Weekend tornado outbreak causes heavy damage in Virginia, Iowa

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:00 PM GMT on April 11, 2011

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Floods, fires, and tornadoes hammered the nation this weekend, a sure sign that April is here. The severe weather action began on Friday night in the mid-Atlantic when twin tornadoes touched down in Pulaski, Virginia. The twisters, one a strong EF-1 with 105 - 110 mph winds, and the other an EF-2 with 125 mph winds damaged 450 buildings, caused $8 million in damage, and injured eight people. The most significant day of the weekend tornado outbreak occurred on Saturday as a powerful storm over the Upper Midwest dragged a cold front through Iowa. Twenty-seven tornado reports were recorded in Iowa by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. The most powerful of these tornadoes was the huge, 3/4 mile-wide tornado that plowed through the tiny town of Mapleton, Iowa on Saturday evening, leaving a trail of destruction 3.5 miles long. The tornado, preliminarily rated as an EF-3 with 136 - 165 mph winds, flattened 20% of the town of 1200 residents and damaged half of the buildings. Fourteen were injured, but miraculously no one died. The severe weather continued on Sunday with seven reports of tornadoes over Wisconsin. The most serious was a tornado in Lincoln County, which destroyed or heavily damaged 30 buildings, and caused three serious injuries.


Figure 1. Tornado chaser video from Saturday's twisters over Iowa from tornadovideos.net.

More severe weather today
As the cold front that triggered the weekend's severe weather progresses eastwards across the U.S. today, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed a wide swath of the Northeast and Southeast under their "slight" risk area for severe weather, one notch down from the "Medium" risk that was posted for Wisconsin on Sunday and Iowa on Saturday. Tuesday and Wednesday should be relatively quiet days for severe weather, but Thursday will see a renewed chance of a significant severe weather outbreak in the Oklahoma-Arkansas region, as a major new spring storm gathers strength over the Midwest.


Figure 2. Severe weather outlook from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center for Monday places much of the Northeast and Southeast in the "Slight" risk area for severe weather.

Tornado season near average so far this year
According to statistics compiled by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, 2011's tornado season has been near-average so far. The preliminary number of tornadoes reported as of April 10 was 301, and the six-year average from 2006 - 2010 was 339. Preliminary tornado counts are typically about 15% too high, so the actual number of confirmed tornadoes will end up being around 256. The peak part of tornado season is just getting started--typically, only 17% of the season's activity has occurred by April 10. The number of strong (EF-2 and EF-3) tornadoes has been rather low so far; the Mapleton tornado was just the seventh EF-3 of 2011. There have been no violent EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes so far this year. The death toll of just three so far in 2011 is remarkably low for mid-April, a testament to good warnings and a good helping of luck.

Jeff Masters

Cold in April (Railheel)
Hail, wind, and rain came through with unknow damage as of now. did break windshilds.
Cold in April
Tornado-damaged house (ChrisAnthemum)
Early Tuesday morning, a tornado raked along Ararat Road in Pilot Mountain, NC, damaging several houses and downing many trees. A cleanup crew was working on this one when we drove by on Sunday.
Tornado-damaged house

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Quoting beell:
@156.

It is a little subjective, Jed, but it is not always tied to quantity. A couple of EF-3's along with a higher forecaster confidence will fill the bill.

Being a subjective assesment, you are sure entitled to an opinion!
:-)

The SPC's definition:

A MDT risk implies a greater concentration of severe thunderstorms, and in most situations, greater magnitude of severe weather and greater forecaster confidence compared to a SLGT risk. A MDT risk is usually reserved for days with substantial severe storm coverage, or an enhanced chance for a significant severe storm outbreak. Typical MDT risk days include multiple tornadic supercells with very large hail, or intense squall lines with widespread damaging winds.
SPC Product Information


True, its not so much the severe weather the last 2 days that doesn't warrant a Moderate risk that is the forecast bust. Its more of the severe weather events in the last few weeks including here in Central Florida as well as the deep South that definitely fit the Moderate risk at times even though they were labeled slight risk events.

