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Tornadoes confirmed in NW Wisconsin

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Tornadoes confirmed in NW Wisconsin

Tuesday’s storms in Northwestern Wisconsin left evidence of three tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.

By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune

Tuesday’s storms in Northwestern Wisconsin left evidence of three tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service in Duluth.

A team from the Weather Service and the Wisconsin Emergency Management Department confirmed Thursday that three tornadoes touched down in Northwestern Wisconsin, including one in Iron County — the first the county has seen in

40 years.

“It was amazing and disheartening to see the cabins there” that were damaged, said Mike Stewart, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth who was part of a team that surveyed the area on Thursday.

The tornadoes, embedded among straight-line winds from thunderstorms, downed hundreds of trees and damaged numerous buildings.

The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage near Springstead Landing in Iron County received the brunt of the tornado damage. However, the National Weather Service said most of the damage was caused by extreme straight-line thunderstorm winds.

Stewart said the path of the damage was about 1½ miles wide and 10 miles long.

The Weather Service reported that six people were injured by the storm around the flowage; three required assistance to leave the area.

Another tornado touched down in far eastern Ashland County, north of Highway F along Roddis Line Road. The situation was similar to the tornado at Turtle-

Flambeau Flowage, embedded within a “broad swath of wind damage.”

A third tornado caused tree damage near the town of Morse in Ashland County, northeast of Highways 13 and 77. The Weather Service reported “significant tree damage” along Dry Lake Road, east of Morse.

The Ashland County tornadoes will require aerial surveys to determine their exact path and strength, the Weather Service said.

Tuesday’s storms also brought reports of baseball-size hail in the Ino area of Bayfield County which, combined with wind, caused damage to buildings and crops.

Farther east, about 40 to 50 cabins and homes were damaged from downed trees in Vilas County, according to the Emergency Management Department.

2010 Hurricane Season: July 30th tropics turning active in the Atlantic.
With two named storms already this season, the expectation for a very active year may start to prove itself.  The National Hurricane Center has identified two tropical waves with a small chance for development in the next two days.  Beyond that period, the likelihood might go up as this region of the Atlantic Ocean is heating up.  In addition to sea surface temperatures reaching the critical 28C for tropical storm formation, there is another factor to consider.

The Saharan Air Layer is a measurement of dry air and dust particles that blow off of the desert region in north Africa and over the Atlantic.  This can hinder the development of tropical storms, but appears to be breaking down.  The ribbon on clouds known as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone is just to it's south and is where the two tropical waves identified by NHC are located. 

Saffir-Simpson Scale splits wind, storm surge relationship

Posted: Jul 28, 2010 6:13 AMUpdated: Jul 28, 2010 4:51 PM
By Katy Morgan
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Wind speed and storm surge have sat side-by-side on the Saffir-Simpson scale since it's development in the 70s, but now, that's changing.

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Reed explained meteorologists never liked the relationship to begin with. 

"If I took Hurricane Ike that produced 15 to 20 ft storm surge off Texas and Louisiana, and ran it against North Miami to Palm Beach, FL, I'd only get 7 feet. Same storm," he said.

In other words, the storm surge forecast relies heavily on the local geography. A uniform scale is not an accurate way to come up with that forecast. 

"The bathymetry", Reed explained, "or the sea shore of the ocean as it comes up to your beach plays a role in it. The size of the hurricane plays a role in it. The direction plays a role, where as the max wind is 100 mph no matter how it comes at you. That's why we separated the two."

So how does the bathymetry compare along the Carolina coastline? 

The Grand Strand sits on a generally soft-slopping shelf. The gradual climb from the ocean floor to the shore line, combined with the right storm ingredients, could mean an increased storm surge compared to other beaches around the United States.

For 10 years, Horry County Geographical Information System has been using this technology to map communities that could potentially be affected by storm surge along the Grand Strand.

"We do this to give people an idea of what could happen," Justin Schools, an Horry County GIS employee, said. "It's not an exact science of, 'This is what is going to happen if a Category 5 came and your house is underwater.' It doesn't mean that is going to be the case. It's just a good estimate. It's what we can use to the best of our knowledge."

Using contour lines, or lines of constant elevation, Schools can determine which areas along the Horry County coastline would be most vulnerable to storm surge. From his research, Schools said the south end of Horry County would most likely see the worst storm surge, with the appropriate placement of a land falling hurricane.

Schools, however, reminded people who live along the coastline not to take the maps as a sure thing.

"What people can take away from this is this is a possibility. It's the worst case scenario. It's not the [total] worst case scenario," he said.

It's just another way to stay prepared during the hurricane season.  If you would like to learn more on storm surge potential in your neighborhood, you can call Horry County GIS at 915-5245

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