Tornadoes rip Oklahoma, killing 5; oil spill headed towards Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:09 PM GMT on May 11, 2010

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Oklahoma residents are picking up the pieces and surveying the damage after a devastating tornado outbreak that left at least five people dead, dozens injured, and hundreds of millions in damage. Our severe weather expert, Dr. Rob Carver, has some amazing images and videos of the tornadoes in his blog. One solace Oklahomans can take in the disaster is that the data taken by scientists during the tornado outbreak may help forecasters issue better tornado warnings in the future. Usually, a proven way to reduce the incidence of dangerous weather phenomena is to schedule a multi-million dollar field experiment to study the phenomena. This is what happened last year, when the largest tornado field study ever conducted, Vortex2, kicked off. The $10 million study deployed an armada of over 100 storm chasing vehicles across the Great Plains, and were disappointed by one of the quietest tornado seasons in history. But it's pretty tough to have two consecutive record quiet tornado seasons in a row, so the Vortex2 program scheduled the study to run this year as well, beginning on May 1. Unfortunately for the residents of Oklahoma, the atmosphere unleashed one of its classic tornado outbreaks yesterday, in a region NOAA's Storm Prediction Center had outlined at "High Risk" for severe weather. The Vortex2 team was ideally positioned to intercept the tornadoes, according to the team of University of Michigan students that has been writing our featured Vortex2 blog, and I am told that they successfully collected what is probably the best data set even taken of a tornado outbreak. This was no mean feat, since yesterday's storms were moving 60 mph, making it extremely difficult to position the chase vehicles to capture the storm's secrets.


Figure 1. The Wakita, OK multiple-vortex tornado of May 10, 2010.

Oil spill may approach Texas early next week
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has pushed steadily westward along the Louisiana coast, and is expected to reach central Louisiana near Atchafalaya Bay by Thursday, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA. Winds over the Gulf of Mexico this week will blow from the southeast at 15 - 20 knots, threatening to bring oil to large portions of the Louisiana coast. The Mississippi and Alabama coasts will also be at risk, but the risk to the Florida Panhandle is lower. It appears quite unlikely that oil will get into the Loop Current anytime over the next two weeks, and spread to the Florida Keys and beyond. However, the strong southeast winds are expected to shift more easterly late this week, and drive a westward-moving ocean surface current with a speed of 1 - 2 mph along the west coast of Louisiana late this week (Figure 2). This current may be capable of transporting oil all the way to the Louisiana/Texas border by Monday. However, the concentrations of oil in the water will be much less than what is present close to the blowout, and it is unclear what the potential danger is for the western Louisiana and eastern Texas coasts. The greatest danger is to the Eastern Louisiana coast.


Figure 2. Surface ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, May 14, at 8pm EDT as forecast by the 8pm EDT run of the NOAA HYCOM model at 8pm EDT on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Note that a strong ocean current near 1 m/s (about 2 mph) is forecast to set up along the Western Louisiana coast, which could take oil close to the Texas offshore waters by Monday. Image credit: NOAA RTOFS.

Next Post
I'm in Tucson for the American Meteorological Society's 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. I'll be posting Wednesday morning on some of the latest findings presented at the conference, or discussing yesterday's tornado outbreak.

Jeff Masters

()
Our first OK Tornado (Foamy)
2010-05-10 16:51 CSTD
Our first OK Tornado

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919. Skyepony (Mod)
2:57 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Weather456~ if nothing much pulls together in a few weeks when the MJO, Tropical wave & front event occurs, I suspect we'll see the chance of someone drowning somewhere rise significantly. Nashville is reeling from that last event.

FEMA announces additional 15 counties eligible for Disaster Unemployment Insurance

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39361
918. Ossqss
2:48 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
New Blog :)

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
917. superpete
2:43 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting AussieStorm:

It wasn't a dust storm. It was smoke from a back burning operation in the Blue Mountains
I see now,you said it looked like dust/ by bad
Member Since: October 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 715
916. AussieStorm
2:39 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Good evening. The ENSO Wrap-Up update came out this morning and proclaimed El Nino dead.

Link

You always seem to beat me to it, but it's cool. Yes El Nino is dead.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
915. Levi32
2:38 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Frontal activity would lead me to believe more sub-tropical, which is also more typical of late May in the tropics.


You don't usually get subtropical storms in the Caribbean in May. The system on the GFS is of fully tropical origin. The front coming down from the north is a separate entity and would only serve to pull the system north or northeastward, as is typical with early-season tropical cyclones.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
914. AussieStorm
2:37 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting superpete:
Post 903 AussieStorm: Thanks for the pictures of the dust in SYD' yesterday.I got them when you were most likely asleep!

