Tornadoes, floods, and fires assault the nation

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:43 PM GMT on April 26, 2011

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A 1/2 mile-wide tornado smashed through Vilonia, Arkansas last night, killing four and destroying 50 - 80 houses. Vilonia is a small town of 3,800 north of Little Rock. The storm system responsible produced 38 suspected tornadoes yesterday, and also dumped 10 - 15 inches of rain over portions of Arkansas and southern Missouri. Flash flooding from the heavy rains killed four people in Arkansas last night. The heavy rains have also resulted in overtopping of the Black River levee near Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and over 500 homes have been evacuated in the town due to fears that the levee might fail. Poplar Bluff has received 12.86" of rain over the past three days, as of 11am EDT this morning. The greatest rain gauge-measured precipitation from the storm occurred in Springdale, Arkansas, where 17.09" inches has fallen.


Figure 1. Animation of a supercell thunderstorm 45 minutes after it produced the Viloni, Arkansas tornado at 7:25 pm CDT.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated precipitation from last night's storms.

Dangerous tornado outbreak expected today
Yesterday's tornado outbreak was merely a warm-up for today's onslaught, as NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued their highest level of severe weather potential, a "High Risk" forecast, for Northeast Texas and Southern Arkansas. This is just the second time this year that SPC has issued a "High Risk" forecast--the other was for the devastating North Carolina tornado outbreak of April 16, which generated 52 tornadoes that killed 26 people. Severe thunderstorms have already rumbled across Louisiana and Mississippi this morning, but today's main action is expected to erupt late this afternoon and early this evening in the "high risk" area. The tornado and severe weather outbreak will continue on Wednesday, when severe weather is expected to be concentrated in Tennessee and Kentucky, with a "moderate risk" of tornadoes. Preliminary tornado reports for the year 2011 show that this year is probably the busiest tornado season on record for this point in the season.


Figure 3. Severe weather threat for Tuesday, April 26, 2011.


Figure 4.
Chaser video of the Viloni, Arkansas tornado of April 25, 2011.

Extremely critical fire danger in Texas and New Mexico today
Spring storms commonly bring high winds to the Midwest this time of year, but today's storm will bring exceptionally high winds--and no precipitation--to the drought-stricken regions of West Texas and eastern New Mexico. As a result, an "extremely critical" fire weather day has been declared by the National Weather Service for the region, where high temperatures, low humidities, and powerful winds gusting to 60 mph will occur. The 24,000 acre Last Chance fire burning 33 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico near the Texas border is a particular concern, since it is currently 0% contained and is threatening many structures. This fire is expected to rage out of control today, thanks to humidities near 5%, temperatures in the low 90s, sustained winds near 40 mph, and gusts to 60 mph.


Figure 5. Fire weather forecast for today from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

2011 sets record for most acreage burned for April
According to the Interagency Fire Center, wildfires in 2011 have already burned nearly 2.3 million acres in the U.S. This is the greatest acreage on record so early in the year, and is more area than burned all of last year. The largest U.S. acreage to burn since 1960 was the 9.9 million acres that burned in 2007, so we area already 25% of the way to the all-time record fire year--with summer still more than a month away. Last night, a line of thunderstorms brought heavy rains of 2 - 3 inches from Dallas southeastwards through Louisiana, providing precious rains to a portion of Texas that was under their worst drought since 1925. However, the portion of Texas that has seen the worst wildfires (the black spots in the image below), received no rain.


Figure 6. Perimeters of the major wildfires in Texas during 2011 as of April 25. Image credit: GEOMAC Wildland Fire Support.

For those who want to lend a helping hand to those impacted by the widespread destruction this month's severe weather has brought, stop by the portlight.org blog.

Jeff Masters

Lambert St. Louis Tornado Damage (WindyCityBob)
Taken after the good friday tornado at Lambert Field St.Louis, MO
Lambert St. Louis Tornado Damage
Super fat rainbow! (murphymom)
I watched as an anvil formed and as it apprached my house, it rained a bit and passed over, I thought to myself, that looks like there will be a rainbow with it, and voila!
Super fat rainbow!

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Tomorrow,s map..
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http://weather.wdtinc.com/popout/index.php?M=10164& C=20226&O=10279
think i've been seeing something on the ground
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Wish Tornadodude could be in on a chase ...maybe he is....there are plenty of them out there these days...
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Hmmm... maybe this cloud...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
Second earthquake today in Mexico...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
Quoting DestinJeff:


i think it can, i think it can.

