Invest now to improve tornado warnings; an early start to hurricane season?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:24 PM GMT on May 27, 2011

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The Atlantic hurricane season officially begin on Wednesday, June 1, and recent computer model runs predict that we may have some early-season action in the Central Caribbean Sea to coincide with the start of this year's season. The GFS, NOGAPS, and ECMWF models have all indicated in some of their recent runs that a tropical disturbance may form between Jamaica and Central America sometime in the May 31 - June 2 time frame, as a lobe of the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) pushes across Central America into the Caribbean. Up until now, wind shear has been too high to allow tropical storm formation in the Caribbean, due to the presence of the Subtropical Jet Stream. However, this jet is expected to push northwards over Cuba over the coming week, allowing a region of low wind shear to develop over most of the Caribbean. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. The main impediment to development will probably be lack of spin, as we don't have any African tropical waves that are expected to enter the Caribbean Sea next week, to help get things spinning. Stay tuned.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Songda.

Typhoon Songda heads for Okinawa and Japan
Typhoon Songda brushed the Philippines yesterday, bringing heavy rains that killed at least two people. Fortunately, the brunt of this year's first Category 5 storm missed the islands, and Songda has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Songda is turning northwards and will 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. On Sunday,

Invest now for better tornado warnings
National Weather Service forecasters issued a tornado warning 24 minutes in advance of the Joplin, Missouri tornado this.week, which is now being blamed for at least 132 deaths--the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. However, we can do better, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) put out a press release on May 23, arguing that investments in weather service forecasting technology are needed to reduce loss of life in future violent tornadoes:

"The 24-minute lead time is a great improvement over the average lead time of 13 minutes for tornado warnings. The meteorologists in the Springfield Weather Forecast Office are commended for their lifesaving work," said Dan Sobien, NWSEO President. "But in our age of advanced technology and communication, when new radars and modeling opportunities exist that can provide more lead time to get people out of the path of a storm, hundreds of people do not have to die because of a tornado event."

Sobien says the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes are examples of how the government's neglect to invest in NWS related infrastructure over the last 10 to 15 years has failed to provide the tools necessary to protect lives and property. He says that the tools forecasters use to issue tornado warnings are woefully inadequate and that the technology exists to provide lead times so far in advance of the storm that it would make the need for tornado warnings as we know them obsolete. "The much touted Doppler Weather Radar, also known as the Weather Service Radar or WSR-88D, was developed in 1988. Since that time, technological advances, including phased array radars developed by the Department of Defense, have been shown to increase the current lead time on tornado warnings by almost 50 percent."

"The much touted Warn on Forecast process utilizes Meso-scale modeling and has the potential to let forecasters know hours in advance where a thunderstorm would form and if it is likely to contain strong winds, hail, or even a tornado. With adequate staffing, local National Weather Service forecasters who understand local terrain and the model output, could be embedded with emergency managers and decision makers. In the event of a storm, the forecaster could provide emergency managers with the tornado track with some margin of error and people in the way of the storm could be evacuated hours before the tornado hits. This technology is being developed and tested right now, however without funding it will never be available."

"The art and science of severe weather warnings made considerable progress during the 1980s and 90s, going from almost zero lead time to average of about 13 minutes for tornado warnings. However, in recent years, that progress has stalled, even while the technological advancements have accelerated. If the country made the type of investment in the National Weather Service that it did in the 1980s, scenes like the ones in Missouri this week and in Alabama and Mississippi last month could be a thing of the past."

"I am very proud of my co-workers at the National Weather Service this tornado season. They saved many lives and having been there myself, I can assure you, they feel personally about every lost life," said Sobien. "I know that budgets are tight and there are many priorities, but if you put investing in the National Weather Service up to a vote today in tornado alley, I think the approval would be a landslide."


I wholeheartedly agree with this view--investments in better tornado forecasts and tornado observing technology will potentially give us a huge return in lives saved. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday or Tuesday with a new post.


Jeff Masters

Tornado Power (Betty2)
Sunday, LaCrosse, WI a tornado hit. This is a photo of a 2x4 board that slammed through a tire.. and, freaky, but it left the air in the tire! Photo was taken by my neighbor, Lori Hines, Gays Mills WI.
Tornado Power
25 May, (rdjgonzo)
May 25, 2011 at 7:10pm. Picture taken from Bartlett (Shelby County) TN.
25 May,
What A Storm (llpj04)
What A Storm

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Quoting aquak9:
good morning

any friends/fiends out there?


