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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2457. hydrus
Isosurface of 85% humidity colored by temperature (-4 to 10 degrees C). The freezing point of water is colored pink.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21757
Debris ball on Lincoln cell
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Ow crap its going to go right over it.

Now tornado warned.

TORNADO WARNING
NEC109-159-150500-
/O.NEW.KOAX.TO.W.0006.120415T0431Z-120415T0500Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OMAHA/VALLEY NEBRASKA
1131 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN OMAHA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EAST CENTRAL SEWARD COUNTY IN SOUTHEASTERN NEBRASKA...
LANCASTER COUNTY IN SOUTHEASTERN NEBRASKA...

* UNTIL 1200 AM CDT

* AT 1129 PM CDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM
CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED
NEAR PLEASANT DALE...OR 13 MILES WEST OF LINCOLN...AND MOVING EAST
AT 55 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
WAVERLY...MALCOLM...RAYMOND...NORTHERN LINCOLN AND DAVEY.

THIS INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING HIGHWAYS...
HIGHWAY 77 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 77 AND 81.
INTERSTATE 80 IN NEBRASKA NEAR MILE MARKER 388...NEAR MILE MARKER
395...AND BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 401 AND 409.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

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

TORNADOES ARE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO SEE AND CONFIRM AT NIGHT. DO
NOT WAIT TO SEE OR HEAR THE TORNADO. TAKE COVER NOW.

&&

LAT...LON 4091 9705 4105 9670 4105 9648 4088 9647
4081 9700
TIME...MOT...LOC 0429Z 247DEG 46KT 4085 9694

$$

MAYES
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Lincoln cell had a Yellow TVS to it.

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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Oh snap, this storm in Nebraska spun up a meso fast!





Very near Lincoln.


Wow. That is scary. Lincoln needs to be taking cover now
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That cell just west of Lincoln, NE looks to be intensifying too
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Tornado Warning for the Lincoln, NE area
Link
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2449. hydrus
Surface streamlines from the GFS model.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21757
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


that has had a tornado on the ground for a long time right now... hit Wichita pretty hard about an hour ago


yea it appeared that way from the radar loops for the past hour plus. Just incredible. I got a breaking news alert about a Tornado hitting a hospital in Iowa. Any update on that situation? This is going to be a dangerous night for the people in the midwest. People need to make sure their weather radios are working correctly and have some plans. This is far from over... sad to say
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Oh snap, this storm in Nebraska spun up a meso fast!





Very near Lincoln.
Ow crap its going to go right over it.
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Oh snap, this storm in Nebraska spun up a meso fast!





Very near Lincoln.
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Salina and possibly Emporia are under threat.
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Quoting DavidHOUTX:
Storm just west of Eureka KS has a significant hook echo. Could easily be a tornado on the ground.

I just got back from a wedding so I am a little late lol


That one has been epic at times.

It may have been EF5 at one time.

We've been watching it for several hours.

The one NE of Salina is the same way, like 5 or 6 hours old off and on tornadoes.


the one SW of Salina is a pop-up from about 30 minutes ago.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Powering up again.
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2441. hydrus
Color filled contours of pressure reduced to MSL displayed over topography with an isosurface of speed from the GFS model.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21757
More at.....http://www.kwch.com/kwch-dangerous-tornado- on-the-ground-near-lyons-20120414,0,1816722.story


by Kim Hynes
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
10:28 p.m. CDT, April 14, 2012

The storms have caused power outages in Sedgwick and Butler Counties. 25,000 people in Sedgwick County are in the dark and 1,200 in Butler County.

Some roads are also impassable because of debris, including Harry and Webb.

The Sedgwick County Fire Department has declared Oaklawn in south Wichita a crisis area. There was a house fire during the storms, but due to debris on the roads the fire departments couldn't get to the home. A tornado did move through that area near 47th and K-15. We haven't had any reports of injuries at this time.

Damage reports are starting to come in after a tornado moved through parts of south Wichita. Spirit & Boeing have damage to an airline hanger. Spirit PIO Jarrod Bartlett says security folks are assessing the extent of the damage right now.