#debrisball

Just registered debrisball on the twitter...

FTW
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 42 Comments: 6269
More rain for flooded region 5 days out..
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Quoting StAugustineFL:


I was just posting the storms in southern AR have warnings all over.
that SW one (of the cluster) almost looks like a giant clockwise hook, surely coincidental.. though not unheard of ;)
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Tornado warned storm heading right for Memphis.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5070
Quoting aquak9:


DebrisBall Kitteh is not for sale.


hmmmmm....
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Quoting aquak9:


DebrisBall Kitteh is not for sale.
Debris ball kitty..Maybe a good name for the vehicles they use to chase tornadoes with... I have a concept chase vehicle in the works.
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Quoting aquak9:


DebrisBall Kitteh is not for sale.

For the record you got me the that awesome weather image... Diet Coke on das screen!
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 42 Comments: 6269
I swear the main part of the front is moving retrograde.

The weather is getting up into Nebraska and Missouri again, though not as bad as Texas and Arkansas just yet.
Member Since: April 12, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 214
Arkansas SkyWarn Activated. Listen Live
Link

This feq. will get very busy in a bit
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1950
Quoting Minnemike:
wow, almost looks like it hits ground just after crossing a little lake. by the rest of the noise indicating inflow, i'd buy debris ball.
edit: ha! gotcha FLd.. too bad home computer too slow to follow them.


DebrisBall Kitteh is not for sale.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 26249
Moisture from Gulf and Caribbean(including 91L remnant) moving into U.S...
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Quoting Neapolitan:
== PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE REPORT ==



Region: GULF OF CALIFORNIA
Geographic coordinates: 27.439N, 111.597W
Magnitude: 5.6 Mw
Depth: 15 km
Universal Time (UTC): 26 Apr 2011 21:10:26
Time near the Epicenter: 26 Apr 2011 14:10:26
Local standard time in your area: 26 Apr 2011 16:10:26

Location with respect to nearby cities:
69 km (43 miles) E (79 degrees) of Santa Rosal%uFFFDa, Baja California Sur, Mexico
74 km (46 miles) E (81 degrees) of Santa Rosalia, Baja Calif. Sur, Mexico
88 km (54 miles) SW (232 degrees) of Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico
165 km (102 miles) W (269 degrees) of Obreg%uFFFDn, Sonora, Mexico
770 km (478 miles)
SE (136 degrees) of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

Map showing earthquakes


My goodness! There was a 4.7 in that general area on 4/20....but a 5.6....geez,
,Link
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Another cluster moving off Africa..
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Three hook echos south of Little Rock.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5070
Small tornado that moved through Collins, MS earlier today...caught on surveillance camera. It was rated an EF-1.

Link
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U.S. may see several hurricane landfalls in 2011: WSI

The 2011 Atlantic hurricane season will be active with the energy-rich U.S. Gulf Coast facing a significant threat of a hurricane landfall, a leading private weather forecaster predicted on Tuesday.

The forecast by Weather Services International follows one of the busiest seasons on record last year that saw intense levels of storm and hurricane activity but no direct hit on the U.S. coastline.

WSI slightly lowered its December forecast, calling for 15 named storms and eight hurricanes. Four are expected to grow into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale, it said.

"While we expect less overall activity this year, we do expect a much more impactful season along the U.S. coastline," WSI's chief meteorologist Todd Crawford said in a statement.

Other private forecasters have made similar predictions for the 2011 season set to begin June 1 and run through November 30.

The U.S. coastline has been spared a direct hit since 2008. Last year, Hurricane Earl, which grew into a Category 4 hurricane, came the closest by approaching to about 100 miles off North Carolina and southern New England in September.

"Our recent good fortune in avoiding landfalling hurricanes is not likely to last," Crawford said.

Projection models, he said, showed the western states on the U.S. coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where major oil and gas installations are located, facing "sharply increased" chances of a landfall this year.

Crawford predicted two or three hurricanes could come ashore.

"The U.S. has not had a three-year stretch without a hurricane landfall since the 1860s," he added.

Reuters Article...
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Quoting Minnemike:
logged into another computer, no longer in the dark :)
radar could have had me convinced, speaking of which, Arkansas storms!


