Caribbean disturbance slow to develop; 5 EF-5 tornadoes this year confirmed

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:33 PM GMT on June 03, 2011

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The tropical disturbance (Invest 93L) that crossed over Florida on Wednesday, bringing welcome rains of 1 - 3 inches, is now a naked swirl of low clouds over the central Gulf of Mexico. The disturbance is embedded in a large area of dry air associated with an upper level low pressure system, and this dry air is discouraging development. 93L is also moving into a region of moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots, and NHC is giving 93L a 0% chance of developing into a tropical depression before the storm makes landfall in Mexico south of Brownsville on Saturday. There are a few heavy thunderstorms trying to fire up near the center of 93L's fairly well-formed circulation, but I don't think this storm is going to bring more than 1 - 2 inches of rain to the coast on Saturday.


Figure 1. Morning satellite image of the Central Caribbean disturbance.

Central Caribbean disturbance 94L
Disorganized heavy thunderstorm activity continues in the region between Central America and Jamaica. Wind shear has fallen to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, and is predicted to continue to fall over the next two days. This should allow the disturbance, dubbed Invest 94L by NHC on Friday afternoon, to increase in organization, though it will take many days for it to approach tropical depression status, since it is so large and poorly organized. The last two runs of the NOGAPS model have developed the disturbance into a tropical depression or storm by early next week, with the system moving northwards into Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and eastern Cuba. The other major models do not show the disturbance developing during the coming week. NHC is giving the disturbance a 10% of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. A surge of moisture accompanying a tropical wave may aid development when the wave arrives in the Western Caribbean on Sunday. 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. Residents of Jamaica, eastern Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic should anticipate the possibility that heavy rains of 2 - 4 inches may affect them today through Sunday.

Five EF-5 tornadoes confirmed in 2011
The National Weather Service in Oklahoma City announced Wednesday that the violent tornado that hit Binger, El Reno, Peidmont, and Guthrie, Oklahoma on May 24, killing nine people, was an EF-5 with winds greater than 210 mph. The rating was given based on measurements made by a University of Oklahoma portable "Doppler on wheels" radar. The long track, large wedge tornado caused extensive damage, with well built houses cleanly swept from their foundation and trees debarked. This tornado brings the total number of EF-5 tornadoes this year to five, tying 2011 with 1953 for 2nd place for greatest number of these top-end tornadoes in one year. Only 1974 (six) had more. The EF-5 tornadoes of 2011:

1) The April 27, 2011 Neshoba/Kemper/Winston/Noxubee Counties, Mississippi tornado (3 killed, 29 mile path length.)

2) The April 27, 2011 Smithville, Mississippi tornado (22 killed, 15 mile path length.)

3) The April 27, 2011 Hackleburg, Alabama tornado (71 killed, 25 mile path length.)

4) The May 22, 2011 Joplin Missouri tornado (138 killed, 14 mile path length.)

5) The May 24, 2011 Binger-El Reno-Peidmont-Guthrie, Oklahoma tornado. (9 killed, 75 mile path length.)


Figure 2. Aerial view of damage from the May 22, 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Image credit: Wikipedia.

A few other remarkable statistics on the tornado season of 2011, compiled from NOAA's official press release and Wikipedia's excellent tornado pages:

- The April 25 - 28 tornado outbreak, with 330 tornadoes, was the largest tornado outbreak of three days or less duration on record. The previous record was 148 tornadoes, set during the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak.

- For April 27, 186 tornadoes have been confirmed. This is the largest 1-day tornado total on record, beating the 148 recorded in 24 hours on April 3 - 4, 1974.

- The April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak, with 162 confirmed tornadoes, ranks as the fourth largest tornado outbreak of three days or less duration on record.

- The May 21 - 26 tornado outbreak, with 158 confirmed tornadoes, ranks as the 5th largest 6-day or shorter tornado outbreak on record. A May 2003 6-day outbreak had 289 tornadoes, and a May 2004 6-day outbreak had 229 tornadoes. The year 2011 now has three of the top five tornado outbreaks on record.

- April confirmed tornado total was 683, making it the busiest tornado month on record. The previous record was 542 tornadoes, set in May 2003. The previous April record was 267 tornadoes, which occurred in April 1974. The 30-year average for April tornadoes is 135.

- If the three deaths in Massachusetts from Wednesday's tornadoes are confirmed, this year's tornado death toll will be 522, beating 1953 as the deadliest tornado year since modern tornado records began. That year, 519 people died, and 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.) During that time period, the tornado death rate per million people was 60 - 70 times as great as in the year 2000 (Figure 4), implying that this year's tornadoes would have killed many thousands of people had we not had our modern tornado modern warning system.