A large tornado was on the ground, prompting a Tornado Emergency by the national weather service, which means a strong tornado is headed towards a population base.

A Storm Team 12 Chaser says he saw a tornado on the ground at Spirit Aerosystem. 55th South and Broadway, near the Kansas Turnpike and McConnell AirForce Base.

At 63rd and Hydraulic there has been reports of significant damage to homes. Several parts of Wichita are now without power. 9,000 residents are in the dark.
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2439. ncstorm
Mike Bettes ‏ @TWCMikeBettes

Ellsworth, Lincoln, Saline Counties under #tornado warning. Brookville and Salina, KS take shelter.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
The National Weather Service in Omaha has issued a

* Tornado Warning for...
east central Seward County in southeastern Nebraska...
Lancaster County in southeastern Nebraska...

* until 1200 am CDT

* at 1129 PM CDT... Doppler radar indicated a severe thunderstorm
capable of producing a tornado. This dangerous storm was located
near Pleasant Dale... or 13 miles west of Lincoln... and moving east
at 55 mph.
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2436. ncstorm
Interstate 1-77, tornado spotted 6-8 miles southeast of cassidy
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
Quoting DavidHOUTX:
Storm just west of Eureka KS has a significant hook echo. Could easily be a tornado on the ground.

I just got back from a wedding so I am a little late lol


that has had a tornado on the ground for a long time right now... hit Wichita pretty hard about an hour ago
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Still going.



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Storm just west of Eureka KS has a significant hook echo. Could easily be a tornado on the ground.

I just got back from a wedding so I am a little late lol
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My God.

All new Vortex Signatures...

Z1 Borden TX 68 dBZ 41,000 ft. 69 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 2.75 in. 39 knots WSW (239)

0 M4 Seward NE 71 dBZ 43,000 ft. 66 kg/m² 90% Chance 100% Chance 2.25 in. 51 knots WSW (247)

0 D2 Seward NE 63 dBZ 5,000 ft. 11 kg/m² 0% Chance 0% Chance 0.00 in. 49 knots WSW (244)

0 C1 Garza TX 65 dBZ 32,000 ft. 54 kg/m² 90% Chance 100% Chance 2.00 in. 39 knots WSW (244)

0 F1 Floyd TX 62 dBZ 38,000 ft. 62 kg/m² 90% Chance 100% Chance 2.00 in. 37 knots WSW (251)

0 Y1 Rock Island IL 62 dBZ 20,000 ft. 23 kg/m² 20% Chance 60% Chance 0.75 in. 47 knots WSW (237)

0 A2 Cuming NE 59 dBZ 26,000 ft. 21 kg/m² 10% Chance 90% Chance 0.50 in. 91 knots SW (220)

0 J4 Mercer IL 44 dBZ 8,000 ft. 2 kg/m² 0% Chance 0% Chance 0.00 in. 0 knots new (0)


All of those are labelled as tornado vortices.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520




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Quoting ncstorm:
Witchita lost a nursing home..search and rescue
Ow god now that just horrible.
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2429. ncstorm
Witchita lost a nursing home..search and rescue
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Currently all the models, besides the Euro(couple days ago) and Canadian(showing the system at 995 MB), are in agreement of "Alberto" reaching 1000 MB Minimal


from what I see

pretty much every single one of those models keeps this as cold core

major tornado outbreak is way more of an imminent threat here
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Wow that storm SE of Ellsworth is really getting strong.


heading for the 50,000 people in Salina, again.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737


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going to bed now... good night y'all. Stay safe for those in Kansas.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Miranda Lambert concert in Wichita suspended due to tornado. Crowd told to stay in arena. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!