But of course as a weather student, I am just starting to get hit hard by how complex this science is, so I appreciate what it takes to be a forecaster and I'm not bringing it up to criticize the SPC. I am just a person who observes and remembers lots of data about weather that most people don't care about lol. So I like to review actual weather and weather patterns compared to the forecast, including my own. That being said my realization of how much my forecasting fails helps me push harder to understand more about meteorology as I take harder classes.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Yeah, how dare those idiotic Californians try to keep their air breathable! Tax-happy Morons!

:-\


Actually, California better start trying to make the air a lot more breathable, because the air here in Florida is exceedingly cleaner, and we aren't in red.


BTW, I can't imagine taxing fuel is really gonna do a whole lot of good towards moving forward with alternative energy. Sounds to me like just another way the government can squeeze regular Americans and make profit. If I see proof its being used towards positive things like to help fund scientific research or development of cleaner and better alternative energy technologies, then I won't be bothered by it. There has to be sacrifice to move forward and improve, money doesn't grow on trees.
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By the way I also hate when idiots say that just becuase we're not going to be in a La nina pattern we'll see fewer storms.Not true at all.Some nutreal years have proven to be more active,and costly than a La nina year.....2008/05 ring a bell anyone?.
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164. beell
Oh, bl.
Got there thru your link. The page was all messed up but readable enough to know where to click.
:)


Fly right, bf. Even tried the "go to the last MCD and step forward" trick. No joy.
Working ok, now.
Later.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
163. beell
@156.

It is a little subjective, Jed, but it is not always tied to quantity. A couple of EF-3's along with a higher forecaster confidence will fill the bill.

Being a subjective assesment, you are sure entitled to an opinion!
:-)

The SPC's definition:

A MDT risk implies a greater concentration of severe thunderstorms, and in most situations, greater magnitude of severe weather and greater forecaster confidence compared to a SLGT risk. A MDT risk is usually reserved for days with substantial severe storm coverage, or an enhanced chance for a significant severe storm outbreak. Typical MDT risk days include multiple tornadic supercells with very large hail, or intense squall lines with widespread damaging winds.
SPC Product Information
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
I just don't see us coming straight out of this La nina and quickly going into El nino like some people want to belive.I belive we'll start to see El nino conditions for December maybe but not THIS early.Sorry guys but this ain't no 2010.
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153. DARPAsockpup,
That's interesting news. Saw the wind reports and wondered what would come of it. The Tor watch last eve was in OK and T-storm watch in TX but those cells in NCentral TX looked meanest. Only one wind report here in OK sounded like it may have been from tornado.

Quoting beell:


Thanks,bf.
You must have caught the "right" server cuz I am still getting the error. As you know, this has been a chronic problem for at least a month.

I did send a couple e-mails to the SPC Web Feedback Page a few days ago but I haz got no backfeed!
)


Oh, bl.
Got there thru your link. The page was all messed up but readable enough to know where to click.
:)

Gotta fly out to the country.
Have a good eve, weather watchers.
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Quoting Michfan:


That picture speaks a thousand words in regards to taxes. Look at the states in red.

Yeah, how dare those idiotic Californians try to keep their air breathable! Tax-happy Morons!

:-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14071
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Those super-cells are coming right at us and growing stronger..thank you for your satellite and radar posts. The cells show up pretty good, even way out here...
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Quoting GainesvilleGator:
Here is a cut & paste from Florida Trend:

State Farm gets 18.8% rate hike

Regulators have approved an average rate hike of 18.8 percent for Florida homeowners covered by State Farm, according to state documents filed Friday. The higher rates, which are less than the 28 percent boost State Farm sought, will take effect July 1 for new business and beginning July 15 for renewals. Separately, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty approved a 62 percent increase for State Farm's commercial residential policies, which cover homes that are owned by a person or business entity and rented to others. While the rate increase was significantly less than it asked for, State Farm isn't talking about pulling out of Florida, as it did the last time a major rate boost was turned down in its entirety. The rate approval "is an important step for State Farm Florida to remain viable in this marketplace," company spokesman Michael Grimes said. "We'll continue to work with regulators and legislators to encourage market reform." Florida has been spared a major hurricane for more than five years. But State Farm, the largest private insurer in Florida, maintains that it needs to boost premiums for its 632,000 policyholders because of rising costs unrelated to hurricanes. [Source: St. Petersburg Times]

------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------

Oh, thank God. I was beginning to worry; State Farm only earned $1.8 billion in profit last year. That's not much more than double what it netted in 2009. Do you realize that's a profit of just $4.9 million per day? Why, that's nowhere close to, say, ExxonMobil's $100 million a day in profit.

