Dangerous tornado outbreak expected Saturday; Gulf of Mexico SSTs warmest on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:57 PM GMT on April 13, 2012

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A dangerous tornado outbreak is expected on Saturday over the Plains, says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC). Warm, moist air flowing northwards from a Gulf of Mexico that has record-warm waters will collide with cold air funneling down from Canada, creating a highly unstable air mass capable of creating strong thunderstorm updrafts. An impressive upper-level low, accompanied by a jet stream with 105 - 125 mph winds at middle levels of the atmosphere, will create plenty of wind shear, giving the air the spin it needs to form tornadoes. SPC has has issued their highest level of alert, a "High Risk," for much of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska for Saturday. Included in the "High Risk" area are the cities of Wichita, Oklahoma City, and Lincoln. This is the second time SPC has issued a "High Risk" forecast this year; the first "High Risk" forecast came for the March 2 tornado outbreak, which killed 41 people and did $1.5 - $2 billion in damage. It is very unusual for SPC to issue a "High Risk" forecast more than a day in advance of a suspected tornado outbreak; according to Wikipedia, today's "High Risk" forecast is only the second time SPC has ever done this. The other instance was for the April 6 - 8, 2006 tornado outbreak focused over Tennessee, which generated 73 tornadoes that killed 13 and did $1.5 billion in damage. People living in the threatened area need to pay close attention on Saturday to this dangerous severe weather situation.


Figure 1. Severe weather risk for Saturday, April 14, 2012, from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

Gulf of Mexico water temperatures the warmest on record
Temperatures in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico were the 3rd - 7th warmest on record during the first three months of 2012, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. This allowed Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Mexico (25 - 30°N, 85 - 90°W) to climb to 1.4°C (2.5°F) above average during March 2012, according to a wunderground analysis of the Hadley Centre SST data set. This is the warmest March value on record for the Gulf of Mexico, going back over a century of record keeping. During the first two weeks of April, Gulf of Mexico waters remained about 1.5°C above average, putting April on pace to have the warmest April water temperatures on record. Only one year in the past century has had April water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico more than 1.1°C above average; that year was 2002 (1.4°C above average.) All that record-warm water is capable of putting record amounts of water vapor into the air, since evaporation increases when water is warmer. Because moist air is less dense than dry air, this warm, moist air flowing northwards from the Gulf of Mexico into the developing storm system over the Plains will be highly unstable once it encounters cold, dry air aloft. The record-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico are a key reason for the high risk of severe weather over the Plains this weekend.


Figure 2. Departure of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) from average for April 12, 2012, as computed by NOAA/NESDIS. SSTs in the Gulf of Mexico are at their warmest levels on record for this time of year.

Follow Weather Underground on twitter for the latest on this potential severe weather outbreak.

Jeff Masters

April Storms (llpj04)
this storm greeted me as I came out of the grocery store, chased me home and got to my driveway the same time I did.
April Storms
Lightning Up the Pond - Oklahoma (mbryan777)
Last night we had a pretty spectacular lightning storm. I put the camera on the tripod in time-lapse mode and laid on my back on the hillside above the pond taking in an amazing show. When it got more exciting than I was comfortable with, I ran for the house.
Lightning Up the Pond - Oklahoma

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2557. entrelac
6:57 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting jamesrainier:
new blog
It's 2am.

I see the Dr is up with the rest of us...
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
2556. entrelac
6:57 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting jamesrainier:


Thanks. I've been paying attention to Woodward because a friend's son lives there and he can't get in contact with him.
The West side of town was hit hardest. Don't know if that helps.
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
2555. jamesrainier
6:54 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting entrelac:
The fallacy that Woodward is in worse shape than Wichita.

Woodward was hit hard, absolutely, but Wichita was also hit hard and by a potentially larger, more powerful tornado. Emergency officials in Wichita have a much larger job to focus on right now so information is not flowing like it is out of Woodward; which cannot handle the blow it has been dealt and is pleading for help.