I was just posting the storms in southern AR have warnings all over.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
== PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE REPORT ==



Region: GULF OF CALIFORNIA
Geographic coordinates: 27.439N, 111.597W
Magnitude: 5.6 Mw
Depth: 15 km
Universal Time (UTC): 26 Apr 2011 21:10:26
Time near the Epicenter: 26 Apr 2011 14:10:26
Local standard time in your area: 26 Apr 2011 16:10:26

Location with respect to nearby cities:
69 km (43 miles) E (79 degrees) of Santa Rosal%uFFFDa, Baja California Sur, Mexico
74 km (46 miles) E (81 degrees) of Santa Rosalia, Baja Calif. Sur, Mexico
88 km (54 miles) SW (232 degrees) of Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico
165 km (102 miles) W (269 degrees) of Obreg%uFFFDn, Sonora, Mexico
770 km (478 miles) SE (136 degrees) of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

Map showing earthquakes
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Close call for Dallas.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5070
Quoting emcf30:


Sure looks like it on radar
logged into another computer, no longer in the dark :)
radar could have had me convinced, speaking of which, Arkansas storms!
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Quoting emcf30:


This is a excellent site. Link

Real cool, thanks
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Quoting hydrus:
Trade ya the 8 for the 5- A-12..Thank you for the post....And thank you EMCF30 for the link...

Ha! No way! Though, I would like to see a tornado.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5070
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
I hope they're watching that cell to the SW of Dallas, just west of GrandView. It now has a tornadic signature and is showing 100% chance of severe hail > 2.25 inches.
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Das blog takes a bit of time to build a head of steam DJ...
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 42 Comments: 6269
Here we go.

It's started.

Downpours up to 2 inches per hour in central Arkansas headed NE.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
C'mon rusty blog. Not only did I say band, but I also said re port.

Both intentional, obviously.

I can't work under these conditions!


I actually caught that...I'm getting sharper all the time....lol...and weatherwise,it's sultry and hot in Ms.
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Quoting Minnemike:
wow, almost looks like it hits ground just after crossing a little lake. by the rest of the noise indicating inflow, i'd buy debris ball.
edit: ha! gotcha FLd.. too bad home computer too slow to follow them.


Sure looks like it on radar
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1950
Quoting sammywammybamy:


Ive always wondered do a lot of people actually live in the county in between Ft.myers and Palm beach County?

Hendry County?
I see u caught it... was thinking Collier was somewhere south, and was right... Can't be too many pple in either, since both are, like massive Everglades ....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
Quoting sammywammybamy:


Ive always wondered do a lot of people actually live in the county in between Ft.myers and Palm beach County?

Hendry County?


Doubt the population of Hendry County is much over 40,000 people. It actually has been hit by many hurricanes though
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Ted Jackson, Times-Picayune archive
The last time the spillway was opened was April 2008, above, when the Army Corps of Engineers opened it to relieve the dangerously high water in the Mississippi River.


High Mississippi River in New Orleans could lead to May opening of Bonnet Carre Spillway
Published: Monday, April 25, 2011, 8:00 PM



National Weather Service hydrologists predict the Mississippi River at New Orleans will crest at 17.5 feet above sea level on May 17, the highest the river has risen in more than a dozen years, and a level that could require the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway to ease pressure on the city's levees.
pillway-april2008.jpgView full sizeTed Jackson, Times-Picayune archiveThe last time the spillway was opened was April 2008, above, when the Army Corps of Engineers opened it to relieve the dangerously high water in the Mississippi River.

The spillway, 28 miles above New Orleans, was last opened April 11-29, 2008, with pins removed from 160 of the structure's 350 individual bays, which allow water to flow into the spillway and then into Lake Pontchartrain. The river that year crested on April 26 at 16.96 feet.

The record water level at the Carrollton Gauge was 21.27 feet on April 25, 1922. The river reached 21 feet on the same day during the historic 1927 flood.

The unusually high river has been triggered by heavy rains in the Midwest, including more than 11 inches in Cincinnati and almost 7 inches in St. Louis during the past three weeks, according to hydrologists with the National Weather Service's Lower Mississippi River Forecast Office.

"A small part of this is snow melt, but the primary driver of this is the ongoing heavy rain stretching from St. Louis to the west and in the Ohio Valley," said David Reed, hydrologist in charge of the river forecast center in Slidell.

Computer models indicate the cold front moving over the Midwest and Ohio Valley could drop another 10 to 15 inches of rain during the next three days, although official forecasts at a number of locations indicate only 2 to 4 inches are expected.

In New Orleans, the official flood stage at the Carrollton Gauge is 17 feet, but the city is protected from water rising to at least 20 feet by a combination of levees and floodwalls.



