Tornadoes, extreme flooding, unprecedented heat expected in U.S. today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:04 PM GMT on March 19, 2012

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Widespread and potentially catastrophic areal flooding and river flooding is expected this afternoon through Wednesday morning in Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Western Louisiana, and Southwest Missouri, warns the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in their latest flood watch for the region. The storm system responsible is a massive, slow-moving trough of low pressure over the Western U.S. that dumped heavy snows that closed several interstate highways in Arizona over the weekend. This storm system will collide with the warmest and moistest air mass ever recorded in March in the Central and Eastern U.S. According to the NWS in Minneapolis, Minnesota, moisture flowing northwards into Minnesota along the cold front yesterday had the highest levels of moisture ever recorded so early in the year, and moisture levels are expected to remain at record levels today. At the boundary between the Western U.S. trough of low pressure and Central U.S. ridge of high pressure, a cold front will lift huge quantities of moisture-laden air aloft, forcing record rains to fall. A wide region of 4 - 8 inches of rain is expected in the flood watch area, and isolated amounts as high as 15 inches could fall by Wednesday, as numerous rounds of thunderstorms repeatedly track over the same area. The cold front is also expected to trigger a Moderate Risk of severe weather over much of Texas today, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. Damaging winds, large hail, flash flooding, and few strong tornadoes are expected to affect the area late this afternoon. Severe thunderstorm watches are already posted for much of West Texas, as seen on our Severe Weather Map. Eleven tornadoes were reported yesterday in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and South Dakota.


Figure 1. Predicted rainfall amounts for the 3-day period Monday morning through Thursday morning show an area of 7+ inches (yellow colors) is expected over Eastern Oklahoma, Western Arkansas, Western Louisiana, and Southwest Missouri. Image credit: NOAA HPC.


Figure 2. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has highlighted a Moderate Risk area for severe weather over much of Texas today, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Summer in March for the Midwest
The ongoing March heat wave in the Midwest is one of the most extreme heat events in U.S. history. With so many records being shattered, it is difficult to cover in detail just how widespread, long-lasting, and extreme the event is, and I offer just a few highlights:

Winner, South Dakota hit 94°F yesterday, the earliest 90°+ reading ever recorded in the Northern Plains, according to wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt. The 94°F reading was just 2°F short of the all-time state record for South Dakota in March, which was 96°F in Tyndall in 1943. However, subsequent analysis by NOAA questioned this 94°F reading, and it is now believed that 87°F is the appropriate high for Winner.

International Falls, Minnesota hit 79°F yesterday, the hottest March temperature on record in the Nation's Icebox. At midnight this morning, the temperature was 66°F there, breaking the record high for March 19 (set in 1910) by 6°F. The low temperature for International Falls bottomed out near 60°F this morning, so low for today is (unofficially) the same as the previous record high for the date. This is the seventh consecutive day that International Falls has broken or tied a daily record. That is spectacularly hard to do for a station with a century-long weather record. The longest string of consecutive records being broken I'm aware of is nine days in a row, set June 2 - 10, 1911 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with weather records going back to 1905.) International Falls has a good chance of surpassing nine consecutive records this week.

Houghton, Michigan, near the frigid shores of Lake Superior, hit 76°F both Saturday and Sunday. It was the hottest March temperature on record, and an astonishing 44°F above the average high for the date (Saturday) of 32°. Huron, South Dakota also recorded a high temperature (88°F) that was 44° above the average high for the date, on Sunday. Most of the cities in Northern Michigan set all-time March high temperature records over the weekend.

Chicago, Illinois now has a string of five consecutive days of 80°+ temperatures, and the hottest temperature on record for so early in the year (82°F on Friday, and tied again on Saturday). The average high temperature in August is 82°F in Chicago, so this week is basically summer weather. Prior to this year, there had only been 10 days in March with highs in the 80s in Chicago, going back to 1871. The last time Chicago saw an 80 degree temperature during the month of March (prior to this year) was over 22 years ago back on March 12, 1990 when the high temperature hit 81. This morning's Public Information Statement from the National Weather Service in Chicago had this to say about this unprecedented March heat:

Chicago and Rockford have now both broken high temperature records 5 days in a row. There is even the potential they could tie or break record highs for up to an unbelievable 8 days in a row depending on how warm temperatures get Monday through Wednesday. It is extraordinarily rare for climate locations with 100+ year long periods of records to break records day after day after day.


