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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AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION...UPDATED FOR AVIATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PEACHTREE CITY GA
138 PM EDT TUE APR 26 2011

.UPDATE...
/ISSUED AT 1242 PM EDT TUE APR 26 2011/
QUICK UPDATE TO TWEAK CURRENT TRENDS AND UPDATE FCST TIMING FOR
TONIGHT THRU THURSDAY. 12Z MODEL RUNS STILL INDICATE SIGNIFICANT
SEVERE WEATHER MOSTLY FOR WED NIGHT. SIG TOR PARAMETER /STP/
VALUES ARE THE HIGHEST I PERSONALLY HAVE EVER SEEN FROM THE GFS OR
NAM WITH VALUES OF 15 TO 20 PROGGED FOR ERN MS/NRN AL/CENTRAL TN 18

TO 21Z WED. RECALL THAT STP COMBINES MLCAPE..0 TO 1 KM SHEAR AND
LCL. VALUES GREATER THAN 1.0 INDICATE TORNADOES ARE POSSIBLE AND
VALUES GREATER THAN 3.0 INDICATE TORNADOES LIKELY. THESE ARE OFF
THE CHART GUYS. THE HIGHEST OBSERVED VALUES OF STP I HAVE SEEN ARE
14 FOR THE APR 2010 YAZOO CITY OUTBREAK AND 16 FOR THE MAY 10 2010
CENTRAL OK OUTBREAK. WE CAN TAKE SOME COMFORT FOR GA THAT STP IS
PROGGED TO DROP SOME BY THE TIME THE STORMS GET TO NW GA AROUND
00Z BUT...UNFORTUNATELY... WERE STILL TALKING ABOUT VALUES OF 8 TO
11 IN NORTH GA AND EVEN 6 TO 10 IN MIDDLE GEORGIA AFTER MIDNIGHT.
WE REALLY NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR THIS. MORE ON THE REST OF THE
FCST AROUND 4PM.

SNELSON

This is another alarming discussion for tomorrow.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting emcf30:


Your correct, how fast is the cloud moving?


Not very fast at all. I'm hoping it builds into a rain event. :)
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As previosly stated, Recoon has returned.

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25866
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, PSL. I saw a cloud the other day in Ft. Lauderdale. We are now at an 8" rain deficit.

Broward is now the driest county in Florida.



It's almost the rainy season for Florida. You will more than make up for lost rain...
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Storms look like they may want to be getting started along the Balconies Escarpment.

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11666
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Some folk are too serious for their own good.

I see a cloud, moving west....


Hey, PSL. I saw a cloud the other day in Ft. Lauderdale. We are now at an 8" rain deficit.

Broward is now the driest county in Florida.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26037
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Some folk are too serious for their own good.

I see a cloud, moving west....


Agreed.

There's a cluster of clouds to the NNW.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Here are the probabilities on that watch (the highest-risk watch that I can remember seeing, and it's only one county north of me!):

WWUS40 KWNS 261847
WWP5

TORNADO WATCH PROBABILITIES FOR WT 0215
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0147 PM CDT TUE APR 26 2011

WT 0215 PDS
PROBABILITY TABLE:
PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 90%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : 90%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 80%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE HAIL EVENTS >= 2 INCHES : >95%
PROB OF 6 OR MORE COMBINED SEVERE HAIL/WIND EVENTS : >95%

&&
ATTRIBUTE TABLE:
MAX HAIL /INCHES/ : 4.0
MAX WIND GUSTS SURFACE /KNOTS/ : 70
MAX TOPS /X 100 FEET/ : 600
MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR /DEGREES AND KNOTS/ : 25035
PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION : YES

&&
FOR A COMPLETE GEOGRAPHICAL DEPICTION OF THE WATCH AND
WATCH EXPIRATION INFORMATION SEE WOUS64 FOR WOU5.

$$


The one in bold is alarming.
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Quoting Ameister12:
Oh my god!

I am sick and tired of all these major tornado causing so much death and destruction! It's so heart breaking.
well if tornado season got ya bummed out wait till ya see what the hurricane season has in store
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53611
Here are the probabilities on that watch (the highest-risk watch that I can remember seeing, and it's only one county north of me!):

WWUS40 KWNS 261847
WWP5

TORNADO WATCH PROBABILITIES FOR WT 0215
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0147 PM CDT TUE APR 26 2011

WT 0215 PDS
PROBABILITY TABLE:
PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 90%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : 90%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 80%
PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS : >95%
PROB OF 1 OR MORE HAIL EVENTS >= 2 INCHES : >95%
PROB OF 6 OR MORE COMBINED SEVERE HAIL/WIND EVENTS : >95%

&&
ATTRIBUTE TABLE:
MAX HAIL /INCHES/ : 4.0
MAX WIND GUSTS SURFACE /KNOTS/ : 70
MAX TOPS /X 100 FEET/ : 600
MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR /DEGREES AND KNOTS/ : 25035
PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION : YES

&&
FOR A COMPLETE GEOGRAPHICAL DEPICTION OF THE WATCH AND
WATCH EXPIRATION INFORMATION SEE WOUS64 FOR WOU5.

$$
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11666
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Some folk are too serious for their own good.