Thanks. I've been paying attention to Woodward because a friend's son lives there and he's been unable to get in contact with him.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2554. jamesrainier
6:52 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
new blog
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2553. entrelac
6:50 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting jamesrainier:


What fallacy?
The fallacy that Woodward is in worse shape than Wichita.

Woodward was hit hard, absolutely, but Wichita was also hit hard and by a potentially larger, more powerful tornado. Emergency officials in Wichita have a much larger job to focus on right now so information is not flowing like it is out of Woodward; which cannot handle the blow it has been dealt and is pleading for help.

Like ScottLincoln said, "I think the light of tomorrow will help tell the tale. The radar depiction of the Woodward storm is barely comparable to that of the tornadic circulation that went through Wichita.".
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
2552. jamesrainier
6:46 AM GMT on April 15, 2012




http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/watch/ww0175.htm l
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2551. jamesrainier
6:42 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting entrelac:
There's not much information coming out of Wichita but there is a decent flow coming out of Woodward. I think that's giving some momentum to a fallacy that is making the rounds on the net.


What fallacy?
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2550. entrelac
6:37 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting ScottLincoln:

I think the light of tomorrow will help tell the tale. The radar depiction of the Woodward storm is barely comparable to that of the tornadic circulation that went through Wichita.
There's not much information coming out of Wichita but there is a decent flow coming out of Woodward. I think that's giving some momentum to a fallacy that is making the rounds on the net.
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
2549. ScottLincoln
6:28 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Man, I am impressed with how the "s*** hit the fan" so fast and continues to do so tonight. We were all hooked on Witchita earlier, but I think Woodward got surprised just after midnight CDT & it looks worse than Witchita. On top of that, I think the Wooward cell has also directly struck Alva.

I think the light of tomorrow will help tell the tale. The radar depiction of the Woodward storm is barely comparable to that of the tornadic circulation that went through Wichita.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 2877
2548. entrelac
6:23 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
I know everyone is wiped out but this isn't done.
Member Since: September 18, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 234
2547. 1900hurricane
6:14 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
I think I'm done for the night, but before I go, I shall leave y'all with this:

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2546. 1900hurricane
6:10 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Hate to say it...looks like the old Witchita supercell may try to come back based on that radar loop...aye...

It's certainly putting up a fight, that's for sure. Still has a very small and weakish meso with it.

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2545. aspectre
6:09 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
And now what was the Woodward tornado is crossing into Kansas, heading in line with the Witchita-to-KansasCity direction.
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
2544. 1900hurricane
6:08 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Tomorrow's outlook:









Looks like Wisconsin and Minnesota could see some action tomorrow, but it doesn't look like a good chase day for me here in Texas. I kinda expected that unfortunately.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2543. NCHurricane2009
6:08 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting 1900hurricane:
The old Wichita storm, just 'cause...



Hate to say it...looks like the old Witchita supercell may try to come back based on that radar loop...aye...
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 391 Comments: 3519
2542. GBguy88
6:03 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Interesting...



Very intense rotation just passed over Wakefield...they got hit...
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 482
2541. NCHurricane2009
6:03 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Man, I am impressed with how the "s*** hit the fan" so fast and continues to do so tonight. We were all hooked on Witchita earlier, but I think Woodward got surprised just after midnight CDT & it looks worse than Witchita. On top of that, I think the Wooward cell has also directly struck Alva.

Wakefield, KS got directly struck too.

And its not over....
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 391 Comments: 3519
2540. 1900hurricane
6:02 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
This one is looking more and more dangerous.



Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2539. 1900hurricane
5:58 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
The old Wichita storm, just 'cause...

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2538. kabloie
5:58 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


That should have a warning on it if it doesn't already. Is that one of the two tornadoes in west Oklahoma right now?


No, that's Wakefield, Kansas and it just got a Tornado Warning. That was awful fast.
These tornadoes are running too fast.
Member Since: November 16, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 76
2537. 1900hurricane
5:55 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Nope, that's in Kansas, under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.


And now a tornado warning.

