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

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

Share this Blog
7
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Sign In or Register Sign In or Register

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 192 - 142

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

There's no need to yell...
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
191. Skyepony (Mod)
12ZCMC came out. Falls in line with the others, destroying the AOI with shear..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 270 Comments: 40523
Quoting IFuSAYso:
From N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety Facebook page.

The NC Disaster Relief Fund has been activated by Gov. Perdue to accept financial donations to help meet emergency unmet needs of those who have been affected by the tornadoes. Mailing address: NC Disaster Relief Fund, Office of the Governor, 20312 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-0312.

First step for help: Contact your insurance company. Step two: Contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 (621-fema) or www.FEMA.gov, then click on Disaster Survivor.
You forgot the step 3- Pray
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jeffs713:
Sammy -

Why is a floater necessary at this point? The storm is in the Atlantic Ocean, not threatening any landmasses, has a rather hostile environment, is not in (or threatening) a major shipping lane, and is, by all accounts, not likely to develop tropical characteristics.

Yes, I'm sure the extra info would be useful, but it won't change anything, and the information they have available (some of which we probably can't see) is fulfilling the needs they have right now. Why spend money to designate an invest if it will not provide a worthwhile amount of information? Designating it an invest is kinda like buying a $200 GPS when you have Google Maps on your smartphone.


Just because it is not threatening anything doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve a floater. I'm actually wondering why there isn't one; it certainly has my interests and the models interests as well. Give about 48 hours or so when it becomes better aligned with the upper level low, and where upper level winds will be a little more conducive for some development.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31589
Quite a bit of moisture with this low..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23836
Is it a cat-5 already.?....jk...really...jk..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23836
Quoting jeffs713:

Thank you, MrMixon. Most of the area most impacted by the wildfires in TX are part of the "high plains". The areas of more concern are those *not* part of the high plains, and more towards the coast.


Agreed. While I'm sure the Rockies and High Plains aren't the only ecosystems which have evolved a tolerance or even dependance on fire (parts of Africa and Australia come to mind), it's very worrisome when we see wildfires sprouting up in ecosystems dominated by species which aren't used to coping with semi-regular fires.
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
Quoting DestinJeff:
Help me out ... tried the Google and came up empty ... how many HURRICANE strikes has FL gotten after 2005?
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23836
Quoting DestinJeff:
Help me out ... tried the Google and came up empty ... how many HURRICANE strikes has FL gotten after 2005?
0
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23836
176. JRRP
Quoting Drakoen:
Pretty impressive ASCAT pass show a well-defined surface circulation center producing sustain winds of minimal tropical storm strength and its pretty evident on the satellite imagery. Here's a nice close-up satellite animation on the system.




nice!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6293
175. 7544
hi everyone it will be interesting to see the next cmc run our blob is still holding on could be fighter imo
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6874
THE ATLANTIC OCEAN...
SURFACE RIDGING AND FAIR WEATHER DOMINATES THE W ATLANTIC W OF
70W. A SURFACE TROUGH IS FURTHER E FROM 27N60W TO 19N60W. AN
EMBEDDED 1012 MB LOW IS ON THE TROUGH AXIS AT 23N60W. ISOLATED
MODERATE CONVECTION IS N OF THE LOW CENTER FROM 23N-25N BETWEEN
58W-64W. A TIGHT SURFACE PRESSURE GRADIENT N OF THE LOW IS
PRODUCING GALE FORCE WINDS WITHIN 300 NM OF THE N QUADRANT.
ELSEWHERE...A 1030 MB HIGH IS CENTERED OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC
NEAR 37N41W. THE TAIL END OF A COLD FRONT IS OVER THE CANARY
ISLANDS FROM 32N11W TO 29N15W. SCATTERED SHOWERS ARE WITHIN 30
NM OF THE FRONT. IN THE UPPER LEVELS...AN UPPER LEVEL LOW IS
OVER THE W ATLANTIC NEAR 28N70W SUPPORTING THE E ATLANTIC
SURFACE SYSTEM. A 90 KT SUBTROPICAL JETSTREAM EXTENDS FROM OVER
CENTRAL CUBA AT 22N80W TO 23N55W PRODUCING A LOT OF WESTERLY
VERTICAL WINDSHEAR OVER THE SURFACE LOW. EXPECT OVER THE NEXT 24
HOURS FOR...THE SURFACE LOW TO MOVE NW TO 24N63W WITH CONTINUED
CONVECTION AND GALE FORCE WINDS N OF THE CENTER.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
NCEP picking up another large squall line in a week, and a severe weather outbreak for Friday in roughly the same area as last night...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 23836
Quoting jeffs713:
Sammy -

Why is a floater necessary at this point? The storm is in the Atlantic Ocean, not threatening any landmasses, has a rather hostile environment, is not in (or threatening) a major shipping lane, and is, by all accounts, not likely to develop tropical characteristics.