A high river is likely to require restrictions by the Coast Guard on shipping moving through New Orleans because of the increased speed of river water and its potential to cause or exacerbate steering problems. Notifications will be sent to navigation interests when the river reaches 12 feet, which is expected Friday, and 17 feet, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the spillway and regulates water flow in the river, are watching the rising water carefully, said Mike Stack, chief of emergency management for the corps' New Orleans District office. Water begins leaking through spaces between the wooden pins in the concrete spillway when the river reaches about 12 1/2 feet.

Corps officials already have begun inspecting levees along the river, in part because of an earlier high river event about a month ago, he said. The first stage inspections are conducted twice a week by corps officials looking for seepage, sand boils, bank erosion or other threats to the levees, such as ships or debris in the water. Similar inspections also are being conducted by local levee district employees.

When the river reaches 15 feet, the inspections will be conducted once a day.

The decision to open the spillway is based on a combination of concerns, including whether the amount of water flowing south of the spillway is expected to climb above 1.25 million cubic feet per second, and how long the upper portions of the levees have been saturated with water.

It takes about 10 days to prepare for an opening, he said. The long, wooden pins that keep the bays closed to water are removed by a crane that moves on a track atop the spillway structure.

"We'll monitor it for the next week and see where we are," Stack said. "If we see that we are likely to reach 1.25 million cubic feet per second, we'll start the process of notifying stakeholders, who will give us their input and then send our recommendations to the Mississippi River Commission."



The commission, chaired by the commander of the corps office overseeing the entire Mississippi River, is based in Vicksburg.

The rising river also is creating concern at Red River Landing, a largely rural area on the river's west bank across from Angola State Prison, where a predicted crest of 59 feet above sea level on May 16 is just 2 1/2 feet below a record crest of March 1997. A crest of 41.5 feet at Baton Rouge that same day is almost 12 feet above the official flood level, but still about 6 feet below the 1927 record crest. Donaldsonville's crest of 33.5 feet that same evening will be about 3 feet below its 1927 record, while Reserve's May 17 crest of 25 feet will be only a foot below its 1929 record.

At Morgan City, the Atchafalaya River, which carries 30 percent of the Mississippi's water, already is at 4.9 feet, almost a foot above flood stage, and is forecast to rise to 7 feet by May 22. That water level is likely to cause some flooding of businesses located on the river side of floodwalls in both Morgan City and Berwick, according to the river forecast center.

While the southern end of one cold front storm system now dumping rainfall on the Midwest is expected to pass through New Orleans on Wednesday, local rainfall generally does not increase the height of the river, as most of it is drained into area lakes and wetlands, and not over the levees and into the river.

Breaks in levees upstream from Louisiana caused by what's expected to be record high water levels also could result in lowered forecasts during the next three weeks for the river in New Orleans.

•••••••
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 129089
Quoting BahaHurican:
Sammy, all we have so far is that lowlying cloud cover... I can SMELL rain... but it not falling....

Meanwhile Arkansas gets hit AGAIN....




Member Since: June 17, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 5010
Quoting Minnemike:
wow, almost looks like it hits ground just after crossing a little lake. by the rest of the noise indicating inflow, i'd buy debris ball.


Heading towards Gun Barrel City.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Looks like NBC in Dallas thinks that storm isn't producing a tornado yet...so that's good.


No tornado yet. They are all over it with a guy spotting on the ground in Ennis and helicopter filming. There is a good wall cloud about 300 ft off ground rotating.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1950
Tornado Warning for Dallas County and NW Ouachita County ,

watchin storm chaser mike gribble here

Link
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wow, almost looks like it hits ground just after crossing a little lake. by the rest of the noise indicating inflow, i'd buy debris ball.
edit: ha! gotcha FLd.. too bad home computer too slow to follow them.
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There is a ton of chasers on that cell near Dallas... nothing too exciting yet.

Storm motion is brisk... :-|
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 42 Comments: 6269
Sammy, all we have so far is that lowlying cloud cover... I can SMELL rain... but it not falling....

Meanwhile Arkansas gets hit AGAIN....

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22561
Quoting spathy:


Fort Myers


Ive always wondered do a lot of people actually live in the county in between Ft.myers and Palm beach County?

Hendry County?
Member Since: June 17, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 5010
Quoting hydrus:
I will handily diffuse any adverse blog conditions with the emblem of the generative power. HHHHHAAAAAAAA..




Member Since: June 17, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 5010

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About

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

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