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:


Well, it WAS weakening. It just recycled in the last couple minutes. It quickly (within a few scans) went from nothing to strong tornado. He's not really wrong, just behind by 5-10 minutes.
Not watching the tele so I thought he said it after the radar image.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Power flashes in SW Wichita. Large wedge tornado.
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2155. LargoFl
TORNADO WARNING
KSC173-150400-
/O.NEW.KICT.TO.W.0032.120415T0309Z-120415T0400Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WICHITA KS
1009 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WICHITA HAS REISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SEDGWICK COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL KANSAS...

* UNTIL 1100 PM CDT

* AT 1007 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO
WAS LOCATED NEAR CLEARWATER...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE...SPOTTER CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT...MAJOR HOUSE AND BUILDING DAMAGE LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION POSSIBLE. NUMEROUS TREES SNAPPED. MAJOR POWER
OUTAGES IN PATH OF TORNADO HIGHLY LIKELY. SOME ROADS
POSSIBLY BLOCKED BY TORNADO DEBRIS. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION
OF VEHICLES LIKELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
DOWNTOWN WICHITA...GODDARD...MULVANE...HAYSVILLE...DERBY... WICHITA
MID CONTINENT AIRPORT...SOUTH WICHITA...WEST WICHITA...MCCONNELL
AIR FORCE BASE...MAIZE...EAST WICHITA...PARK CITY...VALLEY
CENTER...NORTHEAST WICHITA...OAKLAWN...BEL AIRE...JABARA AIRPORT
AND KECHI.

THIS INCLUDES THE KANSAS TURNPIKE BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 34 AND 54.
THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 135 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 0 AND 22.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TO REPEAT...A LARGE...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY
TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE...TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE
TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. AVOID
WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE
CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

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

&&

LAT...LON 3748 9768 3791 9745 3791 9716 3748 9715
TIME...MOT...LOC 0309Z 215DEG 25KT 3753 9744

TORNADO...OBSERVED
TORNADO DAMAGE THREAT...SIGNIFICANT
HAIL...2.50IN

$$

KLEINSASSER
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Radar in witchita out?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Miranda Lambert concert in Wichita suspended due to tornado. Crowd told to stay in arena. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!
What? Do you send them outside?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Miranda Lambert concert in Wichita suspended due to tornado. Crowd told to stay in arena. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!


Must be a scary situations in that place right now!
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Haysville up next poulation: 10,826
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
He is dead wrong. NWS reports a large and deadly tornado 3 min ago. Also this.


Well, it WAS weakening. It just recycled in the last couple minutes. It quickly (within a few scans) went from nothing to strong tornado. He's not really wrong, just behind by 5-10 minutes.
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Forbes just agreed with me I'm so flattered
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
Miranda Lambert concert in Wichita suspended due to tornado. Crowd told to stay in arena. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Is Wichita tornado still on ground, still 1/2 miles, still as strong as earlier?
It might even be stronger all we know.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
I see another tornAdo now
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This was the Greensburg tornado:

They are soooo lucky that did not hit them.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
2144. LargoFl
TORNADO WARNING
KSC053-113-159-150400-
/O.NEW.KICT.TO.W.0033.120415T0310Z-120415T0400Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WICHITA KS
1010 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WICHITA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN ELLSWORTH COUNTY IN CENTRAL KANSAS...
NORTHWESTERN MCPHERSON COUNTY IN CENTRAL KANSAS...
NORTHERN RICE COUNTY IN CENTRAL KANSAS...

* UNTIL 1100 PM CDT

* AT 1005 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO
WAS LOCATED NEAR LYONS...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION!

HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE...EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT...MAJOR HOUSE AND BUILDING DAMAGE LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION POSSIBLE. NUMEROUS TREES SNAPPED. MAJOR POWER
OUTAGES IN PATH OF TORNADO HIGHLY LIKELY. SOME ROADS
POSSIBLY BLOCKED BY TORNADO DEBRIS. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION
OF VEHICLES LIKELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
GENESEO...LITTLE RIVER...LYONS AND KANOPOLIS STATE PARK.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING LARGE TORNADOES! TAKE COVER IN
A BASEMENT OR STORM SHELTER NOW!

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

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER CONTACT YOUR NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.
THEY WILL SEND YOUR REPORT TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN
WICHITA.

&&

LAT...LON 3868 9802 3849 9777 3826 9819 3840 9834
TIME...MOT...LOC 0310Z 228DEG 37KT 3841 9816

TORNADO...OBSERVED
TORNADO DAMAGE THREAT...SIGNIFICANT
HAIL...1.75IN

$$

SCHMINKE
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Quoting ScottLincoln:
UPDATE: 0305 UTC scan... upper tilts are now indicating a strong enough TS to trigger a rare red TVS in GR2Analyst. NROT exceeding 2.0 and nearing 3.0 as low as 3000ft now. Not good.
if this is from you, then Wichita is in HUGE TROUBLE. No more waiting. THE ACTION IS NOW!!!! GO TO BASEMENT!!!
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Mike Siedel says power is now out
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Quoting ScottLincoln:
UPDATE: 0305 UTC scan... upper tilts are now indicating a strong enough TS to trigger a rare red TVS in GR2Analyst. NROT exceeding 2.0 and nearing 3.0 as low as 3000ft now. Not good.
U missed the Greensburg Red TVS. It also had a Purple TVS for a little while.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting CybrTeddy:
NWS confirmed it is not weakening.