It wasn't a dust storm. It was smoke from a back burning operation in the Blue Mountains
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
913. hydrus
2:35 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:


Shush... its a secret.
Ice-storms and the occasional tornado?
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22585
912. DEKRE
2:34 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Link

Interesting article on Deep Water Horizon with good schematics
Member Since: April 27, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 306
911. CyclonicVoyage
2:33 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Frontal activity would lead me to believe more sub-tropical, which is also more typical of late May in the tropics.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
910. hydrus
2:32 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting Skyepony:
94P~ continues to weaken... 12/0830 UTC 38.0S 170.2E T1.0/1.0



looks like a giant wave crashing on New Zealand.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22585
909. RitaEvac
2:32 PM GMT on May 12, 2010




Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9685
908. Tropicsweatherpr
2:31 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting AussieStorm:
Evening all.


Good evening. The ENSO Wrap-Up update came out this morning and proclaimed El Nino dead.

Link
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14887
907. superpete
2:28 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Post 903 AussieStorm: Thanks for the pictures of the dust in SYD' yesterday.I got them when you were most likely asleep!
Member Since: October 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 715
906. CyclonicVoyage
2:28 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


348hrs / 2 weeks.


Definitely possible to see some tropical activity in late May. The Farmers Almanac is predicting the possibility of a storm around the 23rd to impact the SE. It said MAYBE tropical
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
905. barbamz
2:27 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
After Oil Rig Blast, BP Refused to Share Underwater Spill Footage
Message Control A Key Industry Focus During Oil Disaster Drills

By MATTHEW MOSK, AVNI PATEL, JOHN SOLOMON, and AARON MEHTA
ABC NEWS AND CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY
May 12, 2010
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 62 Comments: 6697
904. Cavin Rawlins
2:26 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting wxmobilejim:
how far out is that 456?


348 hrs or 2 weeks.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
903. AussieStorm
2:25 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Slow transition to winter but last night was jolly cold

It's taken a while to cool down this autumn in the southeast, so today's frosty morning must have come as a shock to many.

Much of Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern NSW were five 10 degrees colder than the previous morning as temperatures plummeted to near freezing.

Residents of Narrandera in southern NSW had to cope with the biggest change, a drop of 12 degrees from 13 to just 1 degree this morning.

Just over the Victorian border Rutherglen had its coldest morning since last July with a minimum of minus three degrees.

Quite a few centres over a large area had their coldest May morning in four years, including the Alps where snow fell to about 1000 metres above sea level.

Others which had their coldest May morning in four years were:

- Horsham (Victoria) -2 (28.4F)
- Longerenong (Vic), -2 (28.4F)
- Hopetoun (Vic), -3 (26.6F)
- Young (NSW), -4 (24.8F)
- Nurioootpa (SA), 1 (33.8F)
- Kadina (SA), 3 (37.4F)

This cold snap has been brought about by the strongest cold front of the season bulldozing its way across the region. The front is now crossing the Tasman Sea.

The next few mornings will be similarly cold, even colder for some places as skies clear and winds ease.

- Weatherzone
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
902. CyclonicVoyage
2:21 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting wxmobilejim:
how far out is that 456?


348hrs / 2 weeks.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
901. hurricane23
2:21 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Convective feedback on the GFS.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13841
900. AussieStorm
2:21 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting wxmobilejim:
how far out is that 456?

348hrs
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
899. Levi32
2:21 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Good morning all.

The NAEFS is forecasting large-scale surfaces pressures to begin lowering over the Caribbean after about May 15th, coupled with increased precipitation beginning after May 23rd.

May 26th MSLP Ensemble Mean:



May 26th Precipitation Ensemble Mean:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26700
898. RitaRefugee
2:19 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Hello, all. Well, looks like I'll be saving a bit of money in June. Why bother with a new fishing license? Oil not quite to SWLA yet, but apparently it's just a matter of time.
Member Since: August 16, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 102
897. wxmobilejim
2:18 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
how far out is that 456?
Member Since: May 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 231
896. AussieStorm
2:15 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Evening all.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15977
895. Cavin Rawlins
2:09 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
The GFS continues to forecast the development of a tropical storm from a passing tropical wave interacting with the Colombian Low. The low is quickly pulled NE under the influence of advancing cold front to the north.

no model support but that is because most models don't go out that far. The CFS showed it on its Monday run.

It comes during the passage of the MJO.

