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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854. sunlinepr
3:21 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9695
853. KeysieLife
3:14 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
New blog...
Member Since: September 10, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 409
852. RitaEvac
3:14 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Pine bark beetle gonna be killing the pine trees all over again just like in 2009.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
850. RitaEvac
3:11 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
I'm looking for short term, we gotta get water on this ground.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
849. jeffs713
3:08 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
I'm gonna wishcast in June for a major blowup in the Gulf and have it steered right my way, It'll just have to flood, sorry it's time for water.
If it floods, the drought may not be broken long-term... much of that rainwater runs off, and doesn't soak in deep.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
848. RitaEvac
3:07 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Del Rio hit record high of 111 yesterday, and that heat and instability wasn't even enough to bust the cap for crying out loud
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
847. hydrus
3:07 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
This GFS run has more rain on tap for already flooded areas...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20506
846. RitaEvac
3:06 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
I'm gonna wishcast in June for a major blowup in the Gulf and have it steered right my way, It'll just have to flood, sorry it's time for water.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
844. AussieStorm
3:02 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
How about-Omit The Idiotic B.S....:)

I like that one,,,, Stay safe everyone

Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15932
842. jeffs713
2:59 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting RitaEvac:
Is it gonna rain in Houston/Galveston areas ever
Only if we offer the proper prayers and sacrifices to the rain gods.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
840. RitaEvac
2:57 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Power outages as well along the coast because of dirt and salt buildup on insulators and powerlines. Reason for all 4 shutdowns of Refinery and chemical plants yesterday in Texas City, TX and outages on Bolivar Penninsula and west end of Galveston.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
839. RitaEvac
2:56 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
water lines are beginning to break underground due to the drought stricken ground shifting.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
838. hydrus
2:55 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
* OTIB Oregon Transportation Infrastructure Bank
* OTIB One Team In Bristol
* OTIB Orlando Tourist Information Bureau (Florida)


http://www.acronymfinder.com/OTIB.html
How about-Omit The Idiotic B.S.... I made this up by the way...It is not directed toward anyone..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20506
837. RitaEvac
2:55 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Is it gonna rain in Houston/Galveston areas ever
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
835. jeffs713
2:53 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting kwgirl:
DUH!! Of course! Very appropiate in DJ usage. That's why I don't do well texting.
FWIW, IDK WTH is going on.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
834. hydrus
2:52 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
This is an excellent page. It shows the radar forecast of todays outbreak...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20506
833. kwgirl
2:51 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting BahaHurican:
I thought OTIB was Off Topic In Blog.... am I wrong? [Again? Twice in one morning? like... amazing... :o)]
DUH!! Of course! Very appropiate in DJ usage. That's why I don't do well texting.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
832. CaicosRetiredSailor
2:50 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
* OTIB Oregon Transportation Infrastructure Bank
* OTIB One Team In Bristol
* OTIB Orlando Tourist Information Bureau (Florida)


http://www.acronymfinder.com/OTIB.html
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5996
831. BahaHurican
2:46 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
I thought OTIB was Off Topic In Blog.... am I wrong? [Again? Twice in one morning? like... amazing... :o)]
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
829. BahaHurican
2:43 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
thanks 4 the Murfreesboro tip, btw... I thought it was down near Huntsville. TN is one of the few Southern states I've not yet visited, so please excuse my ignorance...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
828. aquak9
2:41 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
yeah- Just paid paypal to trademark OTIB™ and I don't even know what it means
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25732
827. atmoaggie
2:39 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting jeffs713:

Along those same lines...

The cake is a lie.

In other news... any more word from Chattanooga?
Chattanooga is a lie. Are you sure it exists?
Much less, that anything notable happened there if it does?
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12461
826. BahaHurican
2:39 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting kwgirl:
I had just read a book by Robin Cook where his character tries to debunk alternative medicine and runs into the same brick wall. He proposed the idea that once you are convinced that something is like it is, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change your mind. I have found a lot of parallels to that theory, this "birther" belief is a prime example. I think it makes people look like idiots. When hit with the proof, they still believe it is fake. Go figure.
We have our parallels in the weather world.... do I need to go down that road?

But even in "hurricane lore" we've seen the pple who continue to believe folklore... like "it'll never hit Tampa"....[fit in whatever place name you like] to their eternal detriment....

I guess that kind of thinking is part of the human condition.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
825. kwgirl
2:37 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting DestinJeff:


The blog is at OTIB:CON 10 right now.
I know this is dating me, but ... does OTIB mean "On the inside beat" ? Cool...
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
824. PcolaDan
2:37 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting BahaHurican:
OMG... the blog is GOLDEN this morning.... thanks to nea, fldewey, sealwx, cat5, DJ, bob, rasta, et al... for adding a sparkle to my a.m...... LOL


Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
822. jeffs713
2:33 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
821. BahaHurican
2:33 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
OMG... the blog is GOLDEN this morning.... thanks to nea, fldewey, sealwx, cat5, DJ, bob, rasta, et al... for adding a sparkle to my a.m...... LOL
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21485
820. hydrus
2:33 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting aquak9:
OTIB™
What does OTIB mean?
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20506
819. aquak9
2:32 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25732
818. jeffs713
2:32 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting kwgirl:
I had just read a book by Robin Cook where his character tries to debunk alternative medicine and runs into the same brick wall. He proposed the idea that once you are convinced that something is like it is, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change your mind. I have found a lot of parallels to that theory, this "birther" belief is a prime example. I think it makes people look like idiots. When hit with the proof, they still believe it is fake. Go figure.

Along those same lines...

The cake is a lie.

In other news... any more word from Chattanooga?
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
816. kwgirl
2:29 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting RandomText:


That could be faked over the weekend.

This is the internet.
I had just read a book by Robin Cook where his character tries to debunk alternative medicine and runs into the same brick wall. He proposed the idea that once you are convinced that something is like it is, no amount of evidence to the contrary will change your mind. I have found a lot of parallels to that theory, this "birther" belief is a prime example. I think it makes people look like idiots. When hit with the proof, they still believe it is fake. Go figure.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
815. aquak9
2:27 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
OTIB™
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25732
814. emcf30
2:26 PM GMT on April 27, 2011


Tornado reported on the ground Charleston, TN. Moving towards Knoxville
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
813. SeALWx
2:26 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting RandomText:


That could be faked over the weekend.

This is the internet.
Everything is believable; All it take is to believe.
Member Since: April 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 196
812. Jax82
2:25 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Mmmm toasty.

Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
810. kwgirl
2:23 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting jeffs713:
nope, General Mills. (yes, I looked it up)
LOL I should have known better. I don't buy cookies, I bake them. Much better:-)
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
807. jeffs713
2:20 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting kwgirl:
Isn't Golden grahams Keebler?
nope, General Mills. (yes, I looked it up)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5871
806. kwgirl
2:17 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Quoting cat5hurricane:

LOL.

Nabisco, or General Mills?
Isn't Golden grahams Keebler?
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
805. SeALWx
2:17 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
Link to "the certificate".
Member Since: April 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 196
804. jeffs713
2:16 PM GMT on April 27, 2011
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: 5871

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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.