Deadly tornadoes rip OK, KS, and AR; high tornado risk today; Joplin tornado an EF-5

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:48 PM GMT on May 25, 2011

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America's deadliest tornado season since 1953 continued its relentless onslaught of violent tornadoes yesterday. Numerous destructive and deadly tornadoes raked Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas, killing at least nine people. Yesterday's deadliest tornado hit El Reno and Piedmont, Oklahoma, about 30 miles to the west and northwest of Oklahoma City. Four people died, and one child is missing. Video of the damage from this tornado near the town of Piedmont shot by a news9.com helicopter shows damage characteristic of an EF-4 tornado, with many homes completely demolished and swept off their foundations. This tornado produced a wind gust of 151 mph at an Oklahoma Mesonet station in El Reno, Oklahoma.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image of the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the Piedmont, Oklahoma tornado that killed at least four people about 30 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.


Figure 2. Doppler velocity image of the supercell thunderstorm that spawned the Piedmont, Oklahoma tornado.


Figure 3. Top wind gusts recorded by the Oklahoma Mesonet yesterday showed that over 2/3 of the state received gusts of 40 mph or greater, and ten stations got gusts in excess of 58 mph (the definition of a severe thunderstorm.) A remarkable gust of 151 mph was recorded in El Reno, about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City.


Video 1. Chase video of the 1/2-mile wide tornado that killed four people in Canadian/Caddo Counties about 30 miles northwest of Oklahoma City on Tuesday, May 24, 2011.

Joplin, Missouri got a scare last night when Doppler radar showed a rotating thunderstorm approaching the city from the southwest. A tornado warning was issued and the sirens sounded, but the storm passed just to the northwest of the city, bringing Joplin only heavy rains, wind gusts to 41 mph, and intense lightning. A tornado warning forced the evacuation of NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman Oklahoma late yesterday afternoon, and the center was out of commission for a 50-minute period. However, yesterday's dangerous tornadoes missed the most heavily populated areas of Oklahoma, and SPC was able to resume normal activity after the storms cleared Oklahoma City. The center logged 47 reports of tornadoes yesterday, bringing the preliminary 4-day total of the current outbreak to 153 twisters. With more tornadoes expected today over a wide swath of the country from Arkansas to Ohio, this week's tornado outbreak is likely to rank as one of the top ten tornado outbreaks in history. This year already has the two largest tornado outbreaks in history, the April 25 - 28 outbreak (327 tornadoes) and the April 14 - 16 outbreak (162 tornadoes.)

This year's tornado death toll is in the 495 - 499 range, 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 (90 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.)


Figure 4. Satellite image taken at 22:32 UTC (6:32pm EDT) May 24, 2011, showing a line of tornadic thunderstorms over Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 5. Radar image of an unusual "J"-shaped tendril emerging from a tornadic thunderstorm near Dallas, Texas. This storm had unusually high radar reflectivity (note the pink colors of 70 dbZ echoes), because of large hail in the storm. This thunderstorm produced softball-sized hail (4.5 inch diameter.)


Video 2. Chase video of several Oklahoma tornadoes intercepted yesterday by Reed Timmer of tornadovideos.net.

The Joplin tornado an EF-5, and the costliest tornado in history
The Springfield, Missouri office of the National Weather Service announced yesterday that storm surveys of the 7-mile long, 3/4 mile-wide path of damage carved by the Joplin tornado revealed that winds in the violent tornado exceeded 200 mph, making it the 4th EF-5 tornado of the year. The twister roared through Joplin beginning at 5:41pm CDT on Sunday, May 22. In nine terrifying minutes, the tornado killed at least 125 people, injured 750 more, and destroyed 2,000 buildings. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) rates this year's Joplin tornado as the 8th deadliest U.S. tornado of all-time, and the deadliest since at least 1947, when a violent F-5 tornado hit Woodward, Oklahoma, killing 181.

Catastrophe risk modeling firm EQECAT said yesterday that insured damages from the Joplin tornado could be between $1 billion and $3 billion dollars. According to NOAA's National Severe Storm Laboratory, the costliest tornado between 1890 - 1999 was the May 3, 1999 Oklahoma City tornado, which did $1 billion in damage (1999 dollars.) There were no tornadoes during the period 2000 - 2010 capable of causing $1 billion in damage; the only two EF-5 tornadoes during that period, the 2007 Greensburg, Kansas tornado and the 2008 Parkersburg, Iowa tornado each did less than $300 million in damage. Thus, with the possible exception of this year's Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado of April 27, the Joplin tornado is probably the most damaging tornado of all-time.