Possibly!
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1835. beell
Quoting aquak9:
good morning

any friends/fiends out there?


Yes!

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Tropical development in the Caribbean possible.
It depicts some tropical feature in the East Pacific too (Nogaps only)

This is the Nogaps forecast for Friday morning




But the GFS at the same time frame shows no East Pacific development.




And the EMCWF for 5 AM Friday.




HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!
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1833. aquak9
good morning

any friends/fiends out there?
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Everyone knows that the US Gulf Coast/Florida was repeatedly devastated by numerous storms during the record-breaking 2005 Hurricane Season. But the US Eastern Seaboard (NC area) was relatively spared however--only one hurricane hit the area (Ophelia) and that was barely even a hurricane during landfall. However Florida was hit by 2 major hurricanes and many tropical storms, the rest of the Gulf Coast hit by 3 hurricanes, one major. Can someone explain why all the bad storms tended to go into the GOM? Is it because 2005 was neutral and neutral hurricane seasons tend to have more Gulf Coast impact than East Coast? Because if so, I have a bad feeling about this upcoming hurricane season.
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Happy Memorial Day and a very deep thank you to our men and women serving in uniform, past and present.
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1828. Gearsts
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1827. Gearsts
Quoting Hurrykane:


Lagtime and basically an overall neutral to negative NAO pattern this month. Even though La Nina has weakened, this can be considered a true oceanic event Nino...where the atmosphere takes some time to react fully,in addition to pretty much the lack of the SAL. So for the most part, fairly ideal conditions for the MDR to warm.

NAO
Will it keep warming rapidly?Anomaly
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we should start to see the shear drop in the SW Caribbean today with the already droping shear in the rest of the Caribbean
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1825. Bitmap7
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
it looks like some T-Storms are redeveloping just N of Panama
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Quoting Gearsts:
Why so warm?From what i heard second year la ninas are cooler in the atlantic.


Cooler, but still pretty warm. Much warmer than you'd usually find them this year though.
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1821. Gearsts
Quoting Hurrykane:
SST's continue to warm in the MDR...have to watch the cooling in the Gulf of Guinea


2008 ANOMALIES



Why so warm?From what i heard second year la ninas are cooler in the atlantic.
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HPC Preliminary Extended Forecast Discussion

Excerpt:

AS A MID TO UPPER LEVEL LOW RETROGRADES ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO
TOWARDS TEXAS THIS PERIOD UNDER THE MIDWESTERN/MID-SOUTH
RIDGE...THE DETERMINISTIC AND ENSEMBLE GUIDANCE ALL AGREE ON A
CONVECTIVE LOW PRESSURE AREA FORMING NORTH OF PANAMA WHICH SLOWLY
LIFTS NORTHWARD ALONG/NEAR THE 80TH MERIDIAN WITH TIME.
CONVECTIVE LOW DEVELOPMENT IN THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN SHOULD BE A
SLOW PROCESS CONSIDERING THE LARGE UPPER LOW RETROGRADING TO ITS
NORTHWEST...THE SLOW EXPANSION OF THE UPPER HIGH WESTWARD FROM THE
CENTRAL CARIBBEAN ANTICIPATED...AND ITS FAIRLY LARGE SIZE AS SHOWN
IN THE GUIDANCE.
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There is lots of shear in the SWCarib.
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1818. IKE
Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Spend time with your family. None of us is promised tomorrow.
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1817. IKE

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1815. Gearsts
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Quoting rmbjoe1954:



The models will flip flop until the Carib low develops.


Absolutely, but there's the possibility that it will head that way. Hard to know just yet.
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Quoting NICycloneChaser:


Don't rule out rain from our potential storm just yet, the GFS overnight was trying to take the system up your way.



The models will flip flop until the Carib low develops.
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Quoting rmbjoe1954:
Good morning, all! I see that the models are still indicating a future storm. I hope we get rain soon- but little chance of that in east central coastal florida.


