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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Deadly Storms Wreak Havoc Across Southeastern U.S.

Aired November 11, 2002 - 10:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The tornadoes started out to the west -- in fact, they even started on Saturday near Nashville, and they really progressed into something very strong yesterday, as we had a clash of air masses -- the cold air and the warm air clashed together yesterday.
In the springtime, we have cold air in place, because it's been winter then for six months. That warm air pushes up into the cold air, and then the cold air doesn't like it, and you get that clash and you get thunderstorms.

Well, now, we've had warm air in place for six months -- summertime. And the cold air is coming down, trying to push that warm air away. And yesterday, the two things sure didn't mix.

This is what happened. Pictures here from Ohio, hard to tell the strength of the tornado or even the strength of the straight-line winds, because although we have tornado damage in some spots and micro-bursts or straight-line winds in others, really it takes the weather service office a day, or maybe even a day or two, to get out there and look to see whether the storms were rotating, or were the storms all in one straight line?

If you want to log on, here's the weather service storm prediction center Web site. It's www.spc.noaa.gov. Go to climatology, go to storms, and go to yesterday; 46 tornadoes, those red dots, hard to see because they're little triangles there. But 46 tornadoes on that map, all so far unconfirmed, except of course for the ones that someone like an emergency management or maybe a sheriff actually saw it. The rest of them, though, will get confirmed later today.

If all of the trees all fell down in one direction, that's a straight-line wind. All of the air comes down out of a storm as the storm collapses. It hits the ground. When it hits the ground, it can't go anywhere. It blows out in one direction, and all of the trees fall over all in one direction.

Then, when the tornado happens, though, those trees don't go in one direction. They are this way, that way, this way and that way, and so is all of the damage across from the trees and from the rooftops and even from obviously cars. And you saw pictures of cars. That's why we say, get out of your car if there's a tornado, because when a tornado is done with your car, there is no room for you inside.

(CROSSTALK)

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's a good point -- a good point.

Hey, Chad, let me ask you this real quick, though.

MYERS: Yes.

HARRIS: Isn't this kind of late in the year for this to be happening?

MYERS: You know what, Leon? It's that double peak. Yes, there's a huge peak of severe weather in the spring, when the warm air tries to push back the cold air. But this time of year, it's the cold air trying to push away the warm air. It doesn't matter who is pushing and who is doing the shoving, but we had lift in the atmosphere.

The weather service really knew this was happening. I have to give them -- so many times we criticize federal agencies. The weather service had a high risk of severe weather for yesterday.

HARRIS: Yes.

MYERS: They do that three times a year, sometimes two or one. But this time, this is the third high risk of severe weather all year long. They knew this was going to be a big day, and we hope folks -- at least we hope folks knew about it. Most of them did when the tornado sirens went off. Sometimes if it's an F-5, there is nothing you can do.

HARRIS: Yes.

MYERS: If there's only a slab of concrete left, where're you going to be?

HARRIS: Where do you go?

MYERS: Yes.

HARRIS: Where can you go?

MYERS: Exactly.

HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy. Well, here's kudos to those with the technology then in getting the information out there.

MYERS: Yes, they really did a great job.

HARRIS: Way to go. Thanks, Chad.

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