Damaging Tornadoes Slam Plains

By: Shaun Tanner , 6:50 AM GMT on April 15, 2012

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A devastating string of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tracked through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska on Saturday. This severe weather outbreak was remarkable in its duration as supercell thunderstorms began to pop up in western Kansas late Saturday morning, and the dry line that was supposed to represent the end of the severe weather threat was only halfway through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas by 1:00 AM Central Time Sunday. The moisture difference on either side of this dry line was remarkable as well, with dew points in the upper 60's to the east, and a very dry 20's to the west.


SPC Storm Reports from Saturday

The SPC storm reports show the track of these storms, with Kansas being the hardest hit. Early in the afternoon, most of the supercell thunderstorms were consistently producing weak tornadoes that skipped across western and central Kansas. As the low-level jet stream kicked in late in the afternoon and into the evening, the thunderstorms strengthened considerably. Probably the most remarkable supercell thunderstorm began in western Oklahoma near Woodward as a stunning multi-vortex tornado. The tornado actually was several tornadoes that danced into southern Kansas and eventually threatened Wichita. The tornado passed just south and east of the city, producing an 84 mph wind gust at the Wichita Airport. It also did extensive damage at the airport. In addition, the Oaklawn area of Wichita was declared a disaster area very soon after the tornado passed. The Sedgwick County commissioner declared the county a disaster area. This wedge tornado eventually moved along the Kansas Turnpike northeast of Wichita before finally dissipating.


Figure 1. Double tornadoes in Oklahoma close to the Kansas border. Image credit: news9.com


Figure 2. This tornado sparked a fire in Oklahoma as it passed through the area northeast of Woodward. Image credit: news9.com

The deadliest tornado of the outbreak struck Woodward, OK early Sunday morning, as the main squall line moved through western Oklahoma. This tornado was very large and particularly dangerous since it occurred at night when most residents assumed the threat had ended. There were multiple reports of not hearing the city's siren, so it is entirely possible that the siren was either struck by lightning or hit by the tornado itself. At least five deaths have been confirmed in the Woodward area from this tornado. Probably the scariest video of a tornado I have ever seen was taken of this Woodward tornado as it moved into town. Note you can see the scale of the tornado as between power flashes.


Video 1. Storm chaser video of one of Saturday's impressive tornadoes near Salina, Kansas.


Figure 3. Radar reflectivity image of the tornado that hit the south side of Wichita, Kansas, causing damage at the Wichita airport.

Perhaps the most telling feature of this severe weather outbreak was its repetitive nature. Salina, KS was tornado warned three times by three separate severe thunderstorms. Similarly, areas from Medicine Lodge to Kingman, Kansas were warned for two separate thunderstorms, while Woodward itself was warned very early in the day before a different tornado moved through the city late in the night.

Last night's storms have weakened, but a new round of severe weather is expected Sunday afternoon over portions of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has put the region under their second highest level of alert, a "Moderate Risk."

Shaun Tanner

Thunderstorm Wind Damage (dhennem)
Straight line winds from a thunderstorm this evening blew several semi tractor/trailers over on Interstate 29 in Fremont county, Iowa.
Thunderstorm Wind Damage
Freak Hail Storm Texas Panhandle (Randy7628)
Freak Hail Storm Texas Panhandle
Night tornado (Andrewbre)
Night tornado in Manchester,OK
Night tornado
Clouds II (amo1379)
Clouds II

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And by the way.

On the graph above, you can actually see an upward rebound peak following Mt. St. Helens, then another BIG one following Pinatubo, and then again after 1995 from Montsurat.


If not for the volcanic rebounds it would probably be another 2 or 3 deviations lower by now.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It is true...
That sucks you gave me hope there for a second. :(
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
I got a report from Fox on my phone at around 5 EDT saying 5 had died from the tornado in OK. Is this not true?

It is true...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32721
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Darn it, I was hoping we could make it out this outbreak with no fatalities.

It's not over yet either.

I got a report from Fox on my phone at around 5 EDT saying 5 had died from the tornado in OK. Is this not true?
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Quoting RTSplayer:



Uh Huh.

Here's the whole graph, instead of your deceitful, cherry-picked misrepresentation.



Stat of the Cryosphere


So over the past 60 years, it's dropped by 4 standard deviations with respect to the mean of the base period.


