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.

or Join

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: 92 - 42

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

Are we at ENSO Neutral? What's the trend? TIA
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
90. Skyepony (Mod)
Horrid hail storm in India~

Jinura Khatoon, 28, of Jhaudanga was killed and 10 villages were affected by a storm in Mancachar last evening. Khatoon died when lightning struck her. The hailstorm caused severe damage to standing crops and houses with tiled roofs, an official source said. Paddy and vegetable fields were extensively damaged in Kakripara, Jhaudanga, Pakhuria, Kalapani, Baghapara, Kukurmara, Fekamari and Hatsighimari villages under Mancachar revenue circle. Farhad Ali Sheikh, a farmer of South Salamar village, which was partially affected by the hailstorm, said his paddy field was damaged. South Salmara-Mancachar sub-divisional officer Swami Viswanathan said he was yet to receive any report.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36074
The fires are crazy in Texas. Living just north of Houston it is not something we usually have to deal with but 2 fires broke out north of town yesterday. Once was brought under control and the other one is almost contained but it shows what a tinderbox we have all over Texas.

There are neighborhood watches being formed to spot fires. There is potential for a huge disaster as these fires could very easily move into outlying metro areas very quickly.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SouthParkTimmy:


You are forgetting that the the ENSO forecasts for the past several months predicted this for Texas...a dry and warm winter...and the forecast has been spot-on. Also, people who don't study history forget that wildfires actually do help replenish the land.


Absolutely. I agree with the general practice of letting wildfires burn, and do their magic. And as controversial as it is, I don't think that extreme measures should be taken to protect a single farm on the prairie. Yes, I know that same statement can apply to my house, but living in a subdivision that is part of a suburb is rather different than living on a fairly dry area somewhat prone to wildfires. (the fire department also doesn't have helicopters and C-130s dropping fire retardant around a burning house in a subdivision)

Wildfires are a necessary evil, and preventing them will only lead to more problems in the future.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
87. Skyepony (Mod)
TAZ~ fnmoc site never had our 1st invest. (look under all, never posted it after the fact either) They usually don't have preseason Atlantic storms.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36074
Quoting eddy12:
Neopolitan and Jeffs713 Here is a website with some good information about rainfall totals in Texas that seems to disagree with your conclusion. http://doublehelixranch.com/FlyGapRainTrends.html


The graph only goes through Spring of 2010, which was a wet season (due to El Nino). It does show a drought in 2008, which was a fairly nasty one.

A couple items to point out:

"Although the average across all these years is about 26 inches, note that the annual average has shifted upward by almost 8 inches over the past six decades (from about 22 to 30 inches per year), although this pattern may in part be influenced by starting analysis at the beginning of the severe drought of the early 1950s. "

"Update, 7 January 2011: Dry, dry, dry first half of Fall to Spring La Niña period, 2010-2011

As discussed above, the period most affected by the El Niño/La Niña cycle is October to March. I showed a graph of the rainfall for all the El Niño and La Niña episodes for the last 60 years, and noted that in 14 of 15 La Niña years the rainfall for this period was significantly below the October-to-March mean of 12". Halfway through the period in this La Niña cycle, we are far below even the driest of these previous La Niña years so far, with just 1" of rain in October through December 2010 (and almost all of that fell in the last week of December). There is some rain forecast for this weekend, but it will take a lot to get us out of this current dry spell.



Update, 3 April 2011: Sometimes it hurts to be right; La Niña continues, but may be weakening

The six-month period most affected by the El Niño/La Niña cycle (October%u2013March) just ended, and the predicted drought certainly materialized...

The 2010%u20132011 La Niña season was the second-driest in the past 60 years, with just 2.72" of rain from October 2010 through March 2011. The calendar says April, but it looks and feels like July in central Texas...

Unfortunately, we are likely looking at continued drought conditions for a while yet. The good news is that a return to more normal conditions is on the (distant) horizon."