TORNADO WARNING
KSC027-041-061-161-150615-
/O.NEW.KTOP.TO.W.0017.120415T0547Z-120415T0615Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TOPEKA KS
1247 AM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TOPEKA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN CLAY COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS...
NORTH CENTRAL DICKINSON COUNTY IN CENTRAL KANSAS...
NORTHWESTERN GEARY COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL KANSAS...
WESTERN RILEY COUNTY IN NORTHEAST KANSAS...

* UNTIL 115 AM CDT

* AT 1244 AM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 9 MILES SOUTHWEST OF WAKEFIELD...AND MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

HAZARD...DEVELOPING TORNADO AND TENNIS BALL SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE...RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.

IMPACT...SIGNIFICANT HOUSE AND BUILDING DAMAGE POSSIBLE. MOBILE
HOMES COMPLETELY DESTROYED IF HIT. SOME TREES UPROOTED OR
SNAPPED. VEHICLES WILL LIKELY BE THROWN BY TORNADIC WINDS.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
WAKEFIELD...MILFORD LAKE...MILFORD...RILEY...LEONARDVILLE AND
KEATS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR
OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

TORNADOES ARE DIFFICULT TO SEE AND CONFIRM AT NIGHT. TAKE COVER NOW.

&&

LAT...LON 3945 9683 3921 9666 3902 9717 3920 9724
TIME...MOT...LOC 0547Z 238DEG 44KT 3915 9709

TORNADO...RADAR INDICATED
HAIL...2.50IN

$$

BARJENBRUCH
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2536. 1900hurricane
5:52 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


That should have a warning on it if it doesn't already. Is that one of the two tornadoes in west Oklahoma right now?

Nope, that's in Kansas, under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2535. kabloie
5:51 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
That thing that just crossed the OK/KS border just looks crazy.

If it stays down it's Wichita again

Member Since: November 16, 2002 Posts: 1 Comments: 76
2534. NCHurricane2009
5:49 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Interesting...



That should have a warning on it if it doesn't already. Is that one of the two tornadoes in west Oklahoma right now?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 391 Comments: 3519
2533. hydrus
5:48 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Interesting...

Woodward probably heeded all warnings. I hope for no deaths. That city is familiar with tornadoes. Now they have the squall line to contend with...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2532. Tygor
5:48 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting IceCoast:
Crazy night footage of the tornado that just truck Woodward. I can't imagine looking up and seeing a tornado right in front of me when the lightning strikes.
Link




Scary. Unfair these can hit at night.
Member Since: May 6, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 155
2531. IceCoast
5:47 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Here's Woodward news twitter feed, sounds pretty bad.
Link
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2530. IceCoast
5:45 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Crazy night footage of the tornado that just truck Woodward. I can't imagine looking up and seeing a tornado right in front of me when the lightning strikes.
Link


Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
2529. weatherman321
5:44 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
I'm getting reports that officials in woodward are calling for emergency vehicles within a 100 mile radius for help.. injuries are now coming in..
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 140
2528. 1900hurricane
5:43 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Interesting...

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2527. hydrus
5:42 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2526. 1900hurricane
5:39 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
The darn cell gets its own Mesoscale Discusson!



MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0542
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1148 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...PARTS OF E CNTRL KANSAS AND WEST CENTRAL MISSOURI

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH POSSIBLE

VALID 150448Z - 150615Z

GIVEN CONTINUED GRADUAL BOUNDARY LAYER COOLING...THERE STILL APPEARS
TO BE A GOOD CHANCE THAT THE LONG-LIVED SUPERCELL MIGRATING
NORTHEASTWARD ALONG THE I-35 CORRIDOR WILL WEAKEN OR DISSIPATE PRIOR
TO PROJECTED PROGRESSION THROUGH THE WESTERN AND NORTHERN KANSAS
CITY METROPOLITAN AREA BY 07-08Z. HOWEVER...IF THIS CELL DOES NOT
SHOW SUBSTANTIVE FURTHER WEAKENING TRENDS DURING THE NEXT HOUR...A
NEW TORNADO WATCH PROBABLY WILL HAVE TO BE ISSUED.

..KERR.. 04/15/2012


ATTN...WFO...EAX...TOP...ICT...

