Joplin tornado toll at 116; dangerous tornado outbreak expected today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:50 PM GMT on May 24, 2011

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Severe weather is expected again today in storm-torn Joplin, Missouri, as rescuers sift through the rubble of their town that was devastated by the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. A violent high-end EF-4 tornado with winds of 190 – 198 mph carved a 7-mile long, ¾ to one mile-wide path of near-total destruction through Joplin beginning at 5:41pm CDT Sunday evening. In nine terrifying minutes, the tornado killed at least 116 people, injured 500 more, and obliterated huge sections of the town. Damage from the tornado is so severe that pavement was ripped from the ground, and the level of damage is so extreme that this is likely to surpass last month's Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado as the costliest tornado of all-time.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image of the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the Joplin, Missouri tornado, one minute before the tornado touched down at 5:41pm CDT. There is a hook echo apparent, though not a classic well-defined one.


Figure 2. Radar-estimated rainfall for the period May 22 – 24 over the region surrounding Joplin. Rains of 1.83" fell on the city yesterday, a record for the date.

The Joplin tornado's place in history
According to our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt in his post, The World's Deadliest Tornadoes, the death toll of 116 from the Joplin tornado ranks as the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947, when a violent F-5 tornado hit Woodward, Oklahoma, killing 181. However, it is now thought that the Woodward tornado was actually one of a series of tornadoes, and the tornado that hit Woodward killed 107 people. If that is true, we have to back all the way to 1936 to find the last U.S. tornado that killed more people than 2011's Joplin tornado. In 1936, violent tornadoes a day apart hit Tupelo Mississippi (216 killed), and Gainesville, Georgia (203 killed.) NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) rates this year's Joplin tornado as the 9th deadliest U.S. tornado of all-time.

This year's tornado death toll now stands at 482, making it the deadliest year for tornadoes in the U.S. since 1953, when 519 people died. That year, three heavily populated cities received direct hits by violent tornadoes. Waco, Texas (114 killed), Flint, Michigan (115 killed), and Worcester, Massachusetts (89 – 94 killed) all were hit by violent F-4 or F-5 tornadoes. A similar bad tornado year occurred in 1936, when violent tornadoes hit Tupelo Mississippi (216 killed), and Gainesville, Georgia (203 killed.)


Video 1. The last year with more tornado deaths than 2011 was 1953, when three great tornadoes killed more than 90 people each. This old newsreel video shows destruction from the first of these deadly 1953 tornadoes, the May 11, 1953 F-5 tornado that hit downtown Waco Texas, killing 114 people. The wunderground youtube channel has almost 300 old newsreel videos of historically significant weather events.

What's going on?
It's been an incredibly dangerous and deadly year for tornadoes. On April 14 - 16, we had the largest tornado outbreak in world history, with 162 tornadoes hitting the Southeast U.S. That record lasted just two weeks, when the unbelievable April 25 – 28 Super Outbreak hit. Unofficially, that outbreak had 327 tornadoes, more than double the previous record. The legendary April 3 – 4 1974 Super Outbreak has now fallen to third place, with 148 tornadoes. Damage from the April 25 – 28, 2011 outbreak was estimated to be as high as $5 billion, making it the most expensive tornado outbreak in history; the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado of April 27 may end up being the most expensive tornado of all-time—until the damage from Sunday's Joplin tornado is tabulated. Officially, 875 tornadoes hit the U.S. In April 2011, making it the busiest tornado month in history. The previous record was 542 tornadoes, set in May 2003. The previous April tornado record was 267, set in 1974, and April has averaged just 161 tornadoes over the past decade.

So what's going on? Why are there so many tornadoes, and so many people getting killed? Well, the high death toll this year is partly just bad luck. Violent EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes usually miss heavily populated areas, and we've had the misfortune of having two such tornadoes track over cities with more than 50,000 people (the Joplin tornado, and the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham EF-4 tornado in Alabama, which killed 61 people on April 27.) This sort of bad luck occurred in both 1953, when F-5 tornadoes hit Flint, Worcester, and Waco, and in 1936, when F-5s hit Tupelo and Gainesville. However, this year's death toll is more remarkable than the 1953 or 1936 death tolls, since in 2011 we have Doppler radar and a modern tornado warning system that is very good at providing an average of twelve minutes of warning time. The warning time for the Joplin tornado was 24 minutes. The first tornado warning wasn't issued until 1948, and virtually all tornadoes from the 1950s and earlier hit with no warning. On average, tornado deaths in the United States decreased from 8 per 1 million people in 1925 to 0.12 per 1 million people in 2000. Had this year's tornadoes occurred 50 years ago, I expect the death toll would have exceeded three thousand.


Figure 3. Number of strong to violent EF-3, EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes from 1950 to 2011. There are no obvious trends in the numbers of these most dangerous of tornadoes. Image credit: NOAA/National Climatic Data Center (updated using stats for 2008 – 2011 from Wikipedia.)

