No new tornado deaths yesterday; Super Typhoon Songda hits Category 5

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:04 PM GMT on May 26, 2011

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The tornado onslaught of 2011 continued over the Midwest yesterday, as dozens of tornadoes touched down, primarily in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Arkansas. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 81 preliminary reports of tornadoes in eleven states. Even California got into the action, with a tornado near Chico causing minor damage. Mercifully, no deaths were reported from yesterday's tornadoes. Too many thunderstorms formed too close to each other to allow strong or violent tornadoes to grow, as the many thunderstorms interfered with each others' organization. The preliminary tornado count for the 5-day outbreak that began Saturday is 243. Preliminary tornado reports are an overestimate, since some storms get counted multiple times. These over-counts were 35% - 40% in the case of the April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak and April 25 - 28 Super outbreak, so we can expect that the May 21 - 25, 2011 outbreak will end up with close to 150 tornadoes. This would rank as the third largest tornado outbreak in history, giving 2011 the three largest tornado outbreaks of all-time. Prior to 2011, NOAA rated the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak as the largest tornado outbreak of all-time, with 148 tornadoes. According to a list of tornado outbreaks maintained by Wikipedia, only two other tornado outbreaks have had as many as 150 twisters prior to 2011--the May 2004 outbreak (385), and the May 2003 outbreak (401). However, these outbreaks occurred over an eight-day and eleven-day period, respectively, and were not due to a single storm system.


Figure 1. Satellite image taken at 23:32 UTC (7:32pm EDT) May 25, 2011, showing a line of tornadic thunderstorms over the Midwest. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 2. Tornado near Fariview, Oklahoma, on May 24, 2011. Image credit: Mike Theiss, www.ExtremeNature.com.


Video 1. "We are in the tornado!" is all this poor guy caught in a car during a tornado can say, while buildings fly apart around him. He is very lucky to have survived. Video shot in Navarro County, Texas on May 24, 2011.

The death toll from Tuesday's tornadoes over Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas is now 16, which would bring the death toll from this year's tornadoes to 506, according to yesterday's NOAA tornado statistic update. This makes 2011 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.)

Only a "Slight Risk" day for severe weather today
The Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of twenty states, from Alabama to Vermont, in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather potential. The slow-moving low pressure system responsible for all the tornado activity this week is weakening, and the primary severe weather threat today is from large hail and damaging straight-line thunderstorm winds. However, there are still likely to be tornadoes today, and I expect we'll see a dozen or so twisters touch down from some of the stronger thunderstorms that develop.


Figure 3. Severe weather threat for Wednesday, May 25, 2011.

Links
Here is an interactive hi-res satellite image showing Joplin before and after the tornado. Some non-interactive images are here.

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.


Figure 4. Satellite image of Super Typhoon Songda.

Super Typhoon Songda the first Category 5 tropical cyclone of 2011
The first typhoon of 2011 is also the globe's first Category 5 tropical cyclone of the year. Super Typhoon Songda intensified dramatically over the past 24 hours in an environment of light wind shear and warm sea surface temperatures of 30°C, to reach Category 5 status with top sustained winds of 160 mph. Tropical Cyclone Yasi, which devastated Queensland, Australia in early February, was the globe's previous strongest tropical cyclone of 2011, with 155 mph winds.

Fortunately, Songda is expected to miss making a direct hit on the Philippines, though evacuations have been ordered in low-lying areas. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the coming 24-hour period is predicted to be less than 4 inches along the northeast coast of the Philippines' Luzon Island, which should not cause major flooding problems. Songda is expected to turn northwards and threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa.