Figure 3. March's month-to-date average temperature compared to the other top 5 warmest months of March in Chicago. The dotted blue lines are month-to-date average temperatures based on the current predicted temperatures. The hashed black line is the average month to date temperature for March. These graphs really illustrate just how far above the previous warmest top 5 Marches this month really has been and assuming no major pattern change the last week of the month gives some indication of just how far above the record March 2012 could end up being. Image credit: NWS Chicago.

Record heat in Canada
Record-breaking heat has also penetrated into the Prairie provinces of Canada over the past week. Winnipeg, Manitoba broke its record high for the past four days in a row, and hit 21°C yesterday, its hottest temperature on record so early in the year. With today's forecast by Environment Canada and wunderground both calling for highs near 25°C (77°F), Winnipeg is likely to record its highest March temperature on record. Previous record: 23.3°C on March 27, 1946. The earliest date for a 25°C+ temperature in Winnipeg is April 9, 1977.


Figure 4. The jet stream pattern features a large, southwards dipping bulge over the Western U.S., creating a trough of low pressure with cold and snow, and a large, northwards looping bulge over the Central U.S., creating a record-strength ridge of high pressure.

Why the record early-season warmth?
The unusual warmth is due to a loop in the jet stream that has created a large upper-level ridge of high pressure that is stuck in place over the Eastern U.S.--a phenomenon known as a "blocking pattern." Since the jet stream acts as the boundary between cold air to the north and warm air to the south, and the large loop in the jet places its axis far to the north of the eastern U.S., summer-like warmth has developed over the eastern half of the U.S. Conversely, colder than average temperatures have developed over the western third of the U.S. behind the southwards-dipping loop of the jet stream. There are at least three large-scale patterns working together right now to create an unusually strong ridge over the eastern half of the U.S.:

1) La Niña. The on-going La Niña event in the Eastern Pacific has weakened considerably over the past month, but ocean temperatures there are still cool enough to affect the jet stream pattern, favoring high pressure and warm temperatures over the Eastern U.S., and low pressure and cold temperatures over the Western U.S.

2) The Madden-Julian Oscillation( MJO). The MJO is a 2-month cycle of thunderstorm activity that travels west to east along the Equator. The MJO is currently in phase with La Niña, and is helping create warmer temperatures over the Eastern U.S.

3) The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO.) The NAO is in its positive phase, which means the difference in pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High is stronger than usual. This tends to increase the jet stream winds and keeps the jet from sagging southwards over the Eastern U.S.

While the blocking pattern responsible for the heat wave is natural, it is very unlikely that the intensity of the heat would have been so great unless we were in a warming climate. Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has posted an interesting (as yet unpublished) paper discussing how the odds of such extreme heat events have shifted in recent years.

Extreme jet stream patterns like this often lead to tornado outbreaks in the Midwest, at the boundary of where warm, moist air flowing north from the Gulf of Mexico collides with cold, dry air flowing south. Cold dry air aloft, combined with warm, moist air at the surface, makes the atmosphere unstable, since air rising in thunderstorm updrafts will be less dense than the surroundings, allowing the air to accelerate upwards and increase the intensity of the thunderstorm. This will be the case today, when NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has highlighted a Moderate Risk area for severe weather over much of Texas today, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Flood risk low this year for the Northern Plains
For the first time in four years, the Northern Plains are not expecting major to record snow melt flooding, said NOAA's National Weather Service in their annual spring flood outlook issued last week. Residents along the Mississippi, Missouri, Red, and Souris Rivers have endured a punishing series of bad flood years, but this year is unlikely to continue that trend, due to a lack of snow cover. The Northern Plains states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota recorded their 3rd - 8th warmest winter in the 117-year record, and are on pace to crush the record for warmest March in history. Winter snowfall was below average over most of the region, and what snow was on the ground at the beginning of March has mostly melted, thanks to the record-breaking March heat this week. The Souris and Red River basins contain about one-third the amount of water in the snow as last year, ranking this season in the lower half of the last 60 years. Precipitation this water year (since Oct 1, 2011) has been less than 50% of the normal across the Upper Mississippi and Upper Missouri Valleys, and much of the region is under moderate to severe drought, according to the latest Drought Monitor.


