9 November 2011

Tornado Hits Oklahoma Mesonet Stations

Posted by Dan Satterfield

One minute data from the Oklahoma Mesonet station near Titpon,OK. on Monday. Click for higher resolution.


The tornado that hit the Tipton mesonet station. Image courtesy Meteorologist Terran Kirksey at KBTV.

From Okla. Mesonet.

This is the kind of thing that makes meteorologists go running through the room, and all the while jumping up and down. A tornado passed very close to the Tipton station on Monday afternoon. So close, that it knocked it out, but not before measuring and incredible pressure drop, and some amazing wind gusts.

Here is what the Okla. Mesonet Facebook page has: “Here’s a plot of the 1-minute data we recovered from Tipton. As you can see, the tornado hit fast and furious. Wind gusts went from 30 mph at 2:55 PM to 54 mph at 2:56 PM to 86 mph at 2:57 PM. Large debris took the tower down before we were able to capture the next observation of wind data. We’re also plotting the minimum pressure sample we observed (yellow line). The barometer is sampled every 12 seconds to create our one-minute average data (shaded brown area). One of those samples dropped all the way to 913.47 mb (station pressure).”

You can see more station plots, and pics of the damaged station, on the Okla. Mesonet Facebook page here. Every county in Oklahoma has at least one automated weather station, and they report data minute by minute. Not only does this provide valuable weather information to the citizens of the state, it is used heavily in atmospheric research.

It’s important to remember, that just because the sensor recorded a gust to 86.4 mph, it does not mean that the wind was not higher than this. It takes sensors a second or two to react to sudden gusts, and if the wind was at 100 mph for only a second, the reading would be less. All instruments have errors of lag like this, and it’s similar to putting a thermometer in a pot of boiling water for three seconds; although you will get a hot temperature, it will not be correct!