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Power of Moore tornado dwarfs Hiroshima bomb

By Seth Borenstein

AP Science Writer

LAST UPDATED: 10:59 a.m. HST, May 21, 2013

WASHINGTON >> Wind, humidity and rainfall combined precisely to create the massive killer tornado in Moore, Okla. And when they did, the awesome amount of energy released over that city dwarfed the power of the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima.

This afternoon, the National Weather Service gave it the top-of-the-scale rating of EF-5 for wind speed and breadth and severity of damage. Wind speeds were estimated at between 200 and 210 mph.

Several meteorologists contacted by The Associated Press used real time measurements to calculate the energy released during the storm's life span of almost an hour. Their estimates ranged from 8 times to more than 600 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb with more experts at the high end.

The tornado at some points was 1.3 miles wide, and its path went on for 17 miles and 40 minutes. That's long for a regular tornado but not too unusual for such a violent one, said research meteorologist Harold Brooks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla. Less than 1 percent of all U .S. tornadoes are this violent — only about 10 a year, he said.

With the third strong storm hitting Moore in 14 years, some people are wondering why Moore? It's a combination of geography, meteorology and lots of bad luck, experts said.

If you look at the climate history of tornadoes in May, you will see they cluster in a spot — maybe 100 miles wide — in central Oklahoma "and there's good reason for it," said Adam Houston, meteorology professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. That's the spot where the weather conditions of warm, moist air and strong wind shear needed for tornadoes combine in just the right balance.

The hot spot is more than just the city of Moore. Several meteorologists offer the same explanation for why that suburb seemed to be hit repeatedly by violent tornadoes: "bad luck."

Scientists know the key ingredients that go into a devastating tornado. But they are struggling to figure out why they develop in some big storms and not others. They also are still trying to determine what effects, if any, global warming has on tornadoes.



The National Weather Center; http://www.nwc.ou.edu/

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AhiPoke wrote:
Poorchoice of Hiroshima as a comparison. Hiroshima bomb deaths far exceeded 100k and was a man made disaster.
on May 21,2013 | 10:19AM
juscasting wrote:
Ah Poke man, I think they stay comparing the energy released by the storm not death tolls results?
on May 21,2013 | 12:36PM
Bumby wrote:
Get a grip. This comparison is ludicrous. HIroshima was a man made disaster killing hundred of thousands. This is a natural disaster and luckily human loss was low. However, anytime one is taken one is to many.
on May 21,2013 | 10:53AM
Bumby wrote:
Wow such a great comparison. One man made and one made by nature.
on May 21,2013 | 10:57AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
140,000 mommies,grandmas,grampus,children and babies were incinerated in Hiroshima. Their daddies were out to war. How can you compare the two? Who approves these headlines?
on May 21,2013 | 11:05AM
kiragirl wrote:
What a stupid comparison. Why didn't they compare the casualties to determine which one was worse? I wonder what the families of the Hiroshima bombing feel?
on May 21,2013 | 11:08AM
kiragirl wrote:
They should have asked the families of the Hiroshima bombing which one was worse. Problem is they would have had to asked thousands of them. What an insensitive comparison!
on May 21,2013 | 11:11AM
cojef wrote:
Kudos to all the commenters so far! It is inappropriate to compare the devastation caused by man to that created by nature. Also loss of lives were so much more that was caused by man. The news reporter shows his insesnsitivity by the comparison. Shame on him.
on May 21,2013 | 11:53AM
artwork wrote:
What an ignorant, racist, attention-getting title for this article. Although I'm quite surprised, one can probably expect it out of Washington DC, but the Star Advertiser foolishly went along with it. Go figure?!
on May 21,2013 | 11:54AM
cojef wrote:
Oops! sent for approval for being critical of news reporter for comparing the devastion caused by man and that created by nature. On one side we have death and destruction caused by man and the other by nature. Also the comparison show poor taste as lives taken were over 120,000 people, while nature, so far 24.
on May 21,2013 | 11:57AM
honopic wrote:
I know the feeling, cojef. Thinking about changing my screen name to sentforapproval.
on May 21,2013 | 01:34PM
IAmSane wrote:
ITT: People who didn't read the article.

"Several meteorologists contacted by The Associated Press used real time measurements to calculate the energy released during the storm's life span of almost an hour. Their estimates ranged from 8 times to more than 600 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb with more experts at the high end."
on May 21,2013 | 01:43PM
niimi wrote:
But the bomb killed hundreds of thousands of people and sickened still more.
on May 21,2013 | 02:02PM
Mei mei wrote:
very poor comparison... c'mon lets have some tact here!!
on May 21,2013 | 03:53PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Seth Borenstein, AP, Science Writer? No wonder AP got wiretapped!
on May 21,2013 | 04:08PM
Iuki wrote:
Silly to compare the tornado in Oklahoma to the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The tornado did not leave behind nuclear radiation that made people's skin fall off as they died horrible deaths. It did not make people unable to ever create or bear children. And so on. Two different terrible things, but not comparable.
on May 21,2013 | 04:16PM
Michele007 wrote:
I agree, stupid and insensitive comparison.
on May 21,2013 | 04:19PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
But the tornado did not, is not still, nor will it cause radiation damage affecting millions of people. This article needs to be removed for serious lapses of credibility, and huge amounts of imbecility. Seriously.
on May 21,2013 | 04:36PM
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