Dangerous tornado outbreak expected Saturday; Gulf of Mexico SSTs warmest on record

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:57 PM GMT on April 13, 2012

Share this Blog
47
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 307 - 257

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52Blog Index

Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I was referring to the slightly less aggressive wording, especially this paragraph

SUBSTANTIAL UNCERTAINLY EXISTS IN REGARD TO STORM COVERAGE ALONG THE
DRYLINE DURING THE DAY FROM KS INTO OK AND NW TX. HOWEVER...HIGH END
SEVERE POTENTIAL EXISTS AND WILL MAINTAIN CATEGORICAL HIGH.

By no means am I denying the seriousness of tomrrow's event
Just means they don't know how many storm will initiate. 4 cells all alone by themselves would be incredibly dangerous with conditions like tomorrow.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
im watching chaser tv right now and there is like 50 chasers in 10 square miles and none that i can find have video of it :(
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
North East Norman, tornado on the ground. Perfect TVS. Exiting Norman to Hall Park and areas North East
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Right over Norman!



Forbes had the same, they cant even see it coming.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6492
This is not good. Norman has a pretty huge population of 110,925 as of the 2010 census.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I was referring to the slightly less aggressive wording, especially this paragraph

SUBSTANTIAL UNCERTAINLY EXISTS IN REGARD TO STORM COVERAGE ALONG THE
DRYLINE DURING THE DAY FROM KS INTO OK AND NW TX. HOWEVER...HIGH END
SEVERE POTENTIAL EXISTS AND WILL MAINTAIN CATEGORICAL HIGH.

By no means am I denying the seriousness of tomrrow's event
As TA13 wording can change from forecaster to forecaster.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Moore Tornado 1999 on Youtube

and

Part 2


I'd bet some of the "satellite" tornadoes orbiting the main wedge were probably in the F2 range in their own right...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Right over Norman!

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Norman is in it.

This is bad the rotation tightened
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6492
Large tornado in Norman,Ok
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TV station in Norman

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15282
Shows up really well on the Base radial radar at 1 deg elevation
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Backing off? No not backing off. Look at TA13 Allison house comment. Also they added a anouther High risk area lol. They did anything but back off.

I was referring to the slightly less aggressive wording, especially this paragraph

SUBSTANTIAL UNCERTAINLY EXISTS IN REGARD TO STORM COVERAGE ALONG THE
DRYLINE DURING THE DAY FROM KS INTO OK AND NW TX. HOWEVER...HIGH END
SEVERE POTENTIAL EXISTS AND WILL MAINTAIN CATEGORICAL HIGH.

By no means am I denying the seriousness of tomrrow's event
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I hope the SPC has everyone in the basement
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SoonerTrojan:
Large tornado heading right to OU's campus and NWS.


ITs going to hit the campus
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6492
Rotation is very strong and tight.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Perfect couplet on that tornado. Impressive.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Large tornado heading right to OU's campus and NWS.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
norman is about to get slammed.
Rain rapped
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6492
Quoting HouGalv08:
Weather channe has it live !


and yall hate TWC.
right now i wish i had it, none of the live streaming spotters do.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
404 PM CDT FRI APR 13 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 430 PM CDT FOR
CLEVELAND COUNTY...

AT 400 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RADAR DETECTED A TORNADO.
THIS TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR NORMAN...MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
NORMAN...STELLA AND LAKE THUNDERBIRD.

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 35 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 107 AND 115.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
359 PM CDT FRI APR 13 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CLEVELAND COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 430 PM CDT

* AT 355 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS
DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR NEWCASTLE...MOVING EAST AT 25
MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
NORMAN...STELLA AND LAKE THUNDERBIRD.

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 35 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 108 AND 115.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

GET IN...GET DOWN AND COVER UP. TAKE COVER NOW IN A STORM SHELTER
OR AN INTERIOR ROOM OF A STURDY BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND
WINDOWS.