Tornadoes require two main ingredients for formation—instability and wind shear. Instability is at a maximum when there is record warm air with plenty of moisture at low levels, and cold dry air aloft. April 2011 sea surface temperature in the Gulf of Mexico were at their third highest levels of the past 100 years, so there was plenty of warm, moist air available to create high instability, whenever approaching storm systems pulled the Gulf air northwards into Tornado Alley, and brought cold, dry air south from Canada. The La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific, in part, caused this spring's jet stream to have very strong winds that changed speed and direction with height. This sort of shearing force (wind shear) was ideal for putting a twist on thunderstorm updrafts, allowing more numerous and more intense tornadoes than usual to occur. Was this year's heightened wind shear and instability the result of climate change? We don't know. Over the past 30 years, there have not been any noticeable trends wind shear and instability over the Lower Mississippi Valley, according to the NOAA Climate Scene Investigations team. Furthermore, there have been no upward trend in the number of violent EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes over the past 60 years, or in the number of EF-3 and stronger tornadoes (Figure 3.) However, this year's remarkable violent tornado activity—17 such tornadoes, with tornado season a little more than half over—brings our two-year total for the decade of 2010 – 2019 to 30. At this rate, we'll have more than 150 violent tornadoes by decade's end, beating the record of 108 set in the 1950s. In summary, this year's incredibly violent tornado season is not part of a trend. It is either a fluke, the start of a new trend, or an early warning symptom that the climate is growing unstable and is transitioning to a new, higher energy state with the potential to create unprecedented weather and climate events. All are reasonable explanations, but we don't have a long enough history of good tornado data to judge which is most likely to be correct.

More severe weather today
Yesterday, survivors of the tornado endured a 12-hour period with two severe thunderstorm warnings, a record 1.83” of rain, hail, and lightning that struck two police officers. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) recorded 11 preliminary reports of tornadoes yesterday, along with 315 reports of damaging winds and 182 reports of hail up to 3.5” in diameter. The severe weather threat is much higher today, and SPC has placed a large section of eastern Kansas and eastern Oklahoma in their "High Risk" region for severe weather potential, and warn of the potential for long-lived strong tornadoes. This is their third "High Risk" forecast for the year, and the first since the terrible April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak. That day was the busiest tornado day in world history, with 198 tornadoes occurring in a 24-hour period. Over 300 people died. The other "High Risk" forecast by SPC came during the final day of the April 14 – 16 outbreak over the Southeast U.S. Fifty-two tornadoes hit that day, and 26 people died in North Carolina and Virginia. The severe weather threat will continue into Wednesday, when additional tornadoes are likely along a swath from Arkansas to Indiana.


Figure 4. Severe weather threat for Tuesday, May 23, 2011.

Links
The most remarkable audio I've ever heard of people surviving a direct hit by a violent tornado was posted to Youtube by someone who took shelter in the walk-in storage refrigerator at a gas station during the Joplin tornado. There isn't much video.


Video 2. Video of the Joplin, Missouri tornado of May 22, 2011, entering the southwest side of town. Filmed by TornadoVideos.net Basehunters team Colt Forney, Isaac Pato, Kevin Rolfs, and Scott Peake.

Helping out tornado victims
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 Red Cross website, or portlight.org blog. Portlight has been very active bringing aid to the victims of this year's tornadoes. Below is the damage survey from the Joplin tornado:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO
938 PM CDT MON MAY 23 2011

...JOPLIN TORNADO GIVEN A PRELIMINARY HIGH END EF-4 RATING...

* DATE...22 MAY 2011
* BEGIN LOCATION...APPROXIMATELY 3 MILES SOUTHWEST OF JOPLIN
* END LOCATION...1 MILE SOUTHEAST OF DUQUESNE
* ESTIMATED BEGIN TIME...541 PM
* ESTIMATED END TIME...550 PM
* MAXIMUM EF-SCALE RATING...EF-4
* ESTIMATED MAXIMUM WIND SPEED...190-198 MPH
* ESTIMATED PATH WIDTH...3/4 OF A MILE
* PATH LENGTH...7 MILES
* FATALITIES...116 REPORTED AS OF 3 PM MONDAY
* INJURIES...400 REPORTED AS OF 3 PM MONDAY
* BEGIN LAT/LON...37.06 N / 94.57 W
* END LAT/LON...37.06 N / 94.39 W

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SURVEY TEAMS RATED THE TORNADO THAT KILLED OVER 100 PEOPLE IN AND AROUND JOPLIN AS A HIGH END EF-4 TORNADO.

BASED UPON SURVEYS COMPLETED TODAY...MAXIMUM WINDS WERE ESTIMATED BETWEEN 190 AND 198 MPH. THE TORNADO HAD A MAXIMUM WIDTH OF 3/4 TO ONE MILE.