Yes, I'm sure the extra info would be useful, but it won't change anything, and the information they have available (some of which we probably can't see) is fulfilling the needs they have right now. Why spend money to designate an invest if it will not provide a worthwhile amount of information? Designating it an invest is kinda like buying a $200 GPS when you have Google Maps on your smartphone.
I think calling a invest is just like if you tell your worker to start the automatic washer
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sammywammybamy:
. Drak, if this is True why has it not been declared an invest and given a floater.
Please calm down. Its APRIL still...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrMixon:
Fires are definitely an important part of the Rocky Mountain and High Plains ecosystems. Many of our trees exhibit some level of pyriscence (seed release triggered by fire). Likewise, many of the grass and shrub species of the High Plains benefit from fires because deep root systems and other evolutionary tricks allow them to recover from a grass fire, while the seeds and roots of competing, non-native species perish.

Fire was part of the North American landscape long before this land was settled by Europeans. The first immigrants to North America (Native Americans) employed fires for many reasons, vastly altering the landscape and setting up a centuries-long evolutionary pressure on plant communities to adjust to semi-regular fires.

It's surely a good thing to put fires out when they threaten life and property, but it would take many generations of effort to reverse the course of evolution in these ecosystems. In the meantime, we need to learn to live with fire as a "natural" (a loaded term, for sure) part of the Rocky Mountain and High Plains ecosystems we have today.

Thank you, MrMixon. Most of the area most impacted by the wildfires in TX are part of the "high plains". The areas of more concern are those *not* part of the high plains, and more towards the coast.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like the shear will destroy the remains of this system in the coming days. Too bad. FL needs some rain.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sammy -

Why is a floater necessary at this point? The storm is in the Atlantic Ocean, not threatening any landmasses, has a rather hostile environment, is not in (or threatening) a major shipping lane, and is, by all accounts, not likely to develop tropical characteristics.

Yes, I'm sure the extra info would be useful, but it won't change anything, and the information they have available (some of which we probably can't see) is fulfilling the needs they have right now. Why spend money to designate an invest if it will not provide a worthwhile amount of information? Designating it an invest is kinda like buying a $200 GPS when you have Google Maps on your smartphone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
158.Today in the night?
Member Since: May 19, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 360
Fires are definitely an important part of the Rocky Mountain and High Plains ecosystems. Many of our trees exhibit some level of pyriscence (seed release triggered by fire). Likewise, many of the grass and shrub species of the High Plains benefit from fires because deep root systems and other evolutionary tricks allow them to recover from a grass fire, while the seeds and roots of competing, non-native species perish.

Fire was part of the North American landscape long before this land was settled by Europeans. The first immigrants to North America (Native Americans) employed fires for many reasons, vastly altering the landscape and setting up a centuries-long evolutionary pressure on plant communities to adjust to semi-regular fires.

It's surely a good thing to put fires out when they threaten life and property, but it would take many generations of effort to reverse the course of evolution in these ecosystems. In the meantime, we need to learn to live with fire as a "natural" (a loaded term, for sure) part of the Rocky Mountain and High Plains ecosystems we have today.
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
163. MahFL
I assume its easier to see the risk areas with the new colors on smart phones.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jeffs713:


OOH! Colors!

(maybe they borrowed some of NHC's crayons?)


If they have, they're sure not staying within the (state) lines.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Pretty impressive ASCAT pass show a well-defined surface circulation center producing sustain winds of minimal tropical storm strength and its pretty evident on the satellite imagery. Here's a nice close-up satellite animation on the system.



Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 31589
159. MahFL
Quoting pottery:

Regular burning is a destructive and major problem, that is affecting soil, plants, food, health and welfare of millions of people every year. And the numbers are growing fast.

Generally, fires are all bad.



.


That's about as far from the actual truth as you can get.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
156. beell
Quoting jeffs713:


OOH! Colors!

(maybe they borrowed some of NHC's crayons?)


Why not, they're not using them!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting beell:
Breaking news - SPC purchases crayons.



OOH! Colors!

(maybe they borrowed some of NHC's crayons?)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
154. beell
Breaking news - SPC purchases crayons.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
interesting.