Jeff Masters

Tornado! (CalicoBass)
Tornado Warning for us. It went just past us, was beautiful to watch.
Tornado!
Large Hail! (aderocher78)
First round of large hail.
Large Hail!
Possible Tornado (Griff3488)
I was west bound I 74 when I drove into this storm. They said On the radio it was a tornado on the ground.
Possible Tornado
Joplin 5/22/11 EF5 aftermath (N0RCO)
I went to joplin to look at the destruction this EF5 tornado did. Absolutely devastating in my opinion!
Joplin 5/22/11 EF5 aftermath
Lightning Strike (weatherfanatic2010)
I caught this totally by accident. I was trying to take a picture of the cloud formation and this flashed right as I took the picture. Unbelievable luck!!
Lightning Strike
Mammatus over Indy (jay1hawker)
View of sky before storm, May 25, 2011 Indianapolis
Mammatus over Indy

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Quoting sunlinepr:


weakening some it appears.
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There's an intermittent TVS a bit east of Biloxi headed toward Mobile. Tornado warning to the state line.

Here
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13275
Iran's largest lake turning to salt

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press - Wed May 25, 6:32 am ET

OROUMIEH LAKE, Iran -From a hillside, Kamal Saadat looked forlornly at hundreds of potential customers, knowing he could not take them for trips in his boat to enjoy a spring weekend on picturesque Oroumieh Lake, the third largest saltwater lake on earth.

"Look, the boat is stuck... It cannot move anymore," said Saadat, gesturing to where it lay encased by solidifying salt and lamenting that he could not understand why the lake was fading away.

The long popular lake, home to migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls, has shrunken by 60 percent and could disappear entirely in just a few years, experts say %u2014 drained by drought, misguided irrigation policies, development and the damming of rivers that feed it.

"Official reports blame the drying mainly on a decade-long drought, and peripherally on consumption of water of the feeding rivers for farming. They put 5 percent of the blame on construction of dams and 3 percent on other factors. Others disagree about the relative blame".

Link



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Quoting bigwes6844:
so could we see arlene real early in june or later? and where would there be the most favorable development for it to happen at?



I think this area forecast in the SW Caribbean bears watching the first week of June. Very possible to see Arelene if the upper level winds cooperate. Still touch and go early in the season.

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MiamiH09...

get that fork ready.....
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Quoting wbr2ff:


If you look back at tornado historical data, it really starts changing from 1992-1993. Don't know if that's in response to the Andover, KS tornado, Doppler radar, storm chasers, etc., but that's when the big reporting change seems to have occurred. And when I say changes I mean looking at the percent of low-end vs. significant tornadoes. The average % of EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes in large outbreaks (greater than 100 or so) is around 80-85% since 1993; the decades before that maybe half as much. So that's why I said 10-20 years.

And also Dr. Masters use of Wikipedia as a source here of the largest outbreaks is poor, as the data (even recent) is odd. If you go to the list he links to and drill down on larger outbreaks, you will see different numbers than on the summary page. The summary page sometimes list the # of tornadoes from one day, rather than an outbreak. Outbreaks that might have had at least 150 tornadoes in the last 20 years are June 2008, late May 2008, May 2004, May 2003, May 1995, January 1999, mid June 1992. Hard to tell as it's hard to tell sometimes between months and outbreaks.

And he cites the Super Outbreak of 1974 as the 148 tornadoes, but that was just the main event. There were additional tornadoes reported in the days before and after that event, so that outbreak was higher as well. But how many tornadoes do you think would have been reported had that outbreak lasted this year? 300? 500? Hard to say

If anyone has a link where I can directly access historical tornado data, that would be great so I didn't have to rely on Wikipedia.


The Super Outbreak of 1974 was a discreet event, as the NWS defines outbreaks. You state that was just the "main event", but that's all any outbreak is: one big main event.

Again, the May 2003 and May 2004 events were not outbreaks, but outbreak sequences. Big difference.

There were lots of people in the United States before 1992, and many, many tornadoes were counted prior to that year.

