Little Bits of History

Thankful

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Day tornado outbreak

November 25, 1926: Thanksgiving Day becomes grisly. There are five countries around the globe who celebrate a Thanksgiving day. Canada, Liberia, Norfolk Island, and Puerto Rico all celebrate as well as the US. Canada has their day in October and the rest of the celebrants set aside a day to give thanks in November. On this particular day, there was a terrible storm brewing across the American Midwest. The deadliest November outbreak of tornadoes swept across the plains with at least 27 twisters touching down. The strongest November tornado, estimated as a class F4, devastated the town of Heber Springs, Arkansas. There were 51 deaths in Arkansas alone and a total of 76 deaths and 400 injuries.

Tornadoes are violent storms featuring a rotating column of air descending from a cloud (usually a cumulonimbus cloud, but in rare cases a cumulus cloud) that touches down to Earth. They are also called twisters or cyclones, however the latter word is used by meteorologists to include any closed low pressure circulation. Tornadoes come in many different varieties and can range from mild funnel clouds to massive supercells. When these storms occur over water, they are called waterspouts rather than tornadoes, but they can also be quite damaging and hold a great amount of power. They have been observed over all the continents except Antarctica, but the majority of them touch down in “Tornado Alley”, the American Midwest.

These storms have a predictable life cycle, although it is difficult to actually predict exactly where they will touch down and their paths are often erratic. They are usually associated with thunderstorms and the funnel spout will lower from the cloud base. As it does so, it begins to take in more cool, moist air from the downdraft. It creates a low pressure area on the base and lowers toward Earth. As it reaches ground, it is said to be in the “mature stage” which can last from a few minutes to more than an hour. The rear flank downdraft region eventually wraps around the funnel and chokes off the tornado’s air supply. The swirling mass begins to weaken and thins out, becoming rope like. This “dissipating stage” rarely lasts for more than a few minutes and the storm dies out.

There is a typical tornado as seen in the Wizard of Oz, but there are also other types. There can be multiple vortex tornadoes which have, as the name suggests, more than one funnel spout. There are, as mentioned above, waterspouts, when the storm takes place over water, but there can also be landspouts, or a dust-tube tornado, not associated with the cloud system. There are also some similar meteorological events: gustnadoes, dust devils, and fire whirls and steam devils. None of these are considered to be true tornadoes because they are not associated with clouds and generate from a different weather patterns.

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. – John Muir

If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron. – Lee Trevino

Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability. – Ho Chi Minh

The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over. – Aesop

Also on this day:

Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, is first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Striking Hunger – In 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded.
Perfect Storm – In 1703, England was ravaged by its worst storm when a hurricane made landfall.