Tornadoes, huge hail pound the Midwest, but bring little Texas drought relief

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:41 PM GMT on April 20, 2011

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Severe weather blasted the Midwest again yesterday, with NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logging 32 reports of tornadoes, 399 reports of damaging thunderstorm winds, and 325 instances of large hail (including softball-sized hail of 4.25 - 4.5" diameter in Clarkesville, MO and Stringtown, OK.) Fortunately, no deaths or injuries were reported from yesterday's storms. The storm also brought the heaviest snow so late in the season to Green Bay, Wisconsin--9.9 inches. This brought the seasonal total for Green Bay to 92.4", the third most on record.

The storm responsible will trek eastwards today, bringing the threat of severe weather to regions of the Southeast hard-hit by last week's remarkable tornado outbreak. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed a wide swath of the country from Eastern Texas to New Jersey under their "slight risk" for severe weather. According to the latest tornado tallies on the excellent Wikipedia page on the April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak, 128 tornadoes are confirmed to have occurred, with 39 of these strong EF-2 and EF-3 twisters. Remarkably, there have been no violent EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes reported yet in 2011, despite the fact that the preliminary 2011 tornado count as compiled by SPC is 611, which will likely make 2011 the most active tornado season on record for this point in the year.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 8pm EDT on Tuesday, April 19, 2011, of the storm system that brought severe weather to the Midwest. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Severe weather outlook for today.

Yesterday's storms bring little drought relief for Texas
Yesterday's severe weather outbreak brought a few thunderstorms to the Dallas/Fort Worth area last night, with up to two inches of welcome rain falling in isolated areas. However, the rains missed the areas of Texas where the worst fires area burning, and strong winds associated with the spring storm helped whip up the fires. Winds will not be as strong today, and the latest 1 - 5 day rainfall forecasts show the possibility of isolated thunderstorms bringing drought relief to the same portions of Texas that benefited from last night's rains. These rains will not be enough to significantly slow down the record fires scorching Texas, though, and the latest 2-week forecast from the GFS model shows little chance of drought-busting rains over Texas into early May.


Figure 2. Total rainfall for North Texas from last night's storms brought only isolated drought relief.

Atlantic tropical disturbance
As a reminder that hurricane season is not that far away, an area of disturbed weather has formed in the Atlantic near 23N, 80W, about 700 miles northeast of Puerto Rico. This system is under a hefty 60 knots of wind shear, but does have a surface circulation. The disturbance's heavy thunderstorm activity has been removed well to the northeast of the surface circulation center by the high wind shear. The storm is expected to move northwest into a region of lower wind shear on Thursday and Friday, and should begin building more heavy thunderstorms during the next three days. The storm is not a threat to any land areas, and will likely be ripped apart by high wind shear this weekend. It has perhaps a 10% chance of becoming a subtropical depression before then. Climatology argues against this storm becoming the first named storm of the year; there has only been once named April storm in the Atlantic since 1851, Tropical Storm Ana of 2003.


Figure 4. Morning satellite image of the Atlantic tropical disturbance 700 miles northeast of Puerto Rico.

Jeff Masters

Wildcat Fire (AngeloJoe)
Wildcat Fire near San Angelo, Texas. Pictures taken between 3 and 4 pm just to the south and east of Orient, Texas.
Wildcat Fire
April Showers (novembergale)
SNOW showers!
April Showers

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buckle up folks, it's gonna be a bumpy ride coming down the road
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291. IKE

Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
What have you done with IKE and who are you? When do the ransom demands start. Read "Ransom of Red Chief" and tremble.
lol
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
259. Minnemike 2:44 PM EDT on April 20, 2011

Think Lord Pottery Sir may be referencing slash and burn agriculture which has little benefit.

However fire may have one overlooked dividend. At least in the past, humans tended to avoid permanent settlements in fire prone areas.

That too, but we were talking more generally as well.
The thing is (and this is a Confession LOL) I lose my cool when I see the land burning. For any reason. Anywhere.
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Now I know!This system(now 91L) is over 25-26C SSTs.But I ask once again-what is the MJO in this area(you can check on Levi's blog)?!I can't check this on mobile phone...
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2nd invest of the....er um...it's not even the season yet.
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A terrific vid for anyone commenting to watch. Should be a prerequisite.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIyr5TXqe8Y
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Video analysis of newly declared 91L: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I8ix-ehPHY
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Quoting SeALWx:
Didn't bother to actually read the material, did you?

No. Like I said, there's too much real science out there to bother with twice-warmed, un-scientific nonsense like that.
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Quoting IKE:

There it is!!!!!

WOOHOO!
What have you done with IKE and who are you? When do the ransom demands start. Read "Ransom of Red Chief" and tremble.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
SHIPS text for AL91, begins to dissipate in 60 hours. Shear ~80 knots.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Exactly and this year will be flirting with that scenerio.


