Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goodbye Record Lows...and Remembering the Amite-Purvis Tornado

By Jay Grymes & Steve Caparotta

It seems a just a little ironic that after a record-warm winter and early spring, we wait until late April for a cold snap with a record low for the morning sunrise, don’t you think?  And “snap” is the operative word as we say goodbye to this morning’s low in the 40°s -- in fact, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t see 40°s in Baton Rouge again until next fall!
Record low temperatures were set at Baton Rouge, Slidell, McComb and Gulfport.
The big dip in the jet stream that produced snows in parts of the nation’s Northeast and a late spring chill to much of the Southeast will be moving east, taking any chance for another record low with it.  In its place, a ridge of high pressure will be moving in from the west, and that means a warm-up for tomorrow, with morning lows in the 50°s for Wednesday and 60°s for Thursday!  Highs will jump right back into the 80°s for the rest of the week and through the weekend.
But the warmer weather comes with a long run of sunshine.  Our current forecast keeps us dry through Saturday, with only a slight chance (20%) of rain for Sunday: all in all, a “mainly dry” weekend ahead.
Wednesday is shaping up to be a breezy, if not downright windy day, with the breezes hanging around into Thursday as well.  At the same time, while we warm thanks to ridging aloft, the winds will shift around to a more southerly direction, which will mean a rapid return of Gulf moisture.  Although our forecast is calling for highs generally in the mid 80°s over the coming days, by week’s end a couple of WAFB Weather Watchers likely will see highs climb into the upper 80°s.
The nation’s “wet weather” action will remain to our north through the rest of the workweek.  By Friday, however, a storm system will be getting organized in the Southern Plains, with a cold front extending southward into Texas.  The current thinking is that this storm complex will slowly work to the east, with the cool front sagging into northern and western Louisiana by Sunday.  With little in the way of serious dynamics anticipated, this relatively weak frontal system will only generate a few showers, with the front easing southward and into the coastal waters by Monday.
Slightly cooler and much drier air is expected for Monday into Tuesday.
Finally, today marks the anniversary of not only one of the deadliest tornadoes on record for Louisiana, but one of the deadliest on record for the entire U.S. On April 24, 1908, a tornado first touched down in the community of Weiss in northwest Livingston Parish. The tornado killed 46 people in Louisiana and injured over 100 before tracking into Mississippi. The worst of the damage was in Amite, where the tornado was reportedly over 2 miles wide, resulting in 29 deaths and 60 injuries. The casualty numbers were even higher in Mississippi, particularly in Lamar County and the community of Purvis, where 60 people were killed and 391 were injured.

The picture below reportedly shows the damage in Amite produced by the 1908 tornado.

One other interesting note on the Amite-Purvis tornado is that the summary of the event in Louisiana was written by Dr. Issac Cline in the publication "Monthly Weather Review". Dr. Cline is best known as the forecaster on duty in Galveston, TX when a powerful hurricane stuck in 1900 and thousands drowned in the storm surge. He's the subject of the book titled, "Issac's Storm". Below is a snapshot of Dr. Cline's report. You can read the full report on the Louisiana damage here and the Mississippi damage here

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