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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399. Skyepony (Mod)
Metro Atlanta weather | 3 dead; 155,000 without power
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting clwstmchasr:


It all begins. Every six hours we wait for the GFS to run and then several folks will post 6 hour intervals all the way up to 384 hours.
LOL, it begins again.

Good evening all.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Can someone tell me what happened in Atlanta tonight. Just got back from a spring football game and heard on TV of fatalities. My oldest daughter lives there can't get ahold of her. Thanks. Figured I check here first
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WDPN31 PGTW 261200
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/PROGNOSTIC REASONING FOR SUPER TYPHOON 04W WARNING NR 26//
RMKS/
1. FOR METEOROLOGISTS.
2. 12 HOUR SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS.
A. SUPER TYPHOON (STY) 04W (SONGDA), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 250 NM
EAST-NORTHEAST OF MANILA, PHILIPPINES, HAS TRACKED NORTHWESTWARD AT
08 KNOTS OVER THE PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED INFRARED SATELLITE
IMAGERY AND RECENT MICROWAVE IMAGERY (260936Z CORIOLIS AND 261157Z
SSMIS) DEPICT A 16 NM CONCENTRIC EYE-WALL WITH SPIRAL BANDING
WRAPPING INTO THE LOW LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER FROM ALL QUADRANTS.
THERE IS HIGH CONFIDENCE IN THE CURRENT POSITION AND MOTION BASED ON
THE 26/1132Z PGTW EYE FIX AND THE SSMIS MICROWAVE IMAGE. THE CURRENT
INTENSITY IS BASED ON DVORAK ESTIMATES FROM PGTW, KNES, AND RJTD OF
140 KNOTS. FUELED BY DUAL CHANNEL OUTFLOW, LOW VERTICAL WIND SHEAR
(5-10 KNOTS), AND FAVORABLE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES, STY 04W HAS
RAPIDLY INTENSIFIED OVER THE PAST 24 HOURS. THE SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY
TRACKING ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN PERIPHERY OF A DEEP-LAYERED
SUBTROPICAL STEERING RIDGE (STR) AND HAS SLOWED SLIGHTLY, INDICATING
THE SYSTEM IS APPROACHING THE RIDGE AXIS AND SHOULD BEGIN TO TURN
INCREASINGLY POLEWARD.
3. FORECAST REASONING.
A. THERE ARE NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN FORECAST PHILOSOPHY FROM
THE PREVIOUS PROGNOSTIC REASONING BULLETIN.
B. STY SONGDA IS FORECAST TO ROUND THE STR AND MAINTAIN SUPER
TYPHOON INTENSITY THROUGH TAU 24, BUT WILL GRADUALLY WEAKEN AS IT
TRACKS TOWARD OKINAWA, JAPAN AND ENCOUNTERS INCREASING VERTICAL WIND
SHEAR AND LESS FAVORABLE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES NEAR 25 DEGREES
NORTH LATITUDE. STY 04W WILL BEGIN TO INTERACT WITH THE MID-LATITUDE
WESTERLIES BY TAU 48. NUMERICAL MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN GOOD AGREEMENT
ON BOTH TRACK AND INTENSITY THROUGH TAU 48, BUT DIFFERS SLIGHTLY IN
TRACK SPEED. EGRR AND JGSM REMAIN THE SLOWER MODELS, WHILE NOGAPS
AND GFDN ARE SLIGHTLY FASTER. THE JTWC FORECAST IN THE EARLY TAUS
REMAINS SLIGHTLY INSIDE AND FASTER THAN CONSENSUS, AND IS CONSISTENT
WITH THE PREVIOUS JTWC FORECAST TRACK.
C. IN THE EXTENDED TAUS, STY 04W IS FORECAST TO ACCELERATE AND
WEAKEN RAPIDLY IN RESPONSE TO A DEEP MID-LATITUDE SHORT-WAVE TROUGH.
DYNAMIC AIDS ARE IN GOOD GENERAL AGREEMENT AS FAR AS THE DEVELOPMENT
OF A HIGH-GALE TO STORM FORCE LOW AFTER TAU 72, BUT OVER THE PAST 12-
24 HOURS, THERE HAS BEEN A DISTINCT POLEWARD TREND IN MODEL
TRACKERS, WITH NOGAPS, GFDN, AND GFS BRINGING THE SYSTEM INLAND JUST
SOUTH OF KYOTO, JAPAN. BASED ON THIS TREND, THE CURRENT FORECAST HAS
SHIFTED SLIGHTLY POLEWARD FROM THE PREVIOUS JTWC FORECAST, BUT
REMAINS INSIDE AND FASTER THAN MODEL CONSENSUS. BASED ON THE
FORECASTED MID-LATITUDE TROUGH-RIDGE PATTERN, AND KNOWN MODEL ERROR
IN A RE-CURVE TYPE SCENARIO, A TRACK OVER SOUTHERN HONSHU DOES NOT
SEEM LIKELY AT THIS TIME.//
NNNN

