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Jeremy Kappell
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Stories from '74: Severe Storm Expert Dr. Greg Forbes

Dr. Forbes had the unique opportunity to work directly with the creator of the original F-Scale for tornadoes, Dr. Theodore Fujita, during the April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak. His compelling perspective on the historic outbreak..

So OK, so retirement is, uh, What are you doing with your spare time now?

Uh, I take a hike somewhere in the various parks around this part of the Atlanta metro area every day get my exercise and photograph wildlife and I like to collect things so I got to thrift stores and estate sales and looking for especially signed books and then I keep some and I sell others on online so those keep me busy.

It sounds like a fun little hobby you have. So. Right, right, right. I could get into that. That's cool. Let's get started by asking you just some of the basic basics. Where are you originally from? I’m originally from Latrobe, PA, That's about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh.

 OK, which is where you got your e-mail from. Yeah. And then how did you get into meteorology? How did you end up at the University of Chicago? Ohh yeah. I had a 7th grade science class where the teacher, I think you've been an observer in the Navy. And so he taught a module that year that was about weather and meteorology and and they had a to draw some weather maps and whatnot with the clouds. And about that same time, Joe Denardo and Bob Cudsomer were TV. Actual meteorologists on the Pittsburgh channels at that time, you could get to Captain Kangaroo just as easily doing the TV, whether it wasn't like now when you had all meteorologists. So between those three guys, it showed me really the meteorology was a profession, and at that point I kind of knew I wanted to be a scientist. Wasn't sure what kind. They're showing me that meteorology was an actual science and you could make forecasts and then find out if you're right or wrong the next day. And like, if you're a geologist, it might be thousands of years before the next level volcano eruption that you predicted. So I thought, well, that sounds like my kind of thing. And I. People like really not the country. If it was a sunny day, my mother would wash clothes and hang them outside to dry on a line instead of using a dryer and so fortunately Penn State, the University, was not too far away. You had to have pretty good grades to get into the University Park Campus so I studied real hard in highschool and was able to get in there.  While I was at Penn State, which, by the way, is arguably the best meteorology program in the world.

Well, wait a minute now. I’m a Boilermaker myself. So I don't know. I don't know if I can agree with you. But go ahead. And while I was there, they invited in a scientist from Nesdus, the Satellite Folks who was one of the sponsors of some of the research that was being done by Doctor Fujita at the University of Chicago. And he brought along a lot of examples of the kind of things that Doctor Fujita was doing to to analyze the weather and the Fujita scale and his detailed studies of tornadoes and I thought, boy, that would be pretty cool. So I sent a letter to Doctor Fujita asking him if he had any assistantship funds that could support my being a graduate student there. He wrote back and said, well, he didn't at the moment, but he thought he might be getting some funds, so I put off a couple of. Move schools. Waiting to hear from Doctor Fujita with fingers crossed and he came through and so off to off I went there and I wind up getting my masters in PhD and was a postdoc under him for a while also before I went back to Penn State as a family member.

That is absolutely fantastic when did you arrive. When did you arrive at University of Chicago? The fall of 1972, Ohh, just enough time for you to kind of get acclimated before the big event hit. Yeah, it was one year after he had one year after he had developed the for the Fujita scale. So that was just brand new and early stages of testing of that and. And so there was all sorts of exciting things he was doing using satellites, geo-stationary satellites that were brand new then. So he was doing cloud tracking and having us help him do some of the cloud tracking from those sequences of of a satellite imagery to try to estimate upper level winds over the oceans that. Things like that. So it was really exciting times and and and then along came, the Super outbreak.

