Tornadoes, violent thunderstorms rip the U.S.; Richard dies in the Gulf of Mexico

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:23 PM GMT on October 26, 2010

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Tornadoes, violent thunderstorms, and torrential rains are sweeping through the nation's midsection today, thanks to an explosively deepening low pressure system over Minnesota. The spectacular storm is expected to bottom out at a central pressure of 960 mb later today, the type of central pressure one commonly encounters in Category 2 hurricanes. A powerful cold front trails southwards from the storm, and this cold front has spawned an impressive squall line studded with violent thunderstorms. As many as eleven simultaneous tornado warnings have been issued late this morning for these thunderstorms, from southern Michigan to northern Mississippi. So far, the tornadoes have been embedded within the squall line, and these type of tornadoes are typically weaker EF-0 to EF-1 twisters. However, as the day progresses and the sun's heating adds energy to the atmosphere, strong EF-2 or EF-3 tornadoes are likely, if discrete supercell thunderstorms separate from the squall line and begin to evolve. So far, six reports of tornadoes touching down have been received, but only minor damage has been reported. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed much of southern Michigan, eastern Indiana, and western Ohio in their "High Risk" area for severe weather. "High Risk" days occur less than five times per year, on average, and are unusual in the fall. Fall storms this intense only occur perhaps once every 5 - 10 years. You can follow today's severe weather outbreak using our Severe Weather Page and Tornado page.


Figure 1. This morning's severe weather outlook from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center puts most of Indiana and Western Ohio into their highest category for severe weather.

Richard dies
Tropical Depression Richard emerged into the Gulf of Mexico this morning after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula. However, passage over the Yucatan so weakened the storm that it has officially been declared dead by NHC. There was too much dry air and wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico to allow Richard to regenerate. Richard hit central Belize Sunday night as a Category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds. The storm is being blamed for $18 million in damage, but no deaths were reported. Belize lost about 1/3 of its orange crop to Richard's high winds. Electrical power is still out to 30% of the country, but is expected to be fully restored by tonight.


Figure 2. Visible MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Richard taken at 4:35pm EDT 10/25/10 by NASA's Aqua satellite. At the time, Richard was a tropical depression with 35 mph winds. Image credit: NASA.

Invest 90L
A low pressure system (Invest 90L) in the middle Atlantic Ocean has developed a broad circulation, with a band of heavy thunderstorms in an arc to the north and east of the storm. This hybrid subtropical system is under a moderate 10 - 20 knots of wind shear. Water temperatures are marginal for development, just 26.5 - 27°C (26.5°C is usually the limiting SST that a tropical storm can develop at.) NHC is giving 90L a 30% of developing into a subtropical depression or storm by Thursday.

Next update
I'll have an update on Wednesday morning. I'm at the National Hurricane Center in Miami this week, as part of their visiting scientist program, and will be shadowing NHC forecasters on the evening shift Tuesday - Friday to learn more about their operations. I'll probably talk tomorrow about the severe weather outbreak, but later this week I'll talk about what a shift at the Hurricane Center is like. I also have meetings planned with scientists at NOAA's Hurricane Research Division later this week, and plan to write about some of the research missions performed during this year's hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56140
301. JRRP

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299. JRRP
mmmmmmmm
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297. bwi
Looks like this buoy stopped recording wave height this morning at 7 feet...

Conditions at 45002 as of
(6:50 pm CDT)
2350 GMT on 10/26/2010: Unit of Measure: English Metric Wind Direction (WDIR): SW ( 230 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 35.0 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 42.7 kts
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.03 in
Air Temperature (ATMP): 54.5 °F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 55.2 °F
Dew Point (DEWP): 45.0 °F
Combined plot of Wind Speed, Gust, and Air Pressure
Continuous Winds TIME
(CDT) WDIR WSPD
6:50 pm SW ( 226 deg ) 35.0 kts
6:40 pm SW ( 225 deg ) 35.2 kts
6:30 pm SW ( 227 deg ) 36.1 kts
6:20 pm SW ( 226 deg ) 37.5 kts
6:10 pm SW ( 223 deg ) 34.8 kts
6:00 pm SW ( 227 deg ) 35.5 kts

Peak gust during the measurement hour
TIME
(CDT) GDR GST
5:58 pm SW ( 220 deg ) 46.6 kts

