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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204. Skyepony (Mod)
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO/ROMEOVILLE IL
332 PM CDT TUE OCT 26 2010

.DISCUSSION...
254 PM CDT

WOW. AS OF 243 PM CDT...THE LOWEST CENTRAL PRESSURE OF THIS STORM
HAS BEEN 956.3 MB /28.24 IN/ AT ORR,MN...AND IT IS STILL
DEEPENING. THE CYCLONE CENTER IS JUST SW OF THIS STATION...OR JUST
NW OF HIBBING,MN. THIS IS THE LOWEST PRESSURE EVER RECORDED IN MN,
AND IS VERY CLOSE TO PERHAPS THE LOWEST PRESSURE OVER THE U.S.
MAINLAND! THE GREAT OHIO BLIZZARD DROPPED TO 958 MB AT CLEVELAND,
AND TO 955 MB AT SARNIA, ONTARIO...WITH AN UNOFFICIAL READING OF
950 MB OVER LAKE HURON. ANYWAY, EARLIER TODAY EVEN AS FAR AWAY AS
CHICAGO /OHARE/ WE RECORDED THE LOWEST PRESSURE EVER IN THE MONTH
OF OCTOBER AT 28.99 IN.

MERZLOCK
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39438
201. Skyepony (Mod)
In today's news..

At 4:52 a.m., the barometric pressure at O'Hare International Airport dropped to 29.07 inches, a new October record low in Chicago.

The weather service predicted that the storm will have the second-lowest pressure ever detected in the Great Lakes region.

The Great Ohio Blizzard on Jan. 26, 1978, holds the No. 1 spot. This new storm's pressure would be lower than that for the previous No. 2 Great Lakes event, the Armistice Day storm of Nov. 11, 1940. It would also surpass the storm on Nov. 10, 1975, that led to the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39438
Is it my imagination or is that big low not moving over Minnesota.
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Hi Everyone,

I usually just lurk but since we're kinda in the thick of things here in southwestern North Dakota (west of Bismarck) I thought I'd check in.

Interesting pressure gradients hey?

Our county is on the western edge of the blizzard warning. Per NWS, our pressure is 29.05 and steady. It's been interesting--at times today my ears have popped as the pressure has dropped! Wind has been at 35mph for hours, with gusts to 50-55mph, some higher. No snow so far. Had some light showers during the night. Our forecast is for 1-3 inches of snow.

Been pretty achy physically for some of us old folks ;) !

My thoughts are with those on the eastern side of this front! I'd rather deal with this than tornadoes. We had enough of them this summer.

'til later,
MaddyD
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We have 28.61 inches here in Fargo. The winds are getting NASTY.
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195. Skyepony (Mod)
Grand Rapids, MN has been having Non-Thunderstorm related high winds, big trees down. Damage reports.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39438
191. Skyepony (Mod)
A month ago the SST on The Great Lakes were warm enough they might have tightened this storm up a little more tropical, landcane like. SST up there have cooled.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39438
Grand Rapids, Minnesota (Airport) is 28.27 in and falling as of 10 minutes ago!
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting AEKDB1990:
Personal site could be correct---however it is unlikely that a personal site's observations would be accepted as a new record.


wont NWS do what they do for wind records and go and insure the accuracy of the station and if everything is accurate then accept it?
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so that personal site could be right as it could be located at a different part of the city then the NWS site
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At least 4 tornado warnings... maybe 5 now... down in Alabama
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Do LandCanes weaken when they interact with water?
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I'm all the way out in the Detroit area, and I'm getting 29.28 inHg ... that's crazy.
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http://www.wunderground.com/US/MN/Grand_Rapids.html


not sure if that is official but we may have just broke the record
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176. xcool
brb
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175. xcool
Live Tornado Coverage


www.abc3340.com
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Quoting AEKDB1990:
Poll. Will this storm lead to an official reading below 28.20" in the USA and set a new record in the lower 48 for a low pressure outside a tropical system?



no but it will be close
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167. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting belizewunderfan:
I can share some pics of the damage caused by Richard in belize but not sure how to do that here....can someone help? Thanks!


Up top go to the Photo Galleries. There in the upper right is a red upload photos button..click that.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 226 Comments: 39438
954.6
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Once in a lifetime!

Link
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Question....in a tropical system rapid drop in pressure winds do not respond immediately but usually a couple of hours later. What about non-tropical systems like today's 20 MB drop in 24 hours?
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Quoting pottery:

That image reminds me of Floodman....


Speak of the devil and he shall appear!

It's that time of year...if the heat doesn't get disspated by hurricanes, it'll get spread out some other way, huh? The Midwest is paying for it about now
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The storm wasn't as bad as I expected. There is only a few tree branches and a lot a leaves torn of the trees. There was a tornado warning issued when I was in school, but we didn't go seek shelter. I was thinking we would go through something similar to Ex-Ike.
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I can share some pics of the damage caused by Richard in belize but not sure how to do that here....can someone help? Thanks!
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Quoting AEKDB1990:
Chisholm-Hibbing airport is down to 28.28". Solid Cat 3 hurricane pressure.
Have a nice little nado passing 4 miles to me north. Hope they battened the hatches up ther..
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About

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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