Anyway, start here:

Tornado History Project

...or here:

NOAA tornado database
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13275
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:



Shear dropping, summertime patterns setting in. The way out there GFS shear forecast is showing relatively favorable conditions across the Atlantic in 2 weeks. Highly speculative however, it is that time of year.
so could we see arlene real early in june or later? and where would there be the most favorable development for it to happen at?
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188. mnsky
WOW!labels=1 labels=1 labels=1
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From Aus/Mets in case anyone missed it yesterday; ENSO neutral conditions for the upcoming season makes the Caribbean island chain, and potenitally Florida and the Gulf, at a slightly higher risk in terms of potential trajectories (subject of course to the A-B high position and trof timing as we start to get storm "clusters" during the heart of tne CV season:

2010−11 La Niña comes to the end of its reign
Issued on Wednesday 25 May |

The 2010−11 La Niña event has ended, with climate indicators of the El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) having returned to average levels. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology suggest that the Pacific Ocean will continue to warm over the coming months, with neutral conditions likely to persist through the austral winter; that is, neither La Niña nor El Niño.

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Since I am not a scientist and have only a superficial understanding of weather and climate for me it first boils down to who do I trust?

And second, what risks am I willing to take with a future that I will not inhabit but my grandchildren and their children will?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11047
Quoting ScottLincoln:


"History" in this sense usually refers to records since either A) the early 1970s when the NWS started officially making F/EF scale ratings or B) the early 1950s when the NWS started keeping track of fatalities/injuries. Unofficial records go back further, obviously getting less reliable the further back they are. Why did you pick 10-20 years? I'm not sure of any of these records that only started 10-20 years ago.

Also, I believe that outbreaks that occur on subsequent days are referred to as outbreak sequences instead of outbreaks. The high numbers of tornadoes over several days in both 2003 and 2004 are generally considered tornado outbreak sequences.


If you look back at tornado historical data, it really starts changing from 1992-1993. Don't know if that's in response to the Andover, KS tornado, Doppler radar, storm chasers, etc., but that's when the big reporting change seems to have occurred. And when I say changes I mean looking at the percent of low-end vs. significant tornadoes. The average % of EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes in large outbreaks (greater than 100 or so) is around 80-85% since 1993; the decades before that maybe half as much. So that's why I said 10-20 years.

And also Dr. Masters use of Wikipedia as a source here of the largest outbreaks is poor, as the data (even recent) is odd. If you go to the list he links to and drill down on larger outbreaks, you will see different numbers than on the summary page. The summary page sometimes list the # of tornadoes from one day, rather than an outbreak. Outbreaks that might have had at least 150 tornadoes in the last 20 years are June 2008, late May 2008, May 2004, May 2003, May 1995, January 1999, mid June 1992. Hard to tell as it's hard to tell sometimes between months and outbreaks.

And he cites the Super Outbreak of 1974 as the 148 tornadoes, but that was just the main event. There were additional tornadoes reported in the days before and after that event, so that outbreak was higher as well. But how many tornadoes do you think would have been reported had that outbreak lasted this year? 300? 500? Hard to say

If anyone has a link where I can directly access historical tornado data, that would be great so I didn't have to rely on Wikipedia.

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An excerpt from the San Juan NWS discussion this afternoon.Complete discussion is posted at my blog.

IN THE LONG TERM...GFS COMPUTER MODEL IS FORECASTING THE
DEVELOPMENT OF A LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM ACROSS THE WESTERN
CARIBBEAN...WITH AMPLE MOISTURE ASSOCIATED WITH IT. IF THIS
VERIFY...CONDITIONS WILL CONTINUE WET DURING THE BEGINNING OF NEXT
MONTH. STAY TUNED.


Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13298
In case anyone is interested:

Blog Update

2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast (With Video)


Just checked the GFS and ECMWF and both their 12z runs show some sort of weak tropical system in the central Caribbean about 7-8 days out.

The GFS forecasts that an anticyclone be present over the system at 168 hours with the subtropical jet north of 20N, so who knows.

12z GFS Upper Level Winds (FSU)
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Quoting Floodman:


I've had a peek at it; his CC reduction plan involves the ritual killing of welfare recipients and the sacrifice of immigrant farm workers to the Volcano gods. Of course, we will be confiscatiing their property and selling it to finance these rituals...initially he was planning on using old folks for these tasks, but since his budget plan kills most of them off there won't be enough, based on his calculations...