Okay it's this dang radar fuZ
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
This was the Greensburg tornado:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32249
2138. ncstorm
according to the sheriff dispatch, clearwater, ks has sustained heavy damage..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15643
Is Wichita tornado still on ground, still 1/2 miles, still as strong as earlier?
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Large powerful tornado confirmed by NWS in southwest of Wichita.

If it was cycling, it is done now.
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Quoting weatherh98:

Forbes said weakening
He is dead wrong. NWS reports a large and deadly tornado 3 min ago. Also this.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
2134. Speeky
Quoting weatherh98:

Forbes said weakening


Forbes said the Greenburg tornado of 2007 was weakening.
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live Witchita feed calling for all non-essential KSN-TV personnel to move to shelter
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UPDATE: 0305 UTC scan... upper tilts are now indicating a strong enough TS to trigger a rare red TVS in GR2Analyst. NROT exceeding 2.0 and nearing 3.0 as low as 3000ft now. Not good.
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2131. redux
nws confirmed large tornado 3 minutes ago. sirens going again.

source: KSN tv
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NWS confirms large wedge tornado still on ground 3 minutes ago.

EDIT: I think I heard the sirens through the TV broadcast
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Well, I think tornado lifted... but I'm not sure.


Dont think so yet but I think it has weakend
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
NWS confirmed it is not weakening.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WICHITA KS
1009 PM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WICHITA HAS REISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SEDGWICK COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL KANSAS...

* UNTIL 1100 PM CDT

* AT 1007 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO
WAS LOCATED NEAR CLEARWATER...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH.

THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION.

HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO.

SOURCE...SPOTTER CONFIRMED TORNADO.

IMPACT...MAJOR HOUSE AND BUILDING DAMAGE LIKELY AND COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION POSSIBLE. NUMEROUS TREES SNAPPED. MAJOR POWER
OUTAGES IN PATH OF TORNADO HIGHLY LIKELY. SOME ROADS
POSSIBLY BLOCKED BY TORNADO DEBRIS. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION
OF VEHICLES LIKELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
DOWNTOWN WICHITA...GODDARD...MULVANE...HAYSVILLE...DERBY... WICHITA
MID CONTINENT AIRPORT...SOUTH WICHITA...WEST WICHITA...MCCONNELL
AIR FORCE BASE...MAIZE...EAST WICHITA...PARK CITY...VALLEY
CENTER...NORTHEAST WICHITA...OAKLAWN...BEL AIRE...JABARA AIRPORT
AND KECHI.

THIS INCLUDES THE KANSAS TURNPIKE BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 34 AND 54.
THIS INCLUDES INTERSTATE 135 BETWEEN MILE MARKERS 0 AND 22.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TO REPEAT...A LARGE...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY
TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE...TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE
TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. AVOID
WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE
CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

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

&&

LAT...LON 3748 9768 3791 9745 3791 9716 3748 9715
TIME...MOT...LOC 0309Z 215DEG 25KT 3753 9744

TORNADO...OBSERVED
TORNADO DAMAGE THREAT...SIGNIFICANT
HAIL...2.50IN

$$
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32249
Quoting hyperanthony:
Starting to have trouble with the picture on KSN... storm related?


Yep. Static and occasional break ups now. They're evacuating non-essential personnel.
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Topeka is In buisiness and Wichita is shut down.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
KSN is now telling their non-essential staff on-air to move to shelter.
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Well, I think tornado lifted... but I'm not sure.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Its back if it was ever gone.

Forbes said weakening
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
Did McConell AFB have a F5 before?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
2119. Speeky
watch this live feed

Link
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Quoting hyperanthony:
Starting to have trouble with the picture on KSN... storm related?


Rain fade.
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Starting to have trouble with the picture on KSN... storm related?
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Its back if it was ever gone.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Strong TVS showing again on radar. If it cycled its finished now.


If it's a TVS from GR2Analyst, it's coming from the scans just above the ground. The lowest tilt is suggestive of a developing tornado; the tilts about 2000-5000ft above ground level are showing much stronger rotation.

UPDATE: 0305UTC scan now shows stronger signature on reflectivity and velocity. Subtle TS signature continues. No debris on rho/cc yet.
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Radar is now to fuZzy cant tell yet, but consistent movement towards wichita.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
The saint john cell is in a spot where radar for wunderground isn't picking it up well.

On the NWS radar it seems to be tightening up again.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Wow! This is gonna be bad baton down the hatches!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6535
2111. LargoFl
Quoting EugeneTillman:

Ouch
omg, one of the area's could be downtown wichita..
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Let's not forget that the tornado that first formed north of Greensburg is still going very strong.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32249
Live Video-streaming: In Clearwater, heading for arrival in Witchita within 15minutes
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Strong TVS showing again on radar. If it cycled its finished now.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
What's happening to the tornado warnings in Raymond and also the tornado warning in Wilsey?

These warnings were posted here...but no follow-ups since then...
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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.