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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Yes, Steve, we get it, you think it was a different storm.
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Quoting aquak9:


Aussie- bite your tongue!!

I am just interested if there is any link.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Quoting RastaSteve:


No it's not! It was a supercell out ahead of that line. Here you go.

http://okcstormwatcher.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/v ilonia-arkansas-and-little-rock-air-force-base-rak ed-by-major-tornado/


Still don't see anything that makes me believe that's not the same storm. The loop that Doc posted was 30min to an hour after the storm passed through Vilonia, so the radar image doesn't look the same. Also, the time on Doc's loop would match up with the time that the tornado went through Vilonia.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:


Gonna be a wet spring for the Lower Mississippi Valley. Wonder how the Mississippi River is going to look with this and the combined runoff with the snowmelt from the Upper Midwest. 93???
A flood event similar to 1993 is certainly in the realm of possibility...Today is 20 year anniversary of the Andover, Kansas tornado which hit McConnell Airforce Base. This is uncensored video. Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21249
Will some one please post the link that shows the location of the storm chasers and their live feed. I have misplaced the link. Thanks in advanced
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Quoting RastaSteve:


Nope. Your wrong! It was a supercell out ahead of that squall line. Here ya go. Again people look at the link!

http://okcstormwatcher.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/v ilonia-arkansas-and-little-rock-air-force-base-rak ed-by-major-tornado/

Page not found.
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MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0585
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1051 AM CDT TUE APR 26 2011

AREAS AFFECTED...FAR EASTERN AR/SOUTHWEST TN/NORTHERN MS

CONCERNING...OUTLOOK UPGRADE

VALID 261551Z - 261645Z

THE EXISTING CATEGORICAL HIGH RISK WILL LIKELY BE EXPANDED
NORTHEASTWARD IN THE FORTHCOMING 1630Z DAY 1 OUTLOOK TO INCLUDE
REMAINING PORTIONS OF EASTERN AR...WHILE ADDING PARTS OF SOUTHWEST
TN/NORTHWEST MS INTO A HIGH RISK. FOR ADDITIONAL METEOROLOGICAL
DISCUSSION...SEE THE FORTHCOMING DAY 1 OUTLOOK THAT WILL BE ISSUED
BY AROUND 1630Z.

..GUYER.. 04/26/2011


ATTN...WFO...MEG...JAN...LZK...

LAT...LON 34859164 35939024 35608894 34888925 33849110 34329088
34729120 34859164

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0585
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1051 AM CDT TUE APR 26 2011

AREAS AFFECTED...FAR EASTERN AR/SOUTHWEST TN/NORTHERN MS

CONCERNING...OUTLOOK UPGRADE

VALID 261551Z - 261645Z

THE EXISTING CATEGORICAL HIGH RISK WILL LIKELY BE EXPANDED
NORTHEASTWARD IN THE FORTHCOMING 1630Z DAY 1 OUTLOOK TO INCLUDE
REMAINING PORTIONS OF EASTERN AR...WHILE ADDING PARTS OF SOUTHWEST
TN/NORTHWEST MS INTO A HIGH RISK. FOR ADDITIONAL METEOROLOGICAL
DISCUSSION...SEE THE FORTHCOMING DAY 1 OUTLOOK THAT WILL BE ISSUED
BY AROUND 1630Z.

..GUYER.. 04/26/2011


ATTN...WFO...MEG...JAN...LZK...

LAT...LON 34859164 35939024 35608894 34888925 33849110 34329088
34729120 34859164
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting emcf30:
Forbes just raised his TORCON value to 9. NE TX and AR


Did he really ?
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Dr Masters, Is there any collaboration between and active Tornado season and an active Hurricane season?


La Nina seasons normally have a substantial amount of tornadoes. Also, La Nina seasons are obviously known for increased hurricane activity. Therefore, it would seem that the tornado season and hurricane season are connected. However, it's just mainly more to do with La Nina's effects on the atmosphere.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Not sure what you mean because that's the same storm.
it does seem to be the right storm, just a little after hitting Vilonia, which is west of Ward, nearly due north of Little Rock... so i'd say close enough.
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First t-storms outbreak also hit Poland.Since Sunday,when things begun,damage is estimated at 6mln PLN(1,8mln USD),two persons were injured.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Dr Masters, Is there any collaboration between and active Tornado season and an active Hurricane season?
i am not the doc but we have no evidence of a link between an active spring and hurricane season but then again in 05 we had the same type of active period and when hurricane season started well we all know what happen that year
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Quoting RastaSteve:
Doc, must have thrown this post together fast as he is usually on point with his research but today he has posted a wrong radar image of the Vilonia, ARK tornado.


Not sure what you mean because that's the same storm.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Dr Masters, Is there any collaboration between and active Tornado season and an active Hurricane season?


Aussie- bite your tongue!!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 25940
Quoting emcf30:
23. MississippiWx

I hope your right and the most severe of the storms stay in the rural area. That is sad about the child that was killed. Was that nearby you?