Right, which is just. Still to this day, 50 years later, people are still trying to wrap their minds around. That particular event which makes you in such a unique position, having worked directly under Doctor Fujita and having been there personally to survey much of the scene, which I'm going to ask you about in a moment, so I want to take you back to somewhere around April 1st. 1974 and obviously the, you know, outlooks put out by Noah at the time were not great. I think it was the National Severe Storms Forecast Center at the time prior to SPC, so. Talking about it a couple of days before, what did you remember leading up to the events of April 3rd? 05:32 Well, the weather forecast was pretty crude back then, but there was. Some numerical weather forecasting, very, very crude and it was predicting the weather conditions that sort of we knew on the large scale were favorable for severe weather tornado outbreaks. We're going to come to fruition fruition April 3rd, there was actually a moderate sized tornado operate ongoing on April 1st. 06:00 The Storm Prediction Center, The National Weather Service sent out a message to all their offices that hey, if you get a chance, take your radars down tomorrow, April 2nd. And because we think it's going to be a bad day in April 3rd, you're going to need those radars to be operating at peak efficiency and so. We There's a I I was a weather forecaster. I did. Much of the weather forecasting for doctor fajitas field ventures, including subsequently Learjet flights. And so I was telling him, hey, we ought to be taking one of these leadership flights on Wednesday to study the severe weather outbreak. But the funds for that had not yet come in so. We had to watch it from the University of Chicago and there was some interesting things ongoing at that point. Tornado activity and kind of in a bit of a lull there being that worry of activity surrounding the F scale development. But Doctor Fujita was starting to run short on research funds, so it was actually. I was being interviewed by someone from the National Center for Atmospheric Research to be perhaps a flight meteorologist on flights over the Atlantic Ocean, not near Africa, to study the formation of hurricanes from tropical disturbances coming off Africa. So had that super outbreak not happened, I might have lined up being a tropical meteorologist instead of a tornado meteorologist. But the outbreak happened later that evening, Doctor Fujita said I think I'm going to get some new funding as a result of this big outbreak and needing to study it. And that's the way things turned out. I wound up being a finishing my career as a severe weather expert rather than a hurricane and tropical storm expert.

Which is a, which is pretty admirable. That's pretty cool. And doesn't I have to ask this kind of On a side note, does The Weather Channel still use your Tor-Con Scale? The Weather Channel still does use the Torcon Scale. I'm not making it. It's behind the scene Meteorologists who made the other forecasts are, are making that forecast along with their, you know, forecast, temperature and rain and so on. Yeah, but that's just so cool to be able to have done everything that you have in your career. I was at at Chicago for the Super outbreak #1 in 1974 and I was at The Weather Channel predicting and then covering live. But the Super Outbreak 2011. So I got the involved one way or another in both of the two sole outbreaks that we’ve had thats been so bad that we call them super outbreaks.

right. Would you, since you brought it up, I was going to ask at some point during this interview anyway for your. You know, just a comparison between the two. And as far as scale magnitude, your thoughts on the two individual outbreaks and how they compare? It's quite interesting. I did some detailed comparisons with those that were more tornadoes on the 2011 outbreak. That one spanned parts of three days and the one day had about 200 tornadoes.  There were 148 tornadoes in a 24 hour period which was pretty much the entire lifetime of the 1974 super outbreak.  So 2011 wins in number of tornadoes.  1974 wins though in number of violent tornadoes F4 and F5 in the original F scale at that point. Now it's been changed to using the Enhanced Fugita Scale. And so. There were about the same number of deaths so both were very similar. The superoutbreak 2011 covered a little bit more ground state wise and timewise. 1974 for an intense punch of tornadoes mainly in an 18 hour period, that would still stands by itself. But 2011 certainly was worse in some aspects as well.