Another "High Risk" day for severe weather and violent tornadoes today
The Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of seven states, from Arkansas to Indiana, in their "High Risk" region for severe weather potential, and warn of the potential for long-lived strong or violent tornadoes. This is their second consecutive "High Risk" forecast day, and fourth of the year. A high risk forecast was also issued on April 27, which 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 diminish considerably on Thursday, when only a slight risk of severe weather is expected from Alabama to New York.


Figure 5. Severe weather threat for Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

Joplin tornado the 7th U.S. billion-dollar weather disaster of 2011
The Joplin tornado is the 7th U.S. weather disaster of 2011 costing more than a billion dollars. With hurricane season still to come, 2011 has an excellent chance of beating 2008's record of nine billion-dollar weather disasters. The billion dollar weather disasters of 2011 so far:

1) 2011 Groundhog Day's blizzard ($1- $4 billion)
2) April 3 -5 Southeast U.S. severe weather outbreak ($2 billion)
3) April 8 - 11 severe weather outbreak ($2.25 billion)
4) April 25 - 28 super tornado outbreak ($3.5 - $6 billion)
5) Mississippi River flood of 2011 ($9 billion)
6) Texas drought ($1.2 billion)
7) Joplin tornado ($1 - $3 billion)

Links
The New York Times has an interactive tornado fatality map showing how this year's killer tornadoes have mostly clustered over the Southeast U.S., with the glaring exception of the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

NOAA's Visualization Laboratory has an impressive animation of the satellite imagery during the month of April, showing the locations of all the tornadoes as they happened.

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.

Jeff Masters

joplin lightning (thestig1)
The storm in Joplin Mo. before destruction
joplin lightning
Tornado (smyezek)
Tornado near Okeene, Ok
Tornado
Much clearer view of it as it roped out (vortecguy)
Much clearer view of it as it roped out
()

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904. DopplarDee
3:14 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting sarahjola:
i've noticed some waves off africa. i know that the steering is not good right now, but it may be an indicator for whats to come.i hope this season has no landfalls but we all know that is just wishful thinking. you are right we should all be very vigilant this season. has the prediction center released any landfall predictions yet? tia





someone eles take this one ... I dont have that info.
Member Since: July 24, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 103
903. Jax82
3:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
NEW BLOG
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
902. Bielle
3:11 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting hydrus:
These disturbances look potent...


"imptful"?
Member Since: September 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 616
900. sarahjola
3:10 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting DopplarDee:





Im no expert ... but I really feel the way things have been goin this year ... we should really keep our eyes 2 the sky ...or radar
i've noticed some waves off africa. i know that the steering is not good right now, but it may be an indicator for whats to come.i hope this season has no landfalls but we all know that is just wishful thinking. you are right we should all be very vigilant this season. has the prediction center released any landfall predictions yet? tia
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
899. DopplarDee
3:08 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting washingtonian115:
No.People arn't getting the point.Here I'll break it down in simple words.I love tracking storms.Hell if we have a season like we did last year where their were no landfalls I'll be happy.That means less problems for me and others around the country.What I'm trynna say is that if a season is more imptful it's more memborable.People will remember 2004 rather than 2010 becuase alot more people were affected by the storms including the country as a whole.




ur right ... people dont always remember the good times ... seems the bad make the impact cause u didnt want it 2 happen
Member Since: July 24, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 103
898. hydrus
3:08 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting PakaSurvivor:


check ID's? Will my AARP card do? lol
Floodman would show his, but it is chiseled into a stone tablet.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21239
897. washingtonian115
3:08 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting LostTomorrows:


The fact that the states weren't entirely effected by the 2010 season has no bearing on whether or not the season was memorable, by any means: the hurricane season will be remembered by those in St. Lucia and others in the Canadian Maritimes; it'll also be remembered for being one of the most active Cape Verdes seasons ever, and for setting some records as well. So that statement is kind of ignorant.
And I'm talking about the unites states.Not the basin as a whole.I know there were landfalls in other countries in 2010.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16979
895. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:06 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
new blog
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53841
894. washingtonian115
3:05 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Floodman:


So in other words, you're just interested because of the potential devastation?
No.People arn't getting the point.Here I'll break it down in simple words.I love tracking storms.Hell if we have a season like we did last year where their were no landfalls I'll be happy.That means less problems for me and others around the country.What I'm trynna say is that if a season is more imptful it's more memborable.People will remember 2004 rather than 2010 becuase alot more people were affected by the storms including the country as a whole.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16979
893. hydrus
3:05 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
These disturbances look potent...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21239
892. aspectre
3:05 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
855 Neapolitan "If the local weather office says there's a 60% of rain, they can't be accused of 'all hype' if it doesn't rain, can they?"