About an hour west of me. Thankfully the storms weakened before they made it here. We just got some very beneficial rain from the storm.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Keeper did they adjust the track of this next storm north & west. My town is on the very northern fringe of the QPF shield as of the early early AM model. We can not take anymore rain or my home will suffer for it.
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Quoting hydrus:
The GFS does not have good news for flood victims...Link


Gonna be a wet spring for the Lower Mississippi Valley. Wonder how the Mississippi River is going to look with this and the combined runoff with the snowmelt from the Upper Midwest. 93???
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23. MississippiWx

I hope your right and the most severe of the storms stay in the rural area. That is sad about the child that was killed. Was that nearby you?
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1935
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Dr Masters, Is there any collaboration between and active Tornado season and an active Hurricane season?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
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Supercell Dropping Wall Clo...
Taken 5/22/2006
This Wall Cloud Dropped A Tornado SE Of Greenville, KY 1 Hour And 30 Minutes after Photo was taken. It Got Rated F4. It Left A 36 Mile Path Of Destruction. So, 1 Hour And 8 Minutes Later It Roped Out And Sadly Injured 277 And Killed 51.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1935
Quoting emcf30:
Forbes just raised his TORCON value to 9. NE TX and AR


Here's to hoping that something goes terribly wrong with the forecasts for today. Unfortunately, forecasters have been dead on with their forecasts of severe weather lately. A high risk is a very dangerous situation and we normally see at least an EF-4 tornado or two. Hopefully the strongest storms will stay over rural areas because I think we've had enough killer storms across the nation lately.

Just this morning a 3 year old was killed here in MS because of a tree that fell on his house due to the squalline that moved through earlier. Can't imagine what his parents and family are feeling today.
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The GFS does not have good news for flood victims...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21249
Forbes just raised his TORCON value to 9. NE TX and AR
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1935
7 BahaHurican "Hmmmm.... not to spur the climate change debate..."

We're all doomed. Doomed I tell ya. Peak Coffee.
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Thanks Jeff...
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Hmmmm.... not to spur the climate change debate... but isn't the "weather extreme" supposed to be the hallmark of this rapid global warming?

To put it another way: I'm wondering if the 1930s Dust Bowl was accompanied by historic flooding in other parts of the US...


Couldn't have been GW, the CO2 was lower then...
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Hmmmm.... not to spur the climate change debate... but isn't the "weather extreme" supposed to be the hallmark of this rapid global warming?

To put it another way: I'm wondering if the 1930s Dust Bowl was accompanied by historic flooding in other parts of the US...

The 1930s featured massive flooding in Central Texas, particularly in 1932, 1935, 1936, and 1938.
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Chris Regnier Reporter

10:02 a.m. CDT, April 26, 2011
POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KTVI - FOX2now.com)—

Police in Poplar Bluff says the levee protecting the town has breached. Now more evacuations are underway. Flood waters continued to rise Tuesday morning. About a thousand homes in Poplar Bluff were evacuated. Floodwaters are flowing over a levee Tuesday morning before the break.

Police say water is pouring through a crack in the levee on a road southeast of
Poplar Bluff. Crews are also looking into a report of a possible second breach.

Overnight Monday, crews from the Poplar Bluff Fire Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol made 59 water rescues. With quick rising waters, rescuers were getting in and out of boats as fast as they could. Heavy rain Monday night has added to the situation and people are moving to higher ground.

The levee failure means southeast Poplar Bluff will flood in about 30 minutes. There are 500 homes evacuated in that area already.

One woman who had to be evacuated Monday said the water came quickly. “"When it started raining really hard, it just started coming up from our furnace, an old furnace in the floor, then both doors really fast," said Kaye Mathews.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1935
I wonder what tomorrow's blog will be about ... with an even greater chance of nasty weather today. Amazing weather for storm chasers ... I hope all the rest of the people pay close attention to it.
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Gotta go. Ya'll have a great day, and stay safe!

Hide
From wind
Run
From water.

L8r...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22140
Anyone know how this new low emerging from the Rockies is trending in the models? Last word had it trending further north and west of previous forcasts?
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Thank you Dr. Masters. Amazing report. People please stay safe
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9. Skyepony (Mod)
Great Blog.. amazing number of tornadoes so far. Backs up those studies after 2008 tying bad spring tornado season with mod La Niña.

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CNN Breaking News: Levee on flooded river in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, has failed, police say.
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Hmmmm.... not to spur the climate change debate... but isn't the "weather extreme" supposed to be the hallmark of this rapid global warming?

To put it another way: I'm wondering if the 1930s Dust Bowl was accompanied by historic flooding in other parts of the US...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22140
"The 24,000 acre Last Chance fire burning 33 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico near the Texas border is...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."

It doesn't get much hotter, drier, and windier than that outside of a blast furnace. Just incredible.

Thank you, Dr. Masters.
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heck of a kink in that jet stream... gonna be another long day!
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The levee at Poplar Bluff was just reported to have breached.
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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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