I for one am so happy State Farm is being allowed to raise premiums for its captive consumers happy customers in Florida.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14071
Weather Update for Puerto Rico
Link

I heart is out for the tornado victims
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Quoting hydrus:
The forecast keeps getting worse here...Looks like the shutters go up here too....


this is true, but I find it kinda funny that moderate risks issued today and yesterday aren't nearly as wide spread as the severe weather last week in the deep south or the severe weather here in Florida a couple weeks back, or the severe weather in Iowa. So far the most wide spread damage has occurred with a "slight risk".

I mean I'm not saying there isn't some very nasty severe weather today or yesterday in the Moderate risk areas, its just not as widespread as expected.

Also, I'm not trying to bash the SPC. Forecasting severe events isn't very easy. There is so much involved that comes into play. Many times storm chasers are surprised by outbreaks that turn out worse than expected, as well as disappointed by particularly higher risk forecasts that that don't turn out nearly as bad as expected. Forecasting of these events has still improved though that's for sure.
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155. beell
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Must of caught that MCD at the right moment.

bl,
Thanks for sharing your severe weather knowledge with everyone on the main blog.
:)


Thanks,bf.
You must have caught the "right" server cuz I am still getting the error. As you know, this has been a chronic problem for at least a month.

I did send a couple e-mails to the SPC Web Feedback Page a few days ago but I haz got no backfeed!
)
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
Gonna be a kicker overnight here in Georgia.
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Quoting Jax82:




That picture speaks a thousand words in regards to taxes. Look at the states in red.
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150. beell
Better over AR in association with the mid-level low. 7.5° C/km moving ENE.

Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
Must of caught that MCD at the right moment.

bl,
Thanks for sharing your severe weather knowledge with everyone on the main blog.
:)
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146. MCD related to the new watch.



MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0415
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0356 PM CDT MON APR 11 2011

AREAS AFFECTED...WRN AND MIDDLE TN...MS...AND AL

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 128...

VALID 112056Z - 112130Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH 128 CONTINUES.

A NEW TORNADO WATCH WILL BE ISSUED SOON TO THE EAST THROUGH
SOUTHEAST OF WW 128.

STRONGER INSTABILITY HAS DEVELOPED FROM SRN MS INTO SWRN-WRN AL WITH
MLCAPE 1000-2000 J/KG. THIS COMBINED WITH EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR
50-60 KT AND SRH VALUES 100-200 M2/S2 ARE SUPPORTIVE FOR ORGANIZED
STORMS WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR BOTH TORNADOES AND DAMAGING WINDS AS
THE PRIMARY THREATS. 18Z EXPERIMENTAL HRRR INDICATED STORMS
DEVELOPING OVER CENTRAL/SRN MS BETWEEN 21-22Z WITHIN THIS FAVORABLE
ENVIRONMENT AS STRONGER FORCING FOR ASCENT SPREADS EWD THE NEXT
SEVERAL HOURS WITH THE PROGRESSIVE TROUGH APPROACHING THE MID SOUTH.

FARTHER N...LOCALIZED STRONGER WIND GUSTS REMAIN A POTENTIAL ACROSS
THE VALID PORTION OF WW 128...ATTENDANT TO SEVERAL LINE SEGMENTS
MOVING ENEWD AT 40-45 KT THROUGH WRN TN AND NRN MS.

..PETERS.. 04/11/2011
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Here is a cut & paste from Florida Trend:

State Farm gets 18.8% rate hike

Regulators have approved an average rate hike of 18.8 percent for Florida homeowners covered by State Farm, according to state documents filed Friday. The higher rates, which are less than the 28 percent boost State Farm sought, will take effect July 1 for new business and beginning July 15 for renewals. Separately, Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty approved a 62 percent increase for State Farm's commercial residential policies, which cover homes that are owned by a person or business entity and rented to others. While the rate increase was significantly less than it asked for, State Farm isn't talking about pulling out of Florida, as it did the last time a major rate boost was turned down in its entirety. The rate approval "is an important step for State Farm Florida to remain viable in this marketplace," company spokesman Michael Grimes said. "We'll continue to work with regulators and legislators to encourage market reform." Florida has been spared a major hurricane for more than five years. But State Farm, the largest private insurer in Florida, maintains that it needs to boost premiums for its 632,000 policyholders because of rising costs unrelated to hurricanes. [Source: St. Petersburg Times]

------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------
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New Tornado Watch for Eastern Mississippi and Western Alabama. Atmosphere is very unstable and the SPC says supercells are possible in the next few hours.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Could it be a rare moment of candor and honesty?

