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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hurricane contest blog

it's a waste of your time to post your choices here
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Quoting alfabob:

Here is 2010 in about 2 minutes, troughs and lows coming from CONUS deflected most of the possible coastal impacts.

Yup.....We were extremely lucky last season....
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Jim Lushine Theory


Thanks...that was it exactly
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Quoting sarahjola:
flood- it was just too perfect. i couldn't help myself. lol


Well, someone has to give me trouble when my wife isn't around...LOL
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
flood- it was just too perfect. i couldn't help myself. lol
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Subtract 108 for the usage of "wooble".


Ummm..."wooble"? How would you use that in a sentence? "I had to call Orkin; damned woobles in the house!" Or maybe "Yeah, I bought an import...it's a 2011 Wooble. 5 on the floor and it's a hatchback!" OR even "The newest must have gift for Christmas: woobles! Kids love 'em!" OR a new hybrid dog: "It's a wooble: part wolfhound, part toy poodle and part beagle."
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Whens the last time youve seen a tornado watch here?


SEL0

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 380
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1230 PM EDT THU MAY 26 2011

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

NORTHEAST NEW YORK
NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VERMONT

EFFECTIVE THIS THURSDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 1230 PM UNTIL
800 PM EDT.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 60 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 25 MILES WEST NORTHWEST OF
NEWPORT VERMONT TO 50 MILES SOUTH SOUTHWEST OF BURLINGTON
VERMONT. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU0).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

OTHER WATCH INFORMATION...CONTINUE...WW 379...

DISCUSSION...A SUPERCELL HAS ALREADY EVOLVED EARLY THIS AFTERNOON
OVER NERN NY WITHIN AN KINEMATIC ENVIRONMENT CHARACTERIZED BY 50-55
KT OF EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR AND 0-1 KM SRH APPROACHING 200 M2/S2 /PER
BURLINGTON VWP/. INFLOW AIR MASS SHOULD CONTINUE TO
WARM/DESTABILIZE OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS...SUPPORTING MLCAPE
VALUES OF 1000-2000 J/KG. THIS COMBINATION OF INSTABILITY AND
VERTICAL SHEAR IS RESULTING IN AN ENVIRONMENT QUITE FAVORABLE FOR
SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS AND TORNADOES.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
500. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 24035.


...MEAD
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Quoting Floodman:


Isn't there a semi-scientific correlation betyween May rainfall in Florida and hurricane landfall in the state? Less rain=greater risk of landfall?


Jim Lushine Theory
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Quoting sarahjola:

and with that floods neck hair is rising. lol


LOL...what is it about Mandevillians, anyway? I used to live at Montgomery and Atalin on the east end of town
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
click for discussion and graphic
MCD 0979
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Quoting aquak9:
Ossgss's blog has the hurricane contest


Going to send my irregular numbers that way then xD

So Ossgss does the competion, I think I did it for the 07 or 08 season, too much work for me. And spare time is limited, good to see someone is willing to organize it and do it. :D
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15-storms
09-hurricanes
05-major
03-Cat 4 or 5
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1519
Quoting aquak9:
I even have Rob Lightbrown to back me up

it's LightBOWN- - there's no R


sorry I ment Lightbown
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Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
Super Typhoon Songda
Wind: 160 MPH — Location: 16.2N 125.1E — Movement: NW


What a start for the WPAC season!
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Quoting KeysieLife:


That the term "I have a bad feeling about this" will be used 437 times...give or take 10-15.


And "Is that a jog to the west?" will be used 1,247 times.
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I'm going with
13.9 - 7.2 - 3.5
LOL!

Round them up :P
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:
Thanks for the update Dr. Masters. Seems a well deserved pattern change is coming about next week that will dry out a great portion of the US.



Good lord we need some rain. Local MET said Palm Beach Counties rain deficit is up to 20". Never seen the whole state like this before.






Isn't there a semi-scientific correlation betyween May rainfall in Florida and hurricane landfall in the state? Less rain=greater risk of landfall?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
ATLANTIC SEASON NUMBER OUTLOOK for 2011
TOTAL STORMS 17 TO 19
TOTAL HURRICANES 9 TO 11
TOTAL MAJORS 5 TO 7
TOTAL CAT 5's 2 TO 4


I agree with you my numbers are 16-19(TS) 7-10(H) 5-7(MH) 75-85% of all Numbers to be storms within the Caribbean/Caribbean landfalls and the rest 15-25% will be GOM/US E Coast storm/Landfalls
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Quoting aquak9:
I even have Rob Lightbrown to back me up

it's LightBOWN- - there's no R


Unless he spends a litle time in the sun...LOL
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I stopped "counting" on the numbers a few years ago but an above average season looks to be on tap this year...Chucktown below is correct....As far as the US coast, it boils down to the trough/ridge patterns and relative position of the A-B high once it sets in place for the Aug-Sept Cape Verde season......It saved the US last year; it might not this year....You never know until we actually get there.
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Quoting JRRP:
14-8-5
like 1996


and with that floods neck hair is rising. lol
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Quoting HimacaneBrees:
Hello from the GOM. What are some tropical system predictions for this year?


That the term "I have a bad feeling about this" will be used 437 times...give or take 10-15.
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67. JRRP
14-8-5
like 1996

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5784
Ossgss's blog has the hurricane contest
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b13-5-2,with a better than 50% chance of a Hurricane landfall in Fl and the northern gulf,30-50% chance of a TC landfall from NC north to jersey shore..if a hurricane hits the northern gulf states it will likely be a major jmo...first named Cyclone around middle of june
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Quoting Chicklit:

how are you? you getting any rain? living next to the lake is killing me. once again getting rain all around me but not on me. lol!
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ATLANTIC SEASON NUMBER OUTLOOK for 2011
TOTAL STORMS 17 TO 19
TOTAL HURRICANES 9 TO 11
TOTAL MAJORS 5 TO 7
TOTAL CAT 5's 2 TO 4
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Quoting hurricanejunky:
Hey everyone! Care to Make your 2011 Predictions?