Figure 5. What a difference a year makes! Snow cover on March 15 of last year (top) was heavy over Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas, and caused massive flooding problems on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers during spring melt season. In contrast, there is almost no snow pack in the Upper Midwest this year (bottom), significantly reducing the odds of spring flooding on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Image credit: NOAA/NOHRSC.


Figure 6. The U.S. spring flood risk, as predicted by the National Weather Service on March 15, 2012.

Jeff Masters

March 18th sundown (rosana)
Today it was warm, sunny & calm water with clouds matching the mood of the people just enjoying this view.
March 18th sundown
Mullet Lake ice melting (JeffMasters)
I pulled a piece of ice out of Mullet Lake in Northern Michigan during my bike ride along the shore. It was so strange riding shirtless in 82°F heat along the shore of a frozen lake. The ground still had some snow patches from the 16" snow storm from last week. The lake ice is breaking up weeks ahead of usual due to our warm winter and incredible March heat.
Mullet Lake ice melting
Come have a glass of wine on the patio! (RedRoxx)
LOL woke up to MORE snow, in the VOC (Sedona) are today, want to have a drink on the patio with us?
Come have a glass of wine on the patio!
End of the Icefishing Season (bbend)
One last beautiful day on the ice but it's beginning to weaken and get unsafe- another 60 plus degree day. Normally we'd have about 3' of ice or more but this season it was about 24" at the most.
End of the Icefishing Season

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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Good Morning. Amazing turn of weather events for the mid-section of the US over the span of a few weeks. From the tornado outbreak a few weeks ago to flooding rain this week. Interesting to note that it was a point of interest a few weeks ago that the lack of snow melt would not cause the usual Spring flooding issues but now we get copious amounts of rain from a weather system.


The problem is the northern plains haven't seen nearly as much. Infact many places have seen no rain in WEEKS across the upper Midwest. Not a good scenario starting to play out as a very serious drought can be expected over the coming months.



Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
699. Jax82
Everything is bigger in Texas. This includes Drought and when they get it...Rain.
Member Since: September 2, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 1261
That picture of a wedge tornado behind powerlines that was posted here last night is NOT from yesterday. It is from 2004 in Kansas.

Video
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Good Morning. Amazing turn of weather events for the mid-section of the US over the span of a few weeks. From the tornado outbreak a few weeks ago to flooding rain this week. Interesting to note that it was a point of interest a few weeks ago that the lack of snow melt would not cause the usual Spring flooding issues but now we get copious amounts of rain from a weather system.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


Just when I thought the government couldn't get any more ridiculous and invasive of privacy....

TSA Searches Little Boy In Wheelchair



The government hasn't gotten ridiculous enough.

The failure of imagination of 911 is that every assumed a terrorist had "demands" and was going to haggle for prisoner release or money. They did not. They were suicide bombers.

What you people refuse to realize is there is no other way to stop that sort of attack except to treat everyone as a potential suspect.

You think any fanatic willing to sacrifice their own life to blow up a plane or building wouldn't just as well put a bomb on a child? Think again. The PLO and Hamas and Hezbollah do it all the time in Israel and the surrounding region!

The problem with the 4th amendment "rights" in the modern world is that it makes it impossible for the government to protect your other rights from bastards like Bin Laden and other muslims.

We don't have enough security, and we have far too much immigration both legal and illegal. Why is a country with such high jobless rates and a 1/7 "poverty" rate still accepting immigration?

