Tornado Strikes Alabama
On Wednesday evening, a violent tornado rips through Tuscaloosa-Birmingham. The tornado was one of the last in the tornado outbreak; a total of 358 tornadoes throughout the days of April 25-28. It caused severe damage, leaving many homeless and over 300 000 without power. The death toll is currently standing at 254 and around 1700 injured; these numbers are expected to continue to rise as said by Alabama emergency officers. Although, the tornado that swiped through Tuscaloosa was showing EF5 damage with a total cost of 2.2 billion, the final rating given was EF4. The Tuscaloosa tornado was one of the worst tornados to hit the US since 1999.
Meteorologists have been researching into this deadly tornado and how it was physically produced. They have identified that the source of the storm that erased neighbourhoods of Tuscaloosa was a supercell storm. There were 3 factors that triggered the Tuscaloosa storm, moisture, wind shear (winds that change in speed and/or direction with height) and instability. Before the tornado hit there was unstable air for several days and a cold front. This would usually be the factor that triggers the tornado. However, it wasn't the cold front or the instability in the air but a strong jet stream and high winds over 100mph that affected Alabama. Additionally, a deepened low surface factored in low winds creating wind shear with the high winds. The extreme wind shear, instability, and poor weather in surrounding states triggered the Tuscaloosa tornado.
This tornado has not just raised concerns for the people of Tuscaloosa but also the Canadian government and citizens. The question now becomes if a tornado of this extreme were to hit Canada how will it impact the country. Although realistically a tornado with this kind of destruction wouldn’t hit Canada, it wouldn’t harm Canada as it did to Tuscaloosa. Canada’s temperatures are much cooler than the US thus doesn’t have that humidity factor to trigger a storm like this one. Tuscaloosa was not prepared for this tornado to hit them as they were no tornado warnings to alarm them. Much of the same would happen here. In the sense that we would not be prepared, provinces and territories in Canada such as here in Toronto don’t have drill practices at schools, businesses etc. Canadians would not know how to react to a disaster like the Tuscaloosa tornado even if a tornado warning was given ahead of time. With no preparation, this will also increase the overall death toll. For Canada to recover from an EF4 tornado will be hard as it is a developed country with a greater population. Overall, the effect like this in Canada would be different than in Alabama. We can expect a higher death toll and a higher cost of rehabilitation.