Don't rule out rain from our potential storm just yet, the GFS overnight was trying to take the system up your way.
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on average i think its close to 1 out 3 yr that there is some kind of develop down there in the sw carib. in june could be this yr time will tell.
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1810. Bitmap7
Quoting Neapolitan:
Fukushima Risks Chernobyl ‘Dead Zone’

Radioactive soil in pockets of areas near Japan’s crippled nuclear plant have reached the same level as Chernobyl, where a “dead zone” remains 25 years after the reactor in the former Soviet Union exploded.

Soil samples in areas outside the 20-kilometer (12 miles) exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant measured more than 1.48 million becquerels a square meter, the standard used for evacuating residents after the Chernobyl accident, Tomio Kawata, a fellow at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, said in a research report published May 24 and given to the government.

Radiation from the plant has spread over 600 square kilometers (230 square miles), according to the report. The extent of contamination shows the government must move fast to avoid the same future for the area around Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant as Chernobyl, scientists said. Technology has improved since the 1980s, meaning soil can be decontaminated with chemicals or by planting crops to absorb radioactive materials, allowing residents to return.

“We need to finish this treatment as quickly as possible, within three years at most,” Tetsuo Iguchi, a specialist in isotope analysis and radiation detection at Nagoya University in central Japan, said in a telephone interview. “If we take longer, people will give up on returning to their homes.”

Soil samples showed one site with radiation from Cesium-137 exceeding 5 million becquerels per square meter about 25 kilometers to the northwest of the Fukushima plant, according to Kawata’s study. Five more sites about 30 kilometers from Dai- Ichi showed radiation exceeding 1.48 million becquerels per square meter.

When asked to comment on the report today, Tokyo Electric spokesman Tetsuya Terasawa said the radiation levels are in line with those found after a nuclear bomb test, which disperses plutonium. He declined to comment further.

Bloomberg Article...

However, in the good news department, TEPCO has agreed to restart streaming live video of the Fukushima Daiichi plant later this week.


Are they still trying to save face in the midst of this all? Why don't they just declare it a dead zone already?No one in their right mind is going to move back there after all that has happend.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
Quoting IKE:
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 AM PDT MON MAY 30 2011

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW PRESSURE AREA
LOCATED SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES SOUTH OF ACAPULCO MEXICO HAVE
DIMINISHED...AND TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED. THERE
IS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES SLOWLY
WESTWARD.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER KIMBERLAIN


funny well so much for E-PAC development
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1808. WxLogic
Happy Memorial Day...
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Fukushima Risks Chernobyl ‘Dead Zone’

Radioactive soil in pockets of areas near Japan’s crippled nuclear plant have reached the same level as Chernobyl, where a “dead zone” remains 25 years after the reactor in the former Soviet Union exploded.

Soil samples in areas outside the 20-kilometer (12 miles) exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant measured more than 1.48 million becquerels a square meter, the standard used for evacuating residents after the Chernobyl accident, Tomio Kawata, a fellow at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, said in a research report published May 24 and given to the government.

Radiation from the plant has spread over 600 square kilometers (230 square miles), according to the report. The extent of contamination shows the government must move fast to avoid the same future for the area around Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant as Chernobyl, scientists said. Technology has improved since the 1980s, meaning soil can be decontaminated with chemicals or by planting crops to absorb radioactive materials, allowing residents to return.

“We need to finish this treatment as quickly as possible, within three years at most,” Tetsuo Iguchi, a specialist in isotope analysis and radiation detection at Nagoya University in central Japan, said in a telephone interview. “If we take longer, people will give up on returning to their homes.”

Soil samples showed one site with radiation from Cesium-137 exceeding 5 million becquerels per square meter about 25 kilometers to the northwest of the Fukushima plant, according to Kawata’s study. Five more sites about 30 kilometers from Dai- Ichi showed radiation exceeding 1.48 million becquerels per square meter.

When asked to comment on the report today, Tokyo Electric spokesman Tetsuya Terasawa said the radiation levels are in line with those found after a nuclear bomb test, which disperses plutonium. He declined to comment further.

Bloomberg Article...