THE TORNADO INITIALLY TOUCHED DOWN AROUND 541 PM NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF COUNTRY CLUB AND 32ND STREET. ADDITIONAL SURVEYS ARE EXPECTED TO BE CONDUCTED TO FURTHER DEFINE THE STARTING POINT AND INTENSITY AT THIS LOCATION.

DAMAGE BECAME MORE WIDESPREAD AS THE TORNADO CROSSED MAIDEN LANE...CAUSING SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO NEARLY ALL WINDOWS ON THREE SIDES OF ST JOHNS HOSPITAL AS WELL AS TO THE ROOF. THE TORNADO FURTHER INTENSIFIED AS IT DESTROYED NUMEROUS HOMES AND BUSINESSES TO THE EAST AND NORTH OF THE HOSPITAL. THE HIGHEST RATED DAMAGE IN THIS AREA WAS TO A CHURCH SCHOOL THAT HAD ALL BUT A PORTION OF ITS EXTERIOR WALLS DESTROYED AS WELL AS TO A NURSING HOME. WINDS IN THAT AREA WERE ESTIMATED AT 160 TO 180 MPH.

THE TORNADO CONTINUED TO DESTROY OVER 100 HOMES BETWEEN 32ND AND 20TH STREETS. THREE STORY APARTMENT COMPLEXES HAD THE TOP TWO FLOORS REMOVED...OTHER TWO STORY COMPLEXES WERE PARTIALLY LEVELED.

A BANK WAS TOTALLY DESTROYED WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE VAULT.

A DILLONS GROCERY STORE ALSO HAD SIGNIFICANT ROOF AND EXTERIOR WALL DAMAGE. LASTLY...THE EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR WALLS OF A TECHNICAL SCHOOL...A MORTAR AND REBAR REINFORCED CINDER BLOCK BUILDING...FAILED.

THE TORNADO CROSSED RANGELINE ROAD NEAR 20TH STREET. THE MOST INTENSE DAMAGE WAS NOTED JUST EAST OF THIS INTERSECTION WHERE A HOME DEPOT WAS DESTROYED BY AN ESTIMATED 190 TO NEARLY 200 MPH WINDS.
IN ADDITION...THE CUMMINS BUILDING...A CONCRETE BLOCK AND HEAVY STEEL BUILDING...HAD ITS STEEL ROOF BEAMS COLLAPSE. SPORTS ACADEMY AND THE WALMART ALSO SUFFERED SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.

THE TORNADO CONTINUED TO MOVE EASTWARD ALONG AND SOUTH OF 20TH STREET DESTROYING NUMEROUS WAREHOUSE STYLE FACILITIES AND RESIDENCES THROUGH DUQUESNE ROAD. WINDS IN THIS AREA MAY ALSO APPROACH 200 MPH.

THE TORNADO CONTINUED TO DESTROYING NUMEROUS HOMES BEFORE WEAKENING AS IT TURNED SOUTHEAST TOWARD INTERSTATE 44.

SUBSEQUENT DAMAGE SURVEYS WILL BE REQUIRED TO DETERMINE THE SCOPE OF ADDITIONAL REPORTS ALONG AND SOUTHEAST OF THE INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAY 71 AND INTERSTATE 44.

FOR REFERENCE...THE ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE CLASSIFIES TORNADOES INTO THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:

EF0...WIND SPEEDS 65 TO 85 MPH.
EF1...WIND SPEEDS 86 TO 110 MPH.
EF2...WIND SPEEDS 111 TO 135 MPH.
EF3...WIND SPEEDS 136 TO 165 MPH.
EF4...WIND SPEEDS 166 TO 200 MPH.
EF5...WIND SPEEDS GREATER THAN 200 MPH.

Jeff Masters

May 22, 2011 (WisconsinCowboy)
Hailstones in Westfield, WI
May 22, 2011
Wall cloud (weatherfanatic2010)
wall cloud with scud clouds rising up into it that looked like a funnel but were actually not ratating with the wall cloud.
Wall cloud
Tornado? (thomasanthony)
This is a shot looking west toward Topeka Kansas, about 5 miles away, as the wall cloud came closer to my position.
Tornado?
Wall Cloud (thomasanthony)
Rotating wall cloud coming through Perry Kansas. That speck towards the top is a helicopter.
Wall Cloud
Cleora, OK Tornado (okeedoky)
Very active tornado day 5/22 was. About the same time as Joplin, MO was getting hit, we had this one come right over the Grand Lake RV park and put down some EF-3 damage on the other side of the hay field you see.
Cleora, OK Tornado

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13Z Run HRRR Composite Reflectivity
(High Resolution Rapid Refresh)
Valid 5PM CDT

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:
I expect they will do a 18 UTC balloon launch at Oklahoma City (they usually do). Should be interesting.