It was fascinating to watch the 2011 event unfold as a meteorologist and as a weather enthusiast and also as a person who's studied severe weather outbreak, particularly tornadoes, pretty much my entire life. So it was interesting to watch that in real time I grew up and just as a personal note, I grew up just extremely fascinated with the 74 event.  There's a few reasons why. First of all my parents and grandparents homes were destroyed by one of the F5’s the. The first F5, the one that hit DePaul, Indiana. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. And they they actually had to escape by automobile. They were able to escape the tornado with. Maybe 30 seconds to spare. So had they not got out when they did, I may not be here interviewing you today. So I grew up with that and I wanted to learn, you know, just just hearing the stories from that day in the Louisville area, Southern Indiana. It was just it just instilling fascination and then later he real passion for me to pursue and learn as much as I can about these storms. But one thing that I I I thought was very interesting because I was reading some of the technical papers when I was very young from NOAA, including the synaptic technical analysis of what happened and somewhere in there the scientists. Together had estimated that it was like a 500 year storm which you know, I don't, I don't know how you judge such a thing but that's that was in the paper somewhere and I thought well I would never have an opportunity to see a an outbreak anywhere close to that magnitude. And then April of 2011 came along and suddenly we had something to compare it to. At that time in 1974 was pretty much unprecedented. So as you say, pretty hard to estimate what the frequency of recurrence of such a thing could be, but we now see it, it's maybe more like 40-50 years than 500,

right, Right. And one more thing about the 2011, so. I I I like to look at the numbers and I'm kind of a stat guy. And if you look at the bell curve when it comes to you know, EO zero through EF 5 and you look at the two events, it doesn't to me either we missed a lot of the EF zeros and EF ones in the 1974 event or just makes the 1974 event that much more strange that there was. That. Top of the scale, can you can you talk to that at all? Well. In 1974, most of the damage surveying that was done, as far as I know, was done by Doctor Fujita and his crew, including myself, and most of that because it was such an extensive area. Most of that was done by aircraft. And my aircraft it's pretty hard to see. EF0 damage from the air. So it's possible that there could be, could have been some weak tornadoes that we didn't spot. But we were pretty careful. We would find some area that had major damage and then we would fly backwards upstream and fly downwards to see not only did we get the beginning and ending of the tornado. But did we find another in the family either upstream or downstream? So we were looking pretty carefully that there could be some of these. So we, I'm pretty sure got the Tornadoes to bring these big long families sequences of tornadoes from the same thunderstorm, one after the other. But it's possible that some of these stray peripheral tornadoes a few miles away but just run through things like that from the storms. It's possible that we didn't. It moves we we were doing our initial survey starting two days after the event and we continued that as we fund. Reports from the National Weather Service would tell us that they had heard of where we looked in the newspapers or got. Some kind of communication for people not in the tornado areas we run going and doing some follow-up damage surveys. I was even on into well into the summer doing follow-up damage surveys to try to fill in the. To verify or deny that the Tornadoes in our update our accounts. So we did this thorough job as we could the National Weather Service at that time. Individually, did not really have the staff, but they were not charged with going out and doing surveys. Now because the Doppler radars that are in place, that's where the service puts an emphasis on as much as they can having their personnel go out and do damage surveys after the fact. Get as accurate as possible information on tornado tracks and whether the tornado or just wind damage. But that wasn't the case back in 1974, so it's possible tornadoes were missed, but certainly. Most of those tornadoes were there are so many of them got got very violent and it got that way pretty quickly along their path. 

