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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Quoting StormTracker2K:
So far so good. The cool temps because of clouds and rain could help keep the tornadoes to a minimam today. I do believe the focus should Ok and southern KS later as that is where the temps are warming the most.





Remember - it was never predicted that the storms would be going now. Significant Tornado Parameters are going to be around 25, which is very significant, higher than on March 3rd, and as high as many of the outbreaks last year, excluding April 27th. It's currently 1:16 p.m., the main threat is overnight, so even if we do get a less minimal outbreak than predicted it's entirely possible we'll see some extreme tornadoes.

And interesting and serious threat developing tonight, either way.
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L8r all. gotta run.
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This area should become explosive later. I think the NWS rushed to judgement on the northern end.

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Quoting StormTracker2K:
So far so good. The cool temps because of clouds and rain could help keep the tornadoes to a minimam today. I do believe the focus should Ok and southern KS later as that is where the temps are warming the most.




Ok, that's cool, just ignore my post earlier about how it wouldn't destabilize the atmosphere.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32692
Quoting Hottime:
In Dr Masters comment, he states "Because moist air is less dense than dry air,". That seems counterintuitive . Could someone expand on that please. Thanks.


This is true when the moist/dry air are the same temperature or the moist air is warmer. Water vapor is lighter then Oxygen and Nitrogen and they are the most abundant gases in the troposphere. Thus, as water vapor in the air increases, the volume of Oxygen and Nitrogen decrease meaning a less dense airmass. The water vapor is basically displacing the other gases.
Density=mass/volume

Hope this helps!
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So far so good. The cool temps because of clouds and rain could help keep the tornadoes to a minimam today. I do believe the focus should be OK and southern KS later as that is where the temps are warming the most.



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That message abt servers is why NWS budget doesn't need 2 b cut. Pple r more impt. than $$$.
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Quoting pottery:
Saw the most Incredible 'halo' around the Sun a couple of hours ago.
Very pronounced 'rainbow' circle, with the interior of that a very dark grey.
All in an almost clear sky.
Never seen one like that before.

We are either Doomed, or this is a Very Good portent.......
haven't decided as yet!
Saw one just last week around 300 miles north of you in antigua
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Quoting Ameister12:
It's only going to get worse from here.

Storm coverage certainly has not been a problem and that was the SPC's only concern about the forecast...
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May want to limit hot-linking images from NWS today to help them out, seems their servers are busy.


ALERT ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SOUTHERN REGION HEADQUARTERS
1150 AM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

TO: ALL SR NWS OFFICES

FROM: SRH ROC

SUBJECT: POSSIBLE DELAYS IN POSTING TO WEB PAGES

DUE TO THE INCREASED NETWORK TRAFFIC ASSOCIATED WITH THE SEVERE
WEATHER TODAY AND TONIGHT...SOME OFFICES ARE EXPERIENCING 10 TO 15
MINUTE DELAYS IN POSTING GRAPHICASTS, ETC TO THEIR WEB PAGES. IF YOU
NOTICE IT TAKING LONGER THAN THIS...PLEASE CONTACT THE ROC VIA PHONE
(817) 978-1100, EXT 147 OR THROUGH THE SR-ROC NWSCHAT ROOM AND WE
CAN INVESTIGATE FURTHER.
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It's only going to get worse from here.
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The storm with the new tornado warning has a TVS now
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Just noticing that while most of this watch area is rural, we do stil havr some large urban areas as well, including Omaha and Lincoln. KC is on the eastern edge of the watch area a well. 1 thimg I learned last year is that casualties rise in urban areas simply due to higher pop. density.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Really? It has strenghtened a little but it doesn't look that bad.
Yah and it looks really good right now on cam.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
104 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HASTINGS HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN OSBORNE COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS...
SOUTHERN SMITH COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS...

* UNTIL 130 PM CDT

* AT 101 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF ALTON...OR 21 MILES
SOUTHEAST OF PHILLIPSBURG...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
CEDAR...GAYLORD...HARLAN AND ATHOL.

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.

&&

LAT...LON 3955 9904 3957 9904 3957 9907 3962 9907
3972 9900 3979 9894 3968 9863 3957 9884
3951 9900
TIME...MOT...LOC 1804Z 221DEG 23KT 3956 9900
HAIL 1.50IN

$$
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Different storm now

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
104 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HASTINGS HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHWESTERN OSBORNE COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS...
SOUTHERN SMITH COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS...

* UNTIL 130 PM CDT

* AT 101 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF ALTON...OR 21 MILES
SOUTHEAST OF PHILLIPSBURG...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
CEDAR...GAYLORD...HARLAN AND ATHOL.

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.

&&

LAT...LON 3955 9904 3957 9904 3957 9907 3962 9907
3972 9900 3979 9894 3968 9863 3957 9884
3951 9900
TIME...MOT...LOC 1804Z 221DEG 23KT 3956 9900
HAIL 1.50IN

$$

WESELY
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Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32692
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Got a TVS with it now.

