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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2357. Speeky
We cracked 100!!!
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

Thats a major understatement. There's been over 80 today. its official on the SPC map


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.
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Yeesh... Topeka and KansasCity are still within the path prediction-cones of the Witchita and Salina tornadoes.
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2353. hydrus
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When will this end!??!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
2351. ncstorm
Search and rescue..multiple structures have collapse
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14418


strong tx line
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Quoting wxgeek723:
Man, this kind of madness on the blog is typically reserved for major hurricanes.

Exactly what i was thinking.
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i see 3 rotations now on the storms by Salina
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
Quoting WxGeekVA:
Ok time to sleep... Night
Night.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
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
Yah its D
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Ok time to sleep... Night
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
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

Thats a major understatement. There's been over 80 today. its official on the SPC map
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2342. hydrus
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Man, this kind of madness on the blog is typically reserved for major hurricanes.
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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


Far more then 15. A number of the stronger tornadoes have been long tracked so there have been many reports of the same funnel, but after seeing many live chases of two to three tornadoes separated by good distances that the D is far more likely.
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Alright here we are...
Alberto forecast and model guidances. Courtesy of Me :)


Alberto setup for the next couple of days...
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2338. ncstorm
Machine shop is heavily damaged where people were working in at the time in witchita
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14418
rotation strengthening...
Moving to el dorado, pop ~14000
Buildings may not be as sturdy there.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
Quoting Xyrus2000:
Looks like Salina caught a break.


For the current tornado. The warning to the southwest may have a more likely chance of hitting the area. Hope this area stays alert
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Associated with the bow echo/derecho



MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0538
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0954 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...NRN IL AND PARTS OF SRN WI

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH POSSIBLE

VALID 150254Z - 150430Z

CONVECTIVE TRENDS ARE BEING MONITORED FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF AN
ADDITIONAL WW EAST OF WW 172 WITHIN THE NEXT HOUR OR TWO.

THE ENVIRONMENT ALONG/NORTH OF A DEVELOPING WARM FRONT ACROSS
NORTHERN ILLINOIS DOES NOT APPEAR MUCH MORE THAN WEAKLY UNSTABLE.
HOWEVER...A SIGNIFICANT AND PERSISTENT SURFACE PRESSURE PERTURBATION
REMAINS EVIDENT WITH THE ORGANIZED MESOSCALE CONVECTIVE SYSTEM NOW
IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING EASTWARD ACROSS EASTERN IOWA INTO
NORTHERN ILLINOIS AND EXTREME SOUTHERN WISCONSIN. ACTIVITY IS BEING
SUPPORTED BY AN AREA OF ENHANCED LOWER/MID TROPOSPHERIC WARM
ADVECTION AND DIVERGENT UPPER FLOW DOWNSTREAM OF THE SIGNIFICANT
UPPER TROUGH CROSSING THE ROCKIES. AND IT APPEAR THAT CONVECTION
MAY MAINTAIN STRENGTH WITH THE RISK FOR POTENTIALLY DAMAGING WIND
GUSTS...PERHAPS A CONTINUING RISK FOR HAIL...INTO THE
CHICAGO...POSSIBLY MILWAUKEE...METROPOLITAN AREAS BY THE 06-08Z TIME
FRAME.

..KERR.. 04/15/2012


ATTN...WFO...LOT...ILX...MKX...DVN...

LAT...LON 42199117 42589015 42768913 42798804 42538779 41788770
41418816 41208899 41239018 41229086 41179144 42199117
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11665
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
DAMN.

MASS
DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE
TO SURVIVORS.
NWS Dodge City used this earlier as tornado was about to hit Macksville, KS.
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Quoting EugeneTillman:



That line will connect with some of those northern tornadoes/supercells
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
NNW of Woodward...

Man, that is supposedly a linear storm, but it's already got a solid rotation on it on radar...

Same old area.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
If cells start forming ahead of the cold front we will get at least another 50 reports. Conditions are perfect for discrete supercells if they are able to develop.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
if u want to c sum of the damage.. check out this live feed.. from chaserstv.com..

chaserstv.com

crazy stuff!!!
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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


huh??? one cell may have produced that many

easily D. we will have more then 50 tornadoes if not more then 100 by the end of the outbreak
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Usually, I would agree. Although this time some objective data (the radar sampling of the tornadic circulation at ~500ft) suggested a circulation of 0.5-1.0mi wide at times in SE Wichita.
well... that's bad :\
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2326. hydrus
Strong wind gusts with this line.
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2325. Speeky
97 tornadoes
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
DAMN.