LAT...LON 38299637 38969560 39399490 39409430 39189427 38839469
38359544 38169578 38009641 38299637
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 11566
2525. jamesrainier
5:39 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Woodward, Oklahoma -

A large tornado has caused massive damage and injuries in Woodward early Sunday morning.

Major damage to buildings and homes have been reported. No word yet on the number of injuries associated with the nearly quarter-mile wide twister that struck the area.

http://www.news9.com/story/17454118/tornado-strik es-woodward-causing-major-damage-injuries
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2524. hydrus
5:34 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting Speeky:
How many EF3 tornadoes do you think occured today.

By my guess probably 4 - 8
You guess is good..I believe we will count more of them as time wears on..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2523. jamesrainier
5:33 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
American Red Cross %u200F @redcrossokc

"Woodward has been hit by serious tornado. We are going to need help" - Marty Logan / News 9

https://twitter.com/#!/redcrossokc
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2522. weatherman321
5:32 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Local news out of woodward reporting two apartment buildings were struck.. major damage reported.. Does not sound good.
Member Since: August 23, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 140
2521. hydrus
5:32 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Squall line is looking more impressive..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2520. Speeky
5:30 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
How many EF3 tornadoes do you think occured today.

By my guess probably 4 - 8
Member Since: April 10, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 292
2519. jamesrainier
5:28 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Weather Underground ‏ @wunderground

12:25 AM CT: Heavy damage reported in Woodward, OK from strong #tornado.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 144
2518. hydrus
5:27 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
Think I will callit quits too. Glad to see some relief in sight and hope no deaths among the casualties.... one san always hope...

'nite!
G,nite Baha..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2517. hydrus
5:26 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting IceCoast:
Going to be a close call.
Definitely close. They have been hit bad before.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2516. BahaHurican
5:25 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Think I will callit quits too. Glad to see some relief in sight and hope no deaths among the casualties.... one san always hope...

'nite!
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20742
2515. ncstorm
5:23 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting Jedkins01:
This coupld potentially be another historic night of tornadoes, but the key word is potentially, there is a lot of hype and false info that can be spread around through the internet, which is why I hate social media sometimes... Anyways, as a student seeking to become a meteorologist, I am very hyped about this event tonight. However, I won't participate in OVER-hype which could spread false information. Lets wait until morning when the NWS teams can get out there and we get more significant confirmation.


When I was a kid I always over-hyped weather events, then people started not having so much confidence in my advice, and eventually being the boy who cried world catches up with you in a negative psychological way as well. That being said I realize not everyone here is actually going to become a professional in the meteorological world, but still, lets try to be honest here and not spread false info.


Trust me, I am not the mellow type when it comes to weather, nothing in life gets me more excited then intense weather events, but I've learned to do my best at seeking to improve my accuracy and honesty of weather reporting and commentary despite my excitement. In the end its better for all of us including ourselves, hopefully everyone can agree with me on this :)


I'm not saying there isn't extremely dangerous and potentially deadly severe weather tonight, but lets not make up info about what is happening, lets wait for professional confirmation.


I dont think anyone has been spreading false information on here tonight..I know I have been quoting directly from the Sheriff EMS from Wichita/Butler Counties Dispatch and Mike Bettis of TWC..I would call that credible sources..I think everyone has been doing an outstanding job except a few bloggers who come on here and tell people how they should blog everyone once in a while..with that I am out
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 13476
2514. IceCoast
5:22 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Going to be a close call.
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
2513. CaicosRetiredSailor
5:19 AM GMT on April 15, 2012


Preliminary count now at 118
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5984
2512. RTSplayer
5:18 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Well, I'm done for the night.

Seen 3 of the most insanely powerful cells ever on here today.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1503
2511. IceCoast
5:18 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Woodward OK storm looks like bad news. Pretty strong velocity couplet heading right toward town.
Member Since: October 17, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1267
2510. tudorgurl
5:16 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting jamesrainier:


Great...
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
2509. hydrus
5:14 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2508. hydrus
5:13 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595
2507. hydrus
5:12 AM GMT on April 15, 2012
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


Significant tornado is still increasing
For tomorrow too...
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 19595

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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.