No rational person would run a nation the way the U.S. government currently operates.
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Spring 2012: in like a lion, out like a lamb fire-breathing dragon. First: virtually no snow on the ground east of the Rockies except for northern Maine--and that will likely disappear this week.

no snow

Second, expect no relief--at least, not for a few weeks:

heat
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13441
DFW radar est.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
WOW! look at these rainfall totals around San Antonio.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0303
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0526 AM CDT TUE MAR 20 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...SOUTHEAST TEXAS...INCLUDING THE HOUSTON
METROPOLITAN AREA

CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 91...

VALID 201026Z - 201230Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 91
CONTINUES.

HOWEVER...THE NEED FOR AN ADDITIONAL WW EAST OF WW 91 IS NOT
CURRENTLY ANTICIPATED. THE POTENTIAL FOR EXCESSIVE RAINFALL MAY
BECOME MORE OF A CONCERN AS CONVECTION SPREADS INTO THE HOUSTON
METROPOLITAN AREA BETWEEN NOW AND 12-13Z.

A SIGNIFICANT SURFACE COLD POOL ON THE SOUTHERN FLANK OF THE
EXTENSIVE EAST TEXAS SQUALL LINE HAS GENERALLY MAINTAINED A 40 KT
EASTWARD PROGRESSION INTO MIDDLE TEXAS COASTAL AREAS. FORWARD
PROPAGATION ACROSS THE COASTAL PLAIN INTO UPPER TEXAS COASTAL
AREAS...INCLUDING THE HOUSTON METROPOLITAN AREA...MAY CONTINUE
THROUGH 11-13Z. HOWEVER...THIS IS EXPECTED TO SLOW AS MID/UPPER
FLOW CONTINUES TO GRADUALLY BACK TO MORE OF A SOUTHERLY
COMPONENT...IN ADVANCE OF THE STILL EVOLVING AND SLOW MOVING
SOUTHERN ROCKIES CLOSED LOW/TROUGH. AS THIS OCCURS...THE DAMAGING
WIND POTENTIAL PROBABLY WILL DIMINISH. LOCALLY EXCESSIVE RAINFALL
LIKELY WILL BECOME THE PRIMARY CONVECTIVE HAZARD...ASSOCIATED WITH
TRAINING/SLOW MOVING CONVECTION SUPPORTED BY INFLOW OF AIR
CHARACTERIZED BY WEAK TO MODERATE CAPE AND SEASONABLY HIGH
PRECIPITABLE WATER UP TO AROUND 1.5 INCHES.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Incoming Houston!
Well, that's certainly going to make the morning rush hour fun. :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13441

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
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Meanwhile, in the GFS's dreamland...

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Lots of lightning with this as well.

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Incoming Houston!

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Keeping in mind that radar precipitation estimates can be wildly off: parts of Cooke County, Texas (Gainesville area) have received upwards of a foot of rain; parts of Mclennan County are closing in on a foot; and a widespread area in eastern Oklahoma has received amounts in the > 8" range. And it's still raining in all these locations, and will continue to do so for several more hours; look for some major flooding today.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13441


Just when I thought the government couldn't get any more ridiculous and invasive of privacy....

TSA Searches Little Boy In Wheelchair

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Thanks, Largo. I'm glad my daughter should be able to drive to school before it hits.
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FLASH FLOOD WARNING
TXC021-055-149-177-187-287-201230-
/O.NEW.KEWX.FF.W.0027.120320T1029Z-120320T1230Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
FLASH FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
529 AM CDT TUE MAR 20 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN AUSTIN SAN ANTONIO HAS ISSUED A

* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR...
BASTROP COUNTY...
CALDWELL COUNTY...
FAYETTE COUNTY...
GONZALES COUNTY...
GUADALUPE COUNTY...
LEE COUNTY...

* UNTIL 730 AM CDT.

* AT 526 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS HAVE
DETERMINED THAT ADDITIONAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF ONE HALF INCH
WILL KEEPING FLOODING ONGOING FOR SEVERAL MORE HOURS. THE
RAINS WILL TAPER OFF FROM THE WEST...HOWEVER WATER WILL
CONTINUE OVER LOW LYING ROADWAYS AND CROSSINGS.