The sad part is, he didn't realize that showing more ice back in the 1970s actually provided more evidence for harm caused by the enhanced greenhouse effect. It provided evidence for the exact opposite of what he intended. More ice in the 1970s yields an even larger amount melted since then.
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Quoting Zappy:
From News 9:
Wichita dodged a bullet, as the tornado turn a bit east, instead of straight into downtown. I credit the graphic terms used in the warnings as a large factor for the low death toll so far...


Tornadoes do not need to hit a metro area's "downtown" to be deadly or very destructive. Many buildings in the dense commercial core would have more resistance to strong tornadoes. I'd suggest that the worse areas to have hit by the tornado are away from the downtown area, where most people live.
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Already?

Well-defined rotation.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32721


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0546
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0925 AM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...NERN TX...ERN OK...WRN AR AND SWRN THROUGH SCNTRL
MO

CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 176...

VALID 151425Z - 151600Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 176
CONTINUES.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 176 WILL LIKELY NEED TO BE REPLACED WITH A
TORNADO WATCH BEFORE 16Z. NEW WW WOULD INCLUDE A PORTION OF NERN
TX...EXTREME ERN OK...WRN AR INTO SRN MO.

SQUALL LINE FROM EXTREME SWRN MO SWWD THROUGH ERN OK AND NERN TX
WILL LIKELY CONTINUE ADVANCING EWD THROUGH NERN TX INTO THE
LOWER-MID MS VALLEY THIS MORNING INTO THE AFTERNOON. A 50 KT LLJ
DEVELOPING SLOWLY NEWD WILL ADVECT SLIGHTLY HIGHER DEWPOINTS NWD
WITH TIME. VISIBLE IMAGERY IS SHOWING SOME CLOUD BREAKS...AND AS THE
BOUNDARY LAYER WARMS AN AXIS OF 800-1200 J/KG MLCAPE MAY DEVELOP NWD
INTO MO. VERY LARGE HODOGRAPHS WILL PERSIST ALONG THE LLJ AXIS JUST
EAST OF THE LINE ALONG WITH STRONG EFFECTIVE SHEAR. DESPITE A
DOMINANT LINEAR MODE...POTENTIAL WILL REMAIN FOR SOME OF THE STORMS
IN THE LINE TO EVOLVE INTO SUPERCELLS. BOWING SEGMENTS ARE ALSO
LIKELY. GIVEN FAVORABLE HODOGRAPHS...THE THREAT FOR A FEW TORNADOES
IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE AS THE BOUNDARY LAYER DESTABILIZES.

..DIAL.. 04/15/2012
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32721
Quoting Skeptic33:
Just came across something interesting regarding ice in Arctic...



Link

Shame on you for scare mongering over this stuff.



Uh Huh.

Here's the whole graph, instead of your deceitful, cherry-picked misrepresentation.



Stat of the Cryosphere


So over the past 60 years, it's dropped by 4 standard deviations with respect to the mean of the base period.
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The April ENSO forecast by ECMWF is up and shows a big spread as time goes ahead.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14779
Mother Nature had fury unleashed yesterday didnt she...people in that area cannot complain too much about their weather guys and warnings because in my view, they did a fantastic job in getting the word out,telling people to Heed the warnings, be prepared in the EVENT a tornado or severe storm was a possibility in THEIR area..most of the night we watched and listened to them reporting and warning, my guess is, they saved many lives last night..cudo's to the NWS and all the weather folks who stayed up all night...warning people...no man alive..can with absolute certainty, tell exactly where..a tornado will go..mother nature in all her fury..loves to make fools of us huh..sorry for this rant, but all did a great job last night...and we should be thanking them for a job well done.
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I mean we where under a high risk for all of central oklahoma and woodward wasn't even included in that so I don't think that they did a very good job. I'm not hating on them, I understand that the weather is very complex, I just wanted an answer as to why everything was north of us and nothing materialized down in the OKC viewing area. Whenever a forecast goes wrong it hurts the publics relation with the forecaster. People aren't going to think "oh they where just trying to keep us safe" there going to think "they freaked out over a weak line of storms that went though, hours after they said it would". I understand that these things are hard to forecast so don't get mad at me I'm just asking why it never happened here.
Quoting LargoFl:
I think your weather guys did a fantastic job yesterday..keeping the people informed, just in case..now imagine if they kept quiet..and you got hit like woodward...what would people be screaming about this morning?

