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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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I highly doubt it. For one, Sea Surface Temperatures are not sufficient at all for tropical, or even subtropical, development. Wind shear is also only above 30 knots. ;)

Sub-tropical formation SST threshold is around 22-24 C, the water in the area is about 23C so its fine and wind shear doesn't impact sub-tropical systems as much as tropical systems.

EDIT: and the Frontal system is the main reason for the shear coming from the south, the shear from the north is actually helping in strengthening any kind of weak circulation it has. When the frontal winds are from the south, and the Bermuda High's winds are from the north, with enough spacing, can create cyclonic turning and low pressure aloft.
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739 PM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CORPUS CHRISTI HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EAST CENTRAL GOLIAD COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS
NORTH CENTRAL REFUGIO COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS
SOUTHWESTERN VICTORIA COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST TEXAS

* UNTIL 815 PM CDT

* AT 737 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING GOLF BALL SIZE HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED 10
MILES WEST OF MCFADDIN...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 20 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
MCFADDIN...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...PREPARE
IMMEDIATELY FOR DAMAGING WINDS...DESTRUCTIVE HAIL...AND DEADLY CLOUD
TO GROUND LIGHTNING.
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Quoting Ameister12:
Significant tornadoes (EF2-EF5) of last night's outbreak, so far.

Ellsworth County, KS Tornado: EF4
Wichita, KS Tornado: EF3
Thurman, IA Tornado: EF2
Creston, IA Tornado: EF2
Woodward, OK Tornado: EF2

All tornado ratings are preliminary so far and may have been stronger.



Havent seen it posted yet; here is the WFO Des Moines write-up on