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Old 04-22-2008, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Richardson, TX
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Default Straight line winds vs. Tornadoes

Meteorologists are hesitant in saying damage was caused by either tornadoes or straight -line winds until it is official from the national weather service. Why is it important to differentiate between Tornadoes and straight-line winds when assessing damage.
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Old 04-23-2008, 02:00 AM
 
Location: northwest Minnesota
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As someone who has participated in NWS storm damage surveys....it is important to note the difference for classification purposes....as the number/track and strength of any tornadoes are kept as a separate stat versus wind damage from non-tornadic winds.

Straight line winds can have wind speeds up to 80 to 120 mph....every bit as strong as a weak tornado. Damage can be just as bad from winds as from some weaker tornadoes. It takes someone to come out and examine the damgae path to see what caused it. Straight line wind damage from thunderstorm outflows or from downbursts causes damage to spread out from one direction....say if the strong winds blew from west to east on the leading of the thunderstorm then all the downed trees for example would show to be blown down from west to east. Straight line wind damage also can cover many miles wide. Meanwhile tornado damage's path is often much narrower and well defined and trees often are downed and have a twisted appearance to them.

Dan
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Richardson, TX
7,716 posts, read 6,213,599 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaninEGF View Post
As someone who has participated in NWS storm damage surveys....it is important to note the difference for classification purposes....as the number/track and strength of any tornadoes are kept as a separate stat versus wind damage from non-tornadic winds.
So that's it? Just for statistical purposes? So there is no more behind it than say, differentiating which type of earthquake, whether a thrust fault or a strike-slip fault, that destroyed your house. It is purely for those that keep track of those things, not the homewoner, whose house was taken out by it and couldn't care less what destroyed it. By the way the meterologists were so hesitant in suggesting what caused the damage, I thought that maybe it was because of some culpability or liability that was carried by the local meteorologists, if the wrong type of winds that destroyed your house was erroneously determined before the NWS surveyed the damage, for insurance purposes. For example, the homeowners insurance deductible on a repair of damage is determined by what caused the damage; water damage ($500.00) vs. wind damage (a % of the repair).
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:03 AM
 
Location: northwest Minnesota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanTerra View Post
So that's it? Just for statistical purposes? So there is no more behind it than say, differentiating which type of earthquake, whether a thrust fault or a strike-slip fault, that destroyed your house. It is purely for those that keep track of those things, not the homewoner, whose house was taken out by it and couldn't care less what destroyed it. By the way the meterologists were so hesitant in suggesting what caused the damage, I thought that maybe it was because of some culpability or liability that was carried by the local meteorologists, if the wrong type of winds that destroyed your house was erroneously determined before the NWS surveyed the damage, for insurance purposes. For example, the homeowners insurance deductible on a repair of damage is determined by what caused the damage; water damage ($500.00) vs. wind damage (a % of the repair).
Now, my understanding for home owners insurance (and I certainly am not well versed in insurance) is that whether you house was damaged by wind whether it be non-tornado or determined to be a tornado does not matter as it is covered. Now...flooding as there is a separate policy for sewer backup, etc that I know some folks in hurricane country deal with. Also there is flood insurance from the government which covers river issues....so flooding and insurance is another ball game. But for wind it doesnt matter.

There is no liability for meteorologists at all in regards to storm damage survey and determining straight line wind versus tornado.

But for stats....Tornado stats are kept separate from regular severe weather stats such as straight line wind and hail. If damage was indeed caused by a tornado it is rated, length and width determined via damage path and these are documented.

I hope I answered your question on this....if I did not or you had another angle on this let me know and I can explain further.

Dan NWS meteorologist
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:52 AM
 
Location: Richardson, TX
7,716 posts, read 6,213,599 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaninEGF View Post
Now, my understanding for home owners insurance (and I certainly am not well versed in insurance) is that whether you house was damaged by wind whether it be non-tornado or determined to be a tornado does not matter as it is covered. Now...flooding as there is a separate policy for sewer backup, etc that I know some folks in hurricane country deal with. Also there is flood insurance from the government which covers river issues....so flooding and insurance is another ball game. But for wind it doesnt matter.

There is no liability for meteorologists at all in regards to storm damage survey and determining straight line wind versus tornado.

But for stats....Tornado stats are kept separate from regular severe weather stats such as straight line wind and hail. If damage was indeed caused by a tornado it is rated, length and width determined via damage path and these are documented.

I hope I answered your question on this....if I did not or you had another angle on this let me know and I can explain further.

Dan NWS meteorologist
I guess that answered it. It is just that the meteorologists make it sound like this is something really important to all their viewers that,before commenting on what it was, they must first wait for the NSA determintation, sounding like CYA purposes. They don't want to stick their neck out, even when a tornado was witnessed. When it only matters to other meteorologists and people that are keeping the stats. If that is the case, it sounds like they are overselling the importance.

Last edited by PanTerra; 04-23-2008 at 11:14 AM..
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