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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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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Really starting to ramp up again.



Member Since: Posts: Comments:
MIDSCAR is losing it and just reported a multi vortex tornado ripping roofs off home!!! Link Hover your mouse over the tornado report.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
NWS just re-issued a Tornado Warning box on the cell from the Altus storm.


O3 Kiowa OK 69 dBZ 40,000 ft. 75 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 3.75 in. 16 knots WSW (250)

Moving to the ENE 16knots (from WSW)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Oh boy.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32286
Quoting RTSplayer:


200mph winds is EF5 so that's not exactly what I meant.


4 and 5 inch hail stones will kill you or even demolish an automobile if it's sustained.

I mean one stray stone might only bust your scalp and get you some stitches, but you would't want to be out in that at all.
Fine how about 120MPH?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting RTSplayer:
Ok, that's just ridiculous.

It's now showing "Greater than 4 inches max hail size!"

O3 74 dBZ 43,000 ft. 76 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance >4.00 in. 21 knots WSW (257)


I mean my God, that's as bad as a tornado anyway.

That seems to be exaggerating...my GR2Analyst, with storm motion set, has the max. hail size at 2.61 inches.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32286
FLOOD WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
814 PM AST FRI APR 13 2012

PRC017-091-140615-
/O.NEW.TJSJ.FA.W.0020.120414T0014Z-120414T0615Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000 Z.OO/
BARCELONETA PR-MANATI PR-
814 PM AST FRI APR 13 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN JUAN HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR...
BARCELONETA MUNICIPALITY IN PUERTO RICO...
MANATI MUNICIPALITY IN PUERTO RICO...

* UNTIL 215 AM AST SATURDAY

* AT 809 PM AST RUNOFF FROM PREVIOUS HEAVY RAINFALL HAS RESULTED IN
SIGNIFICANT RISES ON RIO GRANDE DE MANATI AT MANATI. AT 809 PM
AST...U.S.G.S. RIVER RAIN GAUGES ALONG RIO GRANDE DE MANATI
INDICATED THAT THE RIVER LEVEL WAS ABOVE THE FLOOD STAGE AT 25.67
FEET AND CONTINUING RISING. FLOOD STAGE IS 25 FEET. AT 25
FEET...RIVER FLOODS ROAD 666 IN SECTOR CACHETE. MOTORISTS DRIVING
ALONG THE RIO GRANDE DE MANATI IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS SHOULD EXERCISE
EXTREME CAUTION. MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY AND NEVER TRY TO
CROSS A FLOODED ROADWAY.

A FLOOD WARNING MEANS THAT FLOODING IS IMMINENT OR HAS BEEN REPORTED.
STREAM RISES WILL BE SLOW AND FLASH FLOODING IS NOT EXPECTED.
HOWEVER...ALL INTERESTED PARTIES SHOULD TAKE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS
IMMEDIATELY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

BE ESPECIALLY CAUTIOUS AT NIGHT WHEN IT IS HARDER TO RECOGNIZE THE
DANGERS OF FLOODING. IF FLOODING IS OBSERVED ACT QUICKLY. MOVE UP TO
HIGHER GROUND TO ESCAPE FLOOD WATERS. DO NOT STAY IN AREAS SUBJECT TO
FLOODING WHEN WATER BEGINS RISING.

A FLOOD WARNING MEANS FLOODING IS OCCURRING OR IS IMMINENT. MOST
FLOOD RELATED DEATHS OCCUR IN AUTOMOBILES. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS
WATER COVERED BRIDGES...DIPS...OR LOW WATER CROSSINGS. NEVER TRY TO
CROSS A FLOWING STREAM...EVEN A SMALL ONE...ON FOOT. TO ESCAPE RISING
WATER MOVE UP TO HIGHER GROUND.

&&

LAT...LON 1837 6646 1837 6651 1849 6656 1848 6651

$$

CASTRO
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Really? 5.00inch hail or 200MPH winds? About to hit the incredible 75Dbz.



257 is the degree on a compAss ad yes there could be 5 inch hail
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Really? 5.00inch hail or 200MPH winds? About to hit the incredible 75Dbz.


200mph winds is EF5 so that's not exactly what I meant.


4 and 5 inch hail stones will kill you or even demolish an automobile if it's sustained.

I mean one stray stone might only bust your scalp and get you some stitches, but you would't want to be out in that at all.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting RTSplayer:
Ok, that's just ridiculous.

It's now showing "Greater than 4 inches max hail size!"

O3 74 dBZ 43,000 ft. 76 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance >4.00 in. 21 knots WSW (257)


I mean my God, that's as bad as a tornado anyway.
Really? 5.00inch hail or 200MPH winds? About to hit the incredible 75Dbz.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Ok, that's just ridiculous.

It's now showing "Greater than 4 inches max hail size!"

