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 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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Quoting RTSplayer:
I wonder how high the VIL will get when the Wichita/El Dorado tornado hits that lake and sucks up some water?
Hit the lake a long while ago. A wedge was reported of the lake about 10 min ago.
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2405. ncstorm
6 miles east of el dorado, ks..rotation confirmed..

Butler County Emergency Services
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14452
Vortex Signatures on these 3 cells.

D3 Louisa IA 53 dBZ 9,000 ft. 7 kg/m² 0% Chance 0% Chance 0.00 in. 0 knots new (0)

0 M4 Seward NE 69 dBZ 41,000 ft. 67 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 2.50 in. 51 knots WSW (250)

0 Z1 Dawson TX 64 dBZ 42,000 ft. 55 kg/m² 90% Chance 100% Chance 2.25 in. 47 knots WSW (238)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
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
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Yah "REED EAT YOUR HEART OUT!". They probably got some winds.


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.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3168
In a couple hours we will have a truly major city under the gun. Kansas City with a whopping 2.2 million in the Metro area.
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10-4 did you see that.... Technical difficulties there lol
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
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
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I wonder how high the VIL will get when the Wichita/El Dorado tornado hits that lake and sucks up some water?
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting ScottLincoln:


I think so. It got painful. I had to turn the volume down. They started making fun of Reed Timmer and saying they were more in a tornado than he ever was then something about how their chase car was indestructible. I'm not sure if it's hit them yet, but if they were in that big of a tornado, I doubt their car would still be flat on the ground with all windows intact with them able to look at their old video so easily.
Yah "REED EAT YOUR HEART OUT!". They probably got some winds.
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Those 3 storms near Salina area all rotating.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
What the SWAT Chasers?


I think so. It got painful. I had to turn the volume down. They started making fun of Reed Timmer and saying they were more in a tornado than he ever was then something about how their chase car was indestructible. I'm not sure if it's hit them yet, but if they were in that big of a tornado, I doubt their car would still be flat on the ground with all windows intact with them able to look at their old video so easily.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3168


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0540
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1037 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...CENTRAL AND EASTERN KANSAS

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 170...

VALID 150337Z - 150500Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH 170 CONTINUES.

GIVEN INCREASING INHIBITION FOR WARM SECTOR BOUNDARY LAYER PARCELS
...THE PERSISTENCE OF THE PAIR OF LONG-LIVED TORNADO PRODUCING
SUPERCELLS BEYOND ANOTHER HOUR OR TWO IS SOMEWHAT UNCERTAIN.
HOWEVER...THE CELL NOW APPROACHING AREAS SOUTH OF SALINA APPEARS TO
BE AIDED BY AN AREA OF STRONGER MID-LEVEL FORCING FOR UPWARD
VERTICAL MOTION...DOWNSTREAM OF THE UPPER TROUGH NOW BEGINNING TO
LIFT ACROSS THE ROCKIES. THIS IS EXPECTED TO SHIFT NORTHEASTWARD
ACROSS THE I-70 CORRIDOR AREA JUST EAST OF MANHATTAN THROUGH 05-06Z.
LATEST RUC GUIDANCE SUGGESTS THAT THIS WILL COINCIDE WITH A 70 KT
SOUTHERLY 850 MB JET CORE...WHICH PROBABLY WILL MAINTAIN A HIGH
TORNADO RISK. OTHERWISE...AS LONG AS THE SUPERCELL NOW NEAR WICHITA
MAINTAINS STRENGTH AS IT TRACKS NORTHEASTWARD NEAR THE I-35
CORRIDOR...TOWARD THE EMPORIA AREA...THE TORNADO THREAT SHOULD
REMAIN HIGH.

..KERR.. 04/15/2012


ATTN...WFO...EAX...TOP...ICT...

LAT...LON 39009810 39419738 39789652 39699558 39119508 38539509
38049582 37579681 37519753 37909825 39009810
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11666
Quoting weatherh98:
Poll Time
How many tornadoes have there been today?

A. 5 or less
B. 6-15
c. 15- 30
D. greater than thirty.

I think low c

D, there have been 107 reports. so If we take of 15% then it will be about 90 tornado's today
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Quoting tudorgurl:


Thank you very much. I appreciate that. While we get strong and severe storms here all the time (just last week!), this whole storm system has really freaked a lot of people out down here. The weather stations are making it sound like Armageddon is coming, even though it's way up to our north.

Here's hoping those to the north are ok and safe. May the gods be with them tonight.
same with us... I hope you're safe tonight.
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thats the only video or live streaming that I can find.. well its better then nothing tho..

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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

WHERE?! ha

The GFS 00Z isn't even passed 84 Hours out yet.
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Wedge reported north of El Dorado.
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looks to be hitting S El Dorado.
It might actually keep going for a while, nice debris ball
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
Quoting cornchucker:
04/14/2012 0535 PM

Thurman, Fremont County.

Tornado, reported by Emergency Mngr.


75 percent of the town of Thurman was destroyed. The town
has been evacuated with an emergency shelter in a nearby
town. No power in the town. No major injuries.
That is the key word.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I think you should have weather radio on tonight just in case. I think it's possible a thunderstorm will happens in Dallas tonight, but I don't see any chance of tornado that far south though.


Thank you very much. I appreciate that. While we get strong and severe storms here all the time (just last week!), this whole storm system has really freaked a lot of people out down here. The weather stations are making it sound like Armageddon is coming, even though it's way up to our north.