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
TPPN10 PGTW 270006

A. SUPER TYPHOON 04W (SONGDA)

B. 26/2332Z

C. 18.1N

D. 123.9E

E. ONE/MTSAT

F. T6.5/7.0/D1.0/24HRS STT: W0.5/06HRS

G. IR/EIR/VIS/MSI

H. REMARKS: 07A/PBO IRREG EYE/ANMTN. OW EYE W/ WHT SURR YIELDS
6.5 DT. PT AND MET YIELD 6.0. DBO DT

I. ADDITIONAL POSITIONS:
26/2154Z 17.7N 124.1E SSMS


HATHAWAY
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Quoting RIDGES:


Anything going to move in....next 72 maybe? Once they get to 17 camp, they have 5 days to summit......18 hour day for them.


The GFS doesn't have a low pressure system breaking down the ridge until 6 days from now, so apart from the thunderstorms along the mountains during most afternoons, the weather is quiet.

Wild fires are becoming a problem. The humidity right now at NWS is 17%.
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Quoting RIDGES:
Hey Levi, I have a family member trekking up Denali as we speak. I've seen the models....what is everyone saying the weather is going to be like up there? The team is currently at 14 camp, heading for 17 tomorrow maybe.


Well, we're in the middle of a record heatwave, so by lower 48 standards I'd say pretty nice. For us, we're all melting lol.
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Quoting twincomanche:


Summer season will start soon.


Yeah. I've been hearing that all Spring. LOL How you doing Twin? Terrible week, wasn't it?
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Quoting Levi32:
It's currently 80 degrees outside here at campus...in May. Amazing. We've already tied or broken the record high for today, and the forecasted high of 83 degrees tomorrow would smash that record too. We haven't had a heatwave like this since 1947.


Uh oh. More anomalies :-)
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It's currently 80 degrees outside here at campus...in May. Amazing. We've already tied or broken the record high for today, and the forecasted high of 83 degrees tomorrow would smash that record too. We haven't had a heatwave like this since 1947.
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Quoting kmanislander:


We did, 1.68 inches to be exact at my home LOL.

Just a teaser though. Nothing for the past two days.


Well that's good that you finally got something. Hopefully this upcoming system will provide more.
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Quoting Levi32:


Hey Kman. Indeed, when the timeline starts to shorten with consecutive runs that greatly increases the possibility. Did you ever get any rain from that upper trough?


We did, 1.68 inches to be exact at my home LOL.

Just a teaser though. Nothing for the past two days.
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The start to summer is this weekend, and isn't it also the official start of something else?
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Quoting kmanislander:


Hi Levi

The GFS and the ECMWF have been all over the SW Caribbean for development around the 1st to the 4th June like white on rice. The timeline has continued to shorten with each run which now raises a greater probabiltiy for development. Of course,that doesn't mean it will happen but the GFS in particular exhibited above average skill last year in the 7 to 10 day range which was impressive.

Let's see how it does this year.


Hey Kman. Indeed, when the timeline starts to shorten with consecutive runs that greatly increases the possibility. Did you ever get any rain from that upper trough?
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Quoting Gearsts:
A possible Alex?


Arlene, I believe.
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Thanks everyone who helped me with figure out if my family was in any danger in Ohio. They are well, and luckily escaped any major storms in their area. I am a hotel manager and so now we are hoping for an end to these crazy tornados for a while. Working on care packages for OK and MO victims with linens, water, and bath kits from my 3 hotels. Other than that hoping for an end to the drought here in Texas and getting my home and work ready for the busy hurricane season. I sure am hoping Galveston doesn't take a hit. So much progress since Ike , and got a few things going up on seawall and a bad storm would flatten contsruction out. Thank you all again.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


However,it may not avoid Okinawa.



Looks like it could be very, very close to the Southern Islands.

