Pixel Rust sees faux-Tornados in LA!

I don’t often complain about the weather in LA, but if there’s one thing I miss about the midwest, it’s the storms. When people try to tell me there were thunderstorms in LA, I laugh at them because the ‘storms’ are normally little more than a bit of lightning and soft thunder within a few clouds with maybe a hint of rain. Hardly a thunderstorm. Also, the rain here is always cold. There isn’t ever nice warm rain, it’s always mean cold rain. So imagine my surprise when I saw this image at Pixel Rust:

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Uhm, holy crap! That looks kinda midwestern-like after all! You can’t pick out the Hollywood sign in the background of any midwestern storm shot though. Did anyone else besides Dan see this monstrosity reach down from the sky yesterday? He says it was right above Hillhurst/Los Feliz. Anyone?

See his original post here.

11 Replies to “Pixel Rust sees faux-Tornados in LA!”

  1. Ahhh..that sure does look like home (Oklahoma). I don’t think angelenos would know what to do if a Tornado hit.

  2. Read Ecology of Fear to get the history of tornadoes in Southern California. Yes, they happen. There was one in Long Beach about 10 years ago that tore the roof off of a supermarket just a few blocks away from an elementary school where children were outside playing at the time.

  3. I was about to suggest the same read as Evan but he beat me to it. Tornados in LA/SoCal are a far more regular occurence than one would think.

  4. Nice down draft cloud, not a classic funnel. Having lived in Mo and Il I’ve ridden out the real deal a few times. Will is correct there are twisters in So Cal, last in my area was about 8-9 years ago when it passed over Monrovia, Duarte by the 210/605. Didn’t touch down but crap blew all over.

  5. I spotted that from across Hyperion gulch in Silver Lake around sunset – gorgeous sunset, btw – but it looked like a simple downdraft, as it wasn’t spinning at all.

  6. The ‘tornado alley’ section of Ecology of Fear (“Our Secret Kansas”) is one of the most laughable cases of distortion-by-statistics I’ve ever seen.

    I’ve lived in LA for nearly 30 years, and I can assure everyone that tornadoes just simply aren’t a significant concern, despite what Davis’s ‘theme park of the apocalypse’ hyperbole would have his readers believe.

    Even the tornadoes we *do* get simply never reach the intensity of the F4 and F5 monsters that terrorize the middle of the country, or even the routine F3s that flip over trailers from Florida to Texas.

    The LA area has never had a tornado stronger than an F2. And F2s are uncommon – most local tornadoes are either F0 or F1.

    We generally get tornadoes during the winter rainy season, when there isn’t enough heat energy to build a big tornado. Most experts agree that F4 or F5 tornadoes simply aren’t possible with LA’s current climate.

    It’s kind of like if some place had mostly Mag. 1 or Mag. 2 earthquakes, and maybe the occasional Mag. 3 – but never anything bigger: even if that place had “more earthquakes than California”, it still wouldn’t be a significant seismic risk.

    Despite a metropolitan area covering over 1000 square miles, with almost no place for a tornado to touch down without hitting something, and an almost-complete absence of basements, storm shelters, and storm-warning systems, no one in the LA area has ever been killed by a tornado.

    No one.

    Compare that to the fatality record in any real ‘tornado alley’, and you’ll begin to see just how absurd Davis’s histrionics really are.

    “Our Secret Kansas”, indeed.

  7. Yep, it’s definitely not a funnel, doesnt look like it has rotation in it. Ominous nonetheless and as someone noted earlier, LA DOES get the occasional tornado. I havent seen any true funnel clouds in LA but I’ve seen two near Sacramento.

  8. Also RE: Jon’s comments, a F2 tornado is a lot more damaging than a catergory 2 earthquake. No, it isnt likely to kill anyone but it can still have winds up to 157 MPH.

    An F0 tornado is more like a strong santa ana, as far as wind speeds go. Tornados have been known to do damage in the area but compared to the floods, santa ana winds, and earthquakes we get here, they are indeed a minor concern.

    the numbers of tornados are not distorted in Ecology of Fear and from what i remember there is a very clear discussion on how tornados in California don’t get above f2 status. Maybe you should go reread the chapter.

  9. Also RE: Jon’s comments, a F2 tornado is a lot more damaging than a catergory 2 earthquake.

    True. That’s why I compared F0, 1 and 2 tornadoes to Mag. 1, 2 and 3 quakes. :-)

    (That was me, by the way, not Jon.)

    An F2 tornado is indeed more like a Mag. 3 (or maybe even Mag. 4) quake – enough to do a bit of damage, probably won’t kill you, but you might get hurt if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    An F0 tornado is more like a strong santa ana, as far as wind speeds go

    …or a good strong thermal vortex (dust devil), or a thundercell microburst, for that matter. :-)

    (In fact, from Mack’s description, that’s what the pic above probably is – a convective-cell downburst. Not that those can’t rip off the occasional roof, either, of course.)

    the numbers of tornados are not distorted in Ecology of Fear and from what i remember there is a very clear discussion on how tornados in California don’t get above f2 status. Maybe you should go reread the chapter.

    I’ve read it. I’m not disputing his numbers. I’m disputing his hyperbole.

    There’s nothing “miraculous” about the fact that no one has ever been killed, nor do “all reports” say otherwise.

    It’s not “Our Secret Kansas” – it’s nothing like Kansas, and it’s not a secret.

    For the values of ‘tornado’ that matter to a farmer from Kansas or Oklahoma or Nebraska, it’s pretty much true that there aren’t any tornadoes here.

    But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ever any wind storms. And some of those storms are a bit spinny. And if you count every single spinny windstorm that fits the National Weather Service definition of ‘tornado’, then, yes, there are tornadoes here.

    But an F0 or F1 ‘tornado’ is as irrelevent to a Kansas farmer as a Mag. 1 or 2 earhquake is to a native Californian.

    Civic boosters claiming an absence of tornadoes aren’t engaging in some dark conspiracy to conceal a ‘tornado alley’, they’re simply telling the truth in the practical terms their audience cares about.

    For all practical purposes, there aren’t really any tornadoes in LA.

  10. I don’t think an F2 is like a magnitude 3 earthquake either. I know I’m nitpicking a bit here but I’ve never heard of any significant damage from a magnitude 3 earthquake. Even a 4 is pretty benign unless you’re in a liquefaction area or on an unstable slope. A F-2 tornado can do some pretty serious damage to trees and buildings. However, to be fair, a tornado covers a much smaller area than an earthquake, especially the small type we get here.

    Certainly there is an order of magnitude of difference between tornados here and those in the Midwest. Nevertheless, they are significant, and are ‘real’ tornados (sometimes the weaker ones are known as landspouts). The NWS has a very rigidly defined definition of tornado, and downbursts/gust fronts)(which probably all things told are more damaging than tornados around LA) are not included in this, even when they have eddies (gustnados) that are ‘spinny’.

    The point of that chapter in the book, in my opinion, wasnt to claim that anyone was hiding weather info, but simply to refute the ‘LA has boring weather/no weather’ hypothesis. In the last few years I’ve seen some hail and lightning you wouldn’t believe was in LA county, but that’s a story for another time.

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