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

I would also like to point out that this ranch, while it is in the (roughly) geographic center of the state, their natural environment is vastly different than that of SE TX. Their annual average rainfall is about 26-30 inches. Our annual average is almost twice that, at 50 inches. Also, the general moisture content of the atmosphere is much higher, and the local vegetation is also adapted to more rainfall than that of central TX.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting Neapolitan:
Almost lost in all the deadly severe weather news of the past week have been the fires in Texas of which Dr. Masters wrote (and RitaEvac has mentioned on several occasions. M ore than a million acres have burned, and hundreds of homes and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as firefighters from 34 states are battling the blazes using every means at their disposal.

Driving all this is, of course, record drought. Texas just had its driest March ever (that is, since recordkeeping began). West Texas, for example, averages about 15" of rain per year, but in the past six months, just 0.13" has fallen. Though the winter is the dry season, that's about 0.005" (5/1000ths) of an inch of rain per week--obviously far below average.

This--yet another unprecedented weather/climate event in a long and worsening string of them--is all, of course, in perfect agreement with USGS predictions of the so-called "dust-bowlification" of the Southwestern U.S. as the planet continues to warm. And what makes it perhaps ironic is that Texas, the fount of many petro dollars, leads the nation in the number and vociferousness of Congressional delegates in foolish denialism of what's going on with the climate.
-----------------
In a somewhat related story, an Australian hydrologist says that January's massive floods in Queensland were caused by a once-in-370 years rainfall event.
-----------------
As weather is simply the atmosphere's attempt to redistribute heat, the formula is fairly easy to understand: more heat = more severe weather at both ends of the scale. I--and, far more importantly, thousands of credible atmospheric scientists--believe that is precisely what is happening now.

Ask almost any one of those scientists and they'll tell you this: it's not always fun to be right. :-\


You are forgetting that the the ENSO forecasts for the past several months predicted this for Texas...a dry and warm winter...and the forecast has been spot-on. Also, people who don't study history forget that wildfires actually do help replenish the land.

There are so many things that influence our climate, both terrestrial and non-terrestrial. To think that we as humans understand completely how our climate works is the epitome of arrogance. There is so much we do not know yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
84. Skyepony (Mod)
Bahamas~ You may want to look over your hurricane supplies..CMC has just been so persistent on this storm. I've got to give it an outside chance. Between it being preseason & many of the models were recently tweaked it's hard to rule either way..The tenacious surface low speaks volumes though. To pull that off under such high sheer gives good potential to bomb given any chance of low sheer.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36074
here the back up site if you can go too the main nvy site plzs note that i can get on to this one and it is not down

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
CMC is also interesting


Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting sunlinepr:
NGP regenerates the ATL low into the Gulf and W of Florida



Link

Interesting how strong the A/B high is (hitting the high 1030s). You can definitely see the longwave pattern, with a persistent trough across the central CONUS, and a persistent high off the west coast, and over the east coast.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
78. IKE
12Z non-tropical NAM model at 48 hours.....


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Neapolitan:
Almost lost in all the deadly severe weather news of the past week have been the fires in Texas of which Dr. Masters wrote (and RitaEvac has mentioned on several occasions. M ore than a million acres have burned, and hundreds of homes and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as firefighters from 34 states are battling the blazes using every means at their disposal.

Driving all this is, of course, record drought. Texas just had its driest March ever (that is, since recordkeeping began). West Texas, for example, averages about 15" of rain per year, but in the past six months, just 0.13" has fallen. Though the winter is the dry season, that's about 0.005" (5/1000ths) of an inch of rain per week--obviously far below average.

This--yet another unprecedented weather/climate event in a long and worsening string of them--is all, of course, in perfect agreement with USGS predictions of the so-called "dust-bowlification" of the Southwestern U.S. as the planet continues to warm. And what makes it perhaps ironic is that Texas, the fount of many petro dollars, leads the nation in the number and vociferousness of Congressional delegates in foolish denialism of what's going on with the climate.
-----------------
In a somewhat related story, an Australian hydrologist says that January's massive floods in Queensland were caused by a once-in-370 years rainfall event.
-----------------
As weather is simply the atmosphere's attempt to redistribute heat, the formula is fairly easy to understand: more heat = more severe weather at both ends of the scale. I--and, far more importantly, thousands of credible atmospheric scientists--believe that is precisely what is happening now.

