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 hurricaneben:
Poll on when first named storm 'Arlene' forms...

a)Late May
b)Early June
c)Mid-June
d)Late June/Early July
e)Later...


B
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Poll on when first named storm 'Arlene' forms...

a)Late May
b)Early June
c)Mid-June
d)Late June/Early July
e)Later...
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296. aquak9 4:01 PM PDT on May 26, 2011
sorry, Amy, my calculator only holds nine zeros. I can not calculate fully, the amount of methane produced by eating broccoli.


that's what I'm sayin'!!!!!

;)
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sorry, Amy, my calculator only holds nine zeros. I can not calculate fully, the amount of methane produced by eating broccoli.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
thanks aqua...


you know you love me, press...

;)
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(jots broccoli on list, pulls calculator back out)

yes great song Keeper, I wanna dance all day with monkeys.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Great song, I have it on my iPhone.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


What system has got you thinking Arlene?
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


New Hartford, NY, Latitude 43 N, 76F Currently, Forecast Low 63F

Park Falls, WI, Latitude 45 N, 59 F Currently, Forecast Low 26 F

...same latitude...very strong temperature contrasts, another way to gauge how impressive a non-tropical storm system is...

And get this, temps are to soar back at least in Park Falls, WI to the 70s like we have in NY. That would drive me nuts, cold-hot-cold-hot....


A family friend that was in Montana for college told us they have a couple sub zero lows there in very early June and then jump up into the 70s as the high and then the day after have highs in the mid 80s.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


B...I think that is when we will see Arlene also.


What system has got you thinking Arlene?
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56141
Quoting NRAamy:
you mean as he drives thru the Carolinas....


well, well....look who's here xxxooo
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Got it backwards....Not 47N 32W, 32N 47W


LOL, yep corrected that. I keep jumping between watching weather in the northern US and the Atlantic tropics, those two places at the same time can get ya Lat/Lon Dyslexia!
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Hmmm....

Subtropical Atlantic machine continues....New rotation at 47N, 32W roughly. I believe this could be a surface rotation, and showing nicely organized convection. This surface low is spawned by the same upper low that produced 92L.....

See new rotation on this visible loop, also be sure click on the LatLon checkbox....
http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/flash-vis. html

And I still think that the cloudiness E of Bahamas and N of Dominican Republic/Haiti could slowly evolve into yet another subtropical disturbance (discussed in my blog this morning). But this new rotation at 47N 32W looks more interesting short-term.


Got it backwards....Not 47N 32W, 32N 47W
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Hmmm....

Subtropical Atlantic machine continues....New rotation at 47W, 32N roughly. I believe this could be a surface rotation, and showing nicely organized convection. This surface low is spawned by the same upper low that produced 92L.....

See new rotation on this visible loop, also be sure click on the LatLon checkbox....
http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/flash-vis. html

And I still think that the cloudiness E of Bahamas and N of Dominican Republic/Haiti could slowly evolve into yet another subtropical disturbance (discussed in my blog this morning). But this new rotation at 47W 32N looks more interesting short-term.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Poll...

When do you think we will have Invest 93L?
a) May 26 to 31
b) June 1 to 5
c) Even Later...


B...I think that is when we will see Arlene also.
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spuds!

:)
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Quoting 47n91w:


Chequamegon Bay area (south shore of Lake Superior) in northern Wisconsin. Freeze warning away from the Lake tonight. Mid-20s is the forecast low. I'd rather have some thunder and lightning.


New Hartford, NY, Latitude 43 N, 76F Currently, Forecast Low 63F

Park Falls, WI, Latitude 45 N, 59 F Currently, Forecast Low 26 F

...same latitude...very strong temperature contrasts, another way to gauge how impressive a non-tropical storm system is...

And get this, temps are to soar back at least in Park Falls, WI to the 70s like we have in NY. That would drive me nuts, cold-hot-cold-hot....
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Quoting NRAamy:
you mean as he drives thru the Carolinas....
troublemaker!;^)
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Quoting aquak9:
NCH- I know we're gonna see a landfall or two this year. But we have lotsa warning with the hurricanes. We can't stop the damage, but the loss of life can be prevented.