Really? It has strenghtened a little but it doesn't look that bad.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
The rotation isn't very impressive on the tornado warned storm... Pretty weak and broad
Got a TVS with it now.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
In Dr Masters comment, he states "Because moist air is less dense than dry air,". That seems counterintuitive . Could someone expand on that please. Thanks.
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FLOOD ADVISORY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
151 PM AST SAT APR 14 2012

PRC005-013-027-065-071-099-115-131-142000-
/O.EXT.TJSJ.FA.Y.0123.000000T0000Z-120414T2000Z/
/00000.N.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
HATILLO PR-MOCA PR-SAN SEBASTIAN PR-ARECIBO PR-AGUADILLA PR-
ISABELA PR-CAMUY PR-QUEBRADILLAS PR-
151 PM AST SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN JUAN HAS EXTENDED THE

* URBAN AND SMALL STREAM FLOOD ADVISORY FOR MINOR FLOODING OF POOR
DRAINAGE AREAS IN
FOR THE FOLLOWING MUNICIPALITIES...

IN PUERTO RICO
HATILLO...MOCA...SAN SEBASTIAN...ARECIBO...AGUADILLA...
ISABELA...CAMUY AND QUEBRADILLAS

* UNTIL 400 PM AST

DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUES TO INDICATE PERSISTENT SHOWERS OVER THE
ADVISORY AREA. IN ADDITION...LOCAL EMERGENCY MANAGERS REPORTED URBAN
FLOODING ACROSS THESE MUNICIPALITIES. THEREFORE THE FLOOD ADVISORY
HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL 400 PM AST.

MOST FLOOD DEATHS OCCUR IN AUTOMOBILES. NEVER DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE INTO
AREAS WHERE THE WATER COVERS THE ROADWAY. FLOOD WATERS ARE USUALLY
DEEPER THAN THEY APPEAR. JUST ONE FOOT OF FLOWING WATER IS POWERFUL
ENOUGH TO SWEEP VEHICLES OFF THE ROAD. WHEN ENCOUNTERING FLOODED
ROADS MAKE THE SMART CHOICE...TURN AROUND...DONT DROWN.

&&

LAT...LON 1849 6691 1850 6678 1848 6674 1851 6660
1847 6658 1836 6658 1833 6661 1832 6672
1835 6674 1832 6677 1832 6682 1835 6683
1837 6690 1841 6716 1850 6716 1851 6699

$$

JJA
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The rotation isn't very impressive on the tornado warned storm... Pretty weak and broad
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
While the severe event is the main topic,let's not forget that we may have a invest soon in the Atlantic as the models continue to show development.

12z GFS at 72 hours:

Thought we were saving that 4 2morrow.... but I guess somebody should b looking...
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


According to the model.a low pressure forms in the NorthCentral Atlantic,but with waters there not so warm,it would be subtropical,but is not a given it will occur.

I'm interested in what the 12z Euro says... It has consistently been the most aggressive in developing it but backed off some in its 0z run... We'll see if that trend continues
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Quoting aquak9:
hodograph horror stories...
hey there, aquak9! good 2 c u ...
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BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
1252 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HASTINGS HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
WESTERN JEWELL COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS...
NUCKOLLS COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL NEBRASKA...

* UNTIL 130 PM CDT

* AT 1251 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR IONIA...OR 23 MILES NORTHWEST OF BELOIT...
AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
ESBON...MANKATO...BURR OAK...BOSTWICK...SUPERIOR...NELSON AND NORA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS TORNADO WARNING REPLACES THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING THAT
WAS IN EFFECT FOR THE SAME AREA.

&&

LAT...LON 3960 9834 3967 9851 3976 9850 4001 9835
4001 9828 4012 9828 4029 9817 4017 9788
TIME...MOT...LOC 1753Z 205DEG 33KT 3973 9839
HAIL 2.75IN

$$
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Quoting Gearsts:
From what? Cause i dont see anything that can form in to anything :/


According to the models,a low pressure forms in the NorthCentral Atlantic,but with waters there not so warm,it would be subtropical,however, is not a given it will occur.
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It has been a cloudy,rainy and cool for Puerto Rico standards today. And we continue in this wet pattern in a dry period that normally occurs in Febuary,March and most of April.

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Near Norfolk, NE

1 G1 70 dBZ 33,000 ft. 58 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance 3.25 in. 31 knots WSW (252)

Tornado Vortex signature

Near Jewell Kansas
0 Q1 67 dBZ 40,000 ft. 73 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance 2.75 in. 33 knots SSW (204)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
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Stormtops are building up....
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Serious wording from the SPC.

...A SIGNIFICANT OUTBREAK OF STRONG TO VIOLENT TORNADOES IS EXPECTED
OVER PARTS OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PLAINS THIS AFTERNOON AND
TONIGHT...