Ask almost any one of those scientists and they'll tell you this: it's not always fun to be right. :-\


And yet, on another side of your related story (Queesland flooding), other hydrologists have a different story:

"...The hydrology report, commissioned by the Insurance Council of Australia and published yesterday, ruled the Brisbane flood to be a “dam release flood”.

It named the release of water from Wivenhoe Dam as being the “principal immediate cause” of the riverine flood, as rain ceased about 6pm on January 11, more than 24 hours before the Brisbane River peaked overnight on January 12-13.

The council commissioned the report, carried out by hydrologists from WorleyParsons, WRM and Water Matters International, on behalf of insurance companies for use in conjunction with their own hydrology assessments and local condition reports in processing claims.

Although the report acknowledges that flood waters from the Lockyer Creek and Bremer River contributed to the Brisbane flood, the hydrologists found the releases from Wivenhoe Dam created the primary “floodwave”..."

Wivenhoe dam release caused Brisbane flood
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Skyepony:
Can anyone get into NRL yet?

No luck here. I think their server "fall down go boom".
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
NGP regenerates the ATL low into the Gulf and W of Florida (As a weak low}



Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
71. Skyepony (Mod)
Can anyone get into NRL yet?
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36074
Quoting sammywammybamy:
. Good Point. But I still think they should declare it...

Why?

It has a very low chance of developing, and declaring an invest does cost money. Declaring an invest for the Spain thing was the right thing to do, considering the proximity of the shipping lane. In the middle of the Atlantic... not many shipping lanes, very limited benefit for something with such a low chance of development.

If this was June/July, it absolutely would be declared an invest. But in April... not so much.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting sammywammybamy:
. Seems like a LLC and some thunderstorms.... But currently shear is limiting it.

Exactly. And it should be mentioned that the LLC is under a zonal flow, which isn't helping, either.

It does have divergent upper level winds, and convergent lower level winds, which is likely feeding much of the thunderstorms.

Between the shear, lack of outflow (aside from that provided by the shear), and the fact that 850mb vort isn't consolidated into one center... Its got a long way to go.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting sammywammybamy:
. Wouldn't it make sense to declare this an invest? If they declared that invest in march off of spain then logic says they should declare this one.

The "thing" off the coast of Spain was fairly well defined, and it didn't have 60kt of shear. (granted, it also didn't have water temps above 20c, but who's counting?)

This one has a more significant uphill battle than the thing off Spain did, IMO, since shear will rip storms up much more efficiently than cold water temps. Also, this one does not pose much of a threat to any shipping lanes or landmasses, while the thing off Spain was planted right on top of one of the major transatlantic shipping lanes.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
65. IKE

Quoting sammywammybamy:
. Wouldn't it make sense to declare this an invest? If they declared that invest in march off of spain then logic says they should declare this one.
I would say...yes.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
With no relief in sight, Texas is gonna get it's headlines I'm afraid. Especially with tomm's release of the drought monitor
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
61. IKE

Quoting sammywammybamy:
. Hey Ike, Shear will keep this from developing right? Hopefully.
Not sure. It may.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Neapolitan:
Almost lost in all the deadly severe weather news of the past week have been the fires in Texas of which Dr. Masters wrote (and RitaEvac has mentioned on several occasions. M ore than a million acres have burned, and hundreds of homes and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as firefighters from 34 states are battling the blazes using every means at their disposal.

Driving all this is, of course, record drought. Texas just had its driest March ever (that is, since recordkeeping began). West Texas, for example, averages about 15" of rain per year, but in the past six months, just 0.13" has fallen. Though the winter is the dry season, that's about 0.005" (5/1000ths) of an inch of rain per week--obviously far below average.

Exactly, Nea! I posted this on Beell's blog yesterday, but it is very pertinent here, too...