Inre 2010, more like... If the weatherman forecasts lots of rain in your area, ya can't complain about inaccuracy jes cuz your neighborhood doesn't get flooded out.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
891. DopplarDee
3:04 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting sarahjola:
hey patrap you still on




Yeh she is ...
Member Since: July 24, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 103
890. DopplarDee
3:02 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting sarahjola:

yeah, its hard to stay active on this site with all the sillyness going on. i do like this site because of all the different opinions. so with that i will ask you what you think this hurricane season will be like? any opinion on landfalls? tia





Im no expert ... but I really feel the way things have been goin this year ... we should really keep our eyes 2 the sky ...or radar
Member Since: July 24, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 103
889. PakaSurvivor
3:01 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Floodman:
Can we please start checking IDs?


check ID's? Will my AARP card do? lol
Member Since: September 20, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 235
888. sarahjola
3:01 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
hey patrap you still on
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
887. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:59 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53841
886. sarahjola
2:58 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting DopplarDee:




LOL we all have his handel ... write him an email and ask :) Ive been off about as long as him ... Iv only recently been active on this site again

yeah, its hard to stay active on this site with all the sillyness going on. i do like this site because of all the different opinions. so with that i will ask you what you think this hurricane season will be like? any opinion on landfalls? tia
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
885. DopplarDee
2:58 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
love it
Member Since: July 24, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 103
884. jeffs713
2:58 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

LOL

Quoting Floodman:
Can we please start checking IDs?

I was thinking along the lines of "you must be this tall to enter".
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5882
883. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2:55 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
<
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 171 Comments: 53841
882. hydrus
2:54 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Floodman:


And you make the list...**POOF!**
reported. just kidding...really,...jk..good morning.:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21239
881. DopplarDee
2:48 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting sarahjola:

also those of us who know storm w would know that he would never say "n stuff". these types of things is the reason people like storm w have left (not banned) this site. the childishness of the trolls on here ruin the experince for all. i come on here every day but hardly ever comment. hurricane season is very close so i'm sure the bickering and fighting will begin soon. if only people could remember that no ones opinion is better than anyone else then maybe we could have some real conversation and actually enjoy comming to this site for hurricane talk. :)




LOL we all have his handel ... write him an email and ask :) Ive been off about as long as him ... Iv only recently been active on this site again
Member Since: July 24, 2006 Posts: 22 Comments: 103
880. lordhuracan01
2:48 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Member Since: August 11, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 252
879. Gearsts
2:47 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Patrap:
Typhoon Songda

Not looking super great
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1751
878. emcf30
2:47 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Floodman:
Can we please start checking IDs?

lol
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1935
877. kwgirl
2:47 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Good Morning everyone. Bad night last night and it looks like it will be flaring again today. Hopefully not as bad. Floodman, I reported 872. Everyone stay safe today.
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
876. Floodman
2:46 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Can we please start checking IDs?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
875. muddertracker
2:45 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Good morning. Is Songda doing what he/she is expected to do? I know that storms this strong can sometimes do strange things. Praying that Songda plays nice!
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2348
873. sarahjola
2:43 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
hi patrap! what is your opinion on this hurricane season? tia
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
871. Floodman
2:41 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting InconceivableF6:
what is the matter with you!!!That is not what she said.Washington is one of the best here,,and for you to assume that i think you ingested far too many in the 60's, uh, well you know what i mean. i just think it you misunderstand sometimes. I'm sorry, okay.But no one wants destruction,,,and if so, why not just comeout and say it then. And no, I am not in the same room as that filthy person saying he or she is storm, ok!!I just got fooled,and feel funny right now.I guess i just want him back and all and hope my dreams will come true and all.


And you make the list...**POOF!**
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
870. emcf30
2:40 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NASHVILLE TN
911 AM CDT THU MAY 26 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NASHVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EXTREME NORTHEAST COFFEE COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...
WARREN COUNTY IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE...

