Woodend,VIC-On Thursday afternoon residents of Woodend on the foothills of the Macedon Ranges northwest of Melbourne, were given a surprise when a “freak” tornado carved a short but narrow path of damage along Mount Macedon Rd around 5:30pm.
The Tornado that was short lived caused extensive damage to paddocks, sending haybales flying and uprooting and snapping trees as winds reached close to 177km/h based off damage indicators from photos supplied from the area.
Joshua McMahon who was on-scene working at Braemar College in Woodend captured the moment on camera. Uploaded to Facebook. While Braemar College principal Mr Deer also witnessed the tornado describing it as strong and violent and making a mess at the front of college’s entrance/driveway.
Based on radar data and damage indicators that were available, it is believed there was enough evidence to catagorised the tornado as a EF-1 tornado, but due to the handbook of grading such events, it will be “OFFICIALLY” recorded as a EF-0 or EFU aka EF-Unknown due to the following simple reason: It occurred in a paddock/open field/lands. The universal rule applies in this case which means it is a “WEAK” tornado and was easy to see why some jumped to criticise such a conclusion. However in such a disagreement science prevails and in the case of the Woodend Tornado, it is going down as a EF-0 in the record books. However we at Extreme Weather Forecasting like to dig deeper and run our own investigation and here is what we found out:
WOODEND TORNADO REPORT/FACTS:
Rating: EF-0 (Official) EF-1 (Preliminary Result)
Wind Speed: 65-85mph (105-137km/h)-OFFICIAL
Highest Damage Indicator: DoD 4 of 5-Tress Uprooted for Hardwood Trees (HT).
Based on the radar data and video evidence and photos supplied to us we could just see enough to justify a EF-1 Preliminary and unofficial rating of the Woodend Tornado. Tree branches snapped at top and uprooted and snapped trunks of VERY LARGE trees would have seen a estimate of winds around 134mph pushing the maximum winds inside the rating of a EF-2. But due to the photos showing rotting of the trunks of the largest trees and a lack of other proximity damage indicators the upper bound limit was re-adjusted to a maximum of the expected and or the lower bound wind speed limit of 93mph-110mph. The rotted tree trunk would have already been weak already, meaning it would have likely snapped easier at a lower sustained wind speed. This therefore also taken into account in the re-adjusting the approximate wind-speed of the tornado.
Below are some images of the damage from the area:
Possible EF-1 Radar indicated Tornado briefly touchesdown in NE VIC? While funnel/wall clouds observed outside Shepparton, Dookie, Yabba, Goorambat and Benella in NE VIC.
Benella/Shepperton, VIC-Meanwhile as the Woodend tornado was occurring further northeast in the state a very suspicious radar couplet would have been detected on the Yarrawonga radar with reflectivity bending around a significant couplet of rotation. While a second cell in the band would go on to producing a funnel cloud just outside of Shepparton and Goorambat which was detected/spotted by multiple witnesses. However would never reach the ground or make contact.
EF-1 RADAR INDICATED TORNADO?
Certainly seems suspicious and at best was a rotating storm, But with a lack of Dual Pol data this still remains “Under Investigation”. Based though solely off the radar data and evidence given, a “RADAR INDICATED TORNADO” can’t be ruled out due to the signatures portrayed by the radar scan. A defined hook on the reflectivity at two tilt levels or elevation levels of the radar beam shows a quite-well defined looking hook on reflectivity and then comparing with Velocity/Doppler scans shows a significant and tight couplet showing speeds of around 25-26m/s or 86km/h-90km/h going towards and away from radar. These directions represented by the Green and Red colour shows the lighter they are the faster the wind speed is being picked up by the velocity/Doppler scan. In some cases if these are close enough together and are in the opposite direction you can add them together, in this case giving us a wind speed of approximately 176km/h been detected/picked up by the Doppler. With that speed this would give us a rating possibly of a possible tornado at EF-1 on the Enhanced Fajita Scale near Upotipotpon.
However though due to a lack of eye witness evidence of the tornado on the ground and or photos, even if there was a tornado, due to the location of which it occurred, which it was once again over the open fields/paddocks. It would be for this very reason deemed under a universal policy a EF-0 and very likely in this case a rare EFU or EF Unknown.
Either way regardless of intensity this possible tornado would have been rated as “Weak” like the Woodend tornado and may have lasted less then 6 minutes. Making it a “very brief” tornado.
More of this is still under investigation.
But once again here is what we know to date.
NE VIC Possible radar indicated tornado facts:
Rating: EFU (Unkown) (Official) EF-0 or EF-1? (Preliminary).
Wind Speed: 65-85mph or 105-137km/h or 86-110mph (138km/h-177km/h (Still under investigation).
Highest Damage Indicator: None/No Evidence.
However due to the national meteorological policy surrounding what is classed as a “Radar indicated tornado” and that not been such a thing in Australia compared of such a thing in the US. This would still have mitigated a warning from being issued even had it hit a populated area. Unfortunately in Australia only time warnings are issued for tornadoes is when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued and an actual person reports it to the BoM before a NEW Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued with a embedded Tornado Warning.
Compare that to the US where Tornado Warnings can be issued if “Radar indicates it and or if it is reported by storm spotters or law enforcement. However despite this, one thing in common is unless a radar shows a couplet for more then a frame at around a similar intensity then it will mitigate any warning to be issued, this is unfortunately a dangerous feature of the warning system in both countries, as if a very short lived tornado was to touchdown in a populated area then “significant damage” can occur without warning. Some tornadoes have been observed to last as little as 8 seconds. Either way in some good news, that is why Extreme Weather Forecasting is campaigning and working together with the Bureau of Meteorology to change this and we will always take on board the voices of the community. Some changes we are seeing is the Bureau has decided to release it’s Dual Pol data to other radar apps so we have the same different radar options they do in weather service offices and in the US, Storm Tracking Ability and a one system national reporting portal been WeatheX. All of this is designed to collect research and data so more vital and life-saving changes can be made. However found out later in this whole investigation was also the need of educational resources needed in the community as to “What is a Tornado?” and when to report them, as sadly the feature was recently removed from WeatheX due to it gaining a lot of false reports. Which Extreme Weather Forecasting is really disappointed to see as it is a huge step back after some small and big steps forward. However we believe and trust that in the future this feature will return and that further steps forward, some of which will be significant will take place to more data been made available to the public.
End of Report.