I see a cloud, moving west....


Your correct, how fast is the cloud moving?
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting Grothar:


The odd thing is, that it is a blogger with whom I am quite friendly. Being a gentleman, I would not mention the name on the blog.


but he told me, and I'm no damn gentleman
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25866
At 1:53pm, it was 78 degrees in Shreveport and 68 degrees in Texarkana. Shreveport had a wind out of the south at 15mph, while Texarkana had a wind of 5mph out of the NE. An obvious warm front was between the two cities, and you can see it moving north on radar loops. The environment is still preparing itself...not quite ready to pop yet.
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Quoting emcf30:


Your not alone, I got one also. I am not allowed to ask you about German Rest. anymore. Boy the weather is hot today in CFL



Some folk are too serious for their own good.

I see a cloud, moving west....
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Quoting jeffs713:

I'm interested to know which blogger sent you the nastygram...


The odd thing is, that it is a blogger with whom I am quite friendly. Being a gentleman, I would not mention the name on the blog.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26037
Storm that is about to hit Syracuse, NY showing some minor rotation, and is already severe warned for quarter sized hail.
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Quoting Grothar:


A blogger sent me a very demeaning WU mail telling me I should not engage in idle banter on the blog. Just because I answered what state I lived in. I have been so embarrassed, I haven't been on since. Old people get their feelings hurt very easily.


Your not alone, I got one also. I am not allowed to ask you about German Rest. anymore. Boy the weather is hot today in CFL
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Oh my god!

I am sick and tired of all these major tornado causing so much death and destruction! It's so heart breaking.
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Quoting Grothar:


That is "Totally Nuts"



LOL Greetings, Venerable One. :)
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Quoting FLdewey:
Speaking of Indialantic, the east coast seabreeze is making very little headway today... may get a rumbler soon.


I hope so. Clouding up pretty quickly, here. Seems a bit more diffuse down my way though. It's pinned a bit closer to the coast in your area.
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Quoting Grothar:


A blogger sent me a very demeaning WU mail telling me I should not engage in idle banter on the blog. Just because I answered what state I lived in. I have been so embarrassed, I haven't been on since. Old people get their feelings hurt very easily.

I'm interested to know which blogger sent you the nastygram...
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skye- I'm jealous- would love to see some rain, hear some thunder...
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25866
"A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
600"

Geezum. 60k tops. THAT is an updraft. (and a massive hail-maker)
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I have been on several radars in the area and don't see much of anything. Hopefully it will stay that way.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
See, this is what is wrong with these newbies... they do not yet understand that what state u live in is not idle banter on this blog....

You are so Correct
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226. Skyepony (Mod)
Ex-91L remnants have helped bring down .39" rain in Melbourne, FL so far today.
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storm dev will be fast and furious take precautions in areas of high risk
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53611
BBS.... afternoon drive time...
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No surprise, really, but a PDS was issued for the Texarkana region:



URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 215
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
145 PM CDT TUE APR 26 2011

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL ARKANSAS
NORTHERN LOUISIANA
EXTREME SOUTHEAST OKLAHOMA
NORTHEAST AND NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS

EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 145 PM UNTIL
1000 PM CDT.

...THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION...

DESTRUCTIVE TORNADOES...LARGE HAIL TO 4 INCHES IN DIAMETER...
THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 80 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE
POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 80 STATUTE
MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 45 MILES NORTHWEST OF WACO
TEXAS TO 60 MILES NORTHEAST OF EL DORADO ARKANSAS. FOR A
COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE
UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU5).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 213...WW 214...