The 12 Z was already fairly ripe:

(click for full size)


And, RUC's shear forecast (surface to 500 mb) for 7 pm CDT.


Those are some high numbers. This is the preliminary model. Very basic, but it is where you mentioned it would be.

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Quoting Zaphod:
Aggie, where do you find those on the Twister site? I see a bunch of charts, but none as nice or clear as those you posted.

What are EHI and CAPE?

I used to follow tornado prediction arts, but only as a sometimes-hobby. Now I'm way out of date, it seems.

Thanks!
Never had any trouble getting the nice twisterdata plots.
Try starting at this link: http://www.twisterdata.com/index.php?prog=forecas t&model=RUC&grid=255&model_yyyy=2011&model_mm=05&m odel_dd=24&model_init_hh=15&fhour=11¶meter=SHR M&level=500&unit=MB&maximize=n&mode=singlemap&soun ding=n&output=image&view=large&archive=false

As for the parameters, best source is the SPC description page: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/sfctest/help/sfcoa.html
Should answer most any question about any of the severe WX parameters, what implications the values have, etc.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54339
Quoting beell:
Gravity wave and an outflow boundary from the MCS now in central KS. One or both of these features likey to interact with the dryline today.

Appears the gravity wave was responsible for an uptick in convection in the MCS (just outside the circle-approx 2 o'clock position).
(link for full size)

Photobucket

Gravity Wave-7AM CDT

Photobucket

Gravity Wave/Outflow Boundary-10AM CDT
man... those are going to feed some potentially devastating tornadoes!
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X
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54339
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54339
Aggie, where do you find those on the Twister site? I see a bunch of charts, but none as nice or clear as those you posted.

What are EHI and CAPE?

I used to follow tornado prediction arts, but only as a sometimes-hobby. Now I'm way out of date, it seems.

Thanks!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


WOW is right. That is a scary picture. It seems that the personnel on the Weather Channel are becoming more concerned as the day goes on. It appears the temperatures are also rising in those areas. Not good.
I expect they will do a 18 UTC balloon launch at Oklahoma City (they usually do). Should be interesting.

The 12 Z was already fairly ripe:

(click for full size)


And, RUC's shear forecast (surface to 500 mb) for 7 pm CDT.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nervouspete:

Hey there,

Each year I follow the tornado season, and I find Dr Jeff Master's the best feed for my cravings. I've been obsessed with severe weather ever since I was around six years old when I inexplicably managed to forecast a mini-tornado in Todmodern in the North of England. (The five ingredients of a forecast were there: Wind, dark skies, sugar-fueled imagination, recent viewing of Wizard of Oz, being dragged on a monster walk by my mum and wanting back inside.)

This year is something of a mixed feeling for the first time. Previous season watching has been pretty guilt free thanks to the superlative warning system and the good luck gracing the people of tornado alley. I could reassure myself that more people were injured falling off toilets each year than were hurt by tornadoes. This year is different and it's shocking to see the damage and hurt caused by these outbreaks. I read Levine's Monster Tornado a few months ago, so had a good idea of what is entailed with a super-outbreak... I never thought I'd see the events in that book surpassed. It is strange though how people manage to survive these things, looking at the footage in Tuscaloosa I couldn't see how it could be as low as forty-odd in the city limits.

The clock for OK and KA is six hours behind good ol' GMT here in Wales. Before I go to bed tonight I'll be saying a brief prayer for the folk of tornado alley and hope that they'll see some very picturesque supercells (I love weather photography!) but be spared any twisters hitting populated areas.

I plan on bopping around here more as you seem a wonderful community and I've learnt an awful lot lurking here. Thank you for making Wunderground such a friendly, thoughtful and educating experience. *Moves in for the hug* "Oh you guys! You guys!" (etc.)

Stay safe out there today and tomorrow, you lot!


We don't hug. Just two pats on the back will suffice. LOL Nice post.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
RUC's forecast for this evening is, umm, wow.

EHI off the scale:


CAPE over 7000, in places. Large area over 4000.


And the CAP over NE OK will keep it bottled up for a while...then it will get ugly.


WOW is right. That is a scary picture. It seems that the personnel on the Weather Channel are becoming more concerned as the day goes on. It appears the temperatures are also rising in those areas. Not good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Hey there,

Each year I follow the tornado season, and I find Dr Jeff Master's the best feed for my cravings. I've been obsessed with severe weather ever since I was around six years old when I inexplicably managed to forecast a mini-tornado in Todmodern in the North of England. (The five ingredients of a forecast were there: Wind, dark skies, sugar-fueled imagination, recent viewing of Wizard of Oz, being dragged on a monster walk by my mum and wanting back inside.)