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE
DEVELOPMENT OF SEVERAL STRONG TO VIOLENT...LONG-TRACK TORNADOES OVER
PARTS OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PLAINS THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32692
Quoting Neapolitan:
Seriously? You posted the warning, TA13 posted the same warning a split second later, then you re-posted the warning just to tell him you "beat him"? FYI, when the forum is running fast, that's a good way to get yourself ignored by many, if not banned.

As a few folks mentioned yesterday, it's not usually necessary for multiple people to copy and paste in their entirety every single one of the dozens and dozens of severe weather watches and warnings that will be issued today. That's unavoidable at times--but please refrain from intentionally doing so on days such as this. Thanks!


My bad... Thanks for the advice
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
While the severe event is the main topic,let's not forget that we may have a invest soon in the Atlantic as the models continue to show development.

12z GFS at 72 hours:

From what? Cause i dont see anything that can form in to anything :/
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The tornado warned storm has a new severe thunderstorm warning with it... The storm could be producing hail greater than 3 inches
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Now 20 quakes centered in Fukushima beginning with M5.9 just over 24 hours ago %u2014 Consecutive M4.4s in last 30 minutes

Link
Aftershocks, no big deal.
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867 pottery: Saw the most Incredible 'halo' around the Sun a couple of hours ago.
Very pronounced 'rainbow' circle, with the interior of that a very dark grey. All in an almost clear sky.
Never seen one like that before. We are either Doomed, or this is a Very Good portent.......
haven't decided as yet!


Pick DOOMED: nobody cares much about good omens.
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Anyone in Antelope or Boone or Norfolk needs to get inside and probably go to the basement.

It's topping out again, maybe gets a tornado this time.


X1 71 dBZ 42,000 ft. 58 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance 3.75 in. 33 knots WSW (253)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Hey Everyone!

Just able to get on! Beautiful day here in eastern NC! I see the severe weather threat is still on!
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16214
A few selecting soundings in the high risk area.

Oklohoma- Full size Link


Dodge City - Full size Link


This one's south central Nebraska, and the soundings are from this morning hence no CAPE yet, but check out the wind profiles.
Link

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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HASTINGS NE
1226 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

KSC089-123-141-183-141745-
/O.CON.KGID.TO.W.0005.000000T0000Z-120414T1745Z/
SMITH KS-OSBORNE KS-MITCHELL KS-JEWELL KS-
1226 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR WESTERN JEWELL...
NORTHWESTERN MITCHELL...NORTHEASTERN OSBORNE AND SOUTHEASTERN SMITH
COUNTIES UNTIL 1245 PM CDT...

AT 1222 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR DOWNS...OR 24 MILES WEST OF BELOIT...MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 45 MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
IONIA...ESBON...BURR OAK AND MANKATO.

LAT...LON 3947 9873 3999 9840 3977 9813 3938 9846
TIME...MOT...LOC 1726Z 209DEG 37KT 3955 9854
HAIL 2.75IN

$$

HEINLEIN
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 41628
The tornado on stream from Michael Wurzburger looks rain-wrapped, a bad situation indeed.

EDIT - nevermind, that was just the core. Nice wallcloud now visible.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Link?

EDIT: Nevermind
Was that a tornado that just crossed in front of him? Also class hook forming on that storm.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
663 CybrTeddy: Also, didn't see it mentioned. Hurricane Irene was retired from the naming list yesterday.
Replaced by Irma in the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season
.
667 Articuno: look at post 305
746 aspectre: "Or at 6 Chucktown: Irene has been retired and 7 Tropicsweatherpr: ...and replaced with Irma"
774 Grothar: "Or at 305 : Grother: I didn't know they were retiring the name Irene with Irma. Maybe someone posted this and I missed it. I miss a lot of things these days."

Ya know, these quotes within quotes within quotes could lead to an Attack of the Grammarians...
and a headache.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Totally beat you!
Seriously? You posted the warning, TA13 posted the same warning a split second later, then you re-posted the warning just to tell him you "beat him"? FYI, when the forum is running fast, that's a good way to get yourself ignored by many, if not banned.

As a few folks mentioned yesterday, it's not usually necessary for multiple people to copy and paste in their entirety every single one of the dozens and dozens of severe weather watches and warnings that will be issued today. That's unavoidable at times--but please refrain from intentionally doing so on days such as this. Thanks!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Link?
Link
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3851
While the severe event is the main topic,let's not forget that we may have a invest soon in the Atlantic as the models continue to show development.

12z GFS at 72 hours:

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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
The wall cloud on the tornado warned storm is really something. Michael Wurzburger has it.

Link?

EDIT: Nevermind
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32692
Significant Tornado Parameters are expected to be near 25 this evening. This is the highest values we have seen since April 27 when there was a value of 37.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32692

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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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