- The May 22, 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado killed 138 people and injured 1150, making it the deadliest U.S. tornado since 1947, and 8th deadliest in history. The $1 - $3 billion estimate of insured damage makes it the most expensive tornado in history.

- Damage from the April 25 - 28 super tornado outbreak was estimated at $3.5 - $6 billion, making it the most expensive tornado outbreak of all-time.

- The tornado that hit Springfield, Massachusetts on June 1 was at least an EF-3 with 136 - 165 mph winds. It was only the 9th EF-3 or stronger tornado to hit Massachusetts since 1950, and the third deadliest, with three deaths.

- The year 2011 now ranks in 3rd place behind 1974 and 1965 for highest number of strong to violent EF-3, EF-4, and EF-5 tornadoes (Figure 3.)


Figure 3. Number of strong to violent EF-3, EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes from 1950 to 2011. The year 2011 now ranks in 3rd place behind 1974 and 1965. There is not a decades-long increasing trend in the numbers of these most dangerous of tornadoes. Image credit: NOAA/National Climatic Data Center (updated using stats for 2008 - 2011 from Wikipedia.)


Figure 4. Death rate per million people per year in U.S., 1875-2000. Thin line with dots is raw rate, curved thick line is death rate, filtered by 3-point median and 5-point running mean filter, and straight solid lines are least squares fit to filtered death rate for 1875-1925 and 1925-2000. Dashed lines are estimates of 10th and 90th percentile death rates from 1925-2000. The death rate fell from 8 per million to .12 per million between 1940 and 2000. Image credit: A Brief History of Deaths from Tornadoes in the United States, Harold Brooks and Charles Doswell III.

Joplin tornado the 7th U.S. billion-dollar weather disaster of 2011
The Joplin tornado is the 7th U.S. weather disaster of 2011 costing more than a billion dollars. With a major flooding disaster coming on the Missouri River, and hurricane season still to come, 2011 has an excellent chance of beating 2008's record of nine billion-dollar weather disasters. The billion dollar weather disasters of 2011 so far:

1) 2011 Groundhog Day's blizzard ($1- $4 billion)
2) April 3 -5 Southeast U.S. severe weather outbreak ($2 billion)
3) April 8 - 11 severe weather outbreak ($2.25 billion)
4) April 25 - 28 super tornado outbreak ($3.5 - $6 billion)
5) Mississippi River flood of 2011 ($9 billion)
6) Texas drought ($1.2 billion)
7) Joplin tornado ($1 - $3 billion)


Figure 5. River flood outlook for the U.S. Image credit: NOAA.

The next U.S. billion-dollar weather disaster: a Missouri River flood?
A great 100-year flood has arrived along the Missouri River and its tributaries from Montana to Nebraska. Record spring rains, combined with snow melt from record or near-record winter and spring snows, brought the Missouri River at Williston, North Dakota to 27.9' yesterday, just an inch short of the highest crest on record (28.0' on 4/01/1912.) Tributaries to the Missouri, such as the Souris River in North Dakota and the North Platte River in Nebraska, are already flooding at all-time record heights. With warm summer temperatures and additional rainfall expected over much of the area during the coming week, snow melt and rain runoff will swell area rivers even further, creating a damaging 100-year flood. Wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt has the details in his latest post, and I will be writing more on this latest epic flood next week.

I'll have a new post on Monday, or earlier if the Caribbean disturbance shows significant development.

Jeff Masters

Joplin Tornado Damage (thebige)
Joplin Tornado Damage
And Bigger.... (weatherfanatic2010)
Here it is turning into a monster.
And Bigger....

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Quoting beell:





Thanks Beell, saw it the corner of the Atlantic wide combo on the NHC, switched over to the pacific view, Checked the NHC -board- didn't see the advisory, thanks.

I'll put you on the awesome side, Thanks!
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Quoting kmanislander:
I just received a WU mail from a friend in the Kingston area of Jamaica. No rain there now. Wow.


Rainfall starting in my area now.
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Quoting cchsweatherman:


Remember, with thunderstorms the anvils spread out for miles around the actual base of the thunderstorm. Satellite imagery could quite possibly be picking up this anvil fanning out giving the illusion of torrential rainfall.