This year is something of a mixed feeling for the first time. Previous season watching has been pretty guilt free thanks to the superlative warning system and the good luck gracing the people of tornado alley. I could reassure myself that more people were injured falling off toilets each year than were hurt by tornadoes. This year is different and it's shocking to see the damage and hurt caused by these outbreaks. I read Levine's Monster Tornado a few months ago, so had a good idea of what is entailed with a super-outbreak... I never thought I'd see the events in that book surpassed. It is strange though how people manage to survive these things, looking at the footage in Tuscaloosa I couldn't see how it could be as low as forty-odd in the city limits.

The clock for OK and KA is six hours behind good ol' GMT here in Wales. Before I go to bed tonight I'll be saying a brief prayer for the folk of tornado alley and hope that they'll see some very picturesque supercells (I love weather photography!) but be spared any twisters hitting populated areas.

I plan on bopping around here more as you seem a wonderful community and I've learnt an awful lot lurking here. Thank you for making Wunderground such a friendly, thoughtful and educating experience. *Moves in for the hug* "Oh you guys! You guys!" (etc.)

Stay safe out there today and tomorrow, you lot!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
RUC's forecast for this evening is, umm, wow.

EHI off the scale:


CAPE over 7000, in places. Large area over 4000.


And the CAP over NE OK will keep it bottled up for a while...then it will get ugly.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Gravity wave and an outflow boundary from the MCS now in central KS. One or both of these features likey to interact with the dryline today.

Appears the gravity wave was responsible for an uptick in convection in the MCS (just outside the circle-approx 2 o'clock position).
(link for full size)

Photobucket

Gravity Wave-7AM CDT

Photobucket

Gravity Wave/Outflow Boundary-10AM CDT
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:


I didn't know the Severe weather was going to be so far East on Wednesday.


Tomorrow at 1 pm CDT EHI:


Same at 7 pm CDT:


CAPE tomorrow at 1 pm CDT:


Same at 7 pm CDT:


These as compared to today at 7 pm:
EHI:


CAPE:


Joplin may need to pay attention tonight. NE OK will very likely get a number of tornadoes. The conditions tomorrow just don't seem to have the "oomph" tonight will. JMHO.
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Quoting Grothar:


I know Flood. That's what friends are for. Have you been dodging the bad weather OK?


No worries here; San Antonio tends to be a little south of the spring weather it would seem. Now, my friends and relatives in the Joplin area are not as fortunate, though most of them are outside of town...
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Here is Dr. Forbes' Torcon Forecast for Tuesday, May 24

AR north - 4 to 5
CT - 2 to 3
DE - 2 to 3
IA southwest - 2 to 3
IL central - 4
IL south - 3
IN central - 3 to 4
IN south - 3
KS south-central - 9
KS west - 2 to 3
KS north-central - 4 to 5
KS southeast - 6
KS northeast - 4 to 5
KY - 2 to 3
MA - 2 to 3
MD - 2 to 3
MO - 6
NE south - 2 to 3
NJ - 2 to 3
NY south - 2 to 3
OH central and south - 2 to 3
OK north-central - 9
OK south-central - 7
OK northeast - 5 to 6
PA south and east - 2 to 3
RI - 2 to 3
TN - 2 to 3
TX north-central - 6
TX south-central - 4
VA - 2 to 3
WV - 2 to 3
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Quoting Floodman:


Grothar, I always have your back!


I know Flood. That's what friends are for. Have you been dodging the bad weather OK?
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Quoting VAstorms:
I have to say one thing about site maintenance. I know the site has to pay for itself with ads but a rollover ad has started to appear from one of my local news stations and the ad won't go a away and just blocks the page for up to a minute. Kind of difficult to watch radar this way.
A membership is a relatively cheep answer to that problem.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Tomorrow doesn't look like an easy day, some potential.
But tonight, in NE OK, looks like the worst of it, to me.



(In fact, family member flying into Tulsa at ~8 pm. Could be worrisome later.)

As for Joplin, it looks to me that they will miss the worst of it by the system passing in between daytime heating-fueled severe weather. Sure, they could still have some, but NAM says they will miss the peak time for it with the system's most severe weather in NE OK tonight and then in western Kentucky tomorrow evening.


I didn't know the Severe weather was going to be so far East on Wednesday.


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Quoting Grothar:


Thanks, Flood, I think!


Grothar, I always have your back!
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Quoting Zaphod:
In general the towers fail AFTER you should have taken shelter, so it's still a useful concept. Ideally the old land-lines would alert as well -- any phone with a 911 address should be able to offer location-based alerts.

For the always-on youth, texting would suffice. Doesn't even matter if they're in school or driving, unfortunately!

Digital radio, including satellite, could provide alerts bounded geographically, with a little help from the car computer and GPS to determine relevance.

We are rapidly moving from where communications was between people, past where it was from computers to people, on to where it's between computers talking about us and our needs. I won't worry until they learn to gossip. :)
In a very heavy, pouring rain, driving 35 on the interstate or 15 on a surface street, with the eyelids stapled open in order to barely discern where the road is, much less any other autos on the road, is it remotely possible to scrutinize a text for relevance to your location? (Assuming you could hear or feel a notification or vibration.) Yet, this scenario might be one where a tornado is imminent.

