[NZ4O Spaceweather] EF0-1 Tornado Strike

Thomas F. Giella NZ4O solarcycle24 at tampabay.rr.com
Wed Apr 6 16:12:57 PDT 2011

Guys and gals as promised here is my experience with last weeks EF0-1 

As a now officially retired meteorologist but nevertheless still active in 
the profession as far as producing private weather forecasts for myself and 
recording daily weather observations, Thursday March 30, 2011 began like any 
other day. I started with my daily check of upstream weather parameters, 
looked at forecast model MOS, etc. Immediately the red flag alarm went up as 
everything was pointing to a significant severe weather outbreak for the 
Florida region for Friday March 31, 2011.

Severe weather indices looked similar to the February 1998 and April 1966 
severe weather outbreaks. I vividly remember the April 1966 severe weather 
outbreak. I was in 4th grade in Dade City, FL and we had to duck and cover 
under our desks as a tornado passed nearby.

Anyway Friday March 31, 2011 dawned ominously with the eastern Gulf of 
Mexico full of lines of thunderstorms with embedded meso scale cyclones 
(counter clockwise rotating thunderstorms) and many individual super cell 
thunderstorms that contained meso cyclone’s. Eventually these storms would 
spawn 9 tornadoes across the central peninsula region.

At approximately 10:00 am EDT I noticed one particularly mean looking 
discrete super cell thunderstorm out in the GOM. I plotted its speed and 
direction of movement and it dawned on me that if this particular 
thunderstorm stayed together it would cross right over me by 1:00 pm EDT, 

Well the storm did stay together and actually got stronger and began moving 
faster (50+mph). At approximately 12:00 pm EDT Lakeland Linder Airport 
(which is located five miles to my west) was struck by a super cell 
thunderstorm replete with an EF1 tornado and wind gusts to 95 mph. The Sun N’ 
Fun Flyin was underway with many people, tents and aircraft painfully 
exposed. The end result was collapsed tents, many injuries and 40 airplanes 

So at approximately 12:00 pm EDT I was scanning the western sky and watched 
day turn into night and a very fast moving dark cloud headed my way. At 
12:04 pm I saw the EF0-1 30-40 yard wide tornado headed right for my house. 
It was hopping across an open field, was full of tree limbs and was making a 
groaning and whistling sound. I sent the wife and two daughters into our 
central hallway, which is the only space in the house with no outside walls.

I stayed at the window and observed the tornado which was moving towards the 
east at approximately 50 mph. Just as it arrived and I was about to hit the 
floor the funnel lifted over mine and my neighbor’s houses. The tornado was 
accompanied by 1” diameter hail that fell for approximately two minutes and 
very frequent and close lightning strikes. After the tornado passed by a 
very heavy rain ensued with approximately 0.70” of rain falling in a 10 
minute period. My Davis Vantage Pro 2 weather station anemometer/wind vane 
sensors recorded a wind gust from the west of 67 mph before the 35 foot 
steel support mast was on bent over at about 20 degrees from the vertical 

I was involved in professional severe storm chasing and research between 
1984-1987 and 1994-1996. I did my chasing across the Great Plains from Texas 
in the south to North Dakota in the north, Colorado in the west to Kansas in 
the east, also Florida and Georgia. During the eight year period I observed 
29 tornadoes on the ground. One was an F-5, ten were F-4's, ten were F-3's 
and eight were F-2's. Having said that I was more afraid of the EF0-1 
tornado than any of the monsters I saw elsewhere. Maybe it was because it 
was moving so fast and right at me?!

As far as damage my house lost 12 shingles on the west side of the roof and 
an oak tree branch came through my bathroom window. In the yard all five of 
my oak trees and two other kinds of trees suffered considerable damage and 
all three steel masts supporting my amateur radio antennas were bent over at 
a 50 degree angle from the vertical. Needless to say the antennas were 

In the yard I also found many leaves that were shredded by the 1” hail. 
Unfortunately I was unable to get any photographs of the damage, as in all 
of the excitement I dropped my expensive digital camera on the hard tile 
floor and broke it, GGGGRRRR!!!!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Thomas F. Giella

Retired Meteorologist

Lakeland, FL, USA

73 & GUD DX,
Thomas F. Giella, NZ4O
Lakeland, FL, USA
solarcycle24 at tampabay.rr.com

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