10 26 5:50 pm SW 31.1 42.7 - - - - 29.00 +0.12 54.1 55.9 46.8 - - -
10 26 4:50 pm SW 36.9 46.6 - - - - 28.96 - 54.7 56.8 45.7 - - -
10 26 2:50 pm SSW 36.9 44.7 - - - - 28.88 +0.05 57.0 57.0 48.2 - - -
10 26 12:50 pm SSW 31.1 40.8 - - - - 28.84 -0.07 59.7 57.2 53.1 - - -
10 26 11:50 am SSE 31.1 - - - - - 28.83 -0.12 61.7 57.2 - - - -
10 26 10:50 am SE 23.3 29.1 7.2 5 4.7 SE 28.84 -0.17 61.0 57.2 59.0 - - -
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296. Skyepony (Mod)
At least 15 people were killed and 13 injured Tuesday after a volcano on Indonesia's Java island erupted, spewing clouds of hot ash, local television reported. Metro TV said thousands of people were moved by trucks and cars after Mount Merapi started spewing hot ash and volcanic rocks just before dusk, a day after authorities upgraded an alert status to the highest level. Television footage showed residents, most wearing masks, being taken away in trucks with windscreens covered by dust. "This is an initial phase of an eruption," said Subandrio, head of the Volcanic Technology Development and Research Centre in Yogyakarta, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. Metro TV reported that 15 badly burned bodies were found near the house of Mbah Marijan, the man known as the keeper of the mountain, who had refused to leave his home. It said one of them was a journalist who climbed the mountain to interview Marijan. An Indonesian Red Cross official said 13 people were injured and were being treated in a hospital. Officials could not be reached immediately to confirm the report of deaths. Vulcanologist Surono said three explosions were heard at around 6 pm (1100 GMT)and Merapi spewed clouds of black smoke 1,500-metres into the sky. On Monday authorities began moving children and elderly people to some of the 60 emergency shelters after scientists upgraded the alert status as lava flowing down the cone's slopes reached 4.5 kilometres. Tents, blankets and plastic sheeting were distributed to dozens of evacuation points around Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces, said Arief Setyo Hadi, an official with the Indonesian Red Cross. Officials estimated up to 40,000 people were living in the endangered areas.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39432
294. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting alfabob:
I don't understand how they can assume that the cold air required to fuel winter storms will remain abundant in the future. How do they know that the Arctic regions won't warm-up, decreasing polar storms; while allowing stronger tropical storms? I agree with the southern hemisphere predictions as it is remaining somewhat stable, and maybe even cooling down due to lack of ozone. So the gradient should remain high in that region, which means stronger storms year round.



You can assume that the cold air required to fuel winter storms will remain abundant in the future because of winter. Regardless how much extra blanket is created with greenhouses gases & feedbacks such as water vapor, the poles for part of the year receive no warming sunlight & will become for a few months much colder than tropical latitudes.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39432
292. bwi
Geez -- 38 foot waves tonight. On Lake Michigan!

Storm Warning
URGENT - MARINE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO IL
641 PM CDT TUE OCT 26 2010

LMZ080-261-362-364-366-563-565-567-669-671-673-675-777-779-868-
870-872-874-876-878-270745-
/O.CON.KLOT.SR.W.0001.000000T0000Z-101028T0200Z/
LAKE MICHIGAN FROM ST. JOSEPH TO SOUTH HAVEN MI 5 NM OFFSHORE TO
MID LAKE-
641 PM CDT TUE OCT 26 2010

...STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CDT WEDNESDAY...

A STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CDT WEDNESDAY.

* EXPECT SUSTAINED STORM FORCE WINDS OR FREQUENT STORM FORCE
GUSTS UNTIL 9 PM CDT WEDNESDAY.

* DURING THE STORM WARNING...THE STRONGEST WINDS WILL BE UP TO
60 KT FROM THE SOUTHWEST. THE HIGHEST SIGNIFICANT WAVES WILL
BE UP TO 25 FT. THERE WILL BE OCCASIONAL WAVES UP TO 38 FT.
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Let me ask you a all a question with all due respect. When hurricane season is over, you all share your theories about GW? Not being a smart ass just asking.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:


Thats horrible. So they are expecting an explosive eruption.


