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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Quoting atmoaggie:
SENIOR DUTY METEOROLOGIST NWS ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NWS NCEP CENTRAL OPERATIONS CAMP SPRINGS MD
1027Z WED APR 27 2011

GOES-EAST RSO WILL RUN FROM 1315Z UNTIL 28/0345Z..IN SUPPORT OF
HIGH RISK OUTLOOKD PER SPC AND THE ON-GOING THREAT FOR HEAVY
RAINFALL/POSSIBLE FLOODING CONDITIONS TODAY INTO TONIGHT.

Unusual for them to run RSO on a land-based system... looks like the SPC is (justifiably) concerned.

Quoting BobinTampa:


I hope you have seed for your Crisis Garden. Revolution starts soon!

In all seriousness, Why did Obama release it today? I would have let Trump parade around like a dope for another couple months. This marginalizes Trump which helps Republicans.

Yes, but by stopping the whole thing now, Obama looks to be the one that is "keeping the focus" and "resisting distraction". Its allowing Obama to frame the discussion on larger-concern topics, rather than distract with trivial banter. In addition, by taking away one topic, you know Trump is going to come up with some other massive McLargeHuge conspiracy, and keep the GOP fractured. Its a matter of letting an adversary go down an unknown road, or to control the conversation. I'll take controlling the conversation any day.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting BahaHurican:
Morning all. Murfreesboro is N AL, am I right?

[sigh]It looks like another round today....

Anyway, I'll be in later, but gotta make a run or two today, so can't sit by the computer the way I'd like.

Hydrus, all u other guys in the area where the wx is ongoing, stay safe!

And for my compatriots in Caymans, Cuba, and TCI.... a little more rain [just a little more, mind you, not torrents] would be appreciated in our area. However, it's only a few weeks to the end of the dry season. I don't think we will be dry for that much longer...
TN
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Don't you see? This release of the BC is so well-timed! How convenient that it comes exactly 8 days before Cinco de Mayo, which by the way happens to be the anniversary of George Soros' speach on Social Justice given -- guess where -- yep....Kenya!

Well, I for one am skeptical. And you should be, too. Unless you buy some gold from Goldline. I've trusted Goldline since they started paying me to, and I'll bet you a dollar (which aint worth much, you know what I'm sayin'?) to a donut that this so-called Birth Certificate happens to get "lost" sometime on its way back to the files in Kenya -- oops, I mean hawaii.


I hope you have seed for your Crisis Garden. Revolution starts soon!

In all seriousness, Why did Obama release it today? I would have let Trump parade around like a dope for another couple months. This marginalizes Trump which helps Republicans.
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OTIB is one thing, politics another.
Weather blog pollution...
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Morning all. Murfreesboro is N AL, am I right?

[sigh]It looks like another round today....

Anyway, I'll be in later, but gotta make a run or two today, so can't sit by the computer the way I'd like.

Hydrus, all u other guys in the area where the wx is ongoing, stay safe!

And for my compatriots in Caymans, Cuba, and TCI.... a little more rain [just a little more, mind you, not torrents] would be appreciated in our area. However, it's only a few weeks to the end of the dry season. I don't think we will be dry for that much longer...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22101
SENIOR DUTY METEOROLOGIST NWS ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NWS NCEP CENTRAL OPERATIONS CAMP SPRINGS MD
1027Z WED APR 27 2011

GOES-EAST RSO WILL RUN FROM 1315Z UNTIL 28/0345Z..IN SUPPORT OF
HIGH RISK OUTLOOKD PER SPC AND THE ON-GOING THREAT FOR HEAVY
RAINFALL/POSSIBLE FLOODING CONDITIONS TODAY INTO TONIGHT.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KeysieLife:


Sorry, I put the trcks overlay on and it's showing the cell to the west as a vortex sig...

Link
Many of the cells in the SE as of late have had vortex sigs. Once a cell cracks about 30k feet, it almost *has* to have a vortex sig to maintain its structure. With the shear these storms have, the concern is those mesocyclones getting bent and turning into tornadoes. Looking at those cells, I would be mostly concerned with hail and straight line winds, but watchful for tornadoes (likely EF0-EF2)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
I live here in T-ville... we will wait until 15 minutes before the launch and sneak the 1/2 mile down to the river for the launch... then we'll slink back... bikes and feets don't fall prey to the massive traffic issues...

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
In a country that as a whole, is bipolar, manic depressive, and schitzophrenic, I don't think that being number 1 in cable news is something to shout about. And beyond that, cable news (on BOTH sides) is terribly slanted, biased, and incomplete information. If you want to know what is really going on, get a sampling of sources, not just one (biased) source.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting jeffs713:

I don't see it on the velocity images, so no.


Sorry, I put the trcks overlay on and it's showing the cell to the west as a vortex sig...