Still a longs ways out so no real validity.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
894. TampaSpin
2:05 PM GMT on May 12, 2010



Bet it jumps up again as it appears the timing is correct! JUST THE WAY IT IS AS HISTORY SHOWS!

Next year will be worst than this year for total days as this graphic shows it does not occur in just 1 year!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
893. MahFL
2:03 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:
The only bright light out of this whole GOM disaster is it appears to be forcing other nations (Canada also) to rethink the entire offshore drilling safety requirements.

It appears that the new rule in Canada will be the requirement of a relief well to be drilled at the same time.

The only part I don't understand is this.. we are a major exporter of oil (USA is major Customer), if the tar Sands are so big... why drill in the ocean?


This is one reason why:

"Making liquid fuels from oil sands requires energy for steam injection and refining. This process generates two to four times the amount of greenhouse gases per barrel of final product as the production of conventional oil.[2] If combustion of the final products is included, the so-called "Well to Wheels" approach, oil sands extraction, upgrade and use emits 10 to 45% more greenhouse gases than conventional crude."
"
Member Since: June 9, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 3832
892. Skyepony (Mod)
1:56 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
94P~ continues to weaken... 12/0830 UTC 38.0S 170.2E T1.0/1.0



Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 223 Comments: 39361
891. wxmobilejim
1:54 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
So with the way things seem to be coming together in the tropics it doesn't look good for me in mobile.
Member Since: May 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 231
890. SpicyAngel1072
1:54 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting presslord:


Oh my....so sad :(
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
889. LemieT
1:47 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
It's been raining here in Barbados on and off for the last few days. Last night and into this morning we've had some heavy showers. 13.1N, 59.3W
Member Since: August 15, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 211
888. kellnerp
1:44 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
I wonder how much mixing this leak is doing in bringing cold water to the surface?
Member Since: September 1, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 172
887. presslord
1:40 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
886. Cavin Rawlins
1:39 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
El Nino died today. At least one of the forecast variables verified already.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
885. Orcasystems
1:36 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
The only bright light out of this whole GOM disaster is it appears to be forcing other nations (Canada also) to rethink the entire offshore drilling safety requirements.

It appears that the new rule in Canada will be the requirement of a relief well to be drilled at the same time.

The only part I don't understand is this.. we are a major exporter of oil (USA is major Customer), if the tar Sands are so big... why drill in the ocean?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
884. IKE
1:35 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
'Top hat' reaches Gulf of Mexico floor, BP says
By the CNN Wire Staff
May 12, 2010 8:49 a.m. EDT


Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
883. Minnemike
1:31 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting P451:


Looking bad for OK/KS/MO today.

Rough winter for the mid-atlantic.
Rough spring for the middle of the country.
Rough summer for...the tropics?

We certainly seem to be in a heightened pattern of activity here.

seems like a re-run of Monday in store...
Member Since: July 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1320
882. aquak9
1:24 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
terribily sad video, licketysplit. His voice tells his pain...it's like a eulogy, in advance.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 177 Comments: 26630
881. Orcasystems
1:23 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
move to canada nothing happens here


Shush... its a secret.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
880. Orcasystems
1:19 PM GMT on May 12, 2010




AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
879. lickitysplit
1:07 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Check out this video of the oil spill shot from a plane flying out over the gulf 2 days ago. Wild.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvNwQusaMbA&feature=player_embedded

1.1 million gallons a day. Nuts
Member Since: May 17, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 632
878. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:59 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
off to do a shift be back at lunch
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
877. IKE
12:58 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting aquak9:
oh...yeah...thanks for that link, Ike.

I need to update my will...anyone want a car and a cat?


lol...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
876. aquak9
12:57 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
keeper...it is some comfort, it really is. Even with you being so far away from me, I know there's folks who care about all of us.

The cat's probably worth more than the car, anyways.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 177 Comments: 26630
875. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:56 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
move to canada nothing happens here
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
874. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:54 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
aquak9 if its any comfort you will not be alone
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 55984
872. aquak9
12:52 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
oh...yeah...thanks for that link, Ike.

I need to update my will...anyone want a car and a cat?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 177 Comments: 26630
871. IKE
12:50 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
472 hours...
10 minutes...
and it starts in the Atlantic....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
870. SpicyAngel1072
12:48 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


WOW thats some warm water for this time of year...
Member Since: September 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 315
869. Cavin Rawlins
12:46 PM GMT on May 12, 2010
Quoting Jeff9641:


I posted this yesterday when it came out. It definitely does not look good for Florida as tracks may favor that of 2004. This puts the Panhandle and C & S FL in the danger zone.


does not look good for anyone.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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