When my wife and I were out Saturday, we noticed a bunch of smoke in the air on our way back to the house. We didn't see fire trucks nearby, but figured it was a small grass fire or house fire. Just on a hunch, I did some googling on my lunch break yesterday, and find out this wonderful little tidbit. That fire was about a mile from my house. I'm not super concerned about wildfires at my house, but that is mighty close to home...
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
58. IKE

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
55. IKE
SYNOPSIS FOR CARIBBEAN SEA AND TROPICAL N ATLC FROM 07N TO 22N
BETWEEN 55W AND 65W
530 AM EDT WED APR 20 2011

.SYNOPSIS...LIGHT TO MODERATE TRADES ACROSS MUCH OF THE AREA
THROUGH THE PERIOD AS THE ATLC RIDGE REMAINS DISRUPTED BY LOW
PRES SYSTEM N OF THE TROPICAL N ATLC ZONE THAT WILL SLOWLY MOVE
WESTWARD TOWARD THE BAHAMAS.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Almost lost in all the deadly severe weather news of the past week have been the fires in Texas of which Dr. Masters wrote (and RitaEvac has mentioned on several occasions. M ore than a million acres have burned, and hundreds of homes and other buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as firefighters from 34 states are battling the blazes using every means at their disposal.

Driving all this is, of course, record drought. Texas just had its driest March ever (that is, since recordkeeping began). West Texas, for example, averages about 15" of rain per year, but in the past six months, just 0.13" has fallen. Though the winter is the dry season, that's about 0.005" (5/1000ths) of an inch of rain per week--obviously far below average.

This--yet another unprecedented weather/climate event in a long and worsening string of them--is all, of course, in perfect agreement with USGS predictions of the so-called "dust-bowlification" of the Southwestern U.S. as the planet continues to warm. And what makes it perhaps ironic is that Texas, the fount of many petro dollars, leads the nation in the number and vociferousness of Congressional delegates in foolish denialism of what's going on with the climate.
-----------------
In a somewhat related story, an Australian hydrologist says that January's massive floods in Queensland were caused by a once-in-370 years rainfall event.
-----------------
As weather is simply the atmosphere's attempt to redistribute heat, the formula is fairly easy to understand: more heat = more severe weather at both ends of the scale. I--and, far more importantly, thousands of credible atmospheric scientists--believe that is precisely what is happening now.

Ask almost any one of those scientists and they'll tell you this: it's not always fun to be right. :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13263
Quoting lordhuracan01:
2009
img src="Photobucket">

2010
img src="Photobucket">

2011
img src="Photobucket">


So 2011 is generally warmer than 2009, cooler than 2010, but with more warmth concentrated in the GOM and in the Gulf Stream than either year.

And 2010 has a smiley face in the Loop Current.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting RastaSteve:
Guys FL can get lots of rain without a landfalling hurricane. Some systems like Depressions or Tropical Storms will do just fine. If our analogy is 2008 which it looks like it is then we should see a concentration of US hits in the Carolina's. Now that's not to say FL won't get a hurricane but I feel the Carolina's could be a risk more than FL this year.

Where is Presslord?

And where do you see a clustering of US hits in NC/SC? (I only see Hanna, as a TS, hitting near the SC/NC border)



I see the Gulf Coast getting beat like a bad habit in 2008...
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
2009
Photobucket

2010
Photobucket

2011
Photobucket
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Texas burning from 'border to border'Link
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1720
49. IKE
The blob~




Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting sammywammybamy:




You cannot blame me for making a conlusion off of the two diagrams that jeff posted.

Texas is quite a bit bigger than FL.

Also, even without that knowledge, look at the % of area in D3-D4.

FL = 16.15%
TX = 60.57%

Let me toss some more significant numbers on:
- ALL of the state is at least abormally dry.
- roughly 97% of the state's population is under at least a drought (D1 status).
- per just about every forecast I've seen, we aren't going to get a serious break until at least late May or early June, which will likely be far too late for many agricultural uses.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
Quoting RastaSteve:


Hey this didn't come from me. It came from a well known forecast in S FL. I'm trying to find his name with his rule of thumb right now. I get mad this is not my rule. No need to be rude.



Lighten Up Rasta, it was a joke.

Our local MET's can't get a 12 hour rain forecast right, let alone calling for 5in of rain in May. A bit far fetched and I poked fun, my apologies. The forecast for abundant rains have continually been debunked this year for South Fla so far and our drought continues to strengthen.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
46. IKE
JFV can't be too far away....only 41 days...15 hours....29 minutes until it officially begins.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858

Viewing: 92 - 42

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

Top of Page

About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
57 °F
Mostly Cloudy