Just received a follow up mail. Started raining LOL
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting kmanislander:
I just received a WU mail from a friend in the Kingston area of Jamaica. No rain there now. Wow.

nevermind then
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Quoting kmanislander:
I just received a WU mail from a friend in the Kingston area of Jamaica. No rain there now. Wow.



Remember, with thunderstorms the anvils spread out for miles around the actual base of the thunderstorm. Satellite imagery could quite possibly be picking up this anvil fanning out giving the illusion of torrential rainfall. Based on satellite presentation and motion of the clouds, it would appear the heaviest rains with this deep convective burst would be off the coast and over the open waters.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
I just received a WU mail from a friend in the Kingston area of Jamaica. No rain there now. Wow.

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
3068. j2008
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Some shifting going on in the models tonight, as expected. Hopefully 94L pulls enough together overnight to get recon out there tomorrow.

Yeah I'm really interested in hearing what they might have to find. Hopefully it will give us a little more info on 94.
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Quoting tropicfreak:



Isabel in 2003 was enough for me. Eyewall remnants passed right over Richmond VA at nightfall, and thats when all of the trees began to topple, we had 2 trees damage our house. One landed right on top of it, we were fortunate that something in the attic caught a branch that kept the tree itself from crashing through. Then on July 29th of 2010 a possible tornado or microburst tore through my neighborhood, and we had several trees down, winds were 80 mph, trees couldn't withstand it, luckily, when we lost 6 trees, they fell away from the house. It's an experience I would never want to live through, it was scary, and the sound of the wind was so eerie. Funny thing was, shortly before my power went out, radar didn't show much coming my way, must have really exploded.

Anyway, I think some want a hurricane because they have never gone through one before, trust me, ever since I was 7 I wanted exciting stuff like hurricanes, and I never realized how powerful mother nature was until I actually witnessed it in person, and it can be dangerous, so next time you want to wish for a hurricane or tornado to hit you're area, think again.
You've earned your say TF.

My story. Things have never been the same for my extended family. Premature death 2ndary to stress of Katrina'etc.

I was excited prestorm once. As a 10 yo preBetsy landfall.
Member Since: May 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1193
3066. beell
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Looks mighty fishy to me.


May just pull the convection NE away from the surface low and prolong the misery
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3065. Seawall
Thanks, xcool, that's what I was thinking.. He presents very good data on his website.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone on this blog; you guys are so smart, and so humble, and you give good data to all of us living on the coasts.
And, I did use my red button today... LOL
Again, thanks to all here; you guys are super.
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Quoting Skyepony:
ASCAT missed...
what's new.

Hopefully this recession and budget cuts did not delay the launch of he next quikscat which was scheduled for 2015 back in 2009
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Quoting Levi32:


XTRAP is based on the initial motion.



Some shifting going on in the models tonight, as expected. Hopefully 94L pulls enough together overnight to get recon out there tomorrow.
Member Since: January 30, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 3259
Quoting Levi32:




That Cuban radar is not seeing much in the way of rain rate over Jamaica IMO. Maybe someone from there will come on.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting Levi32:


I think you're misunderstanding the difference. There is an initial motion, and then there is a short-term projection which is often put on surface maps. The initial motion has been everything from ENE to south to WSW now in the last day. Quasi-stationary systems are expected to have random initial drifts. Because of that, the forecasted short-term motion by the NHC will not necessarily agree with the initial drift direction from ACTF.


Thank you for clearing that up for me.
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Quoting Levi32:


that radar is likely missing the majority of what's off of Jamaica. Theres some 7,000ft topography in Jamaica
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3059. Levi32
Quoting cchsweatherman:
Levi - Could you explain the differences between the TAFB/NHC analysis and the ATCF positioning? They don't seem to match.


I think you're misunderstanding the difference. There is an initial motion, and then there is a short-term projection which is often put on surface maps. The initial motion has been everything from ENE to south to WSW now in the last day. Quasi-stationary systems are expected to have random initial drifts. Because of that, the forecasted short-term motion by the NHC will not necessarily agree with the initial drift direction from ACTF.
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3058. Skyepony (Mod)
ASCAT missed..



04/2345 UTC 16.1N 79.1W TOO WEAK 94L -- Atlantic
04/1745 UTC 10.7N 98.3W T1.0/1.0 INVEST -- East Pacific
04/1745 UTC 15.6N 77.6W T1.0/1.0 94L -- Atlantic
04/1145 UTC 15.9N 77.7W T1.0/1.0 94L -- Atlantic
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Quoting AussieStorm:



Not current
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3056. xcool
Larry Cosgrove he's very good.
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Quoting kmanislander:
If the motion is to the North it will be a short trip

Looks mighty fishy to me.
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3054. Levi32
Quoting kmanislander:
The eastern half of Jamaica is probably getting 2 inches an hour or more when you see "white" showing up in the "reds".