I've read quite a few papers that came to that conclusion. I can't say I completely agree with the analogs chosen by CSU this year. Obviously their knowledge is far greater than mine however, they just don't seem to jive with all that I have read over the past 7 years.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
259. Minnemike 2:44 PM EDT on April 20, 2011

Think Lord Pottery Sir may be referencing slash and burn agriculture which has little benefit.

However fire may have one overlooked dividend. At least in the past, humans tended to avoid permanent settlements in fire prone areas.


Dang, slow typing and bad spelling sucks. Always late to the show!
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
279. IKE

Quoting xcool:
about time



BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al912011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201104201829
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, AL, L, , , , , 91, 2011, DB, O, 2011041918, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , AL912011
AL, 91, 2011041918, , BEST, 0, 214N, 576W, 25, 1012, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 91, 2011042000, , BEST, 0, 221N, 581W, 30, 1011, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 91, 2011042006, , BEST, 0, 226N, 589W, 30, 1011, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 91, 2011042012, , BEST, 0, 228N, 598W, 35, 1011, LO, 34, NEQ, 105, 0, 0, 105,
AL, 91, 2011042018, , BEST, 0, 232N, 608W, 35, 1010, LO, 34, NEQ, 105, 0, 0, 105, 1013, 150, 105, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, D,
There it is!!!!!

WOOHOO!
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I see we've got an invest. I'd just like some rain. Wind we have in droves. The fires are getting crazy. I know even we have controlled burns in east Texas. I've seen the results in the Angelina Forest. But I'm still not used to things like this on a local site.

A burn ban remains in effect for all of Southeast Texas.

According to the KFDM Weather team, there is not rain forecasted for the next five days, and conditions will be windy through the weekend.

Quick Link - Click here to learn How to protect your home from a wildfire, from the Texas Forest Service.
Link to the news story page Link
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259. Minnemike 2:44 PM EDT on April 20, 2011

Think Lord Pottery Sir may be referencing slash and burn agriculture which has little benefit.

However fire may have one overlooked dividend. At least in the past, humans tended to avoid permanent settlements in fire prone areas.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting aquak9:
we have an invest? with that much shear coming?

really?

are you kidding me?
Probably Brian Norcross said it might become sub tropical. The NHC doesn't want to be caught again as they did in Andrew.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:



One could derive from that chart that the Fla. coast is most vulnerable in a neutral ENSO cycle.


Exactly and this year will be flirting with that scenerio.
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Quoting emcf30:
Link

Here you go DestinJeff. I think you will find what you seek in here
WU has wonderful Hurricane Archives which show maps and you can go back pretty far. I tried finding a period I thought had no storms and could only find a year here or there. I have caught CRS:)
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Quoting ILwthrfan:




The number of hurricanes that made landfall in Florida each year between 1900 and 1998. El Ni�o years are indicated in red, neutral years are shown in green and La Ni�a years are indicated in blue A "landfalling" hurricane is defined as a storm that made at least one Florida, Gulf Coast, or East Coast landfall with winds greater than or equal to 64 kts.



One could derive from that chart that the Fla. coast is most vulnerable in a neutral ENSO cycle.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Atlantic Floater #1 for 91L up on the National Hurricane Center site. Not much threat for anyone, but something to stop everyone's drooling for tropical activity for a while. Interesting little critter for sure!
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Quoting Minnemike:

fire is as natural as nature itself. there are enormous areas all over Earth where species have adapted to regular brush fires; they teach this in basic courses to high school kids... it is not a controversial fact.

the only controversy is how we interact with something that threatens human activities. when comparing humans and their property vs. fires in seasonally dry environments, it's the human footprint that is new and unnatural. my 2 cents... still, we clearly need to protect ourselves and prescribed burns are a method.

Nothing to dissagree with, there.
As you say, it's the human footprint that is causing the fires to be more problematic because we farm and live in areas prone to fire.
I enjoyed the debate...
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You can go here too http://moe.met.fsu.edu/~acevans/models/
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Copy da green ball

91L.INVEST 20 APR 2011 1815Z

Atlantic
green ball91L.INVEST

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
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Quoting DestinJeff:
does anyone have access to info that may shed light on what is the greatest number of consecutive seasons that Florida has gone without a hurricane landfall?

we are at 5 now, and that seems a bit high. i don't know of another such occurence, but would like to know.

Google is failing me. Or is it the other way around?




The number of hurricanes that made landfall in Florida each year between 1900 and 1998. El Nino is indicated in red, neutral years are shown in green and La Ni years are indicated in blue.

Link

Its kinda old data though.
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we have an invest? with that much shear coming?

really?

are you kidding me?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 178 Comments: 26675
AL912011 - INVEST

Synoptic Time Latitude Longitude Intensity
201104201800 23.2 -60.8 35

Data to follow
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
AL91 is up on the FNMOC site. You will probably get a security certificate warning, it is ok to proceed.
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Link

Here you go DestinJeff. I think you will find what you seek in here
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Right now I'm leaning towards the ECMWF as far as the future is concerned with 91L. Shows a quick window for development between 48 and 72 hours. Below is the 12z ECMWF at 48 hours and shows 91L as a borderline (sub)tropical depression/(sub)tropical storm.

