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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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: 113 Comments: 32531
GFS shows peak 500mb vorticity at about 4am to 10am tomorrow morning.

Low's peak intensity is forecast as 986mb between 7am and 1pm tomorrow.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Wow these two cells.

Located Northern OK
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
Quoting EugeneTillman:

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



That storm down near Alva is on a bee-line toward Witchita. Seems like it's getting a bit stronger.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TOPEKA KS
659 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

KSC041-143-150030-
/O.CON.KTOP.TO.W.0010.000000T0000Z-120415T0030Z/
OTTAWA KS-DICKINSON KS-
659 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR NORTHWESTERN DICKINSON AND
SOUTHEASTERN OTTAWA COUNTIES UNTIL 730 PM CDT...

AT 656 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WAS
LOCATED NEAR NILES...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE...WEATHER SPOTTERS CONFIRMED TORNADO. STORM SPOTTERS OBSERVED
A LARGE TORNADO 2 MILES SOUTHWEST OF NILES.

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...
NILES...SOLOMON...TALMAGE AND MANCHESTER.

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 70 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 267 AND 271.

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.

&&

LAT...LON 3897 9755 3913 9737 3913 9717 3899 9714
3889 9738 3893 9739 3893 9738 3896 9738
3896 9756
TIME...MOT...LOC 2358Z 227DEG 32KT 3894 9747

TORNADO...OBSERVED
TORNADO DAMAGE THREAT...SIGNIFICANT
HAIL...1.75IN

$$

LEIGHTON
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 7948
It begins.


Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24488
1551. nigel20
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Torando is back on the ground near Saline!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Is the dry line now moving to the West!?


There's kind of a second dry line a good bit to the west, on RGB satellite anyway.

It's kinda wrapped into the low.

So maybe gets some spin-ups off that too.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Johnathan Kriegh just reported a large tornado on the ground with the Salina cell
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Is the dry line now moving to the West!?

It might be. They do that sometimes around this time of day. It might end up staying in that general area until the cold front catches up with it.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11683
Looks like the cell near Salina has touched down again or is right on the verge if it.
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1544. Speeky
a lot of possible tornadoes


this is in western nebraska
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Is the dry line now moving to the West!?


Maybe an outflow headed west about to hit the dryline.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Omg the storm in Northern OK is really strong.



that was the original Woodward tornado.

It's been continuously tornado warned for a very long time now.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
That KS one Skipped I70, too, it sees.....
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Looks like it.

Is the dry line now moving to the West!?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
I would be crying happiness and gratitude if I was a Salina resident right now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Dodge city is starting to have thunderstorm initiation again.

Looks like it.

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11683
Omg the storm in Northern OK is really strong.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851

Tornado on the ground North of New Cambria according to KSN. Wonder if it weakened?
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1535. nigel20
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
It has already weakened. It is starting to strengthen/organize IMO.


There we go... the low-level rotation is back.
Corresponds with the new reports of a tornado once again.
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they just said they've confirmed a tornado on the ground again for the Salina Cell...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
1532. redux
confirmed tornado on the ground in salina

source: KSN TV

http://www.ksn.com/content/weather/liveradar.aspx
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
1531. ncstorm
Tornado on the ground heading for New Cambria
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
What if it tore off sections of road? Or dug up the ground a couple feet? Is that not enough for EF4/EF5.
That's the stuff Isaw in EF4 / EF5 reports fr. AL last year.
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Dodge city is starting to have thunderstorm initiation again.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
Anybody have live streaming video showing Salina, KS?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
disagree... it's weakening. Recycling is my best guess.
It has already weakened. It is starting to strengthen/organize IMO.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
Salina TV station
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3476
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Aw d*** it. I think the tornado is on ground again now. Now it's going to shave the southern part of Salina off.


Argh. Hope not. It'd be nice if it hopped neatly over the place and kept on ploughing empty fields. :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tornado might have touched down briefly in Salina after weakening.. but I think they where spared.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24488
1522. LargoFl
FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE KANSAS CITY/PLEASANT HILL MO
536 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012


...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PLEASANT HILL MO HAS ISSUED A
FLOOD WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING RIVERS IN MISSOURI...