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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
901 AM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

OKC005-151415-
/O.CON.KOUN.SV.W.0154.000000T0000Z-120415T1415Z/
ATOKA OK-
901 AM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 915 AM
CDT FOR ATOKA COUNTY...

AT 857 AM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE
HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 65 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE
LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM JUST WEST OF DAISEY TO
LANE...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
DAISY...LANE...REDDEN AND MCGEE CREEK LAKE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN PRODUCE TORNADOES WITH NO WARNING. GET
TO A STORM SHELTER OR STURDY BUILDING IF A TORNADO APPROACHES.

&&

LAT...LON 3450 9578 3417 9578 3417 9606 3455 9595
3459 9589 3459 9576 3460 9567 3451 9567
TIME...MOT...LOC 1357Z 225DEG 42KT 3455 9577 3425 9596

$$
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Quoting StephenDe:
Greetings from Norman,OK. I have been a bystander since the 2006 Hurricane Season and I must say this is the most informational blog out there and the comments provide endless hilarity. I have a question I was hoping someone could answer. Yesterdays outbreak was awful. However  for the OKC area with the exception of Woodward and its surrounding areas (which I'm not even sure receive the OKC news broadcasts) there where no tornadoes, not even any reports of wind damage.  The whole are was suppose to receive the same sever weather as Kansas and now the local weather mets are probably feeling very embarrassed as we got a whole lot of nothing. Making things even worse Is that Norman was hit by a tornado the day prior and the warning was not issued until it had already touchdown and crossed I35. So can someone explain why the outbreak never materialized further south, a lot of people may have lost faith in the meteorologist here after that debacle and I want to be able to tell my friends why it happened like that.
I think your weather guys did a fantastic job yesterday..keeping the people informed, just in case..now imagine if they kept quiet..and you got hit like woodward...what would people be screaming about this morning?
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hey stormwatcherCI what up long time no see how have you been
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From News 9:
"Woodward, Oklahoma - A large tornado nearly quarter-mile wide has caused five confirmed fatalities, massive damage and injuries in Woodward early Sunday morning.
Major damage to buildings and homes have been reported with an estimated eight-mile path of destruction. There are 20 confirmed injuries total, with 10 reported as critical.

OHP confirmed the five fatalities, two in the Tangier-Blacktop Area and three at the Hideaway Trailer Park. A trooper says the two from the trailer park are children.

Christine Kirbie, who works for the Woodward News, was at 1910 Meadow Lake when the storm hit. She tells News 9 the house at 1910 Meadow Lake was damaged, but the house across the street "was gone." She also said a tree in the front yard at 1910 Meadow Lake was torn away, leaving only the roots in the yard.

A carpet store on 34th St. by the movie theatre was destroyed. Additional damage is also reported at 60th and Hanks Trail west of City limits and in Tangier-Blacktop area west of town near the airport.

Reports indicate that the 8-mile damage field starts west of Woodward and into the residential areas around 34th Street.

Power is being restored to much of Woodward. At its greatest point, OG&E reported that approximately 8,507 customers were without power. Woodward has a population of about 12,000.

The Quail Apartment complex has suffered damage. Incident command has been setup at Hutch's located at 36th and Oklahoma.

K101 radio has been knocked off the air and they are currently working to get back up.

The Red Cross and OKARNG shelter has been moved to the Living Word Fellowship Church in Woodward at 1310 Oklahoma Ave. Anyone who has been displaced can go there for relief."

Not only have we seen PDS watches, but I believe we've seen our first ever PDS warnings and multiple tornado emergencies. Wichita dodged a bullet, as the tornado turn a bit east, instead of straight into downtown. I credit the graphic terms used in the warnings as a large factor for the low death toll so far...
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Greetings from Norman,OK. I have been a bystander since the 2006 Hurricane Season and I must say this is the most informational blog out there and the comments provide endless hilarity. I have a question I was hoping someone could answer. Yesterdays outbreak was awful. However  for the OKC area with the exception of Woodward and its surrounding areas (which I'm not even sure receive the OKC news broadcasts) there where no tornadoes, not even any reports of wind damage.  The whole are was suppose to receive the same sever weather as Kansas and now the local weather mets are probably feeling very embarrassed as we got a whole lot of nothing. Making things even worse Is that Norman was hit by a tornado the day prior and the warning was not issued until it had already touchdown and crossed I35. So can someone explain why the outbreak never materialized further south, a lot of people may have lost faith in the meteorologist here after that debacle and I want to be able to tell my friends why it happened like that.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Darn it, I was hoping we could make it out this outbreak with no fatalities.

