Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oklahoma's "Landcane"

Waking up to heavy rain in Oklahoma this morning was an eerie reminder of the anniversary of one of the state's strangest weather events. On August 19, 2007, the looping remnants of Tropical Storm Erin unexpectedly regained their purpose over Oklahoma and created a weather anomaly that fascinated both meteorologists and wannabe-meteorologists (like me).

Ironically, over the ocean Erin had been weak and disorganized, striking the Texas coast as a "mere" tropical depression. Nearing Oklahoma City, Erin produced an eye-like structure, falling pressure, and tropical storm force winds. Wait, was that a hurricane?

Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, who described the reintensification as "a tropical storm like-vortex", posted this fascinating long animation of the weather phenomenom and dubbed it a "landphoon". The National Hurricane Center's report finally designated the Oklahoma event as a low. I prefer Dr. Masters' more inventive nomenclature, in particular his classification of another odd storm as a "Thingamabobbercane".

Oklahoma's weather is, well, volatile at times; but a foot of rain and sustained high winds brought unfortunate fatalities, injuries, and property damage to a state not accustomed to hurricane preparations. Folks evacuating to Oklahoma to escape future hurricanes on the Gulf coast might want to set their sights farther north.

Thanks to Dr. Jeff Masters for the use of information from his Wunder Blog on Wunderground.

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