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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Manchaster, OK is about to get nailed! Debris ball on the radar on News9 coverage! This is not good...

Greensburg, KS also another high-profile event...

What about the storm heading toward Witchita?
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Wichita needs to start preparing here. The storm to the southwest doesn't look like it's going to change it's mind.
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LOL.

I'm scanning the radars and satellite myself, while listening simultaneously to 3 different state's local weather stations and a live stream from a chaser.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Massive debris ball!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8108
Too close, too close, too close...

AT 836 PM...A TORNADO WAS REPORTED BY THE PUBLIC 2 MILES WEST
NORTHWEST OF GREENSBURG.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 33316
Well here's your helicity:



600-700 is very strong, which is why the tornado approaching Manchester OK has been able maintain itself so long.
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Wow talk about worst case scenario, strong, large, nighttime tornadoes.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WICHITA KS
836 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

KSC077-150200-
/O.CON.KICT.TO.W.0025.000000T0000Z-120415T0200Z/
HARPER KS-
836 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR HARPER COUNTY UNTIL 900 PM
CDT...

AT 831 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WAS
LOCATED NEAR WALDRON...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE...WEATHER SPOTTERS CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT...MAJOR HOUSE AND BUILDING DAMAGE LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION POSSIBLE. NUMEROUS TREES SNAPPED. MAJOR POWER
OUTAGES IN PATH OF TORNADO HIGHLY LIKELY. SOME ROADS
POSSIBLY BLOCKED BY TORNADO DEBRIS. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF
VEHICLES LIKELY.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
ANTHONY AND BLUFF CITY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TO REPEAT...A LARGE...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY
TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE...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.

&&
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 33316
1748. redux
i just hope the people of Manchester got out of dodge.
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 245
Quoting hurricanehunter27:

Ok now they are in the clear. Also Rotation is even stronger for Greensburg storm! This may have a monster wedge with it!
Also this storm is taking the exact same track as the Salina storm.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
No injuries or fatalities is good.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 33316
Quoting entrelac:
Found it

Link
Meh he still exaggerated it. 90% damaged not destroyed.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
Greensburg area tornado.

X5 63 dBZ 45,000 ft. 78 kg/m² 90% chance 100% chance 2.25 in. 47 knots SW (223)

Harper county area tornado

F3 61 dBZ 46,000 ft. 77 kg/m² 90% chance 100% chance 2.25 in. 31 knots SW (229)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Storm near KS/OK border is strong
Just posted that...
Watching it on live stream.. its approaching manchester, on the border of KS/OK. there's two of em now
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Rotation for Greensburg is now NW of the city

Ok now they are in the clear. Also Rotation is even stronger for Greensburg storm! This may have a monster wedge with it!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
Rotation for Greensburg is now NW of the city

It came uncomfortably close though. Might have clipped the edge if it was a big one.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Yes I would like a source for this also.
Found it

Link
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Rotation for Greensburg is now NW of the city
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
Quoting HurricaneTracker01:
90% of Thurman, IA destroyed, population 236, according to mayor
Yes I would like a source for this also.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873


Moving into Kansas
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Watching live stream..
Two Tornadoes southeast of Kiowa, KS and they're plowing to the northeast at 40 mph toward Southeastern Wichita.
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
This is really really bad. OK storm.

Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
Debris ball.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 33316
Storm near KS/OK border is strong
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8108
Quoting HurricaneTracker01:
90% of Thurman, IA destroyed, population 236, according to mayor


Source please

ETA - Found it
Link
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Unless tornado turns 90 degrees right, I'm 70% sure Greensburg is okay.
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90% of Thurman, IA destroyed, population 236, according to mayor
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Ed Oneal is on the Greensburg storm and he reported a funnel about 15min ago before he had to stop for gas. Its probably a tornado now.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
Stove pipe tornado on the ground N of Byron OK, derbies ball on radar.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24629
Vortex signature in Iowa...again....

Q8 Lucas IA 72 dBZ 36,000 ft. 67 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 3.50 in. 0 knots new (0)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


Yes but it is going to stay west of Greensburg
it's going to be a very close call. I think it's going to shave the town a bit... tornado can change directions.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


Yes but it is going to stay west of Greensburg
You don't know that. Storms this strong can take a right turn. So you cant say it missed Greensburg till its North of Greensburg.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
The one near Greensburg is one of the strongest signatures we've seen.

Very similar to the Woodsward one that eventually spawned the multi-vortex tornado.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Its not even passed it yet. Also a large cone on OK storm.


Yes but it is going to stay west of Greensburg
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716


Getting dark now.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
It is missing the city
Its not even passed it yet. Also a large cone on OK storm.

Edit: Going to be a really close call for Greensburg.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
It is missing the city
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 28 Comments: 3716
Quoting Bluestorm5:
just like 2007... 90% storm chasers were focusing on storms in Oklahoma when EF5 dropped a bomb on Greensburg suddenly. Look like it's happening again :\ storm chasers busy to the east again now.
The velocity's are incredibly strong.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Where?


North of Cherokee, moving into Harper County KS. This is the one heading towards Wichita.

EDIT: Wedge tornado now. We're going to be losing visuals soon more than likely.
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HOLY S***!!!

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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Poor Greensburg things are not looking good for them at all. All the Chasers are on the Eastern storms and this one looks like it about to drop a monster.
just like 2007... 90% storm chasers were focusing on storms in Oklahoma when EF5 dropped a bomb on Greensburg suddenly. Look like it's happening again :\ storm chasers busy to the east again now.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
And we still have all night with a high risk for tornadoes. Greensburg is in a heap of trouble btw!

Looks that way. [Bumps Greensburg radar loops to new page]



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This may be a debris ball.

Scott I expect ur input on this one plz tell me I'm wrong.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3873
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Large tornado on the ground!!

Where?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8108
Reed Timmer in D2 also has a large tornado about to intercept.

Link
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24629
WHOA large tornado on the ground!!!
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3480
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
How about the storm near Goesell, KS... Looks pretty good to me.

Does it have a debris ball or is it just part of the storm?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8108
Large tornado on the ground!!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24629

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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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