Saturday, April 24, 2010

Talladega Nightmares

Courtesy: Anniston Star

While the tornado warning system is a magnificent scientific achievement that saves about a thousand lives a year, there is only so much it can do. One of the things that keeps meteorologists up at night is a tornado hitting a NASCAR track or sports stadium full of people with inadequate shelter.

We have the potential of one of those nightmares occurring today at Talladega Motor Speedway. As the photograph from the Anniston Star illustrates, the raceway is filled with tents, motor homes, and trailers. The stands will be filled with tens of thousands of people. There is no way to get everyone to safety if the worst happens. And, it might.
Post updated with 8am Central Time Tornado Outlook

A "high" risk of tornadoes only forecast by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center only once or twice per year.  Talladega is located at the east end of today's high risk area.


Officials are aware of the risk, as this article from the Star indicates:

"There's the possibility of severe weather, but there's also the possibility of sunshine," Hunter said.

That quote seems to have a "whistling past the graveyard" quality to it.

Let's hope nothing serious occurs.

2 comments:

  1. Mike - NASCAR cancelled the race on advise from local county and NWS management. Likely a good decision, however there are likely still 1,000s of people camping and in RVs around the speedway.
    http://hosted2.ap.org/FLJAJ/0a6106be5ac4420893ee9bde92187155/Article_2010-04-24-CAR-NASCAR-Talladega/id-d1b68a6660d447598b0e326e64ced5d7

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  2. The number of people camping and RV'ing is estimated at 40,000 to 50,000 with little or no reinforced shelter available.

    So, postponing the race solves the "people in the stands" problem but does not mitigate the risk to those camping.

    As I write this, there is a tornado warning out 60 mi. southwest of Talladega moving in that general direction.

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