Or, and simpler, ever miss a call or text while driving due to road noise, music, wind noise, etc.?

I want a factory installed car stereo that interrupts whatever I am listening to in order to give me any tornado warning from the strongest NWS local radio channel wherever I am in the country.
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Quoting Floodman:
Y'all need to quit picking on Grothar; he's very old and deserves our respect (and occasional help despite the Hoveround)


Thanks, Flood, I think!
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Off to work :( Have fun :)

Complete Update





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It's really terrible what happened in Joplin.Hopefully next year won't be so bad when it comes to tornadoes.We need a break and it's not even the second half of the year.The Joplin tornado is a perfect exsample of "it only takes 1".Even tough the tornadoe count will likely be lower than last month.The tornados that affected many people won't be forgotten.
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In general the towers fail AFTER you should have taken shelter, so it's still a useful concept. Ideally the old land-lines would alert as well -- any phone with a 911 address should be able to offer location-based alerts.

For the always-on youth, texting would suffice. Doesn't even matter if they're in school or driving, unfortunately!

Digital radio, including satellite, could provide alerts bounded geographically, with a little help from the car computer and GPS to determine relevance.

We are rapidly moving from where communications was between people, past where it was from computers to people, on to where it's between computers talking about us and our needs. I won't worry until they learn to gossip. :)
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Quoting Grothar:


Well, in that case, I guess I can't call you a Twit, then. Just my looking at the maps, do you think today or tomorrow will be worse. I know it doesn't look good today, but tomorrow really has me concerned. It would appear the systems would form in the same general area as the other day.
Tomorrow doesn't look like an easy day, some potential.
But tonight, in NE OK, looks like the worst of it, to me.



(In fact, family member flying into Tulsa at ~8 pm. Could be worrisome later.)

As for Joplin, it looks to me that they will miss the worst of it by the system passing in between daytime heating-fueled severe weather. Sure, they could still have some, but NAM says they will miss the peak time for it with the system's most severe weather in NE OK tonight and then in western Kentucky tomorrow evening.
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Y'all need to quit picking on Grothar; he's very old and deserves our respect (and occasional help despite the Hoveround)
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
That is a good idea atmo.
For now... My weather NOAA weather radio is my backseat driver if I am out and about during potentially severe weather. Local TV here has options to send tornado warnings to cell phones by zip code. Also, some of the radio stations in OK are good about reading wx warnings from NWS as soon as they come out.

Hi, bye, everyone.
Got some preps to do.
And when cell towers get toppled? (What if Joplin had another nado yesterday morning? Very little in the way cell service there, from what I understand.)
If mobile homes come with a built-in WX radio, why not autos?

The alternative is that we let Darwin handle it and those that are listening to the Pod or Sirxmius while the midday sunlight turns to black and would rather not interrupt their regularly scheduled programming for a live, local radio station just get forcefully removed from their cars, or the cars get removed from the surface, by a nado.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Well, you are correct about that. Just not interested. I rarely face, I don't space, and I never have twitted nor read others' twits.
(And, no it is not a tweet, that is for the one dat tawt he taw a puddy tat.)


Well, in that case, I guess I can't call you a Twit, then. Just my looking at the maps, do you think today or tomorrow will be worse. I know it doesn't look good today, but tomorrow really has me concerned. It would appear the systems would form in the same general area as the other day.
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Quoting hamla:
this is just a thought for wx alerts ie:tornados
most folks have cell phones if all the cell phone carriers would for FREE post warnings on folks cell phones like a siren,bell rings something because all the carriers can get ur locations via gps and if a severe alert is issued for a certain area a 20 min heads up cud save lives
just a thought


Coming soon to a cell tower near you...

New York City Unveils First-In-The-Nation Public Safety System; Enabled Mobile Devices Will Receive Emergency Alerts At Critical Moments With Potentially Life-Saving Messages

http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=5488 8

New York, N.Y. -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, top executives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon and others convened at the World Trade Center site to announce PLAN--the Personal Localized Alerting Network. PLAN is a free service that will allow customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. This service will be available in New York City by the end of 2011, at least two calendar quarters before the rest of the nation.

PLAN ensures that emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. Authorized government officials can send messages, which participating wireless providers then push using their cell towers to enabled mobile devices in a targeted geographic area.

“In both the public and private sectors, I’ve always believed in the need to harness technology in new ways, including ways that its designers hadn’t anticipated. The City’s opt-in Notify NYC system is a great example of that: it alerts people to dangers and delays via email and mobile devices, and it has become a national model of emergency communication,” said New York City Michael Bloomberg.