It went up to red alert yesterday and was being very closely monitored prior to that. It appears that they may have already had pyroclastic flows, as evidenced in the article by people getting trapped in a house.
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Quoting pilotguy1:


Sorry if I offended.


No worries :) Hell, that's part of the fun of discussing these things :) No harm done :)

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Quoting PcolaDan:


Correct on both counts. Everything is pointing to more volatile activity.
From what I've read, the type of eruption is still in question. Information is slow in coming out also.


BBC's story on it is interesting -- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11625154

Seems that warnings were issued on Monday, and evacuations started then, but lots of people are staying behind to look after livestock etc...

Quoting from that

Quoting The BBC News Story:


Pressure building

On Monday, officials monitoring the volcano raised the alert for Mount Merapi to the highest possible level.
Map showing location of Mount Merapi volcano

Since then, more than 600 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded around the mountain.

"We heard three explosions around 1800 (1100 GMT) spewing volcanic material as high as 1.5km (one mile) and sending heat clouds down the slopes," government vulcanologist Surono told AFP news agency.

He warned that pressure was building up behind a lava dome near the crater.

"We hope it will release slowly," he said. "Otherwise, we're looking at a potentially huge eruption, bigger than anything we've seen in years."

He said this eruption was more powerful than the volcano's last blast, in 2006, which killed two people.

In 1930 another powerful eruption wiped out 13 villages, killing more than 1,000 people.



Here's hoping things die down, or they get a slow release :(
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Quoting pilotguy1:


And just how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I think we more or less agree. Are you just trying to start something? I was referring to the original post not yours.


I'm not trying to start anything -- just defending my position. I kind of took the fact that you quoted my post as suggesting you were replying to it -- it seemed a bit of a hint to me :)

It seems to me that extreme weather events are being reported more frequently these days than when I was younger - though how much of that is increased press coverage, and how much is a real effect, I don't know. Still, it's important to discuss/debate these things - particularly in a place like this where there are people from a variety of cultures, and with a wide variety of view points :) Far more fun to debate these things with people who disagree with your point of view than just sit around nodding and agreeing... at least, that's where I stand.

So, no, I'm not trying to start something - just defending myself against what I considered an unduly caustic and agressive response that seemed to have ignored what I said :)
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Quoting pilotguy1:


There doesn't seem to be any conformation of a major eruption yet, however it looks probable soon.


Correct on both counts. Everything is pointing to more volatile activity.
From what I've read, the type of eruption is still in question. Information is slow in coming out also.
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Quoting pilotguy1:


There doesn't seem to be any conformation of a major eruption yet, however it looks probable soon.

The Mount Merapi webcam has been having intermittent overload and other technical issues since yesterday (and now the lens seems to be covered with, um, something). But when it's working, the image is close and very telling...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13803
Quoting Neapolitan:

Maybe you're right. Disappearing glacial ice, shrinking Arctic ice, persistent heat waves, historic and catastrophic flooding, earlier springs, later winters, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, unprecedented coral bleaching--all of these, and more, are things that just happen.

Hmmm. I dunno. I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't personally think the "Stuff Happens" theory has much scientific backing. ;-)
+100
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Just wanted to say that although the damage to Belize sounds very small in global terms, it was indeed a frightening storm and hit some very vulnerable people. the loss of part of our citrus crop is a blow to our economy. Personally, I am now trying to find $ to help the Anglican (Episcopalean) schools which have suffered bad flooding, and which as a result have lost many of the meagre supplies which they had. We also have one school, Christ the King in Dangriga which has its roof blown off, with consequent internal damage. to find out how you can help visit www.anglicanschoolsbz.com
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Quoting pilotguy1:


GW has nothing to do with this. It's just one of those things that happens. Look at previous dates of record lows.

Maybe you're right. Disappearing glacial ice, shrinking Arctic ice, persistent heat waves, historic and catastrophic flooding, earlier springs, later winters, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, unprecedented coral bleaching--all of these, and more, are things that just happen.

Hmmm. I dunno. I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't personally think the "Stuff Happens" theory has much scientific backing. ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13803
Quoting pilotguy1:


Give me a break. Saying it's caused by GW is just as silly as me saying it's not. There is no proof either way.


Which, I believe, is what I said.

I quote
Quoting Quadrantid:


To say GW has nothing to do with this is as disingenuous as saying that this is definitely, conclusively caused by GW. Yes, these things happen from time to time - but no single event can be conclusively tied to, or used to disprove, GW.


