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 aquak9:
helena, west helena Keeper

look a little south further down the mississippi river

no rotation in lower levels in memphis- just straight line pounding winds I think


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All kind of rotating storms, wall clouds, funnels, and tornadoes here in east texas. A tornado was spotted within a mile of my mothers house about an hour ago. Now another line of storms is building up to our west.
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Quoting iahishome:


Wow... Are those two different storms? Or two different views of the same storm? They look remarkably similar.


Hanson and Madisonville are about 6 miles apart. Probably the same storm
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
gemeral dewitt spain airport, just north of memphis proper- they're gonna get ot

that's two airports now

what is it with these airports? too many feral cats?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25507
College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings
Note: This page will reload every 2 minutes. Warnings are listed with the most recent first.



FLASH FLOOD WARNING TULSA OK - KTSA 632 PM CDT TUE APR 26 2011
TORNADO WARNING TULSA OK - KTSA 632 PM CDT TUE APR 26 2011
TORNADO WARNING FORT WORTH TX - KFWD 631 PM CDT TUE APR 26 2011
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125628
Tornado warning just N of Vilonia. Rotating wall cloud.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Current SPC convective watches

A count of 9,,7 tornado 2 Severe TW
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125628
helena, west helena Keeper

look a little south further down the mississippi river

no rotation in lower levels in memphis- just straight line pounding winds I think
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25507

CRAZY!!
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125628
MEMPHIS
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
I saw a cloud today!




Congratulations! It's not very often people see a cloud.

*Sarcasm detected*
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4499
Wow another possible tornado passed extremely close to Vilonia AR again. Nothing confirmed but looks pretty impressive on radar with the circulation passing close to Holland, the town directly to it's NW.
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Anyone have that graph of this tornado season versus the average? I bet we're pretty far off the charts thus far this year.
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Quoting sammywammybamy:
I saw a cloud today!





Bet you didnt see one like that. LOL
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

I love that radar! Link?
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4499
That is a cool formation. Reports from KY highway patrol was a brief touchdown in Hanson KY with 1 injury in vehicle.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
483. xcool
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Quoting emcf30:


Hanson, Ky



Madisonville, KY


nice!!!!
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Quoting emcf30:


Hanson, Ky



Madisonville, KY


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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Hey man, it's cool. No hard feelings. I enjoy weather, climate, and storms too. If my predictions or assessment of the storms or severe weather outbreak today bother you are aren't in complete agreement with you, it's okay, dude.

The storm likes all the attention from everybody here today. :-)


Its all good!

The main vortex looks like its going to pass on the northern suburb of Memphis, that is one massive meso.
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Quoting emcf30:
Hanson, Ky

Madisonville, KY


Wow... Are those two different storms? Or two different views of the same storm? They look remarkably similar.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 501


Hanson, Ky



Madisonville, KY
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity 0.5° Elevation
Memphis
Link
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Quoting aquak9:
then helena arkansas on into...tunica? gonna be for sure in tunica...tennessee

how high can VIL go?

I mentioned in 448 that I've seen it in the high 90s before.

For some reason I'd also like to think ive seen a value in the 100s during summertime when the northern plains get the massive hailstorms going, but I may be wrong.
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@ 441 DJeff... that is so wrong...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20734
believe it or not, pat, I really do understand a lotta that stuff- too many years of calibrating linear and non-linear equations, and turning curves into straight lines
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25507
The xtrap is a excellent model...ACK!!!
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ok, 70 or 75 upper limit on the VIL, based on cell-based or grid based

So the VIL's over 75 must be extrapolated

well they can't exactly calibrate those with a little bottle of known standard, can they

gotta love extrapolation
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25507
VIL can range as high as any Anvil top,or as high as the scale allows,,some scaling is different for the mode used by the operator.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


only until standardized test week, then it's a free-for-all
The kids will get you for that! (if they can figure out were Destin is)
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Quoting aquak9:
whoa, melagoo. Blast from the past.

:c) Blast from the mid-west!
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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125628
I KNOW WHAT THE ANGLES ARE- HOW HIGH CAN VIL GO??

(grabs fourth RedBull and chugs it)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25507
Storm west of memphis briefly lost some of its rotation, but storm relative looks quite strong again, and possibly rain wrapped. I would take this situation very seriously, no playing it down. SPC doesn't put out a PDS for no reason.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Why the long response regarding Japan!?? LOL

Glad you're concerned for those areas. Until then, I'll continue making comments regarding the storm just like you. It's called a weather blog where we are allowed to share ideas regarding the storm. Why the hell would anyone put the safety of their own lives based on my comments on this!? LOL.

You got to be kidding me man. Take it easy. At the moment, that cell is nothing more than a huge disorganized blob with no strong rotation. While something can get going any minute in this type of unstable environment, I don't see anything right now. The overcast skies today may really be a blessing for some of these folks escaping the high end EF category tornadoes folks in MO saw a few days ago.


hey, I have a serious passion about weather, so I'm taking this very seriously, nothing personal, and yes I know its a weather blog where everyone has freedom to comment and say what they choose.
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About JeffMasters

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