“But given the kinds of threats made against New York City at the World Trade Center, Times Square, and other places popular with visitors and tourists, we’ll be even safer when authorities can broadcast warnings to everyone in a geographic area regardless of where they came from or bought their phone,” Mayor Bloomberg continued. “I want to congratulate FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate for this quantum leap forward in using technology to help keep people safe.”

“Following the devastating tornadoes in the Southeast, we are witnessing yet again the critical role the public plays as part of our nation’s emergency management team. Making sure that they get useful and life-saving information, quickly and easily, right on their mobile phones, will help more people get out of harm’s way when a threat exists,” said FEMA Administrator Fugate. “This new technology could become a lifeline for millions of Americans and is another tool that will strengthen our nation’s resilience against all hazards.”

“Communications technology – and in particular mobile broadband – has the potential to revolutionize emergency response,” said FCC Chairman Genachowski. “Our communications networks need to be reliable and resilient in times of emergency. The FCC is working with carriers to ensure that they are.”

When PLAN is operational, customers in an area affected by an emergency who have a PLAN-capable mobile device will receive an alert of ninety characters or less. Consumers will receive three types of alerts from PLAN: (1) alerts issued by the President; (2) alerts involving imminent threats to safety of life; and (3) Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.

In 2006, Congress passed the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act, requiring carriers that choose to participate to activate PLAN technology by a deadline determined by the FCC, which is April 2012. Participants that will offer PLAN at least two calendar quarters ahead of schedule in New York City are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Ninety percent of New York subscribers who have a PLAN-capable mobile device in these cities will be able to receive PLAN alerts by the end of 2011.

For more information on PLAN visit blog.fema.gov/2011/05/plan-another-part-of-publics -emergency.html.
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Quoting Grothar:


atmo, I bet you don't even know how to use Twitter!
Well, you are correct about that. Just not interested. I rarely face, I don't space, and I never have twitted nor read others' twits.
(And, no it is not a tweet, that is for the one dat tawt he taw a puddy tat.)
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Quoting Zaphod:
Grothar gets humbled by the black screen of death -- karma is quick today, it seems.

BFOTR, there is no escaping warning here except via satellite radio. On cable, broadcast TV, and radio the coverage is omnipresent -- irritatingly so, actually. But on days like today, it will be worthwhile.

Most new cell-phones know where they are -- it would seem reasonable to have location-sensitive warning apps.


Now the images are showing up. I post from this site all the time. I don't know what's wrong. It realy looks like tomorrow will be worse in the Mid-west. I hope I am wrong.
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Grothar gets humbled by the black screen of death -- karma is quick today, it seems.

BFOTR, there is no escaping warning here except via satellite radio. On cable, broadcast TV, and radio the coverage is omnipresent -- irritatingly so, actually. But on days like today, it will be worthwhile.

Most new cell-phones know where they are -- it would seem reasonable to have location-sensitive warning apps.
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Quoting VAstorms:


One description was of a father and son in their car pulling up in their car to open the garage door when the tornado hit them and now the son who was driving and sucked up through the sunroof is missing. If you are listening to satellite radio you will never hear local weather warnings. I read that many did not hear the sirens due to the rain and hail and in cars, you often can't hear the sirens.
Perfect example.
As a society, we spend a not insignificant portion of our time in cars. Sirens are harder to hear in cars, especially with a hard rain or hail. More and more folks are listening to media sources that provide no local severe weather warnings.

Best they could do is get WU text message warnings for their locale. But that is of limited use when traveling outside of your home-town. (The WU texts are very effective and quick enough to be useful, but limited in that it cannot know where you are at any given time, thus cannot give you location-specific warnings when traveling. I find that getting emails from WU to my "boysenberry" is a little too slow).
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this is just a thought for wx alerts ie:tornados
most folks have cell phones if all the cell phone carriers would for FREE post warnings on folks cell phones like a siren,bell rings something because all the carriers can get ur locations via gps and if a severe alert is issued for a certain area a 20 min heads up cud save lives
just a thought
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Heck, even I remember that...and it would take calculus to determine the fraction of my years vs. Grothar's.


atmo, I bet you don't even know how to use Twitter!
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Heck, even I remember that...and it would take calculus to determine the fraction of my years vs. Grothar's.


Yes... but Grothar would have been the Dad in question :)

Looks like summer has finally arrived.. 2 months late... but its arrived...I hope
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Hey, Zaphod.
I hear ya.
:)

Quoting TampaTom:
Reposting again on the new blog... an interesting read from CNN about the efficacy of NWS Tornado warnings...

Tornado warnings' effectiveness questioned after deadly twister
http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/23/missouri.tornado .warning/index.html?hpt=C1


Perhaps the media should be asking why the Fed has not "empowered" the NWS with radar that is available and could increase warning times somewhat and aid with low level visualization--- Phased Array and low range CASA.

24 minute warning time at Joplin is above average.

Quoting atmoaggie:
One thing I find sorely lacking is car radios capable of getting the NWS radio feed.

