Tornadoes may occur on every continent except Antarctica, but the United States boasts the world record. No other country possesses the unique geographical features that so strongly encourage tornado development. Tornado Alley, located in the central US, may carry the world record for tornado formation, but Florida ranks a surprising fourth place among these infamous states.
1. The tornado outbreak that every native Floridian remembers – the deadliest in Florida history, with 42 deaths – occurred very early on February 23rd, 1998.
According to your text, what are the key instigators of cold-season tornadoes in Florida?
To examine the upper-level winds that would bring the conditions together late February 22, 1998, access the Plymouth State Weather Center: http://vortex.plymouth.edu. Select the Upper Air link and then Make Your Own (map). On the next page, chose the Archived link under Plotted Maps. To create the needed map: for Region, choose the Southeast; for Level, 1000 mb (the surface); and for Variable, Streamlines. Next, enter the date, February 22, 1998, and the time, 0Z, then click the link to make the map.
The map you’ve created shows the direction of the surface winds at 7 pm EST. From which direction were the surface winds traveling over Florida?
Return to the main page and make another map, now at the level of 850 mb (5,000 feet). From which direction were the winds traveling aloft?
What is the wind direction at 500 mb (18,000 feet)?
Finally, what is the wind direction at 300 mb (30,000 feet)?
What term do meteorologists use to describe this atmospheric condition?
What influence could this have on the development of tornadoes?
Access this site to obtain a surface map for the early hours of February 23, 1998: http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/sfc-zoom.php. Once there, click on Calendar and select February 23, 1998. What type of weather system is draped over central Florida?
Where would the warmest, most unstable air be located?
2. Now examine surface data for this day. To obtain data leading up to the arrival of the storm, go to: https://www.wunderground.com/history/daily/us/fl/tampa/KTPA, go to February 22, 1998, which will allow you to access the actual weather data for this day at Tampa International Airport. Scroll down the page to the hourly readings.
What was the last temperature reading for the day?
What was the relative humidity at that time?
What were the observed weather condition?
What was the overall trend for the barometric pressure for that day?
What was the initial pressure for that day?
What was the last pressure reading for the day?
What was the overall trend in wind speed?
Examining the hourly data, describe how both the wind speed and direction change over 24 hours.
Return to the top of the page and change the date to the next day. What was the temperature just after midnight on February 23rd?
How did it change over the next 23 hours?
What was the trend for the barometric pressure?
The storm was over!
3. Chapter 3 discussed the influence of El Nino and La Nina on Florida weather. Specifically, what influence can an El Nino event have on the jet stream and how might this influence the development of winter tornadoes?
Do some internet research and describe the status of El Nino/La Nina during February 1998.
Does it appear that either El Nino or La Nina might have influenced the development of the powerful tornadoes on that