Tornados out Bush??

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 02:19
ThreadID: 29598 Views:2469 Replies:17 FollowUps:5
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Driving back from Eperance I came accross an area about 5km in length south of Norsman that had been fine when I went down (I think) but had been devastated with trees down some up rooted and others snapped in half - many trees not every one but it looked like a bleep guy in a dozer had gone beserk.
I have seen it once before going to work a couple of Ks Out of kalgoorlie towards Coolgardie with a trail of devastation a few hundred meters wide that tapered off but affected mayby a km. Are Tornados more common than I realize or what??
Certainly wouldnt have liked to have been camping there with large salmon gums and Gimlets laid waste
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Reply By: Dazz78 - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:18

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:18
G'day Davoe,

Tornados certainly occur in Australia and are more common than most people realize. Many do not get reported because they often occur in areas that are uninhabited. I have personally seen a tornado as a storm front swept through near our property and was able to follow its path of destruction the next day. This particular tornado was powerful enough to lift a holden one tonne ute over a cattle fence and had dumped it in an irrigation channel nearby. Several houses were also damaged and some roofing iron was found kms away. Acccording to the weather bureau the worst tornado ever recorded in Australia was at Bucca in Queensland and was estimated to be an F3, F5 in the highest on the scale so an F3 is impressive. I also remember the damage reported from this Tornado and that it killed several cows, some of which were found in the top of gum trees. Definately a good idea to keep your campsite out of their path!.

AnswerID: 147952

Reply By: Snowy 3.0iTD - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:23

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:23

I am not sure at what point a large whirly/dust devil (whatever you want to call them) becomes a small tornado, but I have on a couple of occasions seen what I believe to be small tornados. The first was when I was living in the Pilbara, driving along the main road through Karijinni National park, driving through a large thunder storm, and saw what I thought was a large dust devil, only thing was it went right up to the base of the clouds and had a horizontal kink in it about halfway up. So I don't know statistically how common they are, but we do get them in Australia. A search of the Bureau of Meterologys website may help.


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Reply By: Member - Steve (ACT) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:38

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:38
From the BOM site,

"Tornadoes occur more commonly in Victoria than most people would expect. The Bureau of Meteorology's severe thunderstorm database for Victoria has 160 tornado reports dating from 1918. It is most likely that many tornadoes have gone unsighted or unreported. Tornadoes range in size from a few tens of metres across, up to around one kilometre in diameter. Because of this, damage is normally restricted to a small area, but is very intense."

BOM Tornado info

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Follow Up By: Member - Steve (ACT) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:51

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:51
This is another good site

Australia Severe Weather site

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Reply By: Scubaroo - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:56

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 08:56
While travelling through Utah a few years ago, I saw dust devils that reached hundreds of feet into the air - but were literally only a few feet wide. They were like long skinny columns of dust reaching skywards, not at all funnel shaped. I think it was the fact that there were about 20 visible at any one time and they were moving as fast as the car doing 65-70mph is the disconcerting part!

Also saw a funnel reaching out of a cloud forming in Maryland, but it didn't touch the ground.

In Oz I've only seen the whirlwinds that whip up dust and leaves. Anyone remember the footage of the water spout filmed during the Sydney to Hobart a few years ago that was something like 1km wide at the base? Waterspouts seem common here.
AnswerID: 147958

Reply By: Pterosaur - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 09:04

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 09:04
Had a couple of pretty severe ones in Tas., too - the last one I remember devastatated an area of about 20km x 1km (from memory) of pine plantations in the NE - damage was spectacular, to say the least.

Not a good idea to be in the same place I think, but I would like to see one from a distance.

AnswerID: 147963

Reply By: smithie - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 09:57

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 09:57
G'day, I live in Bendigo Vic and we had a tornado back in 2003 that ripped through a few suburbs, destroying a few houses in the process. I tried to find a picture of the devestation from the air, but couldnt dredge one up. It was pretty impressive, you could see a clear path from when the tornado touched down to when it ran out of puff..
Found the article though.

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Reply By: Footloose - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 10:00

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 10:00
When I was a kid in NSW one destroyed 5 houses in the same street. 40 years ago but I remember seeing the houses and thinking ...."Oh !" ...or words to that effect :))
It came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly.
Have never seen anything but whirly whirlies in the bush, and hopefully never will.
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Reply By: Darian (formerly Banjo) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 10:03

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 10:03
Tornados indeed...... the BOM suggest that we in Oz are reluctant to call them as such, because we see the biggun's in the US on TV - but we still get them on the somewhat smaller scale. Heard a BOM guy tell someone off on radio last year for asking about a possible "mini-tornado" somewhere ...."it was tornado" he said !
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Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 10:43

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 10:43
I did know we get infrequent? tornados in oz. Around bunbury in WA they are most common. I would have thought the effected areas i saw were perhaps to big to be Tornados but I dunno. Certainly they did appear relativly localized. Regardless it shurly must have been very severe wind on a scale I havnt had the displeasure of seeing personally
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 11:01

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 11:01
I have seen strips of damage like that in the SW, sometimes quite narrow, and large trees stripped down to just the trunks. There is a definitive line on the edge of the damaged strip. A strong "willywilly" is i suppose a tornado. Sometimes they only last for a few kms or less. Many years ago on a perfectly still day, we got home to the house to find the corrugated iron shed roof in little curls scattered all through the sheep yards. The shed had been in good condition and the roofing was well secured. No neighbours noticed any wind or damage - just our shed. I suppose its a bit like the chance of being struck by lightning. I wouldn't stop going camping for fear of a "whirlwind" though.

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AnswerID: 147993

Reply By: StephenF10 - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:00

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:00
Tornados are different to dust devils / willy-willys. Tornados develop from the base of cumulonimbus (storm) clouds and eventually reach down to the ground. They are driven by the circulation in the parent cloud and can be very destructive. Dust devils are caused by local heating of the ground by the sun and are usually fairly harmless.

As a former BOM employee we became tired of the "mini-tornado" tag that the media traditionally trots out to describe any sort of strong, damaging wind. A tornado by definition must some show some sign of rotation. If the wind was linear it wasn't a tornado, even a "mini-tornado".

AnswerID: 148006

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:07

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:07
I suspect the damage isnt actually caused by a genuine tornado because of the areas involved but can you get very distructive localised gusts? I would suspect the winds would have to be around 120kph?
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:24

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:24
Yes Davoe downbursts and microbursts can snap trees. These are very destructive downdraft winds that don't rotate like a tornado.
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Follow Up By: StephenF10 - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:37

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:37
Mad Dog's right. Thunderstorms have very powerful updrafts and downdrafts in their mature stage, so anywhere there's a thunderstorm there's a chance of damaging winds. Individual thunderstorms are single large clouds so have only a fairly narrow ground track, but they can affect a much larger area when they form into lines of multiple storms.

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Reply By: bombsquad - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:23

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:23
Several years ago Merimbula and Pambula on the south coast of NSW had a pretty major tornado which damaged many houses and shredded areas of bushland similar to the descriprion in the origional post. Pictures and other items from camaged houses were found in Eden 25 km away. I have also heard of fish being dumped on the land in the Eden area by waterspouts that have crossed onto the land, but this may be an urban myth.

Cheers Andrew
AnswerID: 148010

Reply By: BorisK - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:26

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 12:26
Hello all
Merry Christmas & a happy new year! 3 weeks ago we drove from Wodonga to Beechworth to pick some berries for ourselves & around Yackandandah there looked like a fresh section of destruction maybe 3-400m wide and as far away as we could see. All the gums were snapped cleanly about 2m above the ground sheds were blown away garages were blown over on top of cars and houses lost roofing. The trees looked amazing and Im not certain but it looked like a tornado had gone through there. This was in the middle of nowhere & some of these families would have lost all communications & transport.
AnswerID: 148011

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 14:48

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 14:48
Yeah mate, HOW BIZZARE! I was just having discussion with my missus about this last night! We used to call them Willy willy's even though it kind of down plays them a little. Had one go through Marble Bar when I was a kid, came out of no where and ripped the roofs off 4 houses in our street (including our next door neighbour). And these where the houses that we'd been through many many cyclones in without any damage. It even wrecked the street sign out the front of the house! Used to see them all the time, especially around nulligine and Newman. Actually you might remeber a couple of years ago Radiowest in Kalgoorlie went off the air, it was a Willy Willy that went through the transmitter site. (my dad was the Cheif Engineer for the network before he retired). It actually took the entire antenna mast down! It blew the transmiter building up, like it actually exploded and the only thing left was the concrete pad, a 20kva Generator and the 5KW Harris Transmitter. These old school transmitters weigh MEGA amounts, like 5 tonnes or somthing (not sure exactly) and it had slid from one side of the pad to the other!! It took them ages to rig up somthing to get them back on the air, using a sea container and backup mast.
My wife used to spend 1 week a month up in the pilbra for work driving between Karatha, Port Headland, Newman etc etc. She recons she used to see them all the time, sometimes only little ones but sometimes massive ones off in the distance, she recons it used to scare the crap out of her by herself out in the middle of nowhere. She go hit by a little one on the highway once and it almost caused her to crash, it threw the car one way, then the other and she only just managed to hang on as it buggered off on it's merry way.
AnswerID: 148047

Follow Up By: BenSpoon - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:17

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:17
Yeah- driving the run between canarvon and karratha they are a regular sight. I thought because they were relatively small it would be safe to drive my car thru- bad idea. I saw one approaching a highway as I was driving down it, and sure enough we both got to the same point at the same time. I couldnt see bleep for a few seconds and everything went dark, then when I came out the other side I was on the wrong side of the road and heading towards the gutter.
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Reply By: ozdragon - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:49

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 15:49
Hi Davoe

Have a look at this web site...makes for interesting reading.
Australian Severe Weather

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Reply By: Dazz78 - Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 20:22

Thursday, Jan 12, 2006 at 20:22
I stand corrected on my earlier post. The Tornado recorded at Bucca was actually an F4 and a brief description can be found on the following page.
I am also tired of hearing the tag "mini tornado" and "mini cyclone". They are not updrafts or downdrafts or anything else, they are tornados and an F4 is as severe as many in America.
The one thing I remember most from the tornado I saw was the noise. There was not a breath of wind where we stood at the back of our house but the noise from the tornado 500m away sounded like a dozen trains coming through the back yard and as the funnel hit houses and irrigation sheds we could hear them being torn apart with iron carried to the top of the funnel and spat out at the top. It was truly an awesome sight and one I will never forget.
AnswerID: 148135

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 09:41

Friday, Jan 13, 2006 at 09:41
Lost our house in Brisbane to one. Two storms came together and formed a tornado. Nothing left above floor level. Next door negihbour lost one window.
Other house up the gully was lost too. We are 8k south of the CBD.
Very narrow path as it went through 3 suburbs, following gullies.
Few signs got pushed over and local engineer worked out wind speed to 134mph.
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