MASS
DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE
TO SURVIVORS.


Yeah, for better or worse, they are really going all out with the new experimental tornado warning wording. Let's just hope it is used appropriately and does not just further desensitize people.
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Looks like Salina caught a break.
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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
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
Webcams..... Link
I35 and Centennial just seen 2 power flashes.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
The line in Oklahoma/Texas just EXPLODED. Does these storms have tornado threat in next few hours?

Also, Reed Timmer is reporting a likely mile wide tornado NE of Wichita. Maybe overreacting again... I hope.


Usually, I would agree. Although this time some objective data (the radar sampling of the tornadic circulation at ~500ft) suggested a circulation of 0.5-1.0mi wide at times in SE Wichita.
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Low is 987mb now as of last update.


Satellite use "fronts"
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
DAMN.

MASS
DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE
TO SURVIVORS.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
This is insane. New line of storms in OK, and SPC has 97 reports of tornadoes.
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The line in Oklahoma/Texas just EXPLODED. Does these storms have tornado threat in next few hours?

Also, Reed Timmer is reporting a likely mile wide tornado NE of Wichita. Maybe overreacting again... I hope.
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2314. skook
Quoting Tazmanian:




you shut up and POOF


Please stop trolling, This night has been filled with great information from so many people, and there is no need to disrupt it.



New line of storms in Tx/okLink





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Crazy wording with this one.

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WICHITA KS
1033 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

KSC015-173-150400-
/O.CON.KICT.TO.W.0035.000000T0000Z-120415T0400Z/
SEDGWICK KS-BUTLER KS-
1033 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR WEST CENTRAL BUTLER AND
EASTERN SEDGWICK COUNTIES UNTIL 1100 PM CDT...

...TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR EAST WICHITA...

AT 1031 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE...VIOLENT AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE...AND MOVING
NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD...DEADLY TORNADO.

SOURCE...SPOTTER CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT...THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION. YOU COULD BE KILLED IF
NOT UNDERGROUND OR IN A TORNADO SHELTER. COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION OF ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS IS LIKELY. MANY WELL
BUILT HOMES AND BUSINESSES WILL BE COMPLETELY SWEPT FROM
THEIR FOUNDATIONS. DEBRIS WILL BLOCK MOST ROADWAYS. MASS
DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE
TO SURVIVORS.


LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
PARK CITY...NORTHEAST WICHITA...ANDOVER...BEL AIRE...KECHI...JABARA
AIRPORT AND BENTON.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WITH COMPLETE DEVASTATION
LIKELY. YOU COULD BE KILLED IF NOT UNDERGROUND OR IN A TORNADO
SHELTER. DO NOT DELAY...SEEK SHELTER NOW! IF NO UNDERGROUND SHELTER
IS AVAILABLE SEEK SHELTER IN AN INTERIOR ROOM OF THE LOWEST LEVEL OF
A STRUCTURE...OR IF TIME ALLOWS...CONSIDER MOVING TO AN UNDERGROUND
SHELTER ELSEWHERE. MOBILE HOMES AND OUTBUILDINGS WILL OFFER NO
SHELTER FROM THIS TORNADO.


TORNADOES ARE DIFFICULT TO SEE AND CONFIRM AT NIGHT. TAKE COVER NOW.

&&

LAT...LON 3791 9728 3773 9701 3753 9729 3761 9745
TIME...MOT...LOC 0333Z 228DEG 29KT 3766 9724

TORNADO...OBSERVED
TORNADO DAMAGE THREAT...CATASTROPHIC
HAIL...2.75IN
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2312. hydrus
CAPE at 3500 in spots....CAPE - convective available potential energy (>=500 j/kg)- indicates energy available for buoyant parcel from native RUC2 hybrid-b level with maximum buoyancy within 300 mb of surface. CINH - convective inhibition, or negative area, typically associated with a capping inversion or warmer air aloft that tends to inhibit the release of buoyant energy.
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looks like a new tornado warning southwest of the one near Salina... looks like it could make a closer hit to the town. This area does not need more storms!
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Mconnell AFB damage, home insulation everywhere
Member Since: September 3, 2011 Posts: 13 Comments: 3468
Maybe 8 tornadoes....
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
2308. hydrus
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Quoting HurricaneTracker01:
New storms firing up over the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Does anyone know if these storms could become tornadic?

They could briefly become tornadic, but I believe that damaging winds and large hail are a larger concern with these new linear-based storms.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11665

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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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