Let's all hope for that: NO LOSS OF LIFE THIS SEASON™.

I've had enough.


I heard on Dr. M's blog (if I remember right) that the waters in the Gulf of Mexico are quite warm...that's what worries me here.

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comm ent.html?entrynum=1808&tstamp=#commenttop



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be safe, atmo!!!!!!
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


I take it your from the arrowhead of Minnesota on your tag (47N91W)? LOL, my tagname is nowhere near specifc. At least you're in the clear for today.


Chequamegon Bay area (south shore of Lake Superior) in northern Wisconsin. Freeze warning away from the Lake tonight. Mid-20s is the forecast low. I'd rather have some thunder and lightning.
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So, I'm about the head home directly towards a 50 dBz cell sans WX radio, along with thousands of other folks. I'd really like to have a factory-installed car stereo capable of tuning in the NOAA/NWS radio.

Of course, I'll not be oblivious, I'll have the known FM/AM station with timely warning statements from NWS tuned in. I would like to have the ability to auto-tune NWS radio when a warned condition is present.

JMO.
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you mean as he drives thru the Carolinas....
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Quoting Grandpato4:
Friday afternoon I am supposed to start driving from my home in Florida to my home in North Carolina. It looks like my ride up I-95 may be stormy. I almost wonder if I should hold off on my drive for a day. I am a "speed demon" and typically drive about 5 mph under the speed limit.


please wave as you pass by Charleston
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aqua, did you add broccoli to the list?
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NCH- I know we're gonna see a landfall or two this year. But we have lotsa warning with the hurricanes. We can't stop the damage, but the loss of life can be prevented.

Let's all hope for that: NO LOSS OF LIFE THIS SEASON™.

I've had enough.
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Quoting dubyasee:
The footage from Navarro County was actually from October 24, 2010, not yesterday.


Yep....

http://neighborsgoblog.dallasnews.com/archives/20 10/10/rice-texasnavarro-county-torna.html

I wonder how that got confused and got posted by Dr. M today?
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
No new tornado deaths yesterday.
Maybe not, but one confirmed this morning you can add to your statistics.
Body of missing Piedmont boy found floating in lake


That story made me way really sad......

....what a year already.....

Groundhog's Day Blizzard and big snow storms
Record breaking Mississippi River Flooding
The absolute craziest tornado season in several years

Lets pray for no major hurricane disasters to add...
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The footage from Navarro County was actually from October 24, 2010, not yesterday.
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Quoting 47n91w:


That tornado warning is around N 44.06 degrees. April 10th I had a tornado warning at about N 46.60 degrees, although I don't know if it's the furthest one north of the season so far.

http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/vtec/#2011-O-NEW -KDLH-TO-W-0001


I take it your from the arrowhead of Minnesota on your tag (47N91W)? LOL, my tagname is nowhere near specifc. At least you're in the clear for today.
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Quoting bigwes6844:
tornado warning for st. tammany parish!
Yup. ~12 miles to my north.

The National Weather Service in New Orleans has issued a

* Tornado Warning for...
north central St. Tammany Parish in southeast Louisiana...

* until 500 PM CDT

* at 424 PM CDT...National Weather Service meteorologists detected a
severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado 9 miles west of
sun...or 10 miles north of Covington...moving east at 30 mph.

* Other locations in the warning include but are not limited to Bush

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Quoting wbr2ff:
Thanks for the link Neopolitan, some useful info. The Doppler radar for detecting tornadoes did begin use in 1991/1992, so that's at least one big reason for the large uptick in reported tornadoes since then.

