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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704. IKE
My forecast...Florida panhandle.....

Today: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly
after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 87. Windy, with a south wind
10 to 15 mph increasing to between 20 and 25 mph. Winds could gust as
high as 35 mph.

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely.
Some storms could be severe, with hail and damaging winds. Mostly
cloudy, with a low around 71. South wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west
northwest. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation
is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an
inch possible.

Thursday: Rain and thunderstorms likely
before 7am, then a slight chance of rain between 7am and noon. Mostly
cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 81. North
northwest wind between 5 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher
amounts possible in thunderstorms.
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703. MahFL
That line of storms in AL is weired, seems like a line of supercells formed infront of the main squall line.
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hi Aussie

I live, where Florida attaches to the rest of the country, on the east coast. We have a 60% chance of rain for tomorrow, no storms. If I honestly see any rain, I'll be surprised. No worries for me, mate. :)

Nea- completely submerge two of the reactors errrr, in WHAT? a giant aquarium they find on Ebay? CraigsList?

I'll never think of dental x-rays the same, again.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26047
Quoting emcf30 (comment #650):


Memphis tonight

Unless that image has been flipped, it almost looks to be anti-cyclonic, no?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13551
Quoting WatchingThisOne:
Bloomberg: Radiation Readings at Fukushima Plant Rise to Highest in Crisis

Robots measured up to 1.1 Sv/hour inside the reactor no.1 building. At that rate, workers at Fukushima reach their 250 mSv annual limit in 15 minutes flat. Kinda hard to rebuild cooling systems under those circumstances. Even the planned flooding of reactor no. 1's primary containment may not be possible.

WTO

More than four times the annual dose. That's the equivalent of receiving 200 million dental X-rays in one hour.

Good luck finding help.

Your other post about the amount of water is interesting in light of today's news in which TEPCO has announced they're going to superflood and completely submerge two of the reactors to keep them cool (they're still at several hundred degrees). The problems with this are, of course, twofold: a) this will create many more millions of gallons of radioactive water, and b) engineers say the extra weight of all that water could cause a collapse of the structural systems supporting the containment vessels, especially should a large and close aftershock occur.

Oh, also unit #4 has developed another leak.

And now, back to the weather... :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13551
Quoting aquak9:
Robots measured up to 1.1 Sv/hour inside the reactor no.1 building. At that rate, workers at Fukushima reach their 250 mSv annual limit in 15 minutes flat.

can't do much in fifteen minutes...workers at Chernobyl each only had five minutes on the roof...they were called "liquidators". Back then, even the robots and remote-control vehicles couldn't handle the radiation, that's why they used humans.

Maybe they shoulda called'm "liquidatees".

Wednesday morning, folks. SPC done upgraded to high for some areas today, gotta love that sick washed-out red color to go with the morning coffee :/


Good mornng, Is your area going to get any of this severe weather in the coming days? where is ex-91L has it merged with this current weather?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Robots measured up to 1.1 Sv/hour inside the reactor no.1 building. At that rate, workers at Fukushima reach their 250 mSv annual limit in 15 minutes flat.

can't do much in fifteen minutes...workers at Chernobyl each only had five minutes on the roof...they were called "liquidators". Back then, even the robots and remote-control vehicles couldn't handle the radiation, that's why they used humans.

Maybe they shoulda called'm "liquidatees".

Wednesday morning, folks. SPC done upgraded to high for some areas today, gotta love that sick washed-out red color to go with the morning coffee :/
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26047
Current Tornado warning.....



TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTH CENTRAL LAUDERDALE COUNTY IN NORTHWEST ALABAMA...

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR NORTHEASTERN MARION COUNTY
UNTIL 500 AM CDT

TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHWESTERN FAYETTE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
NORTHERN PICKENS COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
NORTHWESTERN TUSCALOOSA COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL ALABAMA...

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 445 AM CDT FOR NORTHERN
LAWRENCE...EASTERN COLBERT...SOUTHEASTERN LAUDERDALE AND NORTHEASTERN
FRANKLIN COUNTIES....AT 426 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A TORNADO. THIS TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR LITTLEVILLE...OR
ABOUT 9 MILES NORTHEAST OF RUSSELLVILLE...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 445 AM CDT FOR COLBERT
AND CENTRAL LAUDERDALE COUNTIES...AT 426 AM CDT...TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS REPORTED A TORNADO JUST
SOUTHWEST OF OAKLAND...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 65 MPH.

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR CENTRAL PICKENS COUNTY
UNTIL 445 AM CDT...

.A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR SOUTHERN PICKENS...
NORTHWESTERN GREENE AND EXTREME NORTH CENTRAL SUMTER COUNTIES UNTIL
445 AM CDT...
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Since it is the middle of the night, it's probably ok to post some earlier scratching on the Fukushima plant. Didn't want to throw this up in the middle of things.


How much water does Fukushima have to deal with? We are seeing measurements in gallons, metric tonnes, cubic meters. Thought I'd try to sort it out a bit.

Spraying (spent fuel pond reactor no. 4):

140 metric tonnes/day x 1000 kg/tonne = 140,000 kg/day = 140,000 liters/day

140,000 liters x 1 gal/3.785 liters = 37,000 gallons in one day


Pumping into reactor (reactors no. 1, 2, 3):

6 m^3/hr x 24 hr/day = 144 m^3/day x 264 gal/m^3 = 38,000 gal in one day (probably using same design of electric pump for pumping and spraying for the numbers to be so close between pumping and spraying).


Let's say minimum 35000 gallons per day into 3 reactors and 1 spent storage pool = 140,000 gal/day. This is with no closed circulation cooling and ignoring any loss due to evaporation/boiling.


