Oct 24 2013

 

 

 

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Codell, Kansas

Weather.com shares with us more about the wonderfully weird world of weather. This time they picked the five biggest coincidences in American weather history. These are five amazing stories. Do you have any to add?

1. Two Tropical Storms Named Allison Hits Same Area Of Texas

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Our first wild weather coincidence comes from southeast Texas. In June 1989, Tropical Storm Allison rolled into the Houston area. Once ashore, the storm meandered around East Texas and western Louisiana for days, unleashing rainfall amounts of 10 to 25 inches across a broad area. Eleven people died in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi – all due to flood-related causes – and over half a billion dollars in damage resulted from the freshwater deluge.

Then, 12 years later, another tropical storm named Allison took a very similar track from the western Gulf of Mexico north into the Houston area. This time, Greater Houston itself took an even bigger hit from prolonged torrents, piling up 10 to 30 inches of rainfall; not far away, over 40 inches fell on one spot near Beaumont. A second area of 10 to 30 inches of rain pounded much of southeast Louisiana and south Mississippi.

The 2001 version of Allison took 23 lives in Texas alone. The damage was far more severe than in 1989, amounting to $9 billion as tens of thousands of cars and homes were flooded in and around Houston.

Members of the World Meteorological Organization ultimately decided that this was enough to retire "Allison" as a tropical cyclone name, making it the first and only Atlantic tropical system to be retired for storm-related reasons without becoming a hurricane.

In yet another eerie twist of fate, "Allison" had replaced "Alicia" on the naming list after Hurricane Alicia had also walloped the Houston area in 1983.

2. Two Monster Tornados Follow The Similar Paths In Different Years And Hit Moore, Oklahoma

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More than 1,000 tornadoes touch down in a typical year in America, but only a tiny fraction of them contain truly violent winds.

The most violent tornadoes of all, packing winds over 200 mph and rating EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, are particularly rare. Sometimes years pass without one forming anywhere in the U.S., and most people will never see one in their lives.

Unfortunately, that's not the case in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, one of the most tornado-prone metro areas in the country.

On May 3, 1999, a monster tornado swept in from the southwest. On the old Fujita scale it rated F5 and tore a swath of destruction through the suburbs of Bridge Creek, Newcastle, Moore, Del City, and Midwest City, killing 36 people.

Fourteen years later, another massive and violent tornado, an EF-5, touched down in Newcastle before grinding its way east into Moore, taking another 23 lives. Both tornadoes were billion-dollar disasters.

These two tornadoes' paths crossed within the city limits of Oklahoma City itself, near and just southwest of the intersection of Southwest 149th Street and South May Avenue, in the Cleveland County portion of Oklahoma's capital city. The area is a flat zone of large acreages and widely scattered ranch homes – not the tightly packed subdivisions found just to the north and east, but nevertheless a populated area.

While both tornadoes were roughly (E)F3 to (E)F4 strength in the zone where their paths overlapped, it's still remarkable that two top-rated tornadoes crossed the same chunk of land just 14 years apart.

3. Two Hurricanes Make Landfall On The Same Island The Same Year

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While most people remember 2005 as the most hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season in modern memory, the previous season was not exactly a benchwarmer itself.

The 2004 season brought four hurricanes to Florida – three made landfall in the state, and a fourth (Ivan) made landfall just west of the state line in Alabama.

Amazingly, two of those hurricanes crossed the same island on Florida's Atlantic coast. That island is Hutchinson Island, a barrier island along the coast of St. Lucie and Martin counties.

Early on Sept. 5, 2004, Hurricane Frances made landfall on the southern end of the island as a Category 2 storm, packing maximum sustained winds estimated at 105 mph.

Then, late in the day on Sept. 25, 2004 – not quite three weeks later – Hurricane Jeanne made landfall, also on the southern end of this very same island, as a Category 3 storm packing estimated maximum sustained winds of 120 mph.

Both hurricanes caused widespread power outages in Florida; the combined damage tally was over $17 billion, with Frances slightly edging out Jeanne in the damage figure. Frances caused five direct fatalities in Florida to Jeanne's three.

Both storms took a gently curving track northward after landfall and both ultimately brought widespread rainfall to most of the East Coast states, causing significant flood damage in parts of the Mid-Atlantic region.

As a final coincidence – almost certainly an intentional coincidence – both storms had their names retired by the World Meteorological Organization during its spring 2005 meeting.

4. Small Fishing Village In Mexico Takes A Direct Hit From Hurricanes Exactly 25 Years To The Day!

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La Pesca is a small fishing town in Mexico, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico about 150 miles south of the U.S. border.

It was the final landfall point of one of the strongest Atlantic basin hurricanes on record, Hurricane Gilbert. On Sept. 16, 1988, Gilbert, which had been a monster Category 5 storm with the lowest pressure ever observed in the Western Hemisphere up to that point, landed as a Category 3 cyclone at La Pesca.

Despite the direct hit, most of the losses and casualties in Mexico occurred further inland as Gilbert unleashed massive rainfall over the rugged interior in places such as Monterrey.

Twenty-five years later to the day, La Pesca took another direct strike as former Hurricane Ingrid landed as a high-end tropical storm with 65-mph winds on Sept. 16, 2013.

Ingrid also unleashed heavy rain over eastern and northeastern Mexico; in combination with Hurricane Manuel on the Pacific side of the country, Ingrid contributed to a combined death toll of over 100; it may never be fully clear what the delineation is between Ingrid's and Manuel's casualties because of the interaction of the two storms, though most of the deaths were near the Pacific Coast and thus more attributable to Manuel.

5. Codell, Kansas Hit By Tornados On Same Date Three Years In A Row!

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Codell is a tiny town on the high plains of western Kansas, about 250 miles west of Kansas City.

It's the site of what is arguably the strangest tornado coincidence of all. Codell, along with the surrounding farmfields of Rooks County's Township 12, was hit by tornadoes on the same date in three consecutive years.

On May 20, 1916, an F2 tornado passed south and east of Codell, destroying barns and unroofing a farm house.

On May 20, 1917, an F3 tornado passed 2 miles west of Codell. According to tornado historian Tom Grazulis, it was described as "an immense cone, with a diameter of two miles." One house was destroyed and another damaged on the same ranch, and many barns were blown away.

On May 20, 1918, an F4 tornado blasted right through Codell. It hit the same ranch as the 1917 tornado outside of town, killing five, before plowing into Codell itself. Buildings in town were torn to shreds, and the property toll in town was far worse than the previous two years; but nobody in town died. Unfortunately, four more people perished northeast of town as the twister continued its rampage through the surrounding farmsteads.