Japan may raise nuke accident severity level to highest 7 from 5

The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan released a preliminary calculation Monday saying that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had been releasing up to 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour at some point after a massive quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11.

The disclosure prompted the government to consider raising the accident's severity level to 7, the worst on an international scale, from the current 5, government sources said. The level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale has only been applied to the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

The current provisional evaluation of 5 is at the same level as the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.

According to an evaluation by the INES, level 7 accidents correspond with a release into the external environment radioactive materials equal to more than tens of thousands terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131. One terabecquerel equals 1 trillion becquerels.

Haruki Madarame, chairman of the commission, which is a government panel, said it has estimated that the release of 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour continued for several hours.

Kyodo News Article...

10,000 terabecquerels per hour is, of course, 10,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quadrillion) becquerels per hour. That's roughly equivalent to 270 billion millieseverts per hour (assuming a person could somehow absorb every bit of radiation being released when the reactor was at maximum leakage), which is roughly equivalent to 15 trillion dental X-rays per second over the course of several hours.

...and all this while TEPCO and Japan swore there was no danger, and that things were under control.

(And I admit my on-the-fly calculations may be off by a lot, even an order or two of magnitude. But my point, I think, still stands.)

Those numbers (15 trillion dental..etc etc) are enough to make a man waver in his Nuclear beliefs....

I wish you would'nt DO that, Nea.
I have quite enough to worry about, already.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25291
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141. IKE
  • Oil-1.37Price/barrel$108.93
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140. beell
Quoting Minnemike:
surprised how conditions somewhat stabilized along greater front... but i'm sensing that this evening things might get messy in the deep south. i have no data to support his though, just eying the satellites... ;)


Stealing a clue from SQUAWK's post (133.)

WEAK MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES HAVE LIMITED THE DEVELOPMENT OF STRONGER
INSTABILITY WITH CURRENT MLCAPE OF 500-1000 J/KG

It's about all I can see holding things from getting more active.

500mb temps are only about -10° C but there are some colder mid-level temps on the way. May be a little while longer before anything gets going.

There is a new Mesoscale Discussion 0415 that has been published but I get a page error when I try to access the text.

6 to 6.5° C/km or less over most of the area. A little higher near the coast.

7.5° C/km is pretty fair. 7° C/km is kinda iffy


Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
First one I have seen this afternoon.

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NASHVILLE TN
402 PM CDT MON APR 11 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NASHVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
WESTERN HICKMAN COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...
PERRY COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...
WESTERN LEWIS COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...
NORTHERN WAYNE COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...
SOUTHEASTERN BENTON COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...
SOUTHERN HUMPHREYS COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...

* UNTIL 445 PM CDT

* AT 359 PM CDT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS
OF 60 MPH. THE STORM WAS NEAR PARSONS...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.
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Could it be a rare moment of candor and honesty?

Japan may raise nuke accident severity level to highest 7 from 5

The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan released a preliminary calculation Monday saying that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had been releasing up to 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour at some point after a massive quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11.

The disclosure prompted the government to consider raising the accident's severity level to 7, the worst on an international scale, from the current 5, government sources said. The level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale has only been applied to the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

The current provisional evaluation of 5 is at the same level as the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.

According to an evaluation by the INES, level 7 accidents correspond with a release into the external environment radioactive materials equal to more than tens of thousands terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131. One terabecquerel equals 1 trillion becquerels.

Haruki Madarame, chairman of the commission, which is a government panel, said it has estimated that the release of 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour continued for several hours.

Kyodo News Article...

10,000 terabecquerels per hour is, of course, 10,000,000,000,000,000 (10 quadrillion) becquerels per hour. That's roughly equivalent to 270 billion millieseverts per hour (assuming a person could somehow absorb every bit of radiation being released when the reactor was at maximum leakage), which is roughly equivalent to 15 trillion dental X-rays per second over the course of several hours.

