Extreme Weather in America

Ginger Zee and Rob Marciano explain the science behind natural disasters.
21:47 | 03/11/15

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Transcript for Extreme Weather in America
They extreme weather in America. Colossal tornado's history warts won't link hounds. Literally running. This is a huge lines traffic leaving that ugly. Destruction and dad we take you inside a developing twister. Look at this wall of fire ball in my. Flames tearing through state after state drowned if you live in her. Some of the most radical firefight in advance and now just flyers came from mudslides come. Neighborhood but quadruple whammy the party's wild fires a new normal. The look at how technology. And those monster snowstorm it's downright painful to be outside so. Think feet nine inches bringing cities to a screeching halt. My life changed when did it wasn't just stand these winds that ripped apart the storyline it's devastating storm surge. Wall of water he never seen. Strong winds and that water. She letter from America. Hey everybody I'm ABC news chief meteorologist in Jersey. And I'm senior meteorologist rob Marciano ginger it's fair to say that you and I have been in some in the most extreme weather in America definitely hurricanes tornadoes mudslides wildfires and yes blizzards we've seen pretty much everything but now we want to take you. Inside the most dramatic and dangerous weather so you can see what it's like we're out there in the field covering. And using remarkable 3-D technology I'm going to bring you right into the center of those spectacular storms. The park this not just a while you but to understand and respect their rob Pollock we have so much to get here you do not want that the second of this it's extreme weather in America. Next. This is extreme weather in America. Extreme weather in America includes tornadoes and Tony fourteen had the fewest tornadoes of the past thirty years that's that the last day game has featured some of the most. Deadly outbreak in recorded history. And now we're taking you into that destruction zone and inside the tornado. Just a massive tornado here there look at the turning motion. There's all there's a huge splash news just rim and up and everything in his past. F five tornado a monster swallowing central Oklahoma. Literally Manning fifty is a huge lines traffic. We were there are moments after most. Really levels we've got foundations that means. As we arrived that eerily similar shock. The immediate help has moved on its peak hours after. But the plumbing spews like fountains and the people like zombies wandering in shock is just awards coincidence. Ruins and it left here you can't politically. So surreal it's happened so fast and expect it. Moore was a me me. Same town in 1999. And there was only one woman who survived both had first and. He's done that. Tornado forecasting. And detection has improved greatly since the first time Nancy survived an F five in that very same Celek. But even when we do know it's an advance and it doesn't seem to save every one. April 27 2011. My mentor James fan in Alabama one of dozens of meteorologists are warning of a deadly alpha. Break we do have tornado warnings in effect for Coleman county for walker county for parts of Jefferson and Shelby county. And then I'm here work hours as terror unfolds but really everybody who prefer the bigger quake in his place. 321. Killed ten billion dollars in damage 2011. The second busiest morning here on record. Now while we don't know at all here's the general idea of how they morning. Let's start in the jetstream. And steady stream. Looking tunnel there about 2535000. Feet up here in the atmosphere yeah. I'm John airplanes. Didn't chat zoos over the Rocky Mountains full of cold air moving up more than 150 and up to 275. Miles per hour. Rushing over the plains. Meanwhile down there warm moist air is eating off the Gulf of Mexico crawling at a slower speed closer to the surface. Still that's cold dry and fast up here and warm moist and slow down there. That difference in wind speed and direction with height it's called wind she. Wind shear then can force a word from them soon to start rolling in the atmosphere now all you need is a powerful storm tearing across Atlanta and that anger and Goldie. And make a tornado. Let me show you. To make storm you have the rising air that condensation releasing heat. The heat providing energy that drives what we call up draft then. There's this cold dry air sinking down honey outside of the storm it's called them here link soundtrack for RFD. And that forces of big temperature difference between the storm and the outside in Thailand and sell the whole thing itself as rotating. But remember that horizontal role. We'll now be up that can actually turn that horizontal tube on its side. They have it. A rotating column of air or as emailing a tornado. Mr. Ayers and. Mother nature's most impressive and finally beat us at all that up. Then that a tornado has been. It's not just sent you definitely have that vertical even CNN rolling mountainside this tornado Paul yeah. Will be there to warn you before they formed. On the north side salad is just trying to lower with a very close to change the tornado warning Larry look. And in those moments after. Mean so hopefully that helps you understand the blueprint of a tornado a bit more I know from you about that it wasn't until a storm chasing out the field in college and beyond the textbook finally came to life. There is nothing like witnessing the power of mother nature firsthand that's for sure our junior let's move on to drought and the fires and often mudslides that come with it. Many western states are in a relentless multiyear drought non im more dire straits than California the last two years their driest on record. Now drug Charlie means less water for us to drink but extreme drought. Also translates into deadly and destructive fires and devastating flash floods and mud slots. We've barely any rain across an already parched California 2013. There was enough fire season and 2014. It was nearly the entire year. Beginning January 16 in this San Gabriel Mountains 2000 acres burned. Just marked one of the disaster in this neighborhood would endure less than twelve months later at Colby fire would bring an entirely different problem just east of LA. In May a massive fire burned through Carlsbad San Marcos California. Tens of thousands of ordered to evacuate some barely escaped the inferno isle. The flyers jumping the highway burning so hot flame and smoke swirling into the air and acting like tornado. 