My main point is that I didn't like Dr. Masters statement of 2011 having the "three largest outbreaks of all time" given the data constraints. But if Dr. Masters definition is loosely based on one storm moving across the country causing tornadoes, below are three outbreaks from the last 10 years with greater than 150 tornadoes :
May 29th - May 30th 2004 170 tornadoes
May 4th - May 6th 2003 195 tornadoes
May 22nd - May 25th 2008 161 tornadoes

Data is from the SPC details on each year (has good data since 2000)

There's no hard and fast definition, but to be considered an outbreak, there have to be 10 or more tornadoes associated with a particular synoptic-scale system, and they have to occur with no more than a six hour gap between tornadoes. The 2004 Memorial Day event didn't meet those criteria; neither did the late May 2008 event, nor the early may 2003 event. Both the outbreaks last month April and the one that ended this morning did meet those criteria.

This may seem like splitting hairs, I suppose. But those who maintain records of any type have to draw arbitrary lines somewhere, and those seem about as good as any to me...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13803
Quoting Levi32:


If the typical conditions over Florida in May were to stick around the entire season they would never get hurricanes. Nothing in May stays the same all season, obviously. There are, however, connections that can be drawn from things that happen in May. For example, very low pressures over the central subtropical Atlantic during May are highly correlated with active hurricane seasons. In regards to Florida, a dry May implies strong ridging overhead, usually associated with a La Nina spring, which can have implications down the road depending on what else is going on.

Looking for clues in May is very helpful.


Dry Mays can also be caused by NW flow around the east side of a high over the Gulf and SE U.S, so it's not always the subtropical ridge from the Atlantic that gives us dry weather in May. We're talking about two different scales, large scale weather systems and a sub-large scale system like a tropical cyclone embedded within the large scale. There are too many factors involved in the development area, timing and track of a tropical system that can't be correlated 3-4 months in advance. Everything could set up for a potential Florida impact on the large scale, but if a storm moves too far south, it stays in the Caribbean, or if the ridge weakens temporarily, it misses us by 200 miles to the north. That's why the correlations are very weak, at best, which implies a lack of scientific support for something as specific as a South Florida landfall.

adrian
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tornado warning for st. tammany parish!
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tornado warning for washington parish
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No new tornado deaths yesterday.
Maybe not, but one confirmed this morning you can add to your statistics.
Body of missing Piedmont boy found floating in lake
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Furthest north tornado warning this season?

http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=TYX&pr oduc t=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ALBANY HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTH CENTRAL HAMILTON COUNTY IN EASTERN NEW YORK...

* UNTIL 530 PM EDT

* AT 508 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR LAKE EATON
CAMPGROUND...OR 13 MILES WEST OF NEWCOMB...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 45
MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
CATLIN LAKE BY 515 PM EDT...


That tornado warning is around N 44.06 degrees. April 10th I had a tornado warning at about N 46.60 degrees, although I don't know if it's the furthest one north of the season so far.

http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/vtec/#2011-O-NEW -KDLH-TO-W-0001
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Word on the street- Keyser WV area has severe flash flooding and large hail. A tonado warning was issued, but so far only rotating thundrstorms, no touchdown. I'm here at work tonight, watching both the sky and the ladies room door. (Not for the reason you're thinking!) In our building design, the ladies room is the safe place to go in tornado- all interior walls, surrounded by plumbing. We always did know where to run in a crisis :)
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Furthest north tornado warning this season?

http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=TYX&produc t=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ALBANY HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTH CENTRAL HAMILTON COUNTY IN EASTERN NEW YORK...

* UNTIL 530 PM EDT

* AT 508 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR LAKE EATON
CAMPGROUND...OR 13 MILES WEST OF NEWCOMB...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 45
MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR...
CATLIN LAKE BY 515 PM EDT...
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Poll...

When do you think we will have Invest 93L?
a) May 26 to 31
b) June 1 to 5
c) Even Later...
b.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Poll...

When do you think we will have Invest 93L?
a) May 26 to 31
b) June 1 to 5
c) Even Later...


b)
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14908
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Poll...

When do you think we will have Invest 93L?
a) May 26 to 31
b) June 1 to 5
c) Even Later...
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250. JRRP
NEW TW
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6213
Wow

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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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