* SOME LOCATIONS THAT WILL EXPERIENCE FLOODING INCLUDE...BASTROP...
FLATONIA...GIDDINGS...GONZALES...LA GRANGE...LEXINGTON...
LOCKHART...LULING...SEGUIN...SMITHVILLE...CAMP SWIFT...CEDAR
CREEK...CHEAPSIDE...CIRCLE D-KC ESTATE...CISTERN...DIME BOX...
FEDOR...FENTRESS...GERONIMO...KINGSBURY...MULDOON. ..PAIGE...
PALMETO...ROSANKY...ROUND TOP...STAPLES...TANGLEWOOD...WAELDER AND
WYLDWOOD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

WHEN WATER COVERS THE ROAD...TURN AROUND DON`T DROWN. THE LIFE YOU
SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN.

&&

LAT...LON 2963 9707 2963 9715 2958 9721 2948 9721
2925 9742 2949 9814 3044 9723 3056 9697
3052 9689 3047 9689 3033 9674 3031 9665
3016 9678 3016 9666 3011 9662

$$
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Good morning, all. Looks like another day of some dangerous weather. Please take care all in the way of it. These are the days I would like to stay home with my family to know where everyone is and that they are all right. I'm getting tired of sitting in the hallway trying to keep special ed kindergartners calm and sitting still there.

Everyone have a safe Tuesday!
Good morning, hope everything will calm down over there, guess you have yet another day of this. stay safe
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Good morning, all. Looks like another day of some dangerous weather. Please take care all in the way of it. These are the days I would like to stay home with my family to know where everyone is and that they are all right. I'm getting tired of sitting in the hallway trying to keep special ed kindergartners calm and sitting still there.

Everyone have a safe Tuesday!
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A lot of heat records are about to be surpassed in New York- and by significant margins. Current forecast calls for a 5 day string of record highs, with probably some record high minimum temperatures mixed in as well. We also set a record high on the 12th.

Poughkeepsie, New York heat records:

March 18: 72 Degrees 2011 (Observed: 73 Degrees 2012)
March 19: 70 Degrees 2010 (Observed: 79 Degrees 2012)
March 20: 74 Degrees 1976 (Current forecast high: 78)
March 21: 70 Degrees 2010 (Current forecast high: 79)
March 22: 71 Degrees 1979 (Current forecast high: 83)

Normal high: Upper 40s. Normal low: Mid 20s
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Quoting DavidHOUTX:


Me too. I am pretty shocked. I didn't think this front would stall out like that over Central Texas as it has done; but given these 30-40mph winds straight from the South should have triggered that. None of the models predicted these South winds to affect this front like it has. It will be really interesting to see if this holds together into SE Texas (given these south winds and this moisture, I don't see how it couldn't, unless it is capped).

I will be up all night, thats for sure lol


From the AFD at 9:30pm yesterday:
THE COLLEGE STATION SOUNDING SHOWED THE CAP PRETTY MUCH ERODED. THIS INFORMATION IN ADDITION TO THE RUC FORECAST AND THE CURRENT EVOLUTION OF THE LIEN OUT WEST INDICATES THAT THE WESTERN AREAS WILL LIKELY SEE CHANCES FOR STRONG OR SEVERE STORMS BY 08Z.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


louder thunder?


As the map got more blue over the city the thunder got louder here.

I can only speculate what the -64kts wind shear means.
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Quoting jamesrainier:
I've been wondering what it means having the dark blue, besides having louder thunder.



louder thunder?
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Quoting jamesrainier:
I've been wondering what it means having the dark blue.


-64kts wind shear
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15882
I've been wondering what it means having the dark blue, besides having louder thunder.

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'Violent shift' in wind caused destruction









TOWNSVILLE may have been struck by an EF1 tornado according to weather experts.

