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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Looks like more supercell initialization as showers cross over the dryline.

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Storms in Western KS are really starting to fire again.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
the storms near Dodge city are starting to rotate... we could see the tornado risk go way high soon across that area
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Quoting EugeneTillman:

Geez. That one and this one outside Kingman, KS mean business.



And it has a nice looking hail core
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Multivortex tornado live


wow that was nuts watching that second tornado come down.
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Quoting Xyrus2000:
Man, it changes so fast! The tornadoes seem to have lifted for the moment.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
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Rotation has weakened on that storm...
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Quoting EugeneTillman:

Geez. That one and this one outside Kingman, KS mean business.



And it has a nice looking hail core
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Fire being shown on News9.com, the smoke is being sucked up into the circulation. VERY cool.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23505
Wow that fire.
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Something blew up.

there appears to be some sort of accelerant burning. Gas, propane, etc.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Man, it changes so fast! The tornadoes seem to have lifted for the moment.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Where are they? I don't have access to any sound volume at the moment.
Very Northern OK. Those cells are going to be a huge pain the butt for Wichita.

Its reforming.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Looks like the 2nd tornado sucked the energy away from the 1st tornado, killed both of them out.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Sweet dual tornadoes!

Where are they? I don't have access to any sound volume at the moment.
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Wow, what a nice and clear live stream of tornado in Oklahoma.
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Derbies ball on radar heading for Dacoma!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23505
Sister twisters by the Dacoma cell. Large tornado on the ground.
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Dual tornadoes on News9.com!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23505
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Sweet dual tornadoes!

Edit: Was only on the ground for a short time.

Also I was watching the Saline storm and its still a funnel.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Lol I know which one I'm talking about. I am looking at the Saline storm with a funnel no tornado.
Nvm I miss read you sry!!!!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Multivortex tornado live
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
Here is the live stream link:

Link
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..
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Going to be a long night for Kansas/Nebraska
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1576. Speeky
this looks threating


this is in western nebraska
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Quoting entrelac:
FYI, you linked back to the blog.


Should work now
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.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Its not on the ground but the funnel on it is looking dangerous. Not a funnel anymore its now on the ground. I'm typing this as I'm watching.

No, this is the Salina, KS tornado, not the one in Oklahoma.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
Hutchinson, KS is currently in nail-biter. Here's hoping that hook misses them to the south.
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live tornado on Weather channel
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Large, damaging tornado headed towards a city with a population over 50,000.

Bad situation?

Its not on the ground but the funnel on it is looking dangerous. Not a funnel anymore its now on the ground. I'm typing this as I'm watching.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Tornado forming live on KFOR

Link
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Quoting EugeneTillman:

Yup, another to watch for sure. That entire stretch is cooking ground.

You got that right.





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KFOR hasLink live coverage

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Large, damaging tornado headed towards a city with a population over 50,000.

Bad situation?

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
Quoting EugeneTillman:

Yup, another to watch for sure. That entire stretch is cooking ground.
Southern one of those to in OK is strongest actually rotation wise. Also Kurt Hulst has a very large funnel on Saline storm.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
a new line forming new Dodge City... could quickly go tornatic
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Wow these two cells.

Located Northern OK


Yep. They have some spin now it seems. :P
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
And let the main event begin...

23Z SURFACE ANALYSIS REFLECTS A DEEPENING SURFACE LOW OVER NWRN
KS/SWRN NEB...WITH SURFACE PRESSURE FALLS NOTED OVER NERN NEB/NWRN
IA IN RESPONSE TO HEIGHT FALLS ALOFT / A VORT MAX NOTED ON WV
IMAGERY OVER SERN WY/NERN CO. WITH A SURFACE LOW DEVELOPING INTO
NERN NEB...NOTABLE BACKING IS PROJECTED ACROSS FAR ERN NEB AND IA.
AREA VAD WIND PROFILE DATA IS ALREADY SHOWING SIGNIFICANT
STRENGTHENING OF LOW LEVEL WINDS.../50 KT AT 1000 FT ACROSS NERN
KS/NWRN MO...WITH HODOGRAPHS LARGELY BECOMING FAVORABLE FOR
SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF DMGG WINDS...LARGE HAIL...AND POTENTIALLY
SIGNIFICANT TORNADOES. WARM ADVECTION REGIME WILL CONTINUE TO
SUPPORT A DESTABILIZING/RECOVERING AIR MASS...WITH NEW DEVELOPMENT
OF STORMS POSSIBLE.
Thats right everyone...We are now just starting to get into the real good stuff or bad stuff depending on how you look at it.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0534
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0657 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...SERN NEB...SRN IA...NRN MO...NERN KS

