Johannes Letzmann: A Pioneer in the Study of Tornadoes

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  • 1 Atmospheric Science Group, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
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Abstract

During the inter-war years one of the most prominent tornado researchers was Johannes Letzmann of Estonia. His productivity was essentially curtailed by the outbreak of World War II; however, up to that time his prodigious output spanned the field of tornado research. He began with developing the climatology of tornadic events in the Baltic and theoretical considerations of the forms that tornado swaths would assume. He continued with numerous field examinations of tornado swaths and interpretations of tornado structures based on the damage. Later, he turned increasingly to laboratory studies of simulated tornadoes, both in water and air. Toward the end of the 1930s, he (along with Harald Koschmieder) wrote a detailed set of guidelines for carrying out field investigations of tornadoes. In many respects his work was decades ahead of his time; today the work is almost entirely overlooked.

Abstract

During the inter-war years one of the most prominent tornado researchers was Johannes Letzmann of Estonia. His productivity was essentially curtailed by the outbreak of World War II; however, up to that time his prodigious output spanned the field of tornado research. He began with developing the climatology of tornadic events in the Baltic and theoretical considerations of the forms that tornado swaths would assume. He continued with numerous field examinations of tornado swaths and interpretations of tornado structures based on the damage. Later, he turned increasingly to laboratory studies of simulated tornadoes, both in water and air. Toward the end of the 1930s, he (along with Harald Koschmieder) wrote a detailed set of guidelines for carrying out field investigations of tornadoes. In many respects his work was decades ahead of his time; today the work is almost entirely overlooked.

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