Monday, June 8, 2009

My First Tornado, More About Missouri Climate

Well over the weekend you cannot believe what happened to me.

I was in the yard working yesterday and like the flip of a switch, clouds started building shortly after 12 noon.

By a little after 1 pm we were under a severe thunderstorm watch with dark clouds looming on the northwest sky.

There was an incredible amount of shear in the atmosphere, in fact, it was visible with the naked eye. You could see clouds at one level moving southwest while clouds above that were heading north or northeast.

All of a sudden a tornado warning came out up north of Denver and east of Boulder, and a huge shelf cloud started to form, as seen below.

So I grabbed my digital camera, set it to digital mode and started filming the swirl in the clouds.

It took about 5 to 6 minutes but the funnel finally formed and came down, touching down in the fields due west of my house.

The sounds were incredible as it roared closer and closer, eventually picking up live debris, not just dirt, as it took out the fencing to a subdivision just across the way.

Once I started hearing the freight train sound, I left the deck and went down to the basement.

Here is my view of the tornado as it passed by from the basement window.

I am literally on my knees almost looking straight up into this thing!

It did a lot of damage from essentially the intersection where my neighborhood begins, up to the mall, about 3/4 mile away.

I did a live phone interview with the tv station I used to work for during the storm, and then another one as I drove around looking at damage to area homes.

For much more complete coverage of the tornadoes in metro Denver on Sunday, refer to this link.

Back To Missouri

Let's talk temperature today and explore the huge variation often found in the Show-Me state.

Since Missouri is located inland, it is subject to frequent changes -- cold in the winter, hot in the summer. However, each season can and often does see a variety.

Winters can have stretches with above freezing, mild weather. And summers can see occasional bouts with cooler, drier weather to break up the hot and humid days.

Prolonged periods of hot or cold weather are more unusual since the state often lies where the air masses battle it out.

Temperature Extremes

Temperatures above 100 degrees are rare, but 90 degree days are much more common. Western and northern Missouri can see about 40 to 50 days each warm season where the temps climb above 90, while southern and eastern Missouri sees closer to 60 days.

Below zero days are not that common but have been recorded in every county, according to the Missouri Climate Center.

On the norm, northern counties see up to 5 days each year below zero and southern counties 1 to 2 days -- however -- there can definitely be winters that never fall below zero, especially across the southern counties of Missouri.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Missouri was 118 degrees, last seen back on July 14, 1954 in the towns of Warsaw (705 feet in elevation) and Union (560 feet in elevation).

What is interesting about these two cities is one is near Kansas City on the west side, and the other near St. Louis on the east side. You could just about draw a straight line and connect the two.

The town of Warsaw is a double record holder, also having the state's coldest temperature ever recorded. That was 40 degrees below zero back on February 13, 1905.

Tomorrow we will continue talking more about temperatures in Missouri.

Don's Comment

Don from Missouri asked me about reporting hail that fell sometime overnight, but there isn't a lot of information to file a complete hail report.

I would say just leave as much information as you can in the comment section of your daily report.

If you can piece together enough info for a hail report, that is ok too -- some info is better than none.

Whatever you feel most comfortable with is great -- either way we are getting good documentation of the weather in your area.


  1. Chris, great work on capturing the photos that you did! Amazing!! I can only imagine the sounds... was there any particular smells or any other sensory stimulants associated with the tornado? (besides the fact that it was just a step off your door)

  2. Chris, great pic of the tornado!! How scary! Here in Missouri, we often have tornado warnings, especially in the spring, but I have yet to see an actual tornado.

    I personally love living in Missouri, and am enjoying reading your research about our climate. I was especially interested in the point you made during your previous post about the diagonal line which typically separates the climate. This line runs almost right along I-44, and is usually where we see the severe storms. Storms will come in from the southwest and run right up the I-44 corridor. I've always been amazed by that.

  3. Wow, that looked frightening, but what a great picture...and of course I am glad you are okay. Good reminder on how powerful wind and weather can be against us mortal beings!

  4. Wow! What an experience, Chris!! Thank you for the great work getting pictures for us. It's odd that you lived in Arkansas without seeing a tornado, and ended up seeing one in Colorado!

    I appreciate the info on Missouri climate. This is a great place to live for Weather Watchers.