It's not over yet either.



They were showing damage from the Woodward tornado and I am thinking at least EF 4 so surprised there are no other fatalities!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
This is what our sub-tropical storm will come from if it does form.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24553
Darn it, I was hoping we could make it out this outbreak with no fatalities.

It's not over yet either.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32721
Quoting RTSplayer:
Potential future invest:

Mid level circulation 30N 53W @ 8:45am Central.

Maybe a TWO mention tomorrow
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002
Thoughts and prayers to those affected by the tornados.
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Potential future invest:

Mid level circulation 30N 53W @ 8:45am Central.
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For today....

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Quoting RTSplayer:
So the mayor estimated the Wichita damage as $280 million dollars.

Well, that was just one area hit by just one tornado.

With over 120 tornado3s reports, and probably 20% of those being redundant...


This could easily be a 2 Billion to 3 Billion dollars one day outbreak, by the time you count property damage, crop damage and loss of life, etc.

There were several large cities that had close calls, and no doubt lots of urban and rural damage we just don't know about yet.




Last updated: 8:02 a.m.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Sedgwick County commissioner: Damage could reach $283 million

By DEB GRUVER
The Wichita Eagle


Damage from Saturday's storms could reach as high as $283 million, but that's likely a worst-case scenario, said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Tim Norton, who declared a state of disaster about 12:30 a.m.

The early estimate is based on appraised values of properties along the path of a tornado that barreled along south Wichita.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2012/04/15/2297026/sedgwick- county-commissioner-damage.html#storylink=cpy


Link
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And then back to winter for northern Minnesota where a Winter Weather Advisory has been posted. Even an inch or two of snow is possible along the south shore of Lake Superior. Never fails that we have one last snow in April. Luckily, the growing season hasn't really started up here yet. Daffodils and tulips have been flowering, aspen buds are just starting to swell, and I tried a round of early peas that are now an inch tall.

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Link
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



but they are far off, low level rotation will be hard to see, and that would affect tornado warnings.
Especially since no other radar is particularly close to La Crosse, what will show is mid to upper level rotation.
But there should be some other non "official" radars in the area, that should work.


It's a small TV market, I can't imagine the local stations have their own equipment. Would be nice if I'm wrong since I'm less familiar with that part of the state.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



but they are far off, low level rotation will be hard to see, and that would affect tornado warnings.
Especially since no other radar is particularly close to La Crosse, what will show is mid to upper level rotation.
But there should be some other radars in the area, that should work.


You're right: above the city of La Crosse, the lowest 15,000 feet of the atmosphere will not be sampled by radar by surrounding radars, and that is indeed unfortunate. Between spotters, emergency management reports, and coordination with surrounding offices, I'm sure they'll manage to carry on and provide accurate warnings today.
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Quoting 47n91w:
Dual-pol upgrade started on April 11th and isn't scheduled to finish until the 18th. The area radars have complete overlapping coverage of La Crosse's area.





but they are far off, low level rotation will be hard to see, and that would affect tornado warnings.
Especially since no other radar is particularly close to La Crosse, what will show is mid to upper level rotation.
But there should be some other non "official" radars in the area, that should work.
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Dual-pol upgrade started on April 11th and isn't scheduled to finish until the 18th. The area radars have complete overlapping coverage of La Crosse's area.


Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Guess whose radar is undergoing DualPol and is down right now?
If you guessed La Crosse Wisconsin's, it the heart of the Moderate risk, you would be right.
I wonder if they will have it up at all today.
Anyway, there should be a few other radars out there, i hope they are good enough.
Surrounding radars are not good with low level rotation since they are so far away, and in this case, no other radar site is particularly close to the la crosse one.
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So the mayor estimated the Wichita damage as $280 million dollars.

Well, that was just one area hit by just one tornado.

With over 120 tornado3s reports, and probably 20% of those being redundant...


This could easily be a 2 Billion to 3 Billion dollars one day outbreak, by the time you count property damage, crop damage and loss of life, etc.

There were several large cities that had close calls, and no doubt lots of urban and rural damage we just don't know about yet.
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Good Morning..What a night..heading to church this morning but wanted to offer my condolences and prayers those affected by the tornados last night..with all this said, I can say for the first time, I am not looking forward to hurricane season..nature has been nothing short of a fury and Im afraid its only going to get worse. Will be back later!