DISCUSSION...SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO RAPIDLY DEVELOP
THIS AFTERNOON OVER NORTHEAST TX...SPREADING ACROSS THE WATCH AREA
THROUGH EARLY EVENING. OTHER INTENSE STORMS WILL DEVELOP BY EARLY
EVENING OVER NORTHEAST TX AND ALSO SPREAD EASTWARD. BOTH AREAS OF
SEVERE STORMS WILL LIKELY INCLUDE DISCRETE SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF
VERY LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS...AND TORNADOES. WIND FIELDS WILL
BE STRENGTHENING THROUGH THE EVENING...AND STORMS TRACKING NEAR THE
EXISTING BOUNDARY FROM TX INTO AR WILL HAVE ENHANCED SHEAR AND THE
RISK OF STRONG/LONG-LIVED TORNADOES.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 4 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 70 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
600. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 25035.
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(state of confusion)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 165 Comments: 25866
221. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting FLdewey:
The streets of Indialantic are no joke... they will cut you.


You mean if your driving a beater or something that makes you look like your poor & from the mainland? Cops are pretty hostile to penny deficient outsiders there..or are your referring to the deranged Doctors?


Here's more on the TX outage..

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Texas emergency response officials early Tuesday morning lifted an order on residents to stay inside after the latest incident at the massive BP PLC (BP: 46.25, +0.27, +0.59%) Texas City refinery resulted in a fire and flaring of industrial gases in the overnight hours.

Late Monday, Texas City Emergency Management authorities told residents to stay indoors and to turn off their air conditioners after power failures at BP's refinery and a nearby Dow Chemical Co. (DOW: 39.97, +0.62, +1.58%) plant. The warning, a "shelter-in-place" order, was issued due to fears of possible explosions and harmful emissions from the facility, according to Texas City Emergency Management director Bruce Clawson.

But officials lifted the warning at around 03:00 am local time (0800 GMT) after determining the situation was under control, according to BP and the Texas City agency. There were no injuries resulting from the incident, BP said.

The risk "has passed" and there are no fires now at the plant, said Clawson. "We are attempting a stabilizing process to bring the plant back up," Clawson added.

BP's accident-plagued Texas City refinery was the site of a catastrophic explosion in 2005 that many see as a precursor to last year's Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico. The latest Texas City incident focuses the spotlight anew on the state of BP's operations one day before the company is slated to report first-quarter earnings.

Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/04/26/offi cials-lift-order-tx-city-homes-bp-plant-stabilizes /#ixzz1KesM4q1A
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For sammywhammybammy re: ex91L... it is currently being analysed on surface maps as a shortwave crossing the ECFL coast...



Really, the forecast models on this system were pretty good.

Sure hope they can get path and intensity right on the big storms this season....
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53611
Some of the highest TorCon areas for today.

AR north - 6
AR south - 9
IN - 4
KY west - 5
KYcentral and east - 3 to 4
LA north - 8
MS northwest - 8
MS northeast - 5
MS central - 4
OK southeast - 6
PA west - 3
TN west - 7
TN middle - 5
TN east - 3 to 4
TX northeast - 9
TX north-central - 4
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26037
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53611
Quoting Grothar:


A blogger sent me a very demeaning WU mail telling me I should not engage in idle banter on the blog. Just because I answered what state I lived in. I have been so embarrassed, I haven't been on since. Old people get their feelings hurt very easily.
See, this is what is wrong with these newbies... they do not yet understand that what state u live in is not idle banter on this blog....
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STORM INIT COMMENCES SOON
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53611
Quoting BahaHurican:
Has this been happening often????

BTW, I like ur new avatar pic.... looks like some Carolina sea oats there....

[ducks and runs]

Glad u survived to have the 2nd one...

Venerable oldheads are not allowed to banter... only nod wisely...


A blogger sent me a very demeaning WU mail telling me I should not engage in idle banter on the blog. Just because I answered what state I lived in. I have been so embarrassed, I haven't been on since. Old people get their feelings hurt very easily.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26037
Can't believe Destin cut out before I could post...
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Quoting DestinJeff:


you have to choke a cashew on the mean streets of Indialantic before you're given the secret handshake.


That is "Totally Nuts"
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26037
Quoting presslord:
Forgot who I was for a moment there...
Has this been happening often????

BTW, I like ur new avatar pic.... looks like some Carolina sea oats there....

[ducks and runs]

Quoting presslord:


actually....you just described my first marriage...
Glad u survived to have the 2nd one...

Quoting Grothar:


How come all of you can engage in idle banter and I am not allowed?
Venerable oldheads are not allowed to banter... only nod wisely...
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Quoting presslord:


actually....you just described my first marriage...

So many ways I can run with that.

And so many reasons why I'm not even gonna touch it.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


you have to choke a cashew before you're given the secret handshake.


Oh lordy. LOL
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Quoting aquak9:


A. Because this is a weather blog- can you please keep this sort of stuff to private wu-mails? AND

B. You're old and boring.


Leave it to you aqua! LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26037

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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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