17-9-5
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My prediction:

8-14-9: OK...maybe random number generator isn't the way to go.

I'll try 16-8-4 because it has a certain mathematic symmetry to it.

Flood...you are spot on about the analog years. I always tell my kids...if I flip a coin 50 times and it comes up heads 50 times, what is the chance of the next toss being heads. Of course, they usually give me some sort of smart donkey response like "Is it a two headed coin", etc, but they usually get the point.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53767
Quoting hurricanejunky:
Hey everyone! Care to Make your 2011 Predictions?


14-8-3
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WaterVaporLoopCATL
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I even have Rob Lightbrown to back me up

it's LightBOWN- - there's no R
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Hello,

Well even though we aren't making much progress (some but not much) in long term prediction there has been some forward progress in shorter term weather prediction.

FAA weather systems have gotten a model with some actual skill in predicting short term thunderstrom growth and movement. Whole thunderstorm lifecyle in fact.

Here is article on what progress has been made:

May 26 — NextGen Aviation Weather Group researchers have completed an extensive field evaluation of a promising new thunderstorm forecasting tool that helped air traffic managers anticipate weather events in the Northeast, reducing delays.

More information

Report on CoSPA results
The new automated tool, called CoSPA, uses computer modeling that provides more accuracy, greater detail and a longer-term outlook–the next eight hours, versus six–than the main thunderstorm forecast now used by FAA air traffic managers and airline operations planners in the Northeast.

The benefits of CoSPA identified during the evaluation included improved management of airspace flow programs, improved management of air traffic rerouting using playbook routes and enhanced planning for strategic rerouting.

Additionally, using case studies from the summer of 2010, the Aviation Weather Group estimated the benefit of CoSPA to be the potential avoidance of 10,000 hours of delay each year, yielding a cost savings of $26.8 million.

"CoSPA provides a deterministic forecast, or single estimate, of where storms might materialize. This is in contrast to a probabilistic forecast that would provide the percentage chance of thunderstorms in a wide area. The benefit of a deterministic forecast is that it provides a life-like snapshot of the forecasted future instead of a blurry smear," said Jenny Colavito, the project lead for convective weather in the Aviation Weather Group.

To develop CoSPA, Aviation Weather Group researchers called on the expertise of three research laboratories–the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Laboratory; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Research Applied Laboratory.

CoSPA does more than just show a wide area where storms might occur. It visualizes what the storms might look like in a way that appears similar to radar returns of actual storm activity. It also shows what these images might look like in a particular area every 15 minutes for the next eight hours. This level of detail gives FAA and airline planners a sense of how many gaps there will be in a line of storms that aircraft might fly through.

The evaluation of CoSPA from June to September 2010 involved observers visiting 16 different facilities in the Midwest and Northeast to observe the use of CoSPA during significant weather events. These facilities included nine Air Route Traffic Control Centers, two Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities, four airline operations centers and the Air Traffic Control System Command Center.

The most important feature of CoSPA was found to be its detailed picture of storm intensity, growth and decay at specific times in specific locations. This is summarized in a final report issued earlier this year. Some users also noted that the animated nature of the forecast was helpful.

"The overall response from users in 2010 was positive" Colavito said. "And there are a lot of people interested in using CoSPA again in 2011."
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Quoting sarahjola:
my prediction- 15-7-4
with 3 us landfalls
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52. JRRP


Link
SAT

Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5784
Quoting hurricanejunky:
Hey everyone! Care to Make your 2011 Predictions?
my prediction- 15-7-4
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Our concern is always with the strength of any land falling hurricanes, whether in the Caribbean or US/Central America in terms of damage/casualties but we could actually use/need a few good soakings from tropical storms to help relieve drougt conditions in parts of the Gulf/SE US......Problem is that with record heat in parts of the Gulf, there is no guarantee that the first few storms of the season in those parts will "stay" at tropical storm strength instead of ramping up.
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hey guys I still think we will see development in the SW Caribbean very soon and I even have Rob Lightbrown to back me up and he is thinking the same as me

Model Guidance & The Overall Weather Pattern Continues To Suggest Possible Tropical Development In The Southwest Caribbean Next Week
Rob Lightbown on May 26, 2011, 5:29 am

The European, GFS, Canadian and to some extent the NOGAPS model continues to strongly hint at some sort of tropical development in the southwest Caribbean. What is forecast to happen and this is the reason why the model guidance are showing what they are showing is that a fairly strong ridge of high pressure will build across the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States next week setting up a east to east-southeasterly wind flow over Florida which should increase the moisture and the daily afternoon/evening thunderstorm activity and hopefully this should alleviate the drought & fire danger conditions across Florida, even just a little bit.

In addition, this type of pattern with a large high pressure system over the eastern United States should cause pressures to lower over the southwestern Caribbean as early as Tuesday and this trend in lowering in pressures, an increase in thunderstorms and possible low pressure development in the southwest Caribbean will continue right into next weekend.

This is a situation that I’ve been looking at for about three weeks now and I do strongly believe that by Wednesday and Thursday of next week we will be really watching the southwestern Caribbean as pressures should be falling and convection increasing.

So, it is something to think about as we head right into the Memorial Day weekend and I will be monitoring things very closely and will keep you all updated.



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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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