Reaping the Whirlwind

Wolf Blitzer had his assumptions handed to him by a tornado survivor, and rather tactfully, too. Oklahoma atheists are adding to the relief effort.

It’s just harmless political pandering until shit gets real: For Republicans, Oklahoma Tornado Revives Questions About Disaster Relief.

This is what intellectually, ethically and morally bankrupt political tools like Inhofe/Coburn invite: “NO EMERGENCY FUNDS FOR OKLAHOMA”.  Fellow Okies, you made your bed when you voted these ass-hats in. Remember the Dust Bowl, gang. Pull your heads out and quit acting like such a bunch of pond scum, already.

Here’s an anthem in support of the oppressed minority that Our State’s senate delegation really cares about.

Apparently the wingnuts think Mr. Obama is Superman and Lex Luthor rolled into one:

A man set up a video camera to capture paranormal activity in his kitchen but recorded another kind of creepiness altogether.

Do you remember the Rossi E-cat machine? It’s been featured in Popular Science and debunked by skeptics. Now, a new study is out. Take a peek: Finally! Independent Testing Of Rossi’s E-Cat Cold Fusion Device: Maybe The World Will Change After All – Forbes. I’m still not holding my breath over this.

Notes from ‘Tornado Alley’

It’s a morbid fascination: if you live here long enough you get to thinking about tornadoes. You just can’t help it.
I started looking for early Native American depictions of tornadoes (didn’t find any, please send them if you’ve got them!), but I ran across some other data points, and sharing is caring.

Very early tornado descriptions:

Perhaps 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV), circa 860 BCE:

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

{Or, alternately,”What the hell are you standing there for, Elijah? Seek shelter, fool!”}

Aristotle writes in his “Meteorology” (circa 350 BCE):

So the whirlwind originates in the failure of an incipient hurricane to escape from its cloud: it is due to the resistance which generates the eddy, and it consists in the spiral which descends to the earth and drags with it the cloud which it cannot shake off. It moves things by its wind in the direction in which it is blowing in a straight line, and whirls round by its circular motion and forcibly snatches up whatever it meets.
When the cloud burns as it is drawn downwards, that is, when the exhalation becomes rarer, it is called a fire-wind, for its fire colours the neighbouring air and inflames it.
 (E.W. Webber translation)

Earliest European tornado reports:

The earliest recorded tornado in Europe occurred at Rosdalla, near Kilbeggan (Co. Westmeath) in Ireland on April 30, 1054. Some violent squalls which may be tornadic are known from before 1000, but evidence of conclusive (or even probable) tornadoes is lacking.

On October 17, 1091, the London Tornado of 1091 struck. It was Britain’s earliest reported tornado, possibly because it was so fierce. Only two people were reported killed, however damage to London was immense.

In August 1456 a tornado formed on the Adriatic Sea near Ancona, crossed Italy, and entered the Mediterranean Sea near Pisa. In hisIstorie Fiorentine, first published in 1532, Machiavelli describes it as follows:

“On the twenty-fourth of August, about an hour before daybreak, there arose from the Adriatic near Ancona, a whirlwind, which crossing from east to west, again reached the sea near Pisa, accompanied by thick clouds, and the most intense and impenetrable darkness, covering a breadth of about two miles in the direction of its course. Under some natural or supernatural influence, this vast and overcharged volume of condensed vapor burst; its fragments contended with indescribable fury, and huge bodies sometimes ascending toward heaven, and sometimes precipitated upon the earth, struggled, as it were, in mutual conflict, whirling in circles with intense velocity, and accompanied by winds, impetuous beyond all conception; while flashes of awful brilliancy, and murky, lurid flames incessantly broke forth. From these confused clouds, furious winds, and momentary fires, sounds issued, of which no earthquake or thunder ever heard could afford the least idea; striking such awe into all, that it was thought the end of the world had arrived, that the earth, waters, heavens, and entire universe, mingling together, were being resolved into their ancient chaos. Wherever this awful tempest passed, it produced unprecedented and marvelous effects; but these were more especially experienced near the castle of St. Casciano, about eight miles from Florence, upon the hill which separates the valleys of Pisa and Grieve. Between this castle and the Borgo St. Andrea, upon the same hill, the tempest passed without touching the latter, and in the former, only threw down some of the battlements and the chimneys of a few houses; but in the space between them, it leveled many buildings quite to the ground. The roofs of the churches of St. Martin, at Bagnolo, and Santa Maria della Pace, were carried more than a mile, unbroken as when upon their respective edifices.

Earliest recorded tornado in the Americas:

Tlatelolco (in the modern-day Greater Mexico City area), August 1521: on the eve of the fall of the so-called Aztec empire a tornado swept around the besieged capital:

“And when night had fallen, it therefore rained at intervals; it sprinkled at intervals. It was already deep night when a fire appeared. As it was seen, as it appeared, it was as if it came from the heavens like a whirlwind. It went continually spinning about; it went revolving. It was as if the blazing coal broke into many pieces, some very large, some only very small, some just like sparks. It arose like a coppery wind. Much did it rustle, crackle, snap. It only circled the ramparts at the water’s edge; it went toward Coyonacazco. Then it went into the middle of the water. There it went to disappear. (English translation of the Nahuatl text of the Florentine Codex by Arthur Anderson and Charles Dibble).

Earliest North American tornados:

In July 1643 Governor John Winthrop described a sort of wind gust  in northeastern Massachusetts and costal New Hampshire. According to Winthrop this “gust” blew down many trees, filled the air with dust, lifted up a meetinghouse in Newbury, and killed one Indian. There is doubt as to whether this was a true tornado or simply a down-draft wind.

The first generally accepted tornado recorded in American history occurred in August 1671 near Rehobeth MA, 7 miles east of Providence, R.I.

The first recorded American tornado fatality occurred in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 8, 1680. Rev. Increase Mather tells in his Remarkable Providences of eyewitness accounts of this terrible whirling wind. One eyewitness, Samuel Stone, described it as a whirl-wind that tore trees, sucked up hay, tore off a large portion of a barn roof, and made a singing noise so very loud that the people around could not hear the falling objects. It was said that you could find people a mile away that could hear those objects falling. Matthew Bridge reported that its motion was continually circular, tearing bushes by the roots, removing old trees, and sucking up large rocks that were not found again. One servant man, John Robbins, was killed by this whirl-wind because of broken bones and overall body bruising. It is interesting to note that this “whirl-wind’s” path was close to that of a larger storm that moved through West Cambridge on August 22, 1851.

Deadliest single tornado in history:

Probably the Daulatpur-Saturia, Bangladesh Tornado, an extremely destructive tornado that occurred in the Manikganj District, Bangladesh on April 26, 1989. There is great uncertainty about the death toll, but estimates indicate that it killed around 1,300 people, which would make it the deadliest tornado in history.

Instrumentation for gathering data in tornadoes: A historical perspective of In-Situ observations within Tornado Cores

Earliest photograph of a tornado: An unknown photographer inspired legions of tornado-chasers when he captured the earliest known photograph of a tornado. This black-and-white image was taken on August 28, 1884, about 22 miles (45 kilometers) southwest of Howard, South Dakota.


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4 Responses to “Reaping the Whirlwind”

  1. Mordanicus Says:

    Why should one thank god, even he exists? Afterall if he is both omnipotent and benevolent, then why did he send a tornado in the first place? The theist might reply: to punish the godless. Why did the atheist survive? The theist switched to another subject.

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