Hutchinson, KS
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16215
Terrible to hear about Woodward, watch it on radar as it went through. If there's any good news, Wichita didn't get completely destroyed from what we're hearing so far. Airport to Andover took the worst of it.

In other news, the models are in complete consensus now that we might be looking at a sub-tropical storm in 2 days. They've been showing great consistency on track and location, and it looks like north of Bermuda moving east.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24553
Guess whose radar is undergoing DualPol and is down right now?
If you guessed La Crosse Wisconsin's, it the heart of the Moderate risk, you would be right.
I wonder if they will have it up at all today.
Anyway, there should be a few other radars out there, i hope they are good enough.
Surrounding radars are not good with low level rotation since they are so far away, and in this case, no other radar site is particularly close to the la crosse one.
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NBC's Today show just reported that Woodward had it's tornado sirens knocked out by a lighting strike before tornado hit
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Good Morning folks..geez what a night...I bet with the sun up, there are going to be some amazing pictures of damage coming in..my prayers for those suffering and for those who died.
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La Crosse Wisconsin, watch out today.
Developing supercells this afternoon might also be near Minneapolis metro.
Also Milwaukee and Green Bay have a lesser threat, and i wouldnt be surprised to see a tornadic storm approach Chicago Metro either.

Be careful.
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Here just south of Lamesa Texas, we got the south end of the line of storms. Not much rain, no hail. Late yesterday the dry line backed up to the west , my guess. Could see clouds building as sun setting. Wind blowing all day long gusts to 50 mph.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Wow, that thing is huge! I'm still a little confused though- Have we received any reports out of Wichita about damage/fatalities?


Lengthy story about Wichita tornado from the Kansas City Star here. Looks like good warnings and a populace well-accustomed to tornado risk may have prevented any fatalities, though—if so, that really is remarkable given the scale of that tornado.
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Good morning to all. My condolences to the families of the victims of the Woodward Tornado.

On another topic,the 00z EURO continues to develop the Central Atlantic Sub-Tropical low.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14779
It's insane Woodward ends up getting hit hardest by a cell that formed from a linear storm.

That must be the tornado that had formed about the time I gave up and went to bed last night.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
nursing home deroofed in wichita, plane fuselage part found in oakwater i think.So far injuries appear to be minor.
Where did the woodward cell come from, at 1230edt when i went to sleep it wasnt there.
Did it pop up?
Good morning. A squall line popped. Within three radar scans, it went from tiny spots to a fast-moving line when the Pacific front collided with the retreating dryline. The atmosphere was hot. Helicity and shear were high. Some warned t-storms in that line were moving 70 mph.

Add:
Squall line storm mode. Not a supercell.

Good question.
:)
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nursing home deroofed in wichita, plane fuselage part found in oakwater i think.So far injuries appear to be minor.
Where did the woodward cell come from, at 1230edt when i went to sleep it wasnt there.
Did it pop up?
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At 5 a.m.:

Matt Lehenbauer, Emergency Management Director for Woodward County and the City of Woodward said there are five deaths, including three in the city of Woodward and two in Woodward County (west, southwest of the City of Woodward).

There are at least 20 injuries.

We got the warning shortly after midnight. It was reported by the National Weather Service. We got warning sirens activated. But with the speed of storm, there was about 3 minutes of warning before the storm hit. This tornado came out of a squall line that was moving across all of western Oklahoma. When you a have squall line it’s extremely difficult to pick out tornadic activity, even when we got the warning. We did have some storm spotters call in but it was moving fast into the City of Woodward.

OKC newspaper, The Oklahoman, weather blog
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Damage rpts only so far. Something abt a nursing home and - I think- a trailer pk. But no casualties yet. Silence ominous imo.
It doesn't look like there is very much info coming out. This is a terrible situation. BTW, good morning.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Wow, that thing is huge! I'm still a little confused though- Have we received any reports out of Wichita about damage/fatalities?
Link
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Damage rpts only so far. Something abt a nursing home and - I think- a trailer pk. But no casualties yet. Silence ominous imo.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
MAwx, watch vid in#20. That 'nado was IN Wichita at the time.

Only potential saving grace is it seems to have hit the apt side of the AFB there, hopefully lessening # of casualties.

Wow, that thing is huge! I'm still a little confused though- Have we received any reports out of Wichita about damage/fatalities?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8002

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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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