Now THAT'S a plan!...ROFLMAO
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179. PTXer
Quoting atmoaggie:
Which is why it is monomania spam.

Guess I fell for that one. Gotta start using the ignore feature I guess.
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That article regarding changes Flordia gets hit with a Tropical system based on rain amounts in May is quite intriguing. And I must say compared to last May, its been bone dry.
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All of these precip models have another thing in common - all have TX very, very dry. still.

*sigh*
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Quoting emcf30:


It funny you say that.I got slammed with the exact same comment during the tornado event in Joplin on Sunday. I even went back and looked it up almost word for word. Must be using the cut and paste method from a article or something.
Which is why it is monomania spam.
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Quoting PTXer:

You used this exact same comment on me yesterday when I was simply trying to say that using monikers like "deadliest" or "costliest" tornado or flood is not a sound way to make a case for CC. You seem to generously assign the denialist label; or do you deny that? :)


It funny you say that.I got slammed with the exact same comment during the tornado event in Joplin on Sunday. I even went back and looked it up almost word for word. Must be using the cut and paste method from a article or something.
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173. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #51
TYPHOON SONGDA (T1102)
3:00 AM JST May 27 2011
==================================

SUBJECT: Category Five Typhoon In Sea East Of Philippines

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Songda (920 hPa) located at 17.2N 124.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 105 knots with gusts of 150 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving north northwest at 11 knots.

Storm Force Winds
==================
70 NM from the center

Gale Force Winds
===============
160 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity: T6.5

Forecast And Intensity
=======================
24 HRS: 21.0N 123.8E - 100 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
48 HRS: 26.2N 127.2E - 90 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon)
72 HRS: 31.8N 133.6E - 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm)
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Not in the SW Caribbean, shear is virtually non-existent.
You can see the heavy rain on the CMC precip acc where the development is forecast to occur...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
What's phunny is that one disparages Dr. Roy Spencer, climatologist.
So the other then tries to mock those that disbelieve climatologists and their PhDs, of which Spencer is one.

And the whole discussion was/is about understanding interactions of other phenomena, not exclusively any AGW effects, and this spring's tornadoes. Outside of alfabob and Floodman, this results in no substance, just attitude and name calling.

I suppose any actual analysis pertinent to the real discussion isn't forthcoming for reasons of lacking interest and/or ability.
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Quoting hurricanejunky:


You're wasting your time. (sarcasm flag on)
The denialists on this blog (and elsewhere too) have the idea that their collective knowledge (which is derived mainly from a cracker jack box) dwarfs that of the scientific community, specifically those "corrupt" climate scientists. Them and all their silly PHD's. Who ever heard of some joker with a PHD knowing anything anyways? I, for one, am so glad to have our best and brightest right here serving up JB's uber knowledgeable take on climate change.(sarcasm flag off)
Now, let's return from La La land and realize that if this were any other scientific debate besides evolution, there would be no debate. The scientific consensus is overwhelming yet there are still the dipsticks out there who insist otherwise. I can't wait until Paul Ryan comes out with his climate change plan. That should get something done!


I've had a peek at it; his CC reduction plan involves the ritual killing of welfare recipients and the sacrifice of immigrant farm workers to the Volcano gods. Of course, we will be confiscatiing their property and selling it to finance these rituals...initially he was planning on using old folks for these tasks, but since his budget plan kills most of them off there won't be enough, based on his calculations...
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Quoting bigwes6844:
wat type of changes you mean



Shear dropping, summertime patterns setting in. The way out there GFS shear forecast is showing relatively favorable conditions across the Atlantic in 2 weeks. Highly speculative however, it is that time of year.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Not in the SW Caribbean, shear is virtually non-existent.
I saw that. I meant to da north...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
And naturally the NOGAPS is on board with some type of development in the Western Caribbean...Link
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Quoting hydrus:
Looks like a tiny bit of shear there..:)