However, in the good news department, TEPCO has agreed to restart streaming live video of the Fukushima Daiichi plant later this week.
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1806. IKE
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 AM PDT MON MAY 30 2011

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH A LOW PRESSURE AREA
LOCATED SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES SOUTH OF ACAPULCO MEXICO HAVE
DIMINISHED...AND TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED. THERE
IS A LOW CHANCE...NEAR 0 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A
TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS AS IT MOVES SLOWLY
WESTWARD.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER KIMBERLAIN
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Good morning, all! I see that the models are still indicating a future storm. I hope we get rain soon- but little chance of that in east central coastal florida.
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does not look like it will be invested anytime soon this time of yr the canadian aint worth a damn
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1798. Bitmap7
We should see convection building of the coast of Panama/Columbia soon if the models are anything to go by. That new flare up there looks like our new low center.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
If is water only that a system needs to develop,there would not be a problem as the updated weekly graphic shows.But we know is much more than water to get systems going.

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1796. IKE



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MODEL GUIDANCE CONTINUES TO BE CONSISTENT SUGGESTING THE
ACTIVITY IN THE SW BASIN WILL INCREASE OVER THE NEXT 24
HOURS...AS CYCLOGENESIS IN THE FORM OF A WEAK LOW PRESSURE
CENTER DEVELOPS IN THE 36 TO 72 HOUR WINDOW ACROSS THE SW
CARIBBEAN SEA WATERS.
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1792. IKE

Quoting Neapolitan:
Gotta love those 216-hour models huh? ;-)
Just the weather.
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1791. IKE

Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Good morning Ike. I imagine that the odds for development have increased a bit after the 00z models package right?
Looks like a slow developing system. It should develop, but it may take some time. I agree with Neapolitan...it looks like it had a rough night......



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Gotta love those 216-hour models huh? ;-)
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Good morning Ike. I imagine that the odds for development have increased a bit after the 00z models package right?
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Good morning, WU people. The possible Caribbean low may eventually become something, but the entire area looks completely unimpressive this morning. In the meantime, there's this closer to home. Moderate for now; let's hope its stays that way:

Click for larger image:

Appropriate tropical weather-related image.


...CNTRL NEB/SD EWD INTO WRN MN AND IA...
STRONG SLY FLOW WILL PERSIST ACROSS THE PLAINS STATES WITH A STRONG
CAP IN PLACE FOR MUCH OF THE DAY. HOWEVER...CONDITIONS WILL RAPIDLY
CHANGE BY AFTERNOON AS HEATING AND LIFT ERASE THE CAP AND RESULT IN
RAPID FORMATION OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS OVER PORTIONS OF CNTRL/NRN
NEB. VERY STRONG MERIDIONAL WIND PROFILES WILL BE IN PLACE...WITH
FAVORABLE LOW LEVEL HODOGRAPHS FOR SUPERCELLS. WITH STRONG
INSTABILITY AND SUFFICIENT MOISTURE ALSO JUXTAPOSED...SUPERCELLS
CAPABLE OF VERY LARGE HAIL AND TORNADOES...PERHAPS ONE OR TWO
STRONG...WILL BE LIKELY
. STORMS WILL MOVE QUICKLY NEWD AND WILL
AFFECT SD AND EVENTUALLY SERN ND AND WRN MN.

STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO BECOME MORE LINEAR WITH TIME FOR TWO REASONS.
FIRST...UPPER LEVEL HODOGRAPHS DEPICT WEAK AND BACKED STORM RELATIVE
FLOW...WHICH MAY EVENTUALLY RESULT IN PRECIPITATION FALLING BACK
INTO THE UPDRAFT. SECOND...THE COLD FRONT WILL RAPIDLY MOVE EWD.
ONCE THIS OCCURS...PARTICULARLY DAMAGING STRAIGHTLINE WINDS WILL BE
LIKELY
...WITH POSSIBLE EMBEDDED CIRCULATIONS WITHIN THE LINE IN QLCS
FASHION. GIVEN CAPPING TO THE EAST...AND MERIDIONAL FLOW REGIME...A
RELATIVELY NARROW ZONE OF SEVERE IS LIKELY...AND IT MAY BE DIFFICULT
TO DETERMINE EXACTLY WHERE THE TRANSITION FROM SUPERCELLS/TORNADOES
TO QLCS OCCURS.
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1787. IKE
Joe Bastardi

Western Caribbean, as if on cue, will become focus of attention this week and next.....from Twitter.

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1786. IKE
Slow mover @ 216 hours.....GFS 6Z.....


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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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