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Quoting Chicklit:
Hi Kman, we're still waiting for decent rain here in FL. I was hoping that what was fringing the Gulf near the Panhandle would just jump in the water and stir things up a bit but have no idea. GOMLoop
I heard this weekend is starting to look better for us.

Meanwhile, Songda is going to avoid land it seems so finally some good extreme-weather news.





Not much showing over Fla thru tomorrow for precip except a bit along the Eastern seaboard. Western half and panhandle looking dry. As for Songda, I bet there are a couple of ships captains not sleeping well tonight LOL
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Quoting Chicklit:
Hi Kman, we're still waiting for decent rain here in FL. I was hoping that what was fringing the Gulf near the Panhandle would just jump in the water and stir things up a bit but have no idea. GOMLoop
I heard this weekend is starting to look better for us.

Meanwhile, Songda is going to avoid land it seems so finally some good extreme-weather news.





Hey, Chicklit. I know you could appreciate this. It is a picture of my lawn in FLL. LOL We do need the rain badly.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Chicklit:
Hi Kman, we're still waiting for decent rain here in FL. I was hoping that what was fringing the Gulf near the Panhandle would just jump in the water and stir things up a bit but have no idea. I heard this weekend is starting to look better for us.

Meanwhile, Songda is going to avoid land it seems so finally some good extreme-weather news.



However,it may not avoid Okinawa.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13919
Just got word that the town where my other home is, in Northeast Pennsylvania, was hit by a possible tornado. There are a number of trees down and damage to a lot of homes and businesses. My home is OK, but no power. They are really bad storms up there. Thankfully, nothing like this past week. Very difficult to look at.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi Kman, we're still waiting for decent rain here in FL. I was hoping that what was fringing the Gulf near the Panhandle would just jump in the water and stir things up a bit but have no idea. GOMLoop
I heard this weekend is starting to look better for us.

Meanwhile, Songda is going to avoid land it seems so finally some good extreme-weather news.



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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
with a poss system for next week to coincide with jun 1st start date the blog may become a zoo in short order what a way to kick off the june first start date of the 2011 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON


No kidding LOL

00 UTC NAM running now with first 6 hours out.
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Meanwhile, back in Japan:

Fukushima Faces 'Massive' Radioactive Water Problem

As a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled nuclear plant today, academics warn the company has failed to disclose the scale of radiation leaks and faces a “massive problem” with contaminated water.

The utility known as Tepco has been pumping cooling water into the three reactors that melted down after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. By May 18, almost 100,000 tons (24 million gallons) of radioactive water had leaked into basements and other areas of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, according to Tepco’s estimates. The radiated water may double by the end of December.

“Contaminated water is increasing and this is a massive problem,” Tetsuo Iguchi, a specialist in isotope analysis and radiation detection at Nagoya University, said by phone. “They need to find a place to store the contaminated water and they need to guarantee it won’t go into the soil.”

The 18-member IAEA team, led by the U.K.’s head nuclear safety inspector, Mike Weightman, is visiting the Fukushima reactors to investigate the accident and the response. Tepco and Japan’s nuclear regulators haven’t updated the total radiation leakage from the plant in northern Japan since April 12.
Japan’s nuclear safety agency estimated in April the radiation released from Dai-Ichi to be around 10 percent of that from the accident at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986, while a Tepco official said at the time the amount may eventually exceed it.

“Tepco knows more than they’ve said about the amount of radiation leaking from the plant,” Jan van de Putte, a specialist in radiation safety trained at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, said yesterday in Tokyo. “What we need is a full disclosure, a full inventory of radiation released including the exact isotopes.”

The government plans to release details on the radiation released at the “appropriate time,” said Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan who is overseeing the crisis response and appears at daily briefings at Tepco’s headquarters.

Bloomberg Article...

The "appropriate time"? Appropriate for whom? The good people of Japan? Or the nuclear industry?

And if you've read this far, perhaps you'll be willing to read a bit further: Is Fukushima now ten Chernobyls into the sea?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
with a poss system for next week to coincide with jun 1st start date the blog may become a zoo in short order what a way to kick off the june first start date of the 2011 ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Quoting Chicklit:
Let's hope this drought is finally coming to an end for TX, FL, and the Caymans. Also read in tonight's tropical discussion that fires are burning in Mexico.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Atchafalya is going to crest at ~11 ft. sometime this weekend and they've closed a few gates at the Morganza spillway today because water levels are dropping up there.

