final reports and findings will be, but already this is quite astonishng :)

Thank you beaudodson for posting this, it is great news and certainly gives alot more food for thought with this event :)

Willie
 
"I have probably not seen all the pics out there, but a mile wide F5 would leave a pretty horrible path. Completely scoured by a mile wide, nothing left presumably."

Don't forget that a tornado gets rated based on the worst it does - that does not mean that every point on its entire path had F5 damage.

I know. Ps Anyone seen pics of the F5 parts of the Tri State?
 
Hi MJ :), How's it going buddy? :)

Unfortunately not, but saying that, I haven't searched for pics of the tornado, as I didn't think that there would be any images of the Tri-State tornado, due to the time period in which it happened :)

I will say though, I'm now curios to see if there are any images of that tornado also, and so, I'm not going to have a chase on google, to see what I can find, but alot of you probably already know what the end search result will be :)

Willie
 
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