We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto! – Southeast Tornadoes: Pensacola, FL

With the recent weather in Pensacola, I have been reminded that we can have severe weather down south that does not have a name like Erin, Opal, Katrina or Ivan. There were some 400 homes http://www.pnj.com/story/weather/2016/02/24/escambia-sr-begin-assess-damage/80846756/ damaged in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties from tornadoes.  The damage to Pensacola will be restored and the buildings and lives will hopefully come back stronger.

I really got to thinking about the nature of the building stock here in the county http://abc3340.com/news/local/gallery/aerial-video-of-pensacola-tornado-damage and the improvements to the building code that have been enacted over the last decades. I expect to further research the effects of this 8-mile tornado track ranging from EF- 1, 2 & 3 http://wkrg.com/2016/02/24/pensacola-ef-3-tornado-track-and-ratings/ in severity and compare how different buildings survived the damage based on their design and construction. The reality is that the majority of this portion of the Upside of Florida was older construction and as such more susceptible to damage. The Grand Baroque, badly damaged and made famous from many of the reports on the storm, happened to be a building that I topped out the pilings as a carpenter back in 1986 or so.

One of the preeminent studies of tornadoes is the Vortex program that chased tornadoes throughout the plains over the last 5 years. The next component of this research is headed down this way and will focus on tornados in the southeast. One of the items I picked up from the early data is the identification that tornados down here in the south are different from the plains in that we are not flat. The ability to see a tornado coming thru the trees apparently is not nearly like being able to see one coming across the plains.

So I hope to get an invite to visit with VORTEX http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/vortexse/this year and I assure you I will continue to research the effects of tornado damage down here in the south, the land of boiled peanuts, friendly faces and the world’s most beautiful beaches.