Weatherzone chief meteorologist Alex Zadnik said a "violent shift" in wind direction off the coast at about 5am sparked the freak storm which destroyed homes in Vincent and Aitkenvale and toppled powerlines and trees in neighbouring suburbs.
Mr Zadnik said while a severe thunderstorm may have caused the damage, it could also have been a weak tornado.

"The driving cause for the damaging winds was a southward movement of a low pressure trough across Townsville from the north," he said.

"Through the early hours of the morning, Townsville was experiencing fresh to strong winds from a general easterly direction.

"A sudden and violent shift in the wind direction to the north then occurred at 5:07am as the low pressure trough pushed south across the airport, at which time the 111km/h gust occurred."

The atmospheric pressure dipped to its lowest point just prior to the wind gust, with a 998.6hPa reading occurring at 5:02am.

The storm moved across the city with wind gusts at 11 km/h recorded at Townsville Airport and unconfirmed wind gusts of up to 150 km/h reported at ground zero of the devastation.

Mr Zadnik said the convergence of winds created one of the conditions needed for thunderstorm and may have also created the necessary ingredient for a tornado to develop.

"It isn't completely clear whether the damage around the suburb of Vincent was the result of a tornado or simply violent winds that can accompany the movement of a trough and thunderstorm activity through a region," he said.

"However, it is worth highlighting that there can be tornadoes in Australia, so there is no need to describe them as 'mini' if they do occur."

Mr Zadnik said while tornados that occur in Australia don't often reach the strength of those seen in the mid west of the USA, they are tornadoes none-the-less.

There have been many notable tornadoes in Australia in the past two years.

The Lennox Head tornadoes in June 2010 caused considerable damage in the coastal NSW town, while a tornado touched down to the northwest of Melbourne on Christmas Day last year.

Karratha in WA was also struck by a tornado in February of 2011, in a weather set-up not completely dissimilar to that seen in Townsville this morning.

The scale for a tornado runs from zero to six with an EF6 tornado being the most powerful, with estimated wind speeds above 322km/h. (I didn't know there was EF6?. I have sent a note to the editor)

The more commonly seen tornadoes in Australia are in the EF0 (wind speeds in the 105-137km range) and EF1 (138-178km/h range) categories.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15882
City declared a disaster zone

ABOUT 60 homes have been severely damaged by a "mini tornado" that ripped through the western suburbs of Townsville.

Storm cells combined to form a tornado with winds of up to 140 kilometres per hour ripped tin roofs off houses and smashed windows in Vincent, Gulliver, Aitkenvale and Garbutt.

Several businesses on Ingham Road, Garbutt, also suffered severe damage from the intense storm.

Premier Anna Bligh declared a disaster zone for affected suburbs, and promised residents that workers from the Department of Communities would door knock the shattered streets to provide information relief payment.

"We have also activated assistance from the Australian defence (force) and they will be in here to help with the clean up," she said.

Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell said the council was working to repair damaged sewerage systems and advised all residents to try and conserve water for the next 24 hours.

"There is likely to have been some power outages that have affected our water pumps," he said.

"We should be able to get them back online very quickly but everyone should try and conserve water at this stage until we are sure we are running at full capacity."
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15882
Townsville begins clean-up after freak storm.


SES crews and the Army will help the clean-up in Townsville after a freak storm ripped through the city, as the weather bureau warns of more heavy rain for the region.

of being forced to huddle in their hallways and bathrooms as the storm tore open their homes early this morning.

Premier Anna Bligh and LNP leader Campbell Newman have flown into the city, putting election campaigning on hold as they assess the area.

Ms Bligh has declared the region a disaster zone and says the storm was akin to a "mini-tornado", packing winds of up to 130 kilometres per hour.

About 60 properties have been badly damaged and some buildings have collapsed, with much of the devastation centred on a one-kilometre radius around the suburb of Vincent.

Shane Fayers, his wife and their two children were forced to take shelter in their toilet as the storm destroyed the top floor of their two-storey home.



"Front kitchen's gone, living room, dining room and just the front porch that was all roofed that's gone. It's just smashed everything," he said.