PETITE SALINE CREEK NEAR BOONVILLE AFFECTING COOPER COUNTY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOWING WATER. NEARLY HALF OF ALL FLOOD
FATALITIES ARE VEHICLE RELATED. AS LITTLE AS 6 INCHES OF WATER MAY
CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CONTROL OF YOUR VEHICLE. TWO FEET OF WATER WILL
CARRY MOST VEHICLES AWAY. THIS PRODUCT ALONG WITH ADDITIONAL WEATHER
AND STREAM INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/KC/.

&&

MOC053-152236-
/O.NEW.KEAX.FL.W.0025.120415T0815Z-120416T1443Z/
/BONM7.1.ER.120415T0815Z.120415T1200Z.120415T1443 Z.UU/
536 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PLEASANT HILL MO HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR
THE PETITE SALINE CREEK NEAR BOONVILLE.
* FROM LATE TONIGHT TO MONDAY MORNING.
* AT 4:30 PM SATURDAY THE STAGE WAS 13.5 FEET.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 16.0 FEET.
* MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST.
* FORECAST...RISE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY SUNDAY MORNING AND CONTINUE TO
RISE TO NEAR 16.5 FEET BY SUNDAY MORNING. THE RIVER WILL FALL BELOW
FLOOD STAGE BY LATE SUNDAY MORNING.
* AT 16.0 FEET...LOW LYING WOODLANDS AND FIELDS NEAR THE CREEK FLOOD.

&&
LATEST
LOCATION FS STAGE DAY/TIME FORECAST

PETITE SALINE CREEK
BOONVILLE 16 13.5 SAT 04 PM 16.5 SUNDAY MORNING

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 41002
I am very concerned with the storms in northern OK both have TVSs on them and probably are very close to producing tornadoes
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Storm seems to be intensifying near Salina.
disagree... it's weakening. Recycling is my best guess.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ScottLincoln:


It was confirmed... earlier. The storm has weakened substantially and may be going through a brief period of no tornado. Still has high tops and a hail core, could recycle in the near future with a new RFD and thus a new potential tornado.
Yeah, judging by the latest radar frames it looks like the tornado lifted just in time. The ex-hook area went right over the city of Salina. Wow, that would have been a nightmare.
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1518. redux
well the twc just had the guy who shot the video on the phone...he was still with the cell and did not see a tornado.
Member Since: June 28, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 227
Quoting BahaHurican:
If it went over roads / power grid, there may be sufficient data to support EF3.
What if it tore off sections of road? Or dug up the ground a couple feet? Is that not enough for EF4/EF5.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
Quoting LargoFl:
the one nearing Saline has been confirmed.......................


It was confirmed... earlier. The storm has weakened substantially and may be going through a brief period of no tornado. Still has high tops and a hail core, could recycle in the near future with a new RFD and thus a new potential tornado.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Storm seems to be intensifying near Salina.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
If it went over roads / power grid, there may be sufficient data to support EF3.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
FWIW, 18z GFS is much stronger with a possible Alberto by Tuesday, 1001 mb.

Back to tornadoes.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24488
Aw d*** it. I think the tornado is on ground again now. Now it's going to shave the southern part of Salina off.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1511. LargoFl
the one nearing Saline has been confirmed.......................SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WICHITA KS
631 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

KSC169-150000-
/O.CON.KICT.TO.W.0018.000000T0000Z-120415T0000Z/
SALINE KS-
631 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR SALINE COUNTY UNTIL 700 PM
CDT...

AT 630 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WAS
LOCATED NEAR SMOLAN...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE...LAW ENFORCEMENT 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...
SALINA...GYPSUM...NEW CAMBRIA AND SALINA AIRPORT.

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 70 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 241 AND 266. THIS
INCLUDES INTERSTATE 135 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 79 AND 95.

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.

&&

LAT...LON 3895 9737 3893 9737 3892 9738 3887 9736
3872 9737 3861 9767 3861 9787 3866 9793
3875 9793 3896 9779
TIME...MOT...LOC 2331Z 226DEG 29KT 3877 9770

TORNADO...OBSERVED
TORNADO DAMAGE THREAT...SIGNIFICANT
HAIL...1.75IN

$$

BILLINGS
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 41002
1510. Speeky
this looks pretty impressive
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ScottLincoln:


It was in very rural areas. It could easily get rated EF1-2. Maybe a different story if it had hit a town. We'll know in the coming days.
true...
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Was probably a high-end EF4.
May be hard to get good damage estimates since thankfully it didn't go over many structures.
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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.