* UNTIL 945 AM CDT

* AT 910 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED 9 MILES NORTHEAST OF MANCHESTER...AND MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 45 MPH.

* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL BE NEAR...
MCMINNVILLE AROUND 930 AM CDT.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1935
868. Gearsts
2:39 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting StorrnW:


I'm out, back to the forecast center!!!



lol
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867. Patrap
2:38 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Typhoon Songda

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128343
866. ShenValleyFlyFish
2:38 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting InconceivableF6:
holy moly,,i see that now.I'm sorry guys.I just wish they are still good forecaster here.I am sorry again.
Plenty of good forecasters they just don't pander to the peanut gallery. Too bad the real one flamed out he could be a positive addition. However his demons caught up with him. Sad
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
864. muddertracker
2:37 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Good grief.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 2348
863. Patrap
2:37 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Lordy,,maybe look up "Storm Walsh" on FaceBook.




Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128343
860. LostTomorrows
2:32 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting washingtonian115:
In terms of impact....I could careless how active or inactive a season was.It's the impact that really counts.Like a season can have 20 named storms and all of them can go out to sea.Another season can have 5 and if all five make landfall and impact people in a big way.It will be memorable.


The fact that the states weren't entirely effected by the 2010 season has no bearing on whether or not the season was memorable, by any means: the hurricane season will be remembered by those in St. Lucia and others in the Canadian Maritimes; it'll also be remembered for being one of the most active Cape Verdes seasons ever, and for setting some records as well. So that statement is kind of ignorant.
Member Since: August 26, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 597
859. sarahjola
2:32 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Tazmanian:



well you stop it and this look the way he name is spelled hes a imposter its not him

also those of us who know storm w would know that he would never say "n stuff". these types of things is the reason people like storm w have left (not banned) this site. the childishness of the trolls on here ruin the experince for all. i come on here every day but hardly ever comment. hurricane season is very close so i'm sure the bickering and fighting will begin soon. if only people could remember that no ones opinion is better than anyone else then maybe we could have some real conversation and actually enjoy comming to this site for hurricane talk. :)
Member Since: September 10, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1294
858. Floodman
2:32 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting Tazmanian:
YAY we can now go back too happy bloging


LOL...whatever that is...
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922
857. aspectre
2:32 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
180 members aged between 54 and 78 of the SkilledVeteransCorps -- a self-named self-organized group of retired academics, soldiers, crane and bulldozer operators, construction workers, engineers, welders, etc -- will run the risk of being exposed to deadly levels of radiation to rebuild the cooling systems at the FukushimaDaiichi NuclearPowerStation with the explanation that "as [we] are nearing the end of [our] lives, [we] don't have as much to live for as those younger than [us]."
According to its founder, 72-year-old retired engineer Yasuteru Yamada,
"Our generation, who has, consciously or unconsciously, approved the construction of the Fukushima nuclear power plants and enjoyed the benefits of the vast supply of energy...should be the first to join the Skilled Veteran Corps.
Young people with a long future should not have to be placed in a position of having to undertake such a task. Radiation exposure of the generation that will reproduce the next generation should be avoided.
It's clear that human activity is essential. The place is contaminated and the radiation is very strong. It's reasonable that older people should have priority in working in the plant."
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
856. Tazmanian
2:29 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
YAY we can now go back too happy bloging
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115125
855. Neapolitan
2:29 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting washingtonian115:
In terms of impact....I could careless how active or inactive a season was.It's the impact that really counts.Like a season can have 20 named storms and all of them can go out to sea.Another season can have 5 and if all five make landfall and impact people in a big way.It will be memorable.

I agree...but, still, how was the last season "all hype"? The were pre-season forecasts that gave percentages for landfall in certain areas. There were no landfalls in some of those areas--but then again, none of those forecasts called for a 100% chance of landfall in any given area.

If the local weather office says there's a 60% of rain, they can't be accused of "all hype" if it doesn't rain, can they?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13537
854. Floodman
2:28 PM GMT on May 26, 2011
Quoting washingtonian115:
In terms of impact....I could careless how active or inactive a season was.It's the impact that really counts.Like a season can have 20 named storms and all of them can go out to sea.Another season can have 5 and if all five make landfall and impact people in a big way.It will be memorable.


So in other words, you're just interested because of the potential devastation?
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 9922

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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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