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 aspectre:
327 Grothar: ...an article by Dr. Forbes detailing the 1 0 worst tornados in US history.
The interesting thing is that not one from the Super Outbreak of 1974 was on the list.


Just out of curiosity, does anyone know of tornadoes that struck outside of the continentalUS that would exceed any of the 10WorstUSTornadoes in terms of casualties&damage?


Yup. Daultipur and Salturia tornado in Bangladesh back in '89 killed 1,300 people. 1969 East Pakistan Tornado killed over 900.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
Quoting aspectre:
327 Grothar: ...an article by Dr. Forbes detailing the 1 0 worst tornados in US history.
The interesting thing is that not one from the Super Outbreak of 1974 was on the list.


Just out of curiosity, does anyone know of tornadoes that struck outside of the continentalUS that would exceed any of the 10WorstUSTornadoes in terms of casualties&damage?
Yes tornado in Bangladesh killed 1000+.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3852
im back, missed all the fun.

i wonder if any of those cells will turn tornadic in Oklahoma city
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
327 Grothar: ...an article by Dr. Forbes detailing the 10 worst tornados in US history.
The interesting thing is that not one from the Super Outbreak of 1974 was on the list.


Just out of curiosity, does anyone know of tornadoes that struck outside of the continental US that would exceed any of the 10WorstUSTornadoes in terms of casualties&damage?
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Quoting Grothar:
From The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel plans live continuous coverage all day Saturday, with Meteorologists Jim Cantore, Mike Seidel and Eric Fisher reporting live from areas affected by severe weather in the Plains.





all the weather guys know something big is shaping up, i'm afraid if they are right, alot of people are going to be hurting this weekend
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 42265
The Martha and Cooperton supercell is strengthening again. Needs a tornado warning again.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
Interesting trend on the recent GFS runs, they all seem to want to spin up another subtropical low 10-14 days out. I know this is long range, but if we get one this week then another could happen the next week too.



Now that would be incredible. Two named storms in April.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
From The Weather Channel

The Weather Channel plans live continuous coverage all day Saturday, with Meteorologists Jim Cantore, Mike Seidel and Eric Fisher reporting live from areas affected by severe weather in the Plains.





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Why are there no tornado warnings?!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3852
Are there any flash flood warnings out,,, there is some area's that have had 7" from the 1st storm and will cope a few more with the following storms.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
Interesting trend on the recent GFS runs, they all seem to want to spin up another subtropical low 10-14 days out. I know this is long range, but if we get one this week then another could happen the next week too.


Most models are trending toward that second system, but in the case of that occuring. It wouldn't be likely to be another system forming, just another piece of "Alberto" that gets caught under the High. It filters out of the pattern after the second trough comes through. Out of this coming set-up, from the way the models indicate, we get alberto then there's a piece left behind that's cuaght under the high. Then we go back into hibernation again.
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496. Skyepony (Mod)
MLB NWS has that feature coming onto the Treasure Coast in East FL as an inverted trough..


AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MELBOURNE FL
825 PM EDT FRI APR 13 2012

.DISCUSSION...
CURRENT-OVERNIGHT...MSAS SURFACE ANALYSIS PLACES AN INVERTED TROUGH
OVER FLORIDA AND THE ADJACENT ATLANTIC COASTAL WATERS. LOCAL SMALL
SCALE WRF MODEL FORECASTING THAT THE INVERTED TROUGH WILL FLATTEN
OUT OVERNIGHT AS HIGH PRESSURE CENTERED OVER THE CAROLINAS BUILDS
SOUTH AND OVER FLORIDA. THIS WILL RESULT IN EAST WINDS LATE
OVERNIGHT AND INTO SATURDAY. WINDS MUCH LIGHTER THAN IN THE GRID
FORECASTS BUT THE WIND SHOULD START TO INCREASE LATE OVERNIGHT AS
THE INVERTED TROUGH FLATTENS OUT AND THE LEADING EDGE OF THE HIGH
PRESSURE WORKS ITS WAY DOWN THE STATE AND COASTAL WATERS.
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I found a nice link to the local radar in Oklahoma. Just move the mouse over the screen and it will bring you to the worst weather. You can zoom in and also animate it

Link
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Cell southeast of Hobart forming hook echo, tornado warned soon...



Funnel Junkie going in for the close up...heading right for it
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There really is a third hook forming, slightly north of the line between the other two.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
There are a few storms in Oklahoma that should have a tornado warning on them
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Tornado vortex signatures.

V6 Kiowa OK 69 dBZ 44,000 ft. 70 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 3.25 in. 16 knots W (259)


0 K6 Greer OK 67 dBZ 38,000 ft. 69 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 2.50 in. 23 knots W (265)


Nobody along that entire corridor should sleep tonight I think.

These suckers like to pop in and out over and over again.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Interesting trend on the recent GFS runs, they all seem to want to spin up another subtropical low 10-14 days out. I know this is long range, but if we get one this week then another could happen the next week too.



In lieu of the potential subtropical development in the next days...I posted my second "birdseye" view discussion of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. This is the 1st season in which I am doing this (and originally planned to start on June 1). I only did this in private last year's 2011 season and learned a lot from it as a result.

