Breakdown: Why the bluffs don’t stop storms

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -Some people believe that the bluffs is a barrier that protects us against storms. That would definitely be nice but unfortunately, it isn’t true.

Tornadoes have crossed rivers and elevated surfaces too. In fact in Salt Lake City, Utah, In 1999, a tornado crossed a canyon and went up to a higher one. So if the higher canyons of Utah didn’t stop it the bluffs won’t either.

Memphis Bluffs
Memphis Bluffs (Source: Wikimedia)

Tornadoes are not affected by what is on the ground but instead whats happening in the air. What drives storms are what happens in the upper levels. Warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico colliding with cooler drier air from the north is usually the trigger for such storms.

The geography may play a role but not when it comes to protection. Sometimes tornadoes can even intensify. Torndaoes can stretch out, shrinking the tornado and this can cause a faster rotation.

Tornadoes do cross rivers and it happens quite often in other places. Tornadoes can form over the river and move inland.

In order for a river to dissipate a tornado, the river would need to be a cold one and that is not the case for our section of the Mississippi River.

One such example was the Tri-State tornado of 1925. This F5 tornado tore a path through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Nearly 235 miles long and killed 695 people.

This single storm, crossed not only the Mississippi River, it also crossed the Wabash River before it finally dissipated near Petersburg, Indiana.

Another example is the Great Natchez, Mississippi tornado of 1840. That storm tracked directly down the Mississippi River, killing hundreds, mostly those who were on the river itself.

Other storms have crossed large rivers without losing any speed, they momentarily become water spouts, and then devastated cities that folklore had though were immune to tornadoes.

Another example was the Waco, Texas tornado of 1953 that crossed the Brazos River, or even the Great St. Louis Cyclone of 1869 that jumped the Mississippi River.Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.