12z ECMWF

The 12z CMC agrees pretty well with the 12z EMCWF too.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting pottery:

'are fires normal/natural, and can they be of benefit to the overall environment'

I think not. Except in a few specific areas.
But we are in danger of belabouring the point....

fire is as natural as nature itself. there are enormous areas all over Earth where species have adapted to regular brush fires; they teach this in basic courses to high school kids... it is not a controversial fact.

the only controversy is how we interact with something that threatens human activities. when comparing humans and their property vs. fires in seasonally dry environments, it's the human footprint that is new and unnatural. my 2 cents... still, we clearly need to protect ourselves and prescribed burns are a method.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
does anyone have access to info that may shed light on what is the greatest number of consecutive seasons that Florida has gone without a hurricane landfall?

we are at 5 now, and that seems a bit high. i don't know of another such occurence, but would like to know.

Google is failing me. Or is it the other way around?


I will see if I can find it again. It was a Florida State report that outlining all hurricanes in Florida and cost estimates. Had charts and all.
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257. beell
Quoting jitterboy:
I had a question, how are tornado warnings identified? Is there a human actually looking at radar (mena velocities) to pick out rotation or is it more of a computer program that is doing it? Thanks


There is an algorithm employed that makes a comparison of opposing velocities on a near pixel by pixel basis with an internal alert generated if a certain threshold is reached. This is in addition to forecaster oversight and judgement.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 145 Comments: 16923
255. xcool
JRRP :)
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Now, they have made it real, AL91

AL 91 2011041918 BEST 0 214N 576W 25 1012 LO
AL 91 2011042000 BEST 0 221N 581W 30 1011 LO
AL 91 2011042006 BEST 0 226N 589W 30 1011 LO
AL 91 2011042012 BEST 0 228N 598W 35 1011 LO
AL 91 2011042018 BEST 0 232N 608W 35 1010 LO

thank you so much,NHC!!! And I predicted designing it in the night,and in Wroclaw night is quickly coming:D
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253. JRRP
parece que el CMC aterrizó
ya no ve un ciclon potente
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252. xcool
about time



BEGIN
NHC_ATCF
invest_al912011.invest
FSTDA
R
U
040
010
0000
201104201829
NONE
NOTIFY=ATRP
END
INVEST, AL, L, , , , , 91, 2011, DB, O, 2011041918, 9999999999, , , , , , METWATCH, , AL912011
AL, 91, 2011041918, , BEST, 0, 214N, 576W, 25, 1012, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 91, 2011042000, , BEST, 0, 221N, 581W, 30, 1011, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 91, 2011042006, , BEST, 0, 226N, 589W, 30, 1011, LO, 0, , 0, 0, 0, 0,
AL, 91, 2011042012, , BEST, 0, 228N, 598W, 35, 1011, LO, 34, NEQ, 105, 0, 0, 105,
AL, 91, 2011042018, , BEST, 0, 232N, 608W, 35, 1010, LO, 34, NEQ, 105, 0, 0, 105, 1013, 150, 105, 0, 0, L, 0, , 0, 0, INVEST, D,
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um...
Has anyone seen a locomotive somewhere unusual?

It may be Purple... Hazey on my memory of what colour it was when last seen...

Inquiries are being made which imply that ...um ...um

a couple of upstanding members here may have been last seen,
or seen last, or seemly last known to be in said Loco motive...

Any tips will be anonymously deposited in the tip jug...
Thank You

CRS
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kwgirl, my bad
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So we have 91L on the navy site now.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


OMG.
saw that one coming...
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The MJO is the acronym for Madden-Julian Oscillation.
I refer to it as the "mojo." And then of course think of Austin Powers...but because I have a short mind for very technical things, I cannot explain this to you better than when it's upward things go one way and when it's downward they go another.

The tecchie's on here can explain how it works and/or you can also check out this link:
WikiMJO
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11424
Quoting jitterboy:
I had a question, how are tornado warnings identified? Is there a human actually looking at radar (mena velocities) to pick out rotation or is it more of a computer program that is doing it? Thanks


A tornado warning means that the forecaster that issued the warning has reason to believe that a tornado has formed or is immanent in the warned area.

The way it works is that he has tools in his/her computer that indicates the direction of movement and speed of the thunderstorm cell.

They will estimate the area that the storm will travel around this storm during the time of the warning given the direction and speed and allow some for a possible change in direction or speed. The computer will actually give a most likely position of the storm at the end of the warning period and the forecaster wants to have the position just outside of the area that is being warned. If the storm still looks like it could produce or is producing a tornado as it approaches the edge of the area under warning they will issue an another warning to extend the size of the area downstream.

In some cases the storm does take an unusual turn or in some cases, back-builds and remains in the same area. It gives the appearance of slowing down and remaining in that same area. In that case the forecaster will issue another warning extending the valid time for the same area.

The other possibility is that the thunderstorm weakens and no longer has the appearance that a tornado can occur. In that case the forecaster will cancel the warning.
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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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