An Olympic size swimming pool holds 600,000 gal (2500 m^3).

So one Olympic size swimming pool every 600,000 gal x 1 day/140,000 gal = 4.3 days. Every 4 days. That's a lot of water. Where to put it? well ...

A supertanker holds roughly 84 million gal of oil.

How long to fill one up with highly radioactive water? 84,000,000 gal x 1 day/140,000 gal = 600 days (1.6 years)

There are some difficult logistics issues there, particularly with radiation levels increasing. The longer these reactors stay above cold shutdown temperatures, the more water there will be to deal with. And if there is a catastrophic release, well ... it will be time to sit back and watch and hope for the not worst.

We now return you to your regular severe storm programming. I can't believe what is going on there - I hope everyone here is managing to stay safe. Those animations that sunlinePR posted are stunning and scary.

WTO
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Bloomberg: Radiation Readings at Fukushima Plant Rise to Highest in Crisis

Robots measured up to 1.1 Sv/hour inside the reactor no.1 building. At that rate, workers at Fukushima reach their 250 mSv annual limit in 15 minutes flat. Kinda hard to rebuild cooling systems under those circumstances. Even the planned flooding of reactor no. 1's primary containment may not be possible.

WTO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
694. emguy
I'm more of a tropical weather guy, but I find myself in Lexington, KY in a spot where this severe stuff is unlike anything I've ever seen in my home state of Florida with the thunderstorms. Anyhew, if one of the chasers or sever weather mets are on board I've got a question. Earlier today, the NWS was saying the difference between a widespread tornado outbreak here was contingent on two factors. 1.) The development of a cold air pool that would stabalize the environment prior to the afternoon outbreak potential here. 2.) Model uncertaintly: one indicated the system would form a strong surface low over central Illinois (NAM) and the other favored an open trough from Central Indiana through Arkansas. To me it looks like A.) The NAM may be verifying and B.) This development may prevent us from getting heavy rains in Lexington this morning that may "stabalize" the environment. Any thoughts? This looks like it could be a rough day ahead to me. Thanks.
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693. xcool
LIVE TV http://www.wreg.com/ Memphis
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692. flsky
For cloud lovers and those who would like to share their images try this Link
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691. xcool
EYEStoSEA lmaoo.
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Quoting emcf30:


WOW
Now that is an awesome picture
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Quoting AllyBama:


CRAP!...I got friends there!!!


and family in and around Nashville..I know that some of them have weather radios..

if you can, contact them and make sure they know about the warnings.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Quoting emcf30:


I know it was taken this afternoon but did not state where. Incredible shot.


It was posted on TWC.
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Quoting Patrap:


,,,,,Recoon.,nice coverage.

Semper Fi


Nice pic of a Army vet.
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Quoting AussieStorm:
TWC Breaking
Law enforcement reports a #tornado near Helena, AR (Second wave for that area already!).


CRAP!...I got friends there!!!


and family in and around Nashville..I know that some of them have weather radios..
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twister_tracker: People in Nashville TN beware of storms with possible #tornado to your west

A #tornado #warning has been issued for #Clarksville, #TN, until 11:45 p.m. CDT
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
TWC Breaking
Strong indications of rain-wrapped #tornado in eastern Bienville Parish, headed into Jackson Parish, LA

TWC Breaking
#Tornado reported near Mortons Gap, KY.

TWC Breaking
#Tornado warnings in....Michigan right now!
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
TWC Breaking
Law enforcement reports a #tornado near Helena, AR (Second wave for that area already!).
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
TWC Breaking
Emerg. manager estimates easily 100+ homes destroyed or damaged north of Edom, TX. Says damage track "1 mi. wide and 8 mi. long
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Enjoy, but stay alert :)


Im guesstimating wind gusts of about 50-60 mph and we just had a brown out its pouring and some pea sized hail might be falling.
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TWC Breaking
Sheriff's office report #tornado in West Monroe, LA.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
This system to get to my area around 5am....so I'll get some rest now......nite all..:)
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Quoting shadoclown45:
Lol just heard thunder winds are picking up gonna enjoy this on my sheltered patio, always loved evening storms you can enjoy the lightning so much easier.


Enjoy, but stay alert :)
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Lol just heard thunder winds are picking up gonna enjoy this on my sheltered patio, always loved evening storms you can enjoy the lightning so much easier.
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This is quite... amazing... I'll see you guys in the morning, but tonight I'll be giving many thanks none of that action is directly overhead...

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Line of storms about to hit us here in the Poconos seems to be gaining steam as it moves along ;).
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Quoting emcf30:


WOW


Do you have that pic in its original resolution? Cause I want it so bad.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
see ya at 6 am


6!!!!...oh no!!!..lol
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


last image for the night


Thank you Keeper, for all you do....sleep well :)
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see ya at 6 am
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last image for the night
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Memphis

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Quoting xcool:


This is a beautiful radar.....if radars can be beautiful........lol....
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661. xcool
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Quoting CatfishJones:


Hell yes, it is an incredible shot. I'd like to know what the f/stop and ISO combination was...

Awaiting a response from the person who took it. When I find out I will post it. Lot of people commented they sh=aw the cloud. I know it was on a tornado warned storm
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Quoting emcf30:


I know it was taken this afternoon but did not state where. Incredible shot.


Hell yes, it is an incredible shot. I'd like to know what the f/stop and ISO combination was...
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Quoting flsky:


Where IS this?


I know it was taken this afternoon but did not state where. Incredible shot.
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655. flsky
Quoting emcf30:


WOW


Where IS this?
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On the news right now they are talking about cancelations at our airport due to storms.
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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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