Link
Member Since: September 10, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 409
What time is the shuttle launch Friday?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting BobinTampa:


that's just a link to a story with a picture of it. Why won't you show us the original DestinJeff?? What are you hiding??
+1 for LOL
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting KeysieLife:
Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else think this looks like a hook forming just south of Russelville, Alabama?
Link

I don't see it on the velocity images, so no.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting emcf30:
SPC has posted a special video update regarding today's potential tornado outbreak:

Link


That didn't sound so good- I will definately be checking back.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Finally ... sorry OT, but finally:

Link


that's just a link to a story with a picture of it. Why won't you show us the original DestinJeff?? What are you hiding??
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Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else think this looks like a hook forming just south of Russelville, Alabama?
Link
Member Since: September 10, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 409
Quoting FLdewey:

I for one am surprised it took them so long to buy a copy of the Photoshop

And what are you doing browsing FauxNews DJ???

The comments on there are HIGHLY amusing. I saw one asking for copies of his "adoption papers" and "passports".

Don't the crazies have something better to do?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Anyone heading to KSC for the launch on Friday?

I'm flying into Dunn airpark in Titusville a few hours before launch, then right back out after. The road traffic will be too crazy this time.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13530
775. flsky
Quoting flsky:
I'll be watching from the Ponce Inlet jetty. Supposed to be monster traffic jams if you're going anyplace close Titisville. Another fun place to watch is from the Crabby Joe's pier in DBS.


(this is in reference to someone asking about the launch on Friday. ONCE AGAIN my post didn't show up right. Sheesh.
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SPC has posted a special video update regarding today's potential tornado outbreak:

Link
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
I guess everyone woke up and realized... it's happening again. We had 2 warned cells within 20 miles last night, very unusual weather for this area and we are in the bull's-eye again today. I may have to break out the blow dart to calm down the yorkshire terrorist :) I will keep checking back here as the day wears on, but it looks like another long day (and night).
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772. flsky
I'll be watching from the Ponce Inlet jetty. Supposed to be monster traffic jams if you're going anyplace close Titisville. Another fun place to watch is from the Crabby Joe's pier in DBS.
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Finally ... sorry OT, but finally:

Link

That'll never satisfy the crazies. Oh, well...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13530
Quoting FlyingScotsman:


Yeah, I just meant anyone on this blog, cuz no one seemed to be commenting on it--that changed about the time I posted, though.

Thankfully it doesn't look right now like it was too big.
A precursor for what is coming later today..Link
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Quoting goosegirl1:


The Weather Channel is reporting on it, so I imagine a lot of people are watching. They just mentioned it, right now.


Yeah, I just meant anyone on this blog, cuz no one seemed to be commenting on it--that changed about the time I posted, though.

Thankfully it doesn't look right now like it was too big.
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Information only, If your listening to the live feed I posted, the left speaker will be Chattanooga City Fire / Police and the right speaker in Hamilton County SO / Fire / EMS. You can turn one or the other off if you woulds like. Sounds CRAZY right now.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Complete Update





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Quoting emcf30:


WOW Louisville off the chart

Suddenly, I'm glad I didn't go to Louisville for business... I would be there right now if I had gone.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5881
Quoting FlyingScotsman:
Anyone paying attention to the fact that a tornado is going right through Chattanooga right now?
Link


The Weather Channel is reporting on it, so I imagine a lot of people are watching. They just mentioned it, right now.
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Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Anyone paying attention to the fact that a tornado is going right through Chattanooga right now?
Link
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Tornado reported on ground. Listen live. Chattanooga.
Link
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933


WOW Louisville off the chart
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933


Alot of rain in the Memphis region
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
does anyone remember the 1980 Grand Island tornado outbreak?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Quoting SeALWx:


I thought you said you were gonna keep these pearls...

Oh, that was no pearl; that was more like a Swarovski crystal. ;-)

Storm chasers, of course, don't like the forested and hilly Southeast; it'll be interesting, then, to see how many show up for today's festivities.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13530
It ain't over yet.

"Weather forecasters are watching a particularly troubling storm that is moving east and expected to hit North Alabama, East Tennessee and much of Kentucky on Wednesday, bringing lots of rain and a high probability of tornadoes.

'It's scary,' said Patrick Walsh, Tennessee Valley Authority's manager for operations analysis. 'I looked at that forecast [Monday] morning and thought it is eerily similar to the forecast last May in Middle Tennessee when the flood hit Nashville.'

Last year, Nashville's Cumberland River crested at 51.86 feet, its highest mark since 1937. Twenty-one people were killed in Tennessee, including 10 in Davidson County.

For now, TVA's Walsh and Jeff House, who works with Walsh, will watch the new storm system carefully, trying to help river flood managers know how much rain the Tennessee River and its tributaries must absorb and how much power might be needed as the system moves in and out of the utility's seven-state region."

timesfreepress
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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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