Which was just an amazing aspect to the storm that so many of them have reached such strength. I mean there were so many.. I was reading the numbers of the number of F2 – F5’s, it was like 90+ F2 or greater in one day.  And then you look at the F4’s and F5’s, which again these storms individually are rare and on this day we had 30 of them. 30 which is unfathomable. And especially the F5’s, there's really still nothing to compare that to. I think prior to April 3rd, 1974, there had never been more than two in a single day, and as you know, many times years will go by, like right now, you have to go back more than a decade.  Yeah, that's certainly the case. The the F5 tornadoes were are pretty rare and. You can go several years without without having one. That said, there's also some difference between being now, but it's it's harder I think now to get an EF5 tornado than it was back then. But the enhanced fujita scale is is stricter in terms of that uppermost rating. You really have to have a pretty well built structure, an engineered structure, that has very specific.. meets fairly specific criteria of damage to get F5 rating back then. The much looser Fujita scale. If you had, you know what appeared to be a fairly well built home that was blown off its foundation and crumbled into bits. There was nothing but litter downstream. That was going to get a 5 rating that would homes these days would. Pretty much generally not yet a rating higher than four. So it's possible that by today's standards the right not have been as many F5 tornadoes back in the 1974. The interesting thing is that the 74 super outbreak was actually the beginning of that elongated process that led to the enhanced fujita scale. Just as the weather side of meteorology field was looking to do damage surveys to map these historical event event, the engineering community was also funded to to go out and do surveys to to look in their case at the estimation of wind speeds using this structural factors or structural features. So we're engineers from Texas Tech University and other locations that were going out and they were pretty much saying that the wind speeds in the Fujita scale for these F4 and F5 tornadoes are too high that we're not seeing winds that were needed more than 200 and 230 mph. To be doing this kind of damage. So back in those days would have been. Give me a four category tops instead of the F5 today those with the EF 5 being 200. Plus, it's possible that you know if if there really were two hundred 220/230 mile per hour winds in the 1974 tornadoes, there could have been EFI ratings. But. Handing them just on the basis of home destruction might have been a a bigger challenge. Sure. They were with the engineers were looking at my schools in Xenia, schools and schools and other buildings that were concrete and steel, and not every tornado had had those or maximum damage off those.

So in the days that followed April 3rd and and and and if you can remember during the actual events, at what point did you know the magnitude of the event, At what point did you know that this was history that was that was being being made as far as the tornado operator was concerned? Going into it, we were excited because we knew there was going to be a tornado outbreak. There was some question about how widespread it would be up in the Ohio Valley and in north of the Ohio River. There was a question of whether or not it was going to be warm and unstable enough for tornadoes and so we thought it looked as if maybe it would be confined in the Gulf Coast states with. Tornadoes started getting reported way up into the Midwest. We started, you know as that turned late afternoon thinking that this is a worse tornado outbreak is in progress than we expected and it could be historical and then by evening. Doctor Fujita got a call from Alan Pearson up that national severe storms forecast Center and he said that he told Ted that you better get ready for doing some damage survey because this is here's to be quite an outbreak and watching the TV newscasts they were getting reports in from Louisville in from Xenia and other places that have been hard hit and so it was pretty clear at that point that a a bad outbreak had taken place and but it wasn't really until we began to do the survey, we found just how many tornadoes there had been in such a confined area in such a short period of time. The.. the next day, we divided up.. Dr. Fujita divided up the the area of preliminary reports of tornadoes, into four sub-areas and three teams from the University of Chicago and one from Oklahoma National Severe Storms Lab, then took off on flights starting on two days later, to map out and photograph the damage paths. The Cessna aircraft I was in, it was 3 graduate students, none of which had ever flown a Cessna before or done in aerial damage survey so it was trial by fire so to speak.  As long as your pilot had flown one before.. He had, but there were some other stories that he had been sort of flying I forget whether it was down in the Bahamas.. from Island to Island in the Bahamas and so he had not flown in any kind of tornado aftermath either. right? And so at times you got a little lower than we were supposed to go and try to get good, good looks and details of the damage and made the FAA angry about that. Damage survey.

Right, right. Well, sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right? Yeah, it's specially when it comes to something like that that's cool. Now. So I understand that you're obviously you were on one of the survey teams. Can you describe to me which of the tornadoes or which areas that you got the survey? Initial survey area was from. Eastern and central Illinois up across western and northern Indiana into southern Michigan. So for example the Monticello IN tornado was was in our path. In our responsibility. We ironically got one of the longest individual tornadoes went over 100 miles from marks, from the marks of Illinois. I've been to across a good stretch in Indiana including across Monticello. It was one of the longest of the whole outbreak. So we're there trying to map this and it just kept going and going and going and. We didn't really know the technique for a while I was in the backs back passenger seat and the the graduate student up front that was taking photographs. In the passenger seat could see the track but the plane was tripping over it so sometimes then I would lose its. I don't see any more damage. It was right under us. So we'd have to go back  and so it was sort of learning by trial and error at that point.