&&






Definitely warranted!!!!
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3471
Power flashes and debris reported near Norman.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Power flashes and debris!
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
You know something is going down when there are 5 new comments every time you refresh and its not hurricane season.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
LArge Wedge Tornado.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6492
Weather channe has it live !
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
TWC is showing some great footage of the possible tornado
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15282
There is a tornado.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
forbes said tornado on the ground in okc
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6492
Tornado warning heading straight for Norman. Places like the SPC and the University of Oklahoma is in danger.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I've been gone the rest of the day...

The SPC seems to be backing off a LITTLE bit for tomorrow... Wording a bit less strong, but still a big outbreak seems likely.
Backing off? No not backing off. Look at TA13 Allison house comment. Also they added a anouther High risk area lol. They did anything but back off.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I've been gone the rest of the day...

The SPC seems to be backing off a LITTLE bit for tomorrow... Wording a bit less strong, but still a big outbreak seems likely.

The wording is up to the forecaster. Jewell tends to not go all out.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Quoting jeffs713:

There is no tornado warning posted. Just a severe thunderstorm warning.


TWC said it was a tornado warning..SPC hasnt updated its site
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15282
Heading to Norman, OK
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15282
.

Dangit... weather.gov was slow posting that one.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
359 PM CDT FRI APR 13 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CLEVELAND COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 430 PM CDT

* AT 355 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS
DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR NEWCASTLE...MOVING EAST AT 25
MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
NORMAN...STELLA AND LAKE THUNDERBIRD.

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 35 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 108 AND 115.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

GET IN...GET DOWN AND COVER UP. TAKE COVER NOW IN A STORM SHELTER
OR AN INTERIOR ROOM OF A STURDY BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND
WINDOWS.

&&

LAT...LON 3518 9749 3523 9755 3530 9756 3534 9716
3514 9715
TIME...MOT...LOC 2055Z 263DEG 22KT 3521 9754

$$

30
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DavidHOUTX:


That is unbelievable. No way anybody can live through that


That particular storm actually carried someone's vehicle like 40-something miles through the air.


It also buried a guy under about 5 or 6 feet of dirt, which his buddy was standing right next to him when the storm took him. they had taken shelter under an over-pass, which has since been discouraged because it actually enhances the winds in some situations.

this also scoured pavement and uprooted some metal signs and flagpoles.

the video they have of this storm is truly incredible.

The funnel on the tornado is so incredibly powerful that it looks like a solid,rotating object, instead of a column of air and dust.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
359 PM CDT FRI APR 13 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CLEVELAND COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 430 PM CDT

* AT 355 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS
DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR NEWCASTLE...MOVING EAST AT 25
MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
NORMAN...STELLA AND LAKE THUNDERBIRD.

THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 35 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 108 AND 115.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

GET IN...GET DOWN AND COVER UP. TAKE COVER NOW IN A STORM SHELTER
OR AN INTERIOR ROOM OF A STURDY BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND
WINDOWS.

&&
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You were here this morning, right?


I've been gone the rest of the day...

The SPC seems to be backing off a LITTLE bit for tomorrow... Wording a bit less strong, but still a big outbreak seems likely.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The SPC is under a Tornado Warning.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The power of the only F5 tornado during that outbreak.


O________o
Omg. How could someone live through that!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
AllisonHouse LLC
"I'll forego the usual "Big outbreak coming tomorrow, you need to get AllisonHouse" advertisement and just say this: We've learned SPC will have a fully staffed, fully operational backup office working in tandem at Scott Air Force Base near East St. Louis, IL in the event the Norman, OK main office has to evacuate, or gets hit by a tornado. Need I say more?"
Like-Share-3 minutes ago


What about if the NHC ever has to evacuate? Or do they just use their bunker? Lol.
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3573
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The power of the only F5 tornado during that outbreak.



That is unbelievable. No way anybody can live through that
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's weakening it seems. Looks like that area is spared for now from the tornado threat.
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3471
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good afternoon... What have I missed today?

You were here this morning, right?

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Having a backup SPC office makes sense, and I'm sure they have it up and running during peak tornado season all the time. They are likely just publicizing it today due to the potential impacts.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Articuno:

Thank you for the info.

The power of the only F5 tornado during that outbreak.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Good afternoon... What have I missed today?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 307 - 257

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.