O3 74 dBZ 43,000 ft. 76 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance >4.00 in. 21 knots WSW (257)


I mean my God, that's as bad as a tornado anyway.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting AussieStorm:

WU Mail me.

You've got mail
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Velocity couplet is starting to make a return as well.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Old Altus storm looks like its starting to crank up again.

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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Don't worry you will get your tornadoes tomorrow.

Yeah, lots of them I'm afraid, and at night too. I know this has been said several times already, but tomorrow looks like a pretty extreme setup. Everything going on right now is just the prelude.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


I don't.

Wish I had money to spare for that sort of stuff.
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I do

WU Mail me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
My GOD...


this is the Altus storm again.

Radar is giving it a tornado signature again.

O3 Kiowa OK 70 dBZ 37,000 ft. 66 kg/m² 100% Chance 100% Chance 4.00 in. 21 knots W (262)


4 inches max hail!

This beats any radar estimate I've seen this year!!
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Funnel! Link
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting 1900hurricane:
The only storm with meaningful rotation right now appears to be the Altus storm, and even that one is significantly weaker than it was earlier.

TVS just south of Cold Springs Also has hail of 4"
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Who has trial of GRLevel3 here?

I do
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Who has trial of GRLevel3 here?


I don't.

Wish I had money to spare for that sort of stuff.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting 1900hurricane:
The only storm with meaningful rotation right now appears to be the Altus storm, and even that one is significantly weaker than it was earlier.
Don't worry you will get your tornadoes tomorrow.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Who has trial of GRLevel3 here?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The only storm with meaningful rotation right now appears to be the Altus storm, and even that one is significantly weaker than it was earlier.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Radar tornado signature is back on Altus storm.

O3 64 dBZ 37,000 ft. 71 kg/m 80% chance 100% chance 2.00 in. 21 knots W (263)


It had died out for a few minutes, but it looks to be spinning back up. Hail size is increasing again as well.

Cells NW of Childress are very severe now too. Starting to look similar.

K6 Childress TX 69 dBZ 42,000 ft. 63 kg/m 100% Chance 100% Chance 3.00 in. 19 knots WSW (242)

D1 Childress TX 67 dBZ 37,000 ft. 58 kg/m 100% Chance 100% Chance 3.00 in. 23 knots SW (235)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1900hurricane:

Yeah, it really is. I can't tell why the the reflectivity in the hook is so high though. Is it rain-wrapped? My chaser feed cut out...


Yeah, it is.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Via MSNBC...

"The really dangerous part is that it looks like it's going to be overnight," said Kurt Van Speybroeck, emergency response meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "It's a really bad combination to get tornadoes at night because they're harder to see. It could be a really bad evening."
They are correct about the tornado threat being greatest in the night hours today.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting MississippiWx:
The rotation on radar is unreal.

Yeah, it really is. I can't tell why the the reflectivity in the hook is so high though. Is it rain-wrapped? My chaser feed cut out...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Via MSNBC...

"The really dangerous part is that it looks like it's going to be overnight," said Kurt Van Speybroeck, emergency response meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "It's a really bad combination to get tornadoes at night because they're harder to see. It could be a really bad evening."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What a storm!

Tornado.

Still very high in every stat:

O3 71 dBZ 40,000 ft. 74 kg/m² 100% chance 100% chance 3.75 in. 25 knots WSW (258)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
The rotation on radar is unreal.
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Quoting 1900hurricane:

That's a pretty impressive wall if that's what I'm looking at. It also looks like it could be an arcus.


that is one huge tornado if that is rain wrapped..I hope its just a wall cloud
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15699
Amazing video right now. Can see the parent mesocyclone.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Real nasty looking cell. Very high magnitude, as well as spaciously large velocity couplet with that hook.



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Quoting MississippiWx:
Holy ****!

:)
That one's headed right at me - maybe 3 1/2 hours away.
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Quoting Ameister12:

Really bad.
I'm looking at a webcam and my god is this base the most amazing thing iv ever seen.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Good evening all!
I heard that we've had some tornadoes and tornado damage...can anyone confirm this?
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Bad.

Really bad.
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Quoting ncstorm:
look at that!

Link

That's a pretty impressive wall if that's what I'm looking at. It also looks like it could be an arcus.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Holy ****!


Bad.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Holy ****!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This is the Altus Tornado.

81 VIL

O3 70 dBZ 41,000 ft. 81 kg/m 100% chance 100% chance 3.50 in. 25 knots WSW (256)


Freaking insane.

this might end up being the worst one of the day.

Easily the highest VIL so far that I've seen anyway.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
look at that!

Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15699
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Get that off reddit?

What is that?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Weather Underground ‏ @wunderground

Reports of power being out east of Altus, OK
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Interesting cell near Coffeyville, KS:



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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
This was taken last night... That's the Bay Bridge in CA... Pretty awesome:

Get that off reddit?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842

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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.