How easy would it be to have a car radio with the built in functionality of recognizing the strongest NWS radio signal, regardless of location, and automatically going to that in the event of a severe nado warning or tornado warning? With all of the other technology in car stereos presently, this likely would cost very little to add on to new designs.

With so many folks now listening to media devices or satellite radio through their car stereo and no longer getting any local notification of severe weather events, this notion makes even more sense. If you are driving and listening to the Pod through the car stereo, you are probably oblivious to severe weather warnings.


That is a good idea atmo.
For now... My weather NOAA weather radio is my backseat driver if I am out and about during potentially severe weather. Local TV here has options to send tornado warnings to cell phones by zip code. Also, some of the radio stations in OK are good about reading wx warnings from NWS as soon as they come out.

Hi, bye, everyone.
Got some preps to do.
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Torcon number is 9/10..God help them!
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Your just jealous.. a remote for a TV when you were younger... was Dad yelling from the couch at one of the kids to change the channel :)
Heck, even I remember that...and it would take calculus to determine the fraction of my years vs. Grothar's.
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I have to say one thing about site maintenance. I know the site has to pay for itself with ads but a rollover ad has started to appear from one of my local news stations and the ad won't go a away and just blocks the page for up to a minute. Kind of difficult to watch radar this way.
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Quoting tkeith:
LOL

LMAO

You cant catch a break today Grothar :)


As soon as I find my glasses, I'll show you guys. LOL
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Quoting Grothar:


They have a name for guys like you in New York! LOL


Your just jealous.. a remote for a TV when you were younger... was Dad yelling from the couch at one of the kids to change the channel :)
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Quoting atmoaggie:
Alright. When it says "remote linking disabled" it has nothing to do with that thing that controls your television.


They have a name for guys like you in New York! LOL
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Quoting atmoaggie:
One thing I find sorely lacking is car radios capable of getting the NWS radio feed.

How easy would it be to have a car radio with the built in functionality of recognizing the strongest NWS radio signal, regardless of location, and automatically going to that in the event of a severe nado warning or tornado warning? With all of the other technology in car stereos presently, this likely would cost very little to add on to new designs.

With so many folks now listening to media devices or satellite radio through their car stereo and no longer getting any local notification of severe weather events, this notion makes even more sense. If you are driving and listening to the Pod through the car stereo, you are probably oblivious to severe weather warnings.


One description was of a father and son in their car pulling up in their car to open the garage door when the tornado hit them and now the son who was driving and sucked up through the sunroof is missing. If you are listening to satellite radio you will never hear local weather warnings. I read that many did not hear the sirens due to the rain and hail and in cars, you often can't hear the sirens.
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Several ingredients are coming together to set the stage for a potential tornado outbreak including lift, moisture, instability, and shear.
Lift
A potent 500mb short wave trough will be diving into the Southern Plains during the day tomorrow. The trough will orient itself negatively tilted, helping to promote strong forcing and lift as strong shear overspreads the area. Furthermore, the impressive lift will help promote a deepening surface low to sub 996 mb.
Moisture
An abundant fetch of tropical moisture has already been streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean over the past several days. This abundant moisture in place has already been partially responsible for several deadly tornadoes across the region. The image below shows PW values and the higher values streaming in across the Gulf of Mexico.
This will lead to dewpoints in the lower 70’s and help fuel extreme instability. In the midlevels, westerly flow will advect drier air. This drier air advecting overtop the moist air near the surface will help put a cap or lid on the atmosphere for much of the early part of the day. This is important because it allows instability to increase with daytime heating.
Instability
Instability will build throughout the afternoon aided by the abundant moisture at the surface and drier air in the mid-levels. Furthermore, colder air aloft from the approaching trough will further aid to the volatile environment. Mixed Layer CAPE’s will approach 4000+ J/kg during the late afternoon hours.
Shear
An 80 knot mid-level jet will punch into the region during the afternoon to evening hours. This combined with surface winds out of the Southeast (aided by a strengthening surface low) and a strengthening low level jet will lead to Bulk shear values of 40-70 knots across much of the moderate risk area. The hodograph below shows the wind profile veering (or turning clockwise) with height. This is very conducive for supercells and tornadoes.
In addition because shear vectors are not parallel along the dryline, it will allow supercells to be more discrete and longer tracked. As the strongest forcing comes in during the late evening, it will allow storms to congeal into a squall line.

Finally, low level shear with 0-1km helicitiy values increasing to over 200 m2/s2 will lead to the potential for some strong tornadoes. All residents within the risk area are encouraged to stay alert to local media outlets and NOAA alerts as conditions change.
28storms
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1937
The 1953 Waco, TX, tornado was one of those that was "not supposed to happen." The indians, supposedly, said that a tornado had never hit there and never would, and everyone believed it. Obviously, past experience was not to be relied on to predict the future.
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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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