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/wcm/torgraph-big.png
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
There are 18 major disaster declarations this year. All have been for public assistance which locates funds to state and local gov only. Rumor control is NC will be adding individual assistance on Thurs. There are 4 addition "pending" states, IA, MS, AL, and OK. These 4 states are still waiting for a declaration.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
All we need is a little more convection and this would be a tropical depression winds are at 35 mph already and it has a well defined surface circulation
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting jeffs713:


If not allowed to burn, an excess of fuel (dry vegetative matter) can build up in grasslands, and prevent moisture from getting to the soil, and also prevent seed germination.

Burned lands are extremely rich in organic matter, which serves as a natural fertilizer, and enriches the soil. Many gardeners swear by placing used BBQ ashes in their soil during the off-season, to enrich the soil with organic matter. (I can attest to it - I use leftover ashes from the winter fire pit as part of a the soil I put into my container plants)

When you say "regular burning", what do you mean by that? How can we say what is considered "frequent" is actually really "frequent"? Could we have artificially prevented fires for 30 years, and are just now paying the price with more frequent and severe fires? Could fires that were once natural be over-reported, due to increased human expansion into previously pristine lands? Could our land use (irrigated agriculture, fenced ranchland, diverted streams and rivers) actually be *causing* more fires by interfering with natural flows of water?

Fires are natural. Fires are essential for many areas - in moderation. If fires weren't natural, why do many types of wildlife begin to flee at the first scent of smoke? If there was not an instinct there, they would stay until the smoke became unbearable, or they felt the heat of the fire itself.

I'm not saying that ALL fire is good, and should be allowed to burn - quite the contrary. What I am saying is that controlled burns should become more common, landowners should be more aware of the natural risk prevented by periodic wildfires, and if a wildfire is not threatening a significantly inhabited area, it should be allowed to burn (not uncontrolled, but allowed to burn in a somewhat controlled manner).

Thats called Instinct. Or Self Preservation. Or Good Sense.
Does not fit in with this at all LOL.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25411
Quoting jeffs713:


If not allowed to burn, an excess of fuel (dry vegetative matter) can build up in grasslands, and prevent moisture from getting to the soil, and also prevent seed germination.

Burned lands are extremely rich in organic matter, which serves as a natural fertilizer, and enriches the soil. Many gardeners swear by placing used BBQ ashes in their soil during the off-season, to enrich the soil with organic matter. (I can attest to it - I use leftover ashes from the winter fire pit as part of a the soil I put into my container plants)

When you say "regular burning", what do you mean by that? How can we say what is considered "frequent" is actually really "frequent"? Could we have artificially prevented fires for 30 years, and are just now paying the price with more frequent and severe fires? Could fires that were once natural be over-reported, due to increased human expansion into previously pristine lands? Could our land use (irrigated agriculture, fenced ranchland, diverted streams and rivers) actually be *causing* more fires by interfering with natural flows of water?

Fires are natural. Fires are essential for many areas - in moderation. If fires weren't natural, why do many types of wildlife begin to flee at the first scent of smoke? If there was not an instinct there, they would stay until the smoke became unbearable, or they felt the heat of the fire itself.

I'm not saying that ALL fire is good, and should be allowed to burn - quite the contrary. What I am saying is that controlled burns should become more common, landowners should be more aware of the natural risk prevented by periodic wildfires, and if a wildfire is not threatening a significantly inhabited area, it should be allowed to burn (not uncontrolled, but allowed to burn in a somewhat controlled manner).

I agree with most of this.
But not with the part about excessive dry material being a problem.
When you apply ash to your garden, you are applying all the trace elements from the vegetation that you burned (even coal has that).
If you leave this dry vegetation on the land, it breaks down and releases the trace elements anyway but in a slower more beneficial manner.
All dry plant material has all the elements that the plant drew up from the soil for growth. It is this plant material that is natural fertilizer. It isnt a waste product.
Dry vegetation will certainly prevent some moisture getting to the soil, but it is more importantly a layer of insulation that prevents evaporation of soil moisture.
Dry vegetation does not prevent seeds from germinating as far as I know. The seeds will lie there until rain encourages them to do their thing.

There are obviously many different vegetative regions and types of vegetation.
But my point is, I dont think regular fire is a "Natural" part of any of them. And I think that as we see increased temps (for whatever reason) we will see more fire.
And that's not good.

So I think we are basically on the same page.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 25411
Quoting Patrap:



North Carolina Severe Storms, Tornadoes, And Flooding

Major Disaster Declared April 19, 2011 (DR-1969)



But the site still states no individual assistance. I'm very aware of the program.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 192 - 142

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Carrot Nose in Danger
Deep Snow in Brookline, MA
Sunset at Fort DeSoto
New Years Day Sunset in Death Valley