Not in the SW Caribbean, shear is virtually non-existent.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Should see some big changes next week in the tropics with the jet lifting that far north.
wat type of changes you mean
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


This is certainly worth a look...Link
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
Quoting PTXer:

You used this exact same comment on me yesterday when I was simply trying to say that using monikers like "deadliest" or "costliest" tornado or flood is not a sound way to make a case for CC. You seem to generously assign the denialist label; or do you deny that? :)


LOL...now THAT'S funny
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Quoting atmoaggie:
A real, honest answer, regardless of anyone's opinion about the veracity of the evidence in opposition to or in support of that subject-that-need-not-be-named.



I agree. That is an honest answer. The most honest part of it is that we ARE running out of resources and yet we seem Hell bent to increase the speed we use them up instead of turning to more long term technology now. We had better have these alternative energy sources in place long before the fossil fuel sources become too expensive to use to develop any newer technologies. There, my friends, is an honest answer. IMHO.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Looks like a tiny bit of shear there..:)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
Quoting hydrus:
Good map. Thank you...hmmm...


Now I noticed maybe a typo? Moving ENE??

MOVING ENE AT ABOUT 10 KTS
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13298
162 hours out..GFS..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
Quoting hydrus:
Good map. Thank you...hmmm...


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157. srada
They have narrowed the missing in Joplin, down from 1500 to 232 people still unaccounted for..
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Quoting JRRP:


yea look the comment #43
Good map. Thank you...hmmm...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
20

09

06
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153. JRRP
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Wave #3 of 2011.

...TROPICAL WAVES...
A TROPICAL WAVE IS SE OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS ALONG 11N53W 8N54W
5N54W. THIS WAVE WAS PREVIOUSLY ANALYZED AS A SURFACE TROUGH.
HOWEVER...WITH THE USE OF LONG-TERM SATELLITE IMAGERY AND TOTAL
PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY AN AREA OF ENHANCED MOISTURE AND
CONVECTION CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE AFRICAN COAST. THE WAVE IS
CURRENTLY MOVING ENE AT ABOUT 10 KTS. SCATTERED
MODERATE/ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS WITHIN 90 NM OF THE WAVE
AXIS.



yea look the comment #43
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VAbeachhurricanes "Are there two Neapolitans?"

Nope. Easy to discern the difference in voice (writing style, vocabulary, temperament, etc).
And in substance, Neapolitan usually provides data-based counterarguments to demonstrate why he thinks a given opinion is wrong.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Wave #3 of 2011.

...TROPICAL WAVES...
A TROPICAL WAVE IS SE OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS ALONG 11N53W 8N54W
5N54W. THIS WAVE WAS PREVIOUSLY ANALYZED AS A SURFACE TROUGH.
HOWEVER...WITH THE USE OF LONG-TERM SATELLITE IMAGERY AND TOTAL
PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY AN AREA OF ENHANCED MOISTURE AND
CONVECTION CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE AFRICAN COAST. THE WAVE IS
CURRENTLY MOVING ENE AT ABOUT 10 KTS. SCATTERED
MODERATE/ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS WITHIN 90 NM OF THE WAVE
AXIS.

Interesting. Thank you for posting it..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537
Quoting hydrus:


Wave #3 of 2011.

...TROPICAL WAVES...
A TROPICAL WAVE IS SE OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS ALONG 11N53W 8N54W
5N54W. THIS WAVE WAS PREVIOUSLY ANALYZED AS A SURFACE TROUGH.
HOWEVER...WITH THE USE OF LONG-TERM SATELLITE IMAGERY AND TOTAL
PRECIPITABLE WATER IMAGERY AN AREA OF ENHANCED MOISTURE AND
CONVECTION CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE AFRICAN COAST. THE WAVE IS
CURRENTLY MOVING ENE AT ABOUT 10 KTS. SCATTERED
MODERATE/ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS WITHIN 90 NM OF THE WAVE
AXIS.

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Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19537

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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.