Its a Miranda Lambert concert, do you really expect the management to be making the smartest decisions? ;)

the crowd probably wouldn't know any better either, considering the context ;)

I'm glad the severe weather canceled the event, as long as nobody gets hurt. That music brings pain to my ears and haunts my dreams, lol.
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Significant tornado is still increasing
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That supercell heading toward Kansas City is still going to be in untapped environment. Could be taking a break right now but it will have a good chance to reform.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:
http://content.wdtinc.com/popout/index.php?M=1461 3& C=20643&O=10288

This guy is doing a national tv interview apparently. He claims the tornado went right over them and then it hit the Wichita Airport. As we know, the tornado did not hit the Wichita Airport, it was probably the RFD. Just shows you how strong the storm was. They kept talking about boeing jets everywhere and luggage carts. I suppose it is possible that they are confusing the Boeing plants with the real airport.
The AFB has an airport right there... prolly got hit.
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2420. ncstorm
Cassie, KS is starting to receive pea sized hail
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
new tornado seems to be forming east of the old one.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


I dont think they were kids. The on guy claimed to be a met from a tv station. Couldn't hear what city.
Really? Sure sound likem.
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Wow that storm SE of Ellsworth is really getting strong.
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Im gone for the night everyone. Be back early tomorrow to evaluate the situation with our future "Invest 91L" which should be appearing tomorrow night, or early Monday. The models are forecasting the system to form Late Monday, or Tuesday and die when its hit by the front over the plains right now (Causing the tornado outbreak) on Friday.
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2414. ncstorm
Mike Bettes ‏ @TWCMikeBettes


#Tornado has crossed back over to east side of I-35. It's strengthening again. Take shelter in Hamilton, Eureka, Cassidy, KS
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16041
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
There kids like me what can u expect? Also wedge reported 2 mins ago still on the ground.


I dont think they were kids. The on guy claimed to be a met from a tv station. Couldn't hear what city.
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Quoting Papagolash:
Finally back in my OKC motel room after an exhausting, exciting, and nerve wracking day of storm chasing. Saw 3, possibly 4 tornadoes, and 2 or possibly 1 funnel. The supercell that just passed Wichita right now literally about put down a tornado right on top of me. I have crazy video of that. We saw that cell produced 3 tornadoes before it moved into Kansas. Haven't looked through all of the photos I have but I did post one of the storm as it put down a beefy tornado that I believe stayed on the ground from when I took a photo till it went into Kansas. It happened right as it got dark so it's hard to see, and right after the photo the thing got massive. I have never in my life seen the things I saw today, amazing day. If I could embed a photo I would, the only other thing right now is linking to that photo on my twitter.

Link

Good looking tornado. Glad you're safe. I wish I was out chasing today as well, but things just didn't work out for me.

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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Radar isn't really supporting most of the storm reports from like Andover eastward, but still looks like a dangerous storms and we should errr on the side of the ground truth reports, especially at night.
True.
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And that El Dorado tornado got stronger again... REALLY?
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Hit the lake a long while ago. A wedge was reported of the lake about 10 min ago.


Radar isn't really supporting most of the storm reports from like Andover eastward, but still looks like a dangerous storms and we should errr on the side of the ground truth reports, especially at night.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


I'm no Timmer fan, but seriously, that was kinda unprofessional. And they are streaming for the whole world to see. And from the info they've given so far, they may not have even been by the real big tornado, they may have been in the RFD by the Wichita airport. Unless they are confused with McConnel AFB.

Meanwhile, people could be dead, dying, or seriously injured. That tornado was very bad-looking on radar. Probably in the top 10 I've ever seen.


To add that, the "bulletproof" window shattered into his face in Nebraska back few years ago and he was bleeding from face. If they were really in tornado, they would be in worse of shape...
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


I'm no Timmer fan, but seriously, that was kinda unprofessional. And they are streaming for the whole world to see. And from the info they've given so far, they may not have even been by the real big tornado, they may have been in the RFD by the Wichita airport. Unless they are confused with McConnel AFB.

Meanwhile, people could be dead, dying, or seriously injured. That tornado was very bad-looking on radar. Probably in the top 10 I've ever seen.
There kids like me what can u expect? Also wedge reported 2 mins ago still on the ground.
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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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