35 years this is some of the most radical firefight. It's a desperate attempt to protect homes and property that over the past hundred years. Have encroached on to areas where fire has happened over thousands of years. Nature's way three nourishing the forest. The man's efforts to suppress that fire has led some more dense forests and only burn hotter relentless marketing told. Further north near Lake Tahoe and Sacramento Bob to the Oregon border nearly the entire state of California impacted. 5620. Fires and all. That's a thousand fires above the historical average. Finally in the fall. Some much needed rain in some cases too much rain in too short a time. By mid December a barrage of storms slamming the last and the land and vegetation previously burned by fire. Started to slide. That Colby fire burn area in Glendora California. Sliding. And Camarillo springs and also slightly injured airing parts of this neighborhood who. This is somebody's backyard I'm standing out not about twenty being mum on Iraq Museum. The rooftops behind me. All this dirt came down from the mountains that were burned by wildfire that torrential rain triggered that Atlanta didn't have any vegetation a hold onto. And poured into this neighborhood dozens of homes completely golf and mud and rock. Drought wildfire. Flooding and mudslides. The quadruple whammy. He knows so Washington it was in the burn area but it was a massive mudslides and half of a mountain and one square mile of mud just thirty feet deep traveling thirty miles an hour sold violent it registered on the richter scale. Imagine our eyes and nose and mouth then. Really. 43 people who lose their lives in the worst landslide in US history. Caused in part by vegetation stripped away not by fire held by logging. So are these extreme wild fires and mudslides the new normal. For now yes as long as a devastating drought lives on in demand continues changing the landscape of our forests. The flames in mud will keep transforming our lives. And our planet. Man clearly is playing a role in the. Catastrophic fires and mudslides ginger. Absolutely and they were really striking pictures so thank you for bringing us that about a guy next up we gonna hurricanes we've seen those insane winds rip apart buildings and devastate huge areas in just hours. But one thing hurricane sandy reminded us of here in the northeast. Hurricanes are a lot more than just wind. The storm surge is even more deadly destructive. And frightening. My life changing an instant he heard anything smashing and breaking news tumbling. Nutrition dress and her family oriented there's Staten Island home when it's in the capital upstairs there have been countless times coming into the fund to in the back door. And my daughter sits on the whole he had wanted to. Six hours later emergency crews found pictures show her husband and daughter gone. And look like a tsunami that came up and over and she was on my on the second best comment of the house. I lost her. I have to look at that everything. The wild. Power of that Spanish handed. Like us who look. No one in this is all ocean coming over here this storm surges and the tide is coming up so many lives lost to storms are being. Storm surge is basically water piling up along the shore ahead of and inside the hurricane. In the center of the hurricane as pressure falls water levels rise all the water going online video over the open ocean water. Hurricane closes in on land his strong winds plus cap water. At last felt like I'm. Not saying you're inside a home at the coast and this is what it may look like the water approaching quickly and viciously. Entering your home and winding up the walls and sandy homes filled with water quickly reaching 109 beaten inside the house. I went under and I was getting pushed into horse around. Banged around and wind storms are combined with high tide the rising water you got to stop thinking behind him but once surging. Right back to life and property from hurt if you could say there's one lesson from this that he doesn't take away. Don't ignore the warnings listen to them wearing pocket and out there for reasons. Never again. Patricia has never been back to the place where her house Wannstedt but she's definitely moving on she bought a new home and recently welcomed a grandson into the world. Coming up on ABC news in look and extreme weather in America. Snow again and snow apocalypse snow Villa in college want but we've seen some college not full snowstorms in the last few years until it's snowing more than ever. We'll have that answer when extreme weather in America would turns. It's the extreme weather in America and it affects our lives every day especially during winter and 2015. Has been an incredible year for battering snowstorms I have seen this now literally pile up in New York. And New England. So are we seeing more snow now than in the past while overall not really but it eleven Boston you could argue yes. Three of the top six snowfalls and Boston have occurred in the last twenty years the blizzard of 2015. It's right on the list. Prepare for something worse than we have seen before the warnings were clear extreme snowfall. Hurricane force winds should not be taken lightly traveled down with the entire state police remain home and remain off Edwards. In January the East Coast. Here's what some were calling it potentially historic blizzard buried the East Coast from nearly the main fifteen million Americans. Lining up for supplies and clearing store shelves. New York City halting the entire subway