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Watch Tragic Christmas Tornadoes From Space

Dec 29, 2014 04:29 PM EST
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When you think of severe weather disrupting your winter holiday celebrations, you probably are thinking of icy rain, hail, or a Christmas just a little too white. However, satellites run by NASA and the NOAA spotted some very unusual severe weather just around Christmas eve, with several tornadoes rearing their ugly heads in Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana. The storms tragically took four lives just before what is normally a joyous holiday.
(Photo : Pixabay)

When you think of severe weather disrupting your winter holiday celebrations, you probably are thinking of icy rain, hail, or a Christmas just a little too white. However, satellites run by NASA and the NOAA spotted some very unusual severe weather just around Christmas eve, with several tornadoes rearing their ugly heads in Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana. The storms tragically took four lives just before what is normally a joyous holiday.

Although the period in which tornadoes strike is March through August, the powerful cyclones have been documented in parts of the United States in every month of the year.

As the US sees four times as many tornadoes in a year than the whole of Europe, severe activity in the northeastern part of "Tornado Alley" shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. However, for tornadoes to strike three states on the advent of Christmas Eve is some really lousy luck.

As of Dec. 25, the National Weather Service (NWS) identified eight total tornado tracks throughout the regions, according to AccuWeather. In addition to the fatalities in Marion and Jones County, Mississippi, the first F3 twister injured an estimated 60 people and affected 241 home and 77 businesses, according to local reports.

NASA says that all the tornadoes were caused by one storm system that certainly showed up on Santa's naughty list. As the storm moved, NASA's RapidScat captured data on winds while the NOAA's GOES satellite tracked the system as it moved from Canada to South America.

This allowed the agencies to see that as Mississippi saw its first twister on Dec. 23, winds of nearly 70 mph were whipping off the southeastern coast of Texas. Those winds stayed just as strong as they moved on to Louisiana the following morning.

The NWS reportedly stayed on high alert for signs of tornado formation throughout Christmas day, concerned for the safety of travelers. Thankfully things had finally spun down by the time air traffic peaked that evening.

It wasn't all bad news either. The movement of this troublesome system also helped facilitate the slow movement of a Pacific storm system on Dec. 25, bringing a mild but beautiful white Christmas from Washington State to the western High Plains.

You can watch an animation of NOAA's GOES-East satellite data from Dec. 21-24 below:

[Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project]

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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