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 167...169...171...

VALID 142357Z - 150100Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH
167...169...171...CONTINUES.

A NEW WW HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR PORTIONS OF SERN NEB FOR POTENTIAL NEW
DEVELOPMENT AND ONGOING CONVECTION TO THE WEST OF AN EXITING MCS.
INTENSIFICATION OF STORMS REMAINS POSSIBLE ACROSS SRN IA...AND NRN
MO...ESPECIALLY IN ADVANCE OF A BOWING SEGMENT OVER SWRN IA.

23Z SURFACE ANALYSIS REFLECTS A DEEPENING SURFACE LOW OVER NWRN
KS/SWRN NEB...WITH SURFACE PRESSURE FALLS NOTED OVER NERN NEB/NWRN
IA IN RESPONSE TO HEIGHT FALLS ALOFT / A VORT MAX NOTED ON WV
IMAGERY OVER SERN WY/NERN CO. WITH A SURFACE LOW DEVELOPING INTO
NERN NEB...NOTABLE BACKING IS PROJECTED ACROSS FAR ERN NEB AND IA.
AREA VAD WIND PROFILE DATA IS ALREADY SHOWING SIGNIFICANT
STRENGTHENING OF LOW LEVEL WINDS.../50 KT AT 1000 FT ACROSS NERN
KS/NWRN MO...WITH HODOGRAPHS LARGELY BECOMING FAVORABLE FOR
SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF DMGG WINDS...LARGE HAIL...AND POTENTIALLY
SIGNIFICANT TORNADOES. WARM ADVECTION REGIME WILL CONTINUE TO
SUPPORT A DESTABILIZING/RECOVERING AIR MASS...WITH NEW DEVELOPMENT
OF STORMS POSSIBLE.

..HURLBUT.. 04/14/2012


ATTN...WFO...DVN...DMX...EAX...OAX...TOP...GID...L BF...

LAT...LON 41909263 40839201 40019264 39869433 39799516 40039728
40289884 40609973 41289942 41559649 41749474 41909263
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
And let the main event begin...

23Z SURFACE ANALYSIS REFLECTS A DEEPENING SURFACE LOW OVER NWRN
KS/SWRN NEB...WITH SURFACE PRESSURE FALLS NOTED OVER NERN NEB/NWRN
IA IN RESPONSE TO HEIGHT FALLS ALOFT / A VORT MAX NOTED ON WV
IMAGERY OVER SERN WY/NERN CO. WITH A SURFACE LOW DEVELOPING INTO
NERN NEB...NOTABLE BACKING IS PROJECTED ACROSS FAR ERN NEB AND IA.
AREA VAD WIND PROFILE DATA IS ALREADY SHOWING SIGNIFICANT
STRENGTHENING OF LOW LEVEL WINDS.../50 KT AT 1000 FT ACROSS NERN
KS/NWRN MO...WITH HODOGRAPHS LARGELY BECOMING FAVORABLE FOR
SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF DMGG WINDS...LARGE HAIL...AND POTENTIALLY
SIGNIFICANT TORNADOES. WARM ADVECTION REGIME WILL CONTINUE TO
SUPPORT A DESTABILIZING/RECOVERING AIR MASS...WITH NEW DEVELOPMENT
OF STORMS POSSIBLE.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343

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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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