Further down the street Tracy Thomas lost part of her roof and fence.

"It was very scary, but it was all over in a matter of a minute or two minutes. It was just unbelievable," she said.



Erin Matinca, who also lives in Vincent, says she and her flatmate huddled in their hallway after waking to furniture being blown around inside their home.

"We had to shut all the windows and then we went into the hallway because that was the only place that was safe from the windows," she said.

"It was pretty scary. I was more frightened during this than I was during Cyclone Yasi. It was just a lot quicker.

"The whole house was shaking. The whole upstairs was just shaking. The sound was quite horrifying."

Around 7,000 homes are without power and authorities are warning people to stay indoors as there are live powerlines down across the city.

Ms Bligh described the damage as "shocking and devastating" and said the Army would be called in to help.

"When something like this event happens, you just put politics aside for a while and right now I'm not thinking about Campbell Newman or my election campaign. I'm just thinking about this suburb," she said.

She says disaster relief assistance has been made available to residents.



Across north Queensland, residents are dealing with the aftermath of heavy rain overnight, with major flooding in Cairns, Innisfail, Ingham and Mackay.

The SES was forced to mount a number of swift water rescues and received about 140 calls for help from across the region.

EMQ area director Glenn Alderton says some homes have been inundated.

"One house in particular I know had waist-deep water through it. That was in the middle of Cairns actually, so there were a few streets around in some of the suburbs that definitely had water through the homes," he said.

He says crews are still delivering sandbags to residents who have requested them.

"Just in case we see some of that same rainfall in the next few days," he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology says more heavy rain is possible later today or tonight as a deep tropical low and a monsoon trough generate the inclement weather.

There have been falls of more than 300 millimetres in Townsville since 9:00am (AEST) on Monday.

Bureau spokesman Jonty Hall says the heaviest falls have been south of Cairns.

"Mission Beach is leading the way at the moment sitting on about 308 millimetres and a little further south Paluma with 274, and lots of other sort of 200-plus rainfall totals at this stage," he said.

"Just right now we're seeing some pretty heavy stuff feeding into the Townsville area as well."
- ABC
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15882
Townsville wind damage - nothing mini about it

At 5:07am this morning, wild winds of 111km/h were recorded at Townsville airport, while extensive damage was caused in the suburb of Vincent.

"The driving cause for the damaging winds was a southward movement of a low pressure trough across Townsville from the north," said Alex Zadnik, chief meteorologist at Weatherzone.

"Through the early hours of the morning, Townsville was experiencing fresh to strong winds from a general easterly direction. A sudden and violent shift in the wind direction to the north then occurred at 5:07am as the low pressure trough pushed south across the airport, at which time the 111km/h gust occurred," continued Mr Zadnik.

The atmospheric pressure dipped to its lowest point just prior to the wind gust, with a 998.6hPa reading occurring at 5:02am. This marked the movement of the trough across the airport.

A trough is a line marking an area of relatively low pressure but it is also typically a region of converging winds. In this case, it was a point where easterly winds were converging with stronger winds from the north.

This convergence of winds created one of the conditions needed for thunderstorm development and may have also created the necessary ingredient for a tornado to develop.

"It isn't completely clear whether the damage around the suburb of Vincent was the result of a tornado or simply violent winds that can accompany the movement of a trough and thunderstorm activity through a region," said Mr Zadnik

"However, it is worth highlighting that there can be tornadoes in Australia, so there is no need to describe them as 'mini' if they do occur," stated Mr Zadnik.

In meteorology there is a clear scale for the strength of tornadoes, and while those that do occur in Australia don't often reach the strength of those seen in the mid west of the USA, they are tornadoes none-the-less.

In the past two years there have been many notable tornadoes in Australia. The Lennox Head tornadoes in June 2010 caused considerable damage in the coastal NSW town, while a tornado touched down to the northwest of Melbourne on Christmas Day last year. Karratha in WA was also struck by a tornado in February of 2011, in a weather set-up not completely dissimilar to that seen in Townsville this morning.