system. Connecticut and Massachusetts ordering everyone off the road and the biggest brought you out on a night like tonight is one. Traffic fabric houses cars on the road. And when they should be called almost two tons of it shipped in by the container full. Miles than 2000 won't Rhodes let those brave enough view to finding fault and in rounds where he added. The office academy yeah braving the blizzard and justice. How you feel about the work forever. Posted three feet of snow in some areas of New England. Downright painful to be outside the windows blowing the snow sideways visit Williams I'm dropping down to zero. It's going to be an ongoing battle against this loser all day long today and through tonight Mara back. Boston has shut down not just for today but for tomorrow as well. Cape Cod. Saw homes but it would near freezing water and winds of nearly fifty miles per hour. Sea walls crumbling and power knock down thousands these homes encrusted in snow and sea ice. Well while Boston guy like this. What is today very good car in their somewhere below. Philadelphia escape was barely a dusting that's not after yet. Well you out to enhance three. Oh what happened. As the storm was zeroing in on New York City attract just too Far East for any 120 million in the New York metropolitan area were mostly spared. Miles away on Long Island people we're digging out from nearly two feet of snow. As New England began to dig down we met Stephanie turner juggling for hours to try to get her car down at some point Wall Street everything it. I getting through this. So we decided to give her hands a. Now the bad news is many okay got a little. I was happy to help her up you know shoveling snow it's really no jobs there over 141000 medical emergencies related to shelling style every year. So take it slow Astra help because you know it's back breaking work especially when you're dealing with two or three feet of. And now you know where to go for how he's right here and available. The outlook remember those snow storms for a long time to come but we know old man winter isn't just abouts now it's also the cold sometimes extreme cold and you're probably almost as sick as I am of hearing that term. Polar vortex I think of the most overused and misunderstood term of the year. So what who Pitt and how does that make us ridiculously cold. Here's the real story behind the polar vortex. Everything Rodman netting the main heading into meg. Sonoma getting snow apocalypse. News Villa the past decade has featured some memorable snowstorms. Like nothing compares to that threat taking calls from January 2014. And the public's introduction to an old meteorological terms the polar vortex polar vortex or vortex. That we keep cold and colder than anyone under the age of 35 pounds. However the experience at least in the northern plains Great Lakes and northeast but say something about it. National Geographic. The fountains in Atlanta frozen following the Great Lakes covered more ice than he'd seen in 35 years. C influence of the political attacks. So what is it exactly. Circulation hire many analysts here that is almost always present and the polls that's speculation is held in by a flexible fans called the polar jet stream movies in January 2014 though offends a lot of chunk of that cold polar bear down to Lake Superior and Mir is circulating around it dropped plans to record lows. The record lows in the record snows. Another winter memories to tell our kids meanwhile twos in three feet of snow uphill. So to reiterate you can't call every single bit of cold air dubbed polar vortex self. For the future we'll all use it correctly right. A. Moving on now hurricanes tornadoes fires floods huge snowfall we've shown you all of this so we'll see more extreme now than ever before. Who are probably just being kidnapped and marks treatments. It's an answer. This is extreme weather in the mirror. It may seem like we had seen it more extreme weather than ever before. But deadly showed you twig fourteen was one of the slowest wild fire Atlantic hurricane and tornado seasons in years in the US. I think a lot of that discrepancy have to do with bits everyone's now photographer we see every health stump. Every backyard that flattens and then it's post on social media so our technology is definitely changing the way we see whether. We're dawns it's that I'm. Her personal look at whether that he fall down access to the dragged anywhere in 1989 hours towering grand feat did in my music and I'm sixty FaceBook and Twitter to find out like. That squeaked into grand weren't buying helps each of whom report we'll from a downtown and Lynn Collins firing eat out every one else. This is not so. We wake up every morning in southern. Fourteen the number of severe weather reports with the lowest in the news of records quite fourteen was well below normal happening now we'll all of about five here. The storm prediction center is Greg carbon telling me those reports aren't necessarily. Three geekspeak. Because of repetition and an increase in population we have a reliable database. Roughly 56 years old when you go backwards on who were reports but that's primarily because. Less information being shared about about severe weather. And it numbers are inflated happy that he's here in the lowest in thirty. Could have been even lower. Even if that number is clean Willard each song and shared. Or and with that we want you to tweet us your best weather pictures and videos use the hash tag hash tag ABC extreme team. Please doom and while our science has definitely come a long way we don't have all the answers when it comes to extreme weather but we can promise you. That we eat will be there to forecasted and tell you the stories along the wet. I doubt about that we're all hoping that the special gave you a better understanding of the power of nature and inspired you maybe to respect is just a little bit more. We'll see you very soon I'm Good Morning America stealing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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