...and all this while TEPCO and Japan swore there was no danger, and that things were under control.

(And I admit my on-the-fly calculations may be off by a lot, even an order or two of magnitude. But my point, I think, still stands.)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14071
surprised how conditions somewhat stabilized along greater front... but i'm sensing that this evening things might get messy in the deep south. i have no data to support his though, just eying the satellites... ;)
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Quoting cyclonekid:
Hey guys! Can anyone tell me when NOAA issues their predictions for the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Hurricane Seasons?

Thanks!

They will release it on May 19.
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Lookie here, some good news.



MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0414
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0244 PM CDT MON APR 11 2011

AREAS AFFECTED...ERN KY....SWRN VA...MUCH OF WV...SERN OH...WRN MD
PANHANDLE

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 129...

VALID 111944Z - 112045Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH 129 CONTINUES.

THE LACK OF STRONGER INSTABILITY SUGGESTS WW 129 MAY NEED TO BE
CANCELLED EARLY.

AT 19Z...MESOSCALE ANALYSES SHOWED A PRE-FRONTAL WIND SHIFT
EXTENDING FROM CENTRAL PA SWWD THROUGH CENTRAL WV TO ERN KY AND INTO
MIDDLE TN. VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY INDICATED AGITATED CU OVER WRN
WV FROM 10 ESE HTS TO 25 SSW PKB. REGIONAL RADARS SHOWED AN
INCREASE IN REFLECTIVITY WITH THIS CONVECTION...THOUGH ACTIVITY IS
NOT DEEP ENOUGH YET FOR MUCH LIGHTNING PRODUCTION PER LATEST
LIGHTNING DATA. DESPITE STRONG SURFACE HEATING WITHIN WW 129...WEAK
MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES HAVE LIMITED THE DEVELOPMENT OF STRONGER
INSTABILITY WITH CURRENT MLCAPE OF 500-1000 J/KG. ANY TSTMS THAT
CAN FORM ON THE WIND SHIFT WILL HAVE A POTENTIAL TO PRODUCE A STRONG
WIND GUST GIVEN THE PRESENCE OF STEEP LOW LEVEL LAPSE RATES.
HOWEVER...THE LIKELIHOOD FOR SUSTAINED SURFACE BASED STORMS APPEARS
TO BE WANING GIVEN A LACK OF GREATER DEEP LAYER FORCING FOR ASCENT
AND THE WEAK MIDLEVEL LAPSE RATES.

..PETERS.. 04/11/2011
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Hey guys! Can anyone tell me when NOAA issues their predictions for the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Hurricane Seasons?

Thanks!
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A couple images coming in from Adams County, WI where some preliminary EF2 damage was found:

*using Firefox so I apologize if any of the pictures cause blog problems for IE





And some hail damage from La Crosse, WI:



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Quoting beell:

Oldie but a goodie:
Dryline Magic - Tim Marshall

Good article - thanks
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124. beell
Quoting hydrus:
It looked like 2 on the WV...


ok, cool. I get to artfully dodge that question, lol.
:-0

But one can rob or block the inflow to the other for sure.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
Good afternoon, latest Japan earthquake was 222 miles east of Fukushima.



USGSSiteLink
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Quoting beell:




Which two lines, hydrus?

Some of it is prefrontal. Some of it is tied to the front, and some of it up in MO is elevated.
It looked like 2 on the WV...
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121. beell
Quoting hydrus:
I f you can, please explain to me why there are 2 squall lines forming in such close vicinity to one another..Doesnt one rob energy from the other?




Which two lines, hydrus?

Some of it is prefrontal. Some of it is tied to the front, and some of it up in MO is elevated.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
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118. beell

Oldie but a goodie:
Dryline Magic - Tim Marshall
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 148 Comments: 17284
Quoting beell:


Mainly due to surface heating that drives the lapse rates. Warm and hot in the low levels, cooler air aloft. Leads to explosive development. Dry line works the same way except you get the added kick from a surface boundary to increase low-level shear.
I f you can, please explain to me why there are 2 squall lines forming in such close vicinity to one another..Doesnt one rob energy from the other?
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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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