Scientists puzzled over huge tornado outbreak - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Scientists puzzled over huge tornado outbreak

Updated:
The tornado that struck Alabama was a half-mile wide. The tornado that struck Alabama was a half-mile wide.
  • HeadlinesHeadlinesMore>>

  • Friends, colleagues remember life of slain IMPD officer

    Friends, colleagues remember life of slain IMPD officer

    Saturday, April 19 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-19 16:34:23 GMT
    Picture provided by familyPicture provided by family
    The influence of an IMPD officer killed by her ex-husband in a murder-suicide went far beyond the police department. Neighbors and those who worked with Ofc. Kimberlee Carmack are still trying to understandMore >>
    The influence of an IMPD officer killed by her ex-husband in a murder-suicide went far beyond the police department.More >>
  • Gap between Indiana wages, living costs grows

    Gap between Indiana wages, living costs grows

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:29 AM EDT2014-04-19 15:29:27 GMT
    Indiana workers' pay didn't keep pace with inflation last year, and economic experts say the state needs to focus more on the quality of jobs instead of the quantity to close the distance.Hoosier workers saw a mere 0.8 percent increase in pay last year. But federal data released this month show inflation grew 1.4 percent in the Midwest.Business leaders tell the Indianapolis Business Journal (http://bit.ly/1hVKISa ) that a high number of job seekers has allowed many employers to hold down wage...More >>
    Indiana workers' pay didn't keep pace with inflation last year, and economic experts say the state needs to focus more on the quality of jobs instead of the quantity to close the distance.Hoosier workers saw a mere 0.8 percent increase in pay last year. But federal data released this month show inflation grew 1.4 percent in the Midwest.Business leaders tell the Indianapolis Business Journal (http://bit.ly/1hVKISa ) that a high number of job seekers has allowed many employers to hold down wage...More >>
  • Lack of psychiatrists hits mental health patients

    Lack of psychiatrists hits mental health patients

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:51 AM EDT2014-04-19 14:51:16 GMT
    A nationwide shortage of psychiatrists is forcing many mentally ill Indiana patients to wait months for an appointment.The Health Resources and Services Administration reports more than half the state's counties have a shortage of mental health professionals. The Journal Courier has found there is just one psychiatrist for every 57,585 residents in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties.The shortage stems in part from low reimbursement rates by insurance companies. A private psychiatrist will m...More >>
    A nationwide shortage of psychiatrists is forcing many mentally ill Indiana patients to wait months for an appointment.The Health Resources and Services Administration reports more than half the state's counties have a shortage of mental health professionals. The Journal Courier has found there is just one psychiatrist for every 57,585 residents in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties.The shortage stems in part from low reimbursement rates by insurance companies. A private psychiatrist will m...More >>

WEST LAFAYETTE - More than 300 people died this week alone because of tornadoes. This month has been one of the deadliest in United States history for severe weather.

Wednesday's destruction from the massive killer tornadoes that ripped apart six southern states terrifyingly caps the worst tornado season in decades, surpassing the 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak. In Indiana, there are 30 confirmed twisters this month, a record for April.

Scientists like those at Purdue University are left with few answers for an apparent increase in tornado activity except for one clue.

"When we are in a La Nina pattern as we are now, you tend to have the Dixie Alley states much more active as we've seen this spring season," said Prof. Ernie Agee, Purdue University.

Experts are divided over whether La Nina, the unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, is playing a role in creating over 600 tornado reports across the nation this month. But most agree that April has been a volatile month.

Purdue and Ball State students were part of Vortex Two, the largest tornado field study ever and part of an Eyewitness News special report in July. Scientists are just beginning to analyze the data collected in hopes to better understand the unpredictable storms.

"If we can get at the mechanics of how a tornado works, we might be able to better design structures to be able to withstand the windfields of a tornado," said Erin Jones, Purdue research assistant.

Purdue grad students Mallie Toth, Eric Robinson, and research assistant Erin Jones all took part in Vortex Two.

"Hopefully, we'll have some good information about the relationship between the parent thunderstorm and the tornado on the ground. What occurs between there that helps that tornado form and other storms that don't have tornadoes form," said Toth.

While scientists aren't prepared to draw any conclusions over Aprils massive number of tornadoes, they agree there is much better detection and warning in the critical minutes before a touchdown to help saves lives.

The death toll from Wednesday's storms reached 319 across seven states, including 228 in Alabama, making it the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak since March 1932, when another Alabama storm killed 332 people. Tornadoes that swept across the South and Midwest in April 1974 left 315 people dead.

Hundreds if not thousands of people were injured - 900 in Tuscaloosa alone - and as many as 1 million Alabama homes and businesses remained without power.

Powered by WorldNow