The way I read Kerry's post was to point out that GW could be a factor in this, rather than saying it definitely is. The difference is one is a probabilistic argument, while the other would be an undefendable statement of fact.

Read what I wrote again :D

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Quoting plywoodstatenative:
I know that they were hit by a Tsunami earlier today, however I have been hearing reports that the Volcano Merapi blew up as well. Is that correct, I know that there have been signs that a pressure dome was indicated.


Deaths as thousands flee Indonesia volcano Merapi
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Quoting pilotguy1:


GW has nothing to do with this. It's just one of those things that happens. Look at previous dates of record lows.


But if you load the dice, you're more likely to roll a six...

So while GW can't be definitively linked to any one event, it would make such exceptional events occur more frequently.

To say GW has nothing to do with this is as disingenuous as saying that this is definitely, conclusively caused by GW. Yes, these things happen from time to time - but no single event can be conclusively tied to, or used to disprove, GW.
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Link
Ck this out
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@ post # 242 IceCoast

Thanks for the link and welcome aboard.

That's an amazingly low pressure reading and what has to be the most amazing is the rate the pressure has fallen over the last 12-24 hours.

We're on the north-western part of this bomb up in Winnipeg. The current conditions are:

Feels Like: -
Wind: N 54km/h
Wind gusts: 63km/h
Sunrise: 8:08
Sunset: 18:16
Relative Humidity: 100%
Pressure: 96.70 kPa
Visibility: 6.4 km
Ceiling: 800 ft

and the temperature is 8 c. with snow to arrive sometime tomorrow. Yikes.

(46 F., 967 mb...need to find a proper conversion table. If anyone has one, please send it along. tia)

Anyway, I believe this will be one for the record books!
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The question becomes, this tornado outbreak, was any of it covered by any of the chasers or is there any recorded video from it?
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I know that they were hit by a Tsunami earlier today, however I have been hearing reports that the Volcano Merapi blew up as well. Is that correct, I know that there have been signs that a pressure dome was indicated.
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SEL9

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 729
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
720 PM EDT TUE OCT 26 2010

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
EXTREME NORTHEAST GEORGIA
WESTERN MARYLAND
WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA
WESTERN AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA
THE EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA PANHANDLE
COASTAL WATERS

EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING FROM 720 PM
UNTIL 300 AM EDT.

SEVERAL TORNADOES
SCATTERED DAMAGING WINDS
ISOLATED WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH POSSIBLE

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 65 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 30 MILES NORTHEAST OF
MARTINSBURG WEST VIRGINIA TO 10 MILES SOUTH SOUTHWEST OF ANDERSON
SOUTH CAROLINA. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU9).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 725...WW 726...WW
727...WW 728...

DISCUSSION...SCATTERED SEVERE STORMS WILL CONTINUE IN A LOOSE BAND
FROM SC NEWD INTO WRN NC AND WRN VA THIS EVENING...IN AN ENVIRONMENT
FAVORING SUPERCELLS WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR A FEW TORNADOES. FARTHER
N AND LATER...A BAND OF ASCENT ASSOCIATED WITH THE SQUALL LINE WHICH
WEAKENED OVER THE APPALACHIANS WILL ENCOUNTER A MORE MOIST/UNSTABLE
ENVIRONMENT ACROSS VA/MD. HERE...STRONG VERTICAL SHEAR COULD
SUPPORT THE FORMATION OF ADDITIONAL BOWING SEGMENTS AND EMBEDDED
SUPERCELLS...WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR DAMAGING WINDS AND A COUPLE OF
TORNADOES TONIGHT.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 1 INCH. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND
GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 450.
MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 24035.


...THOMPSON
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6705
Quoting bjdsrq:


Stop the rhetorical nonsense. These freak storms happen periodically. Note the 1993 storm of the century. same thing.


The point is, with GW, there will be more energy available for these kind of events to happen more often. No one storm can be linked to GW, we're back to Dr. Master's dice rolling analogy -- just as no cold winter can be proof GW is wrong. The point is that, if GW is right, then these kind of severe weather events will happen more often in future than the past...

If GW is right (and I think it is...), then such events will become more common. But you're right -- they happen from time to time anyway :)

Anyways, I thought yesterday was GW debate day?
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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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