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3053. Seawall
Just curious, what do you guys think about Larry Cosgrove?
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Levi - Could you explain the differences between the TAFB/NHC analysis and the ATCF positioning? They don't seem to match.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
Quoting caneswatch:


That was another lucky one.


You got that right.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Complete Update

TS BUSTED FORECAST ALIBI








Update... Canucks lead Stanley Cup series... 2-0


That was another lucky one.
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Quoting kmanislander:
The eastern half of Jamaica is probably getting 2 inches an hour or more when you see "white" showing up in the "reds".


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3048. xcool
TomTaylor lolol
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3047. beell
Quoting Levi32:
Here's a vertical cross-section of the 0z 12km NAM, displaying relative humidity along the 17N latitude line. The plume of moisture throughout the tropospheric column is easily spotted directly over and just east of 94L, with drier mid-level air to the west.




Top of crossection is 300mb.


Nice!
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Quoting Levi32:


I used Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) to create this screenshot.
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The eastern half of Jamaica is probably getting 2 inches an hour or more when you see "white" showing up in the "reds".

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Quoting xcool:


update


That doesn't seem anywhere near correct.
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3043. Levi32
Quoting cchsweatherman:


Doesn't match the latest analysis from the TAFB and NHC then.


XTRAP is based on the initial motion.

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3042. xcool


update
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting Levi32:


According to the 0z ACTF info it's already following the steering flow WSW, very slowly, which is supported by vis/IR2 loops.


Doesn't match the latest analysis from the TAFB and NHC then.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
3040. beell
Quoting cchsweatherman:


I don't believe so. Pretty interesting analysis by the TAFB there. Would seem to suggest that they believe the low will migrate some to the north and deepen slightly from 1007 mb to 1006 mb.


A little bit of a broad shortwave trough along 75W, downstream of the ridge with an axis along 86W. May amplify some as it phases with the western Atlantic trough digging to the south.

WV Loop
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3039. Levi32
Quoting kmanislander:
If the motion is to the North it will be a short trip



According to the 0z ACTF info it's already following the steering flow WSW, very slowly, which is supported by vis/IR2 loops.
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3038. Levi32
Quoting TomTaylor:
Levi can you post the link to that? Never seen any pic like that before


I used Unidata's Integrated Data Viewer (IDV) to create this screenshot.
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Quoting Levi32:
Here's a vertical cross-section of the 0z NAM, displaying relative humidity along the 17N latitude line.


Levi can you post the link to that? Never seen any pic like that before
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3036. JLPR2
Quoting cchsweatherman:


I don't believe so. Pretty interesting analysis by the TAFB there. Would seem to suggest that they believe the low will migrate some to the north and deepen slightly from 1007 mb to 1006 mb.


Yeah, pretty interesting, with a north movement the low would head towards the new convection.
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If the motion is to the North it will be a short trip

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OLR Forecast.
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3033. xcool


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3032. Levi32
Here's a vertical cross-section of the 0z 12km NAM, displaying relative humidity along the 17N latitude line. The plume of moisture throughout the tropospheric column is easily spotted directly over and just east of 94L, with drier mid-level air to the west.




Top of crossection is 300mb.
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3031. JLPR2
Quoting cchsweatherman:


Based upon recent trends (slowly increasing moisture and surface convergence), I'd expect this new convection to continue building overnight and possibly overhead the surface circulation.



Sound right. That should help the circulation tighten.
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Quoting JLPR2:
00z map


Was this posted already?


I don't believe so. Pretty interesting analysis by the TAFB there. Would seem to suggest that they believe the low will migrate some to the north and deepen slightly from 1007 mb to 1006 mb.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
3029. j2008
Quoting j2008:
Did everybody leave??

Sorry just my internet, so I think that 94 is gonna be back in everybodys spotlight soon. Anybody else think this thing is gonna explode with convection tonight?
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3027. xcool
lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting j2008:
Did everybody leave??


No. Blog malfunction
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
Have the models been hinting at anything developing besides 94L? Mojo is forecasted to leave our basin for a while after 94l does its thing (whether it develops or not who know, but right now I don't believe it will get a name-will have to wait till morning to see where 94l really stands) so I'm curious how things play out.

Right now its looking like it may be a slow start to the season
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3024. j2008
Did everybody leave??
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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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