LinktoReutersStoryAtchafalyastillrising


Our drought ended temporarily three days ago and promptly started again. We have only seen about 4.5 inches of rain since Jan 1st this year.Hopefully some of what the models are hinting at will pan out and bring some solid rain.
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366. JRRP

see you later
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Let's hope this drought is finally coming to an end for TX, FL, and the Caymans. Also read in tonight's tropical discussion that fires are burning in Mexico.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Atchafalya is going to crest at ~11 ft. sometime this weekend and they've closed a few gates at the Morganza spillway today because water levels are dropping up there.

LinktoReutersStoryAtchafalyastillrising

(oops, old news: they started closing on Tues.)
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
hey kman ya i believe we may see the beginings of a system by mid next week with a poss named system for the first weekend of june looks to move ne out into the open atlantic after the init over cen carb region may come up off south america as an impulse from the ITCZ that is over SA. we wait see what the next 2 or 3 days worth of runs show


18 UTC run of the GFS at 06Z on the 31st May. Not far away for verification. The 00 UTC run this evening will be interesting to see.

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Quoting Gearsts:
Dont mean that, i mean possible alex stile system with the same strength and track.


Ah, okay. Thanks for the clarification.

I don't see another Alex myself. For one thing, June hurricanes are rare enough. Secondly, I don't think the ridge is going to be that equatorial, as the global models have been consistently showing a weakness in the western extension of it due to a cold front moving across the eastern United States.
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Quoting TomTaylor:
haha

well it does kind of hint at an increased likelihood of development


yes TomTaylor you are reading my mind
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Quoting kmanislander:


Hi there KOTG

The models are still at it with the SW Caribbean.Early to mid next week is now the time frame to watch for initial development.
hey kman ya i believe we may see the beginings of a system by mid next week with a poss named system for the first weekend of june looks to move ne out into the open atlantic after the init over cen carb region may come up off south america as an impulse from the ITCZ that is over SA. we wait see what the next 2 or 3 days worth of runs show
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Quoting clwstmchasr:


Quoting Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber, "So you're telling me there's a chance."
haha

Quoting Levi32:


That paragraph says nothing about tropical development.
well it does kind of hint at an increased likelihood of development
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Arlene*
Dont mean that, i mean possible alex stile system with the same strength and track.
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Quoting Gearsts:
A possible Alex?


Arlene*
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Interesting. Could this become Adrian? I want to see persistence before I would call this an invest though.



**MIND YOU THAT THE TIME ON THE SURFACE ANALYSIS IS 18 UTC**
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Hi there KOTG

The models are still at it with the SW Caribbean.Early to mid next week is now the time frame to watch for initial development.
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Okay, you big guys go north. We'll go south and throw a little lightning around. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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Quoting atmoaggie:
Besides all of that, my excuse for not mowing the lawn (to avoid burning to grass, of course) just got all wet.



Metal garden tractors tend to be excellent lighting
rods, probably best left in the garage during that
kind of storm.

Unless you use this type.



Tractor driver survives lightning strike
James Andrews
Wednesday 15 July 2009 10:38


A tractor driver has survived a one-billion volt lightning strike while carrying out field work in Norfolk.

The strike destroyed the electrical system of Simon Jennings' Fendt 936 and filled the cab with smoke. But he walked away with nothing worse than a ringing noise in his ears.

I had to drive from Thomaston to LaGrange GA today
thru that front and it was no picnic, lots of juice.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
The ITCZ has gotten very active the past day or two...I wonder why.


Very far South and no SAL to suppress thunderstorm activity. Just a guess.

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Quoting Levi32:
Both the GFS and ECMWF see broad low pressure in the western Caribbean in 120-144 hours. That's not far away, and is not dismissable like a 384-hour frame is.

The meteorology of it also makes sense, which supports this idea. The monster ridge building northeast over the eastern U.S. while cold pockets aloft retrograde westward south of it is a good setup for ventilation of the western Caribbean. We will have to monitor this region for potential trouble.

A possible Alex?
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Neapolitan-

I don't think Dr. Masters is using the 6 hour time frame lull in his definition of "outbreaks", as the dates he has listed for outbreaks have all had six hour lulls with no activity. All 3 "outbreaks" this year have had such lulls, not every night but most night/mornings have had breaks. I think he is using the 10 tornadoes/day all part of the same synoptic system. But Dr. Masters can inform what
definition he is using.

The six hour lulls are based on research on the SPC website and the listed time of tornadoes during that time frame.
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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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