Yeah. Well, it's probably good that you had that long track to actual study that way, because you knew the damage was there. You just had to find it, you know? Well, that's very cool. Like I said, my my family was down in southern Indiana at the time and the they were hit by the 1st F5 deploying the Daisy hill. And I've actually got some photographs here from the actual tornado and I got this report before. This wasn't the only one that. Came as a very asymmetric tornado without within an ill defined condensation funnel with this is an actual photograph. Yeah see that I remember I remember that we had the we had seen that photograph back in back in 1974 you know that's that was really amazing. Yeah. A lot of those were sort of a wall cloud that was rotating so violently and it was almost down to the ground and then. Because of the lack of moisture or the lack of dust that underneath you weren't getting well defined tornadoes out of it. So, so yeah, that was one of the more amazing cloud sequences that that we we that we had, that we had seen.

Yeah. And apparently this particular tornado now. The the photograph you see here was actually taken at about the time the FBI damage occurred. It depends, which is amazing if you look closely and it's hard to tell from this photograph and it's got some somebody stranded. You can see the debris, it's not real visible. I'm sure with modern cameras it would have shown up much better, but that particular tornado and I've interviewed dozens of witnesses to that one. Most of them said, well, we weren't sure it was a tornado. They weren't sure. They were looking at my family's personal story. They were looking at these clouds to the West. There was no warning on them per se, or at least not one that they had received. They were living in a pair of mobile homes, so that was not a great place to be. They were looking to the West and just saw these clouds that they just, you know, Grandpa and my my Uncle David. Said that it just made them feel uneasy. They weren't sure what they were looking at, but they just had a gut feeling they had to get out of there. But so many people had stories like that they they looked at it, they didn't initially recognize it as a tornado. Is there anything, any insight you could bring into why those were where there was a lack of the condensation funnel with some of those storms? Well, uh. Was it was still pretty early and so the. There was that a whole lot of crops or anything like that on the ground to to be throwing crop debris, but. I don't remember whether they've been voiced. Ready ahead of that. So there wasn't a whole lot of dusty either to be kicked up, so. If you're going over forests where you can be willing branches and leaves and things like that off the trees, that will help fill things in, but. Other than that, I don't have an explanation for that, but certainly 26:56 that kind of odd appearance of tornadoes instead of the classic. Funnel.. hose that comes all the way to the ground. That's what people were expecting to be looking for and they weren't seeing those kind of structures visually coming towards them, so it was. Difficult for them to, really. To know, in some cases for them to know that they were in jeopardy. 27:21 I think in this case a lot of them tornadoes did damage by the embedded suction vortices.. Tornadoes within tornadoes. Really across fields and we can see very perfect patterns of these suction swaths, these striation marks that were going through the fields suggesting that there had been needing such invoices that have their own low pressure in their own. Additional clockwise spin and updraft. Add to the greens, to the very tornadoes. So I think a lot of the damage was being done by exception receipts that were just these little fingers coming down rather than having. Big tornado funnel that came down and stayed down right. Well obviously obviously that day was insane and watch were you were you talking about is it very well documented described with the multi vortex tornadoes and there was a there was a bunch of them as you know is oftentimes that is the case. The top tier tornadoes have 3 4 5 OK, so we probably got about 5-10 minutes left during the interview for a week.