Here's hoping those to the north are ok and safe. May the gods be with them tonight.
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2385. ncstorm
Mike Bettes ‏ @TWCMikeBettes


NWS Wichita on #tornado over El Dorado, KS: "MOBILE HOMES COMPLETELY DESTROYED IF HIT. VEHICLES WILL LIKELY BE THROWN BY TORNADIC WINDS.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14452
04/14/2012 0535 PM

Thurman, Fremont County.

Tornado, reported by Emergency Mngr.


75 percent of the town of Thurman was destroyed. The town
has been evacuated with an emergency shelter in a nearby
town. No power in the town. No major injuries.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


The Greensburg/Lyons/Salina tornado was actually a tornado in Oklahoma. It was a STS in Texas panhandle.

Yes, it's been going that long. I watched it the whole time.
didn't know that. I never noticed the storm until it got strengthen so fast to SW of Greensburg.
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Stormgasm? LOL! bahahah..nice.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Cybr, the 00z Surface analysis hints at new low in Atlantic.

WHERE?! ha
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if this makes it to kansas city it should be called the I-35 tornado
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Quoting ScottLincoln:
Oh god, this is painful. These guys are streaming their stormgasm that they are having from watching the video of their stormgasm from earlier when they thought they were in a tornado near the Wichita airport.
What the SWAT Chasers?
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Quoting tudorgurl:
Hey all from Dallas:

I know everyone is worried about KS (and rightfully so!), but I have a question: Should we be worried here in Dallas about the storms out west of us?

Thanks! You guys be safe out there.
Tudorgurl
I think you should have weather radio on tonight just in case. I think it's possible a thunderstorm will happens in Dallas tonight, but I don't see any chance of tornado that far south though.
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Oh god, this is painful. These guys are streaming their stormgasm that they are having from watching the video of their stormgasm from earlier when they thought they were in a tornado near the Wichita airport.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3168
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Well, we got 2 long tracked tornado that I know of...

Greensburg to Salina tornado

and

Woodward to El Dorado tornado


The Greensburg/Lyons/Salina tornado was actually a tornado in Oklahoma. It was a STS in Texas panhandle.

Yes, it's been going that long. I watched it the whole time.


In fact, the previous long track one they caught on film during the day was almost identical in where it formed and path it took.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Only model I trust is XTRAP.... ;P

Haha... The most trustworthy model out there for many years :P
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
How about Woodward to Kansas City? Its definitely possible. Also Debris ball almost over El Dorado.
If it makes it to Kansas City it might be the second tri-state tornado.
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Cybr, the 00z Surface analysis hints at new low in Atlantic.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14012
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Well, we got 2 long tracked tornado that I know of...

Greensburg to Salina tornado

and

Woodward to El Dorado tornado
How about Woodward to Kansas City? Its definitely possible. Also Debris ball almost over El Dorado.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
We're just warming up for the season wxgeek.

I assure you, if we get a Cat 4 US Landfall in Florida this year (god forbid), you'd see complete anarchy on the blog.

I imagine that's about possible this year.
IM predicting 13/6/2 but an enhanced amount of Gulf activity, and areas closer to home. Which intern means more U.S. landfalls, and land interaction
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Repost for those who didn't spot it :P
Alright here we are...
Alberto forecast and model guidances. Courtesy of Me :)


Alberto setup for the next couple of days...


if you are looking to change the subject its not going to happen...something that even if it did form wont affect anyone is not as important as major tornadoes that are ongoing right now potentially with fatalities
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Repost for those who didn't spot it :P
Alright here we are...
Alberto forecast and model guidances. Courtesy of Me :)


Alberto setup for the next couple of days...


Only model I trust is XTRAP.... ;P
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Hey all from Dallas:

I know everyone is worried about KS (and rightfully so!), but I have a question: Should we be worried here in Dallas about the storms out west of us?

Thanks! You guys be safe out there.
Tudorgurl
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Well, we got 2 long tracked tornado that I know of...

Greensburg to Salina tornado

and

Woodward to El Dorado tornado
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2365. Tygor
The Wichita storm has literally been tracked for the good part of five hours. Not saying the same funnel has been down for that long obviously, but still amazing.
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Repost for those who didn't spot it :P
Alright here we are...
Alberto forecast and model guidances. Courtesy of Me :)


Alberto setup for the next couple of days...
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30 is probably easily passed, even in post-analysis.

Heck, we've seen video that definitely showed two different tornadoes at the same time, and that was just one cell.


We also weren't paying attention to several smaller tornadoes in W. Nebraska, and there could have been many other tornadoes that just haven't been reported yet.

There were also many vortex signatures in Iowa earlier which did not get an official warning, in addition to the known, warned cells.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting Xyrus2000:


103 tornado reports on SPC.

El Dorado is about to be hit by the same system that hit Wichita. Tornado is still on the ground.
It has a good chance making it all the way to Kansas City.
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We're just warming up for the season wxgeek.

I assure you, if we get a Cat 4 US Landfall in Florida this year (god forbid), you'd see complete anarchy on the blog.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23571
Still is quite a bit of helicity ahead of the new line. That could help produce some quick spin ups, even with the more linear convective mode.

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11666
Quoting Xyrus2000:


103 tornado reports on SPC.

El Dorado is about to be hit by the same system that hit Wichita. Tornado is still on the ground.

wow
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Im off the blog night everyone hope everyone stays well good bye ill be on tomorrow
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
2357. Speeky
We cracked 100!!!
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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.