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 tropicfreak:


That's TS strength winds, about a moderate TS.
WindSAT is very unreliable when it comes to measuring surface winds. I'd stick to Recon for that (and ASCAT/Satellite Estimates when necessary).
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2022. xcool
Hurricanes101 not really but imo sorry.
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2021. Bitmap7
Quoting xcool:
20% at 2pm


I think it will stay at 30%. I see no reason as to why they should reduce the probability.
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2020. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

I think you are agreeing with the GFS there.
Thats how I see their forecast as well.
And it could very well come to pass!
i made the same forcast last evening and the day before as well its keeping with what i am thinking so far lets see
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
Quoting AussieStorm:

No, and you won't be visible for long if you keep talking like that.
just asking?
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Quoting Skyepony:


Yeah...50kt vector on Windsat.


That's TS strength winds, about a moderate TS.
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It's so very hot outside. Very near the century mark again today here in the Northern GOM.
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Quoting xcool:
20% at 2pm


you are decreasing the chances of development over the next 48 hours?

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Quoting xcool:
20% at 2pm


I'd say keep it at 30%. JMO. Outside chance of the NHC upping it to 40%.
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2013. pottery
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


i have
it will remain nearly stationary with a w to sw drift or circle dance as i call it the precip races ne ward out over antilles with cirulation left behind to spin itself out then the east to west flow estabishes itself for the season that yet lays ahead
all this is priming activity i believe

I think you are agreeing with the GFS there.
Thats how I see their forecast as well.
And it could very well come to pass!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24460
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z CMC following the footsteps of the 00z HWRF.



12z NOGAPS has its sights on southern Florida.



Models are hard to trust at this point.
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2011. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting AllStar17:


Yes. The winds in what convection there is appear to be quite strong.


Yeah...50kt vector on Windsat.
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Quoting Skyepony:
The line of convection has just started shifting a little west. I think the approaching tropical wave is helping. The circulation looked too tight on Windsat this morning to just go poof.



I saw that earlier, last few satellite loops looked very healthy.
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2009. xcool
20% at 2pm
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The shear lines are beginning to space out on the western side, not as tightly packed as it was yesterday, a sure sign that it is strengthening.




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Quoting pottery:
94L is bowling Googlies on a turning wicket.

I would say it's bowling wrongins on a flat wicket.
Quoting Patrap:


Thats the 00Z runs from Last evening.



Not much different... still Spaghetti.
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12z CMC (144 hours below) following the footsteps of the 00z HWRF.



12z NOGAPS has its sights on southern Florida (132 hours below).

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
2005. Skyepony (Mod)
Ascat just caught the left side. Circulation could be stronger over there. The windsat we didn't get a good look at this side.

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Quoting Skyepony:
The line of convection has just started shifting a little west. I think the approaching tropical wave is helping. The circulation looked too tight on Windsat this morning to just go poof.



Yes. The winds in what convection there is appear to be quite strong.
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2003. pottery
Quoting CatfishJones:
Perhaps it (94L) will sit there the entirety of the season just saying: "I could do something with my life, but I really like the water down here and being a serious storm really is quite the bother."

LOL, that would be something to see, as wave after wave runs into it and builds and builds until it falls over...
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24460
2002. IKE
Latest NOGAPS says....

https://www.fnmoc.navy.mil/wxmap_cgi/index.html
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2001. Skyepony (Mod)
The line of convection has just started shifting a little west. I think the approaching tropical wave is helping. The circulation looked too tight on Windsat this morning to just go poof.

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Quoting AllStar17:


Once it wraps the moisture around, it will stand a much better chance for development. It hasn't started to do that, yet.


At least wind shear has lowered, and is not as much of a problem as it was earlier.
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Quoting pottery:

LOL, there is really nothing to pin anything on, right now.
This one is a real beauty of a teaser.
Noboddy has a clue!


and that would be a "think ya right" from me....:]
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Quoting HCW:
94L model runs from the NHC



Sooo the cone would be about 280 degrees?? hah
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1997. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

LOL, there is really nothing to pin anything on, right now.
This one is a real beauty of a teaser.
Noboddy has a clue!


i have
it will remain nearly stationary with a w to sw drift or circle dance as i call it the precip races ne ward out over antilles with cirulation left behind to spin itself out then the east to west flow estabishes itself for the season that yet lays ahead
all this is priming activity i believe
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
Quoting tropicfreak:


I don't see a whole lot of dry air. But when the moisture wraps around, it will mix the dry air out.


Once it wraps the moisture around, it will stand a much better chance for development. It hasn't started to do that, yet.
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1995. pottery
Quoting PcolaDan:


Never have been able to figure out that game. :|
:):))
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24460
Perhaps it (94L) will sit there the entirety of the season just saying: "I could do something with my life, but I really like the water down here and being a serious storm really is quite the bother."
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Quoting AllStar17:


Having a difficult time with dry air.


I don't see a whole lot of dry air. But when the moisture wraps around, it will mix the dry air out.
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This is where I'd put the center.
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Quoting pottery:
94L is bowling Googlies on a turning wicket.


Never have been able to figure out that game. :|
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1989. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting pottery:

LOL, there is really nothing to pin anything on, right now.
This one is a real beauty of a teaser.
Noboddy has a clue!


The models do seem out to lunch. 93L too~ we've had many a small weak vorticity & they usually show up better than that. These last two invests I've about completely disregarded them.
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If the convection ever flares up over the circulation (SSW of Jamaica) - we could actually have something worth looking at
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1987. Patrap
Quoting AussieStorm:

Talk about spaghetti. geez


Thats the 00Z runs from Last evening.


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1986. pottery
94L is bowling Googlies on a turning wicket.
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24460
1985. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
do not response or quote minus and report only
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
1984. pottery
Quoting AussieStorm:

Talk about spaghetti. geez

LOL, there is really nothing to pin anything on, right now.
This one is a real beauty of a teaser.
Noboddy has a clue!
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24460
1982. IKE
Here's a water vapor of 94L.....


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Quoting zoomiami:
Looking at the wator vapor loops, Florida and Texas are contained in the same pattern of dry air that is causing 94l issues with its development. We will certainly need a pattern change for this to move up into the SE or Texas.


Nope, there is very high PW's, 2 inches +, throughout 94L, dry is not an issue there at all.
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1980. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting GiovannaDatoli:

Uncalled for, Keeper.
was it really sorry but it has since been successfully exterminated
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
Quoting HCW:
94L model runs from the NHC


Talk about spaghetti. geez
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Good work Keeper. Thank you.
Time to put up that sledgehammer pic!
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1977. Patrap
1973. Hurrykane

Tyvm..
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1976. Skyepony (Mod)
DATE/TIME LAT LON CLASSIFICATION STORM
04/1145 UTC 15.9N 77.7W T1.0/1.0 94L -- Atlantic
04/0545 UTC 16.0N 77.2W T1.0/1.0 94L -- Atlantic
03/2345 UTC 16.3N 77.9W T1.0/1.0 94L -- Atlantic
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1974. HCW
94L model runs from the NHC

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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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