So how do we measure the strength of tornadoes? The most commonly used scale is the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, which measures the level of damage associated with tornado activity.

The scale runs from 0 to 5, with an EF5 tornado being the most powerful, with estimated wind speeds above 322km/h. The more commonly seen tornadoes in Australia are in the EF0 (wind speeds in the 105-137km range) and EF1 (138-178km/h range) categories.

Based on photographs of the damage in the Townsville suburb of Vincent this morning, with roofs torn from buildings, it would seem that if a tornado was responsible, it was approaching this EF1 category.

However, it is possible to get this kind of damage with non-tornado related winds in a severe thunderstorm. If eyewitnesses saw a clearly rotating column of cloud and debris, then it was a tornado and there was nothing mini about it. Townsville has had 1028.6mm(40.5in) of rain since the start of the year and this months total 524.8mm(20.66in).

- Weatherzone
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15882
Quoting HallsCrossRdsTNWx:
Statement as of 5:41 PM EDT on March 19, 2012

... Record high temperature set at the Knoxville Airport...

a record high temperature of 82 degrees was set at Knoxville Airport today.
This ties the old record of 82 set in 1927.

.Valid today as of 500 PM local time.


Supposed to hit 86 tomorrow


HallsCrossRoads?

Really?

Grew up there. Back when that was country....
Member Since: February 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1344
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its official spring has arrived winter is gone till end of november


Barring the occasional longwave trough/cold front that delivers 50F temperatures to the Gulf Coast, yep.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
with that off to bed gonna be another warm day at work in the morning
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
its official spring has arrived winter is gone till end of november
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
in the end rain and its slow moving effect is the greatest problem


So it appears. The danger of flooding is often underestimated, especially at night.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
Not a particularly impressive tally for a Moderate Risk day:



Got lucky.
in the end rain and its slow moving effect is the greatest problem
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
4 MINS OF NON WINTER REMAIN
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
Not a particularly impressive tally for a Moderate Risk day:



Got lucky.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Statement as of 5:41 PM EDT on March 19, 2012

... Record high temperature set at the Knoxville Airport...

a record high temperature of 82 degrees was set at Knoxville Airport today.
This ties the old record of 82 set in 1927.

.Valid today as of 500 PM local time.


Supposed to hit 86 tomorrow
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2 pink triangles in the radar map in 654.

...and gone again.
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656. wxmod
Quoting 1900hurricane:
This has the possibility to be an exceptionally dangerous situation setting up tonight!



Strong Pacific storm is heading east, will pick up this moisture and shear the heck out of the air-mass. It's going to get worse.

Member Since: October 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1725
NASA/MODIS snow cover map for March 3, 2011

End of Winter: How 2012 snow stacks up

NASA/MODIS snow cover map for March 5, 2012
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Storms going around Waco for now. Time to recharge computer battery.

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653. Skyepony (Mod)
Windsat
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so long winter that never was 2012
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285
651. Skyepony (Mod)
PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
824 PM CDT MON MAR 19 2012

0830 PM TORNADO 2 ESE LACOSTE 29.30N 98.78W
03/19/2012 BEXAR TX EMERGENCY MNGR

POSSIBLE TORNADO DAMAGE OF 6 HOMES ON TED WILLIAMS AND
OBRIEN ROAD...AND LADD ROAD. TWO NON-LIFE THREATENING
INJURIES WERE REPORTED.


0820 PM TORNADO 3 NNW DEVINE 29.19N 98.93W
03/19/2012 MEDINA TX DEPT OF HIGHWAYS

POWERLINES KNOCKED DOWN AT COUNTY ROAD 664 AND 5710
NEAR DEVINE.


0806 PM TORNADO 2 SSW LYTLE 29.21N 98.81W
03/19/2012 MEDINA TX TRAINED SPOTTER

POWER FLASHES AND OVERTURNED SEMI TRAILER AT I-35 MILE
MARKER 127.




A good bit of hail too.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
it was horrible no snow warm all the time very little cold now its over in 52 mins
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53285

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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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