I started this yesterday, the idea being that from two maps that show a "birds eye" view of the whole Atlantic that one could understand the dynamics of every weather system in the basin. Detailed discussion acompanies the maps to help interpret. Got positive feedback on this yesterday.

If there are questions about any unclear statements in the discussion...please comment and I'll answer. Also you can leave comments on how to make things clearer or better on these discussions. THANKS....
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My god +12 in 5 minutes... Gotta be a record :P
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3477
I count 5 TVS Sig

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Quoting WxGeekVA:
North Korean Rocket Launch footage:


Lmao.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
North Korean Rocket Launch footage:


LOL
but I would link that if you can.
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likely fixing to be a third... right in the middle

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Quoting WxGeekVA:
North Korean Rocket Launch footage:


That's freaking hilarious. >:D
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There's two-o-them. They both have a good chance for producing a tornado.
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A more zoomed out perspective:

Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
Wow rotation showing up on all 3 cells now.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3852
the Harmon hook is turning east and headed directly over the same area the big one went through earlier during the first time it had a tornado warn box.

Could hit almost the exact same people again.

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Interesting trend on the recent GFS runs, they all seem to want to spin up another subtropical low 10-14 days out. I know this is long range, but if we get one this week then another could happen the next week too.

Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3477
We got twins in Oklahoma.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Quoting ncstorm:


Link


Preciate that
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Quoting WDEmobmet:
Can someone post the link to the chasers live feed


Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16225
New developing hook just crossed into Oklahoma from Texas further west of the main cell.



Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
Two tornado signatures in Oklahoma.

O3 Kiowa OK 67 dBZ 38,000 ft. 66 kg/m 100% Chance 100% Chance 2.50 in. 14 knots WSW (241)

0 K6 Harmon OK 68 dBZ 39,000 ft. 71 kg/m 100% Chance 100% Chance 3.00 in. 27 knots W (264)


Harmon is by Childress, which I thought looking at NWS radar.

There is a hook forming in that cell much like the Altus/Kiowa county storm.


Might take a few before they put an official warn box on it.


NE of Childress, extreme SW Oklahoma.

Second hook.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Most recent sounding from OK
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From Spotter Network Inc:

7:41PM CDT Tor<-Spotr 1 miles SSE of Cooperton, OK-Large tornado passed dirctly in front of us about 8 minutes ago....had a satellite tornado

=======
This tornado could still be on the ground. Rotation is still very strong.
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Uh-oh...yellow TVS.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Can someone post the link to the chasers live feed
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Quoting RTSplayer:



I think the wunderground product is estimating the maximum potential hail size, but I'm not sure.

It could be reporting the largest detected stone in that scan...which isn't necessarily indicative of the average....



Like the other day when the little hail storm came by my house, it estimated max size of 0.75inches.

the majority of what actually fell was pea to dime size.

but there actually were a few quarter sized hail stones and several nickel size...

So it does a good job of showing the biggest stone, or at least it did perfect for that particular storm on that day.


No doubt... Def possible since it will most likely melt on the way down. None the less it goes to show you the severity of the storm

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467. Skyepony (Mod)
Catching the tail of this bit working it's way south. Heads up Sebastion & Vero. It's heavier rain than it looks. Tiny cell that hit Melbourne turned right into a mesocyclone. Spotting it, it's between the NWS & Me. Sky is red. No lightning.
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Quoting WDEmobmet:
I dont know TA Grlevel3 was showing 3.75" Hail








I think the wunderground product is estimating the maximum potential hail size, but I'm not sure.

It could be reporting the largest detected stone in that scan...which isn't necessarily indicative of the average....



Like the other day when the little hail storm came by my house, it estimated max size of 0.75inches.

the majority of what actually fell was pea to dime size.

but there actually were a few quarter sized hail stones and several nickel size...

So it does a good job of showing the biggest stone, or at least it did perfect for that particular storm on that day.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
OKay I see know that we are in fact talking about the same cell
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There is a large, wedge, rain-wrapped tornado southeast of Cooperton.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
I dont know TA Grlevel3 was showing 3.75" Hail








I just signed on, I am assuming you all are refering to the cell north of Cooperton??
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Got the hook, the wind profile, the hail core all back for sure now.

Strongest it's been since they dropped the previous warning box...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Rotation is insane over Cooperton!
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
Ooh man. There could be a violent tornado near Cooperton.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Fine how about 120MPH?



See, I'll stand outside in 120mph wind, as long as I have something to hold on to and there's no metal sheeting directly up wind of me.

I stood outside in Katrina, even after there were a few gusts that nearly blew me off my feet... until I heard the first trees start snapping in the forest behind our house. I guess that was maybe 830 or 900 a.m. that morning when we got the worst of it.

I don't mind getting pelted by some rain drops.

Just don't like the idea of a pound or two of ice hitting me in the head at terminal velocity.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Making a Wataburger run, be back in a bit.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 47 Comments: 11709
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
728 PM CDT FRI APR 13 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EXTREME NORTHWESTERN COMANCHE COUNTY IN SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA...
EXTREME EAST CENTRAL KIOWA COUNTY IN SOUTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 800 PM CDT

* AT 726 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS
DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR COOPERTON...MOVING EAST AT 15
MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
COOPERTON.
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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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