So let me ask you just a couple more questions. First and foremost, what do you remember most about April 3rd or the damage surveys that you got to look at following the storm? How about one thing? Like during April 3rd was? We have. We have a. Rotating thunderstorm went right over the building at the University of Sugar Cop Chicago and one of the meteorologists came running into that interview that I was innocent. Sorry to interrupt. You probably want to come see this, this supercell over top of the building and we all ran to the roof and it was, it was. A lot of spot there, so we didn't officially get it for you. 29:32 That's kind of the the one thing I remember about the storm... live and then just the sheer magnitude of the damage and the length of the paths that we saw during some of these surveys and then on subsequently. I went out on the ground with Doctor Fujita to the Louisville, to the Brandenburg down to go Guinn Alabama. And the scenes, you know some of the total destruction in those places that have been hit by, in the Guinn and Brandenburg cases F5 Tornadoes That was. That was that was pretty scary and it was just nothing left. Everything had been destroyed.

Yeah, I covered. I covered the Brandenburg storm pretty thoroughly in a documentary about 10 years ago, and just what that town was on will leave. The damage was unbelievable. And you know, obviously 50 years later, people were still very much talking about it and that they want to know and it happened again and so. I know that there was a consensus among meteorologists that wants Doppler radar had did you know implemented and especially once we got to the era of dual pole been able to identify exactly when a tornado touchdowns and it touches touches down in many cases and the advanced warning system that we had to the methods of communication that. I think the consensus was that we would never see another tornado that would kill 100 people or more. And then Joplin, MO, happened in 2011. Which changed all that. So in your assessment. What is what? How bad could it be if we have another one of these type of storms or outbreaks today knowing all the failures that we have seen, you know, since 2011 especially? Well 31:30 one of the one of the big concerns these days is that what if we get a F4F5 tornado, a big wide one, moving fast through a metropolitan area, especially right if you could say the evening rush hour when all sorts of vehicles are on the road. But there could be a huge traffic jam that's set up and then the tornado capable of picking, up, tossing vehicles around. We could have a huge disaster in that case and then hitting the high rises, breaking the window, flying glass. It's just not a nightmare in terms of what how bad things could happen. 32:10 The other thing that's happened in the last 50 years, also is that we've got more and more urban sprawl. So what used to be sort of the little needles in haystacks in terms of tornado hitting or missing a city. Now the cities (are) much bigger make much bigger targets. And so while we have better.. better technology to predict and warn of the upcoming tornadoes, the urban sprawl in the traffic jams and the higher populations and concentrations make it a little bit harder perhaps to avoid the tornado and of course all the extra debris from the extra homes and buildings that are being. That's why debris causes more impact force than just the winds alone and that that adds to the damage. So we we certainly are not tornado. Some aspects of our. Merging the civilization of the little bit more?

Yeah, for sure. Asking this real quick, and that is. You know, looking back, it looked like complacency may have played a role in the death toll from the 2011 outbreak in Joplin tornado. Also maybe, You know the cry wolf syndrome that you hear about a lot and and and. You know, when it comes to severe storms in Torrance particularly, do you think we have an over-warning problem still when it comes to? You know. In general. Well, we may have a bit of an over-warning problem. It's also a challenge though. 33:53 Joplin, for example, and El Reno tornado you know, a couple years after that, we're situations where the whole radar pattern evolved so rapidly, that you went from what what you weren't even sure wasn't tornadic storm the one that all of a sudden is is EF.. potentially EF5.  And so the those kind of things. Almost necessitate that you put on warnings because you don't want to miss events. That and you need to have enough lead time to for people to take take some kind of action. 34:35 We also have a problem though that most homes are not properly anchored to the foundation. And we have a lot of mobile homes and of course a lot of people are out in vehicles. So I think those are are are big problems there's there may be a little bit of complacency but. 34:54 We don't have the structures that in most cases are capable of protecting us from the most violent tornadoes if it's bad luck that you're here by one of those. Got you.

OK, so I'm going to change gears here real quick. Doctor Forbes, first of all, we only got like a couple minutes left in the session. Are you OK if I stop this and then start another one? I don't want to steal too much of your time, but if you got another 10 minutes, that would be great. I just don't want to rush this, you know, I think. I think the content that I think that. You know the stuff that you're talking about is just so important so i'd love to be able to expand just a little bit so with that let me bring this down i'm gonna send you another email and then we'll just hop on the new recording OK alright sounds great

You had to the survey or you got to see the at least damage down in Brandenburg. Was that by air or were you actually on foot? I was saying Brandenburg after the fact on on the ground with Doctor Regina. We went to talk to I guess it was the newspaper publisher there and. getting information for him about various stories and and other people that might be able to. Tell us their experiences during that five tornado, as well as to just view it from the ground. It was part of a trip we made to to Louisville and Brandenburg and some of the other adjacent areas. So Doctor Fujita and I were there on the ground.

Can you describe some of what you remember there in Brandenburg particularly? Well, it was pretty well wiped out. It was sort of one. On the cliffs above, on the West side or southwest side of the High river or South side of the High River and pretty well have been wiped out. That and concentrated area of office of the town. Pretty much all the buildings had been demolished. Then there was the drop right down to the. Right down to the river the tornado came rolling off. The other side did. H

ey, reports from eyewitnesses that saw the Brandenburg train of the crossed over the river. The reports were that the level of the Ohio River dropped dramatically in wake of the tornado, which is interesting. Yeah, we were, we were hearing that kind of story. Assist that. Go to potentially be and I suppose just the force of the winds in opposite directions cause that a brief. Pausing in the river, we were never totally sure how to believe that we heard about pools that were sucked dry. Whatever you sure whether or not. You know, whether that was real phenomena or not, but one thing that came out of Brandenburg now to think about a little bit. We were interested in finding out because of the section Swathi bosses, hypotheses being places that had the worst damage point, locations of of people being killed and what were the nature of the. 08:15 The injuries that caused the deaths and what we found out from that, particularly from Brandenburg, when other places as well, was that. Most of the deaths were from head injuries, and so that began the. Sequence of events where anytime Doctor Fujita would talk on television or go out, talk to the public somewhere, he would say one of the safety rules for tornadoes would be you should put on a helmet if you had one because the fatal injuries are heading head injuries.

Yeah, they started teaching kids to have. Your textbook covered the backs of their head next, probably for the same reason. And you know, what members do you have from Louisville? Obviously, Louisville was devastated. Cherokee Park was annihilated. What are your thoughts from that? Also Xenia, OH. I never got to Zenia, but photographs of that were were bad and there was an interesting movie taking and taking. My uh. Boy here, I forget his age that showed these little tiny multiple funnels coming down. Sort of like the photograph that you saw for the big tornado and then you saw these little suction vortices that were causing the swaths of extreme damage across Xenia. After the fact on the ground, Doctor Jay and I were trying to. More information about. And in particular, we're very interested in the detailed pattern in that Cherokee park while the trees fall pattern. So we spent quite a bit of time looking at that and then growing the locations where photos and movies have been taken. So we could do the photogrammetry after the fact that. You know they. Photograph was taken in distance from the tornado so that we could get things like size and and orientation and what part of the tornado path where they looking at with those those photographs?

Yeah, yeah. OK, well, very cool. Doctor Forbes, I wanna make sure that we respect your time today and certainly everything you contribute here is fantastic and I appreciate that. So before we bring this to a close, what are your, what do you want to, you know, our viewers at home to to be prepared for the next time we have a strike like like this. Because obviously it's been a long time, it's been a lot of years since the last five, but we haven't had a major, major outbreak recently. But we know it's coming. So what advice do you have for our friends at home? Well, I I think the the thing that I would. Advise is people need to be weather conscious to the weather forecasting is good enough these days that we can usually see these big outbreaks and they're the ones that usually have the multiples of these violent tornadoes within them. We can see those outbreaks coming days in advance, so. Gonna be checking every day that your weather forecast and and seeing if there is some kind of forecast for later on in the week of one of these big outbreaks and then came one of their bring that so that the day of the event you know you already conditioned to be checking the weather frequently looking out the window and you have some way of getting. Warnings on your cell phone. You have the television on. You have Weather Channel on something that will let you know that there is a rotating thunderstorm rolling with a tornado heading your way so that you can take action. And you need to think about in advance where is your safe place to go in your. If you don't have a. Make arrangements with the neighbor or some other place that you can go that is more sturdily built so that you don't have to be thinking about all these things, which minutes or even seconds to spare, but you you have to be proactive to try to save your own life.

And that's right, you know what you want to kind of. Looking at these, the muscle memory, you wanna have it in place. Or the practices so you don't have to think about it when the when the time is right. Absolutely OK. And I guess generally what are the thoughts would you like to share, you know, concerning your personal experience working with Doctor Fugina this outbreak, what do you remember the most and what what, what final thoughts would you like to share? Well, it was quite a. Quite an opportunity working with Doctor Fujino, such a genius in such a legend in his field, developing the Fujita scale, predicting that there were suction vortices within tornadoes, and then going on to discover the microburst and outbursts. And I got to. First field experiment that went on to prove that those microverse existed using Doppler radars. So working with him was an honor and a privilege, and it just so exciting. One other graduate student gets the fly around in Cessna aircraft and then laptops from merchants. And so there were just so many unique opportunities that that was so, so enjoyable. I have PhD point sort of overqualified myself for being an operational forecaster. That's kind of why I originally gone to Chicago to get my masters degree and it'll work at the Storm Prediction Center. I was lucky enough to go, you know, faculty position at Penn State. I taught others for 20 years to be severe weather forecasters. Some of them went on to to do that and then. As I was nearing the age of 50, The Weather Channel decided to expand their expert team to include a severe weather or severe storm tornado expert, and so I was actually at the age of 50, lucky enough to be able to do what I had originally sent out as a as a. Undergraduate student to do to be a severe weather forecaster and be a part of so many big events there, including forecasting and covering the the Super outbreak 2011 and so I've had. An extremely interesting extremely lucky career in the way that all the events unfolded to lot to lobby to have that career and and so I'm, I'm very grateful for all of that and have enjoyed all of that and hopefully along the way I've saved a few lives that was what I said I have to do.

Yeah, I totally. I have no doubt that you did just that. So very cool. Well, Doctor Ford has been awesome talking to you today about this this event and we're gonna be doing a shooting for another couple of weeks and then we're going to see how it all comes together. But. So we appreciate your time. I wanna share this video. My photographer. He's on vacation currently so he wasn't able to participate with this, but if he. If he wanted a follow up, would you be open? Because he's coming in from Florida. He's gonna be passing through Atlanta I think on March the 4th. Would you be open for a quick follow up interview if he requests? I believe so. The only only reason that could be a problem would be if there any are finishing up the should work on the House and making all sorts of rockets so on, but otherwise I'm sure we could schedule something.

Would that be fantastic? I appreciate like I think the quality. Actually pretty good. And I was like I was to the last time, so it looks pretty decent. I'll see what he says. I think if you I think if you sure you know expand that it might not look so good. All my snapshot postcard size, it doesn't look too bad. Perfect, perfect man. Alright, fantastic. Well thank you so much. I will be there at Cherokee Park on April 3rd. So I look forward to meeting you at 1st and. I'm gonna be there, Jeremy. So yeah, look forward to that.

Fantastic. Alright, Doctor Forbes, I appreciate you more than you know and thanks so much for helping with this project. If you ever have any questions or, you know, save my contact please, and then I'll let you know what my photographer thinks and if we could. Possibly set up a follow up that be great. Alright, sounds good. Thanks Jeremy. Alright Doctor Forbes, we'll talk to you soon, OK? Have a good day. Bye.


Jeremy Kappell

Meteorologist, Journalist, Writer, Speaker, Broadcaster

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