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Severe storm wreaks havoc on region


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

October 15, 2020
REGION — Saturday evening, locals received a tornado warning and were told to seek shelter, a rarity for our neck of the woods. Some areas of Lancaster and Dalton were hit fairly hard, while residents in town Whitefield reported heavy winds, rain and lightning. Power outages were reported, however did not last long.

The storm was traveling east at a reported 55 miles per hour. Hail was even spotted in some areas. Strong low pressure that traversed Quebec pushed a cold front into Coos County, causing the storm.

In Dalton, along Blakslee Road, trees were completely uprooted as a reported microburst whipped through the area. Trees were reported downed in Berlin and a wind gust of more than 60 miles per hour was reported in Randolph just before 7:30 p.m.

We've seen tornados depicted in movies and on television, and some of us may have actually witnessed one. The image of Dorothy's little house being tossed about in "The Wizard of Oz" will never escape us. However, after the warning came through, several locals began researching what exactly is involved with a tornado.

They are described as a violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. Violent tornados can travel at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. The path of damage can be anywhere from one to fifty miles long. On average, roughly 1,000 tornados are reported in the country.

The majority of tornados form from thunderstorms. When warm moist air from the south meets with cool dry air from the north, an instability is created. The change in the direction of the wind, with the increase in speed creates the horizontal spinning effect in the lower atmosphere. Rising air then tilts the rotating air from horizontal to vertical.

A microburst happens when air sinks during a thunderstorm that is less than two and a half miles in scale. Often times microbursts can cause more damage than a typical tornado. Some microbursts can reach speeds of 150 miles per hour.

Peak tornado season in southern states takes place from March through May. Northern states are more likely to see them during summer months. Most tornados are reported taking place after 3 p.m. and before 9 p.m.

Nicknamed "Tornado Alley," states in the Great Plains have geography that offers tornados the perfect petri dish to form.

Experts say that tornados can happen any time of the year and state that no terrain is safe from them.

Weather statistics relay that 69 percent of all tornadoes are labeled as "weak tornadoes." This means they have a lifetime of one to ten minutes and will have winds less than 110 mph. Two percent of all tornadoes, labeled 'violent' can last for more than an hour.

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