John Nelson has used 56 years of data gathered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on tornadoes across the United States to create a spectacular image of storm paths by the F-scale with the brighter neon lines representing more violent storms.
In the comments, some have mentioned they are surprised the paths of the tornadoes appear in straight lines. Nelson explains, based on the data, the vectors were created using touchdown points and liftoff points.
An apparent Oklahoma Weather hound — OKWeatherGirl — shares this information: In response to the comment about the tornado paths all being linear the tornado lengths are correct. The data file that was used connects a straight line between the lat/long of the starting point to the lat/long of the ending point. Those are historically the only points that were stored for every known tornado. It was not until recent years that the usefulness and practicality of storing an approximate path was discovered. Remote sensing is also used to more accurately locate exact tornado paths in addition to the damage survey information and all of this data is easier to store and manage now using GIS(geographic information systems)than has been in the past.
As GeekOWire says, it may not be the most scientific of maps, but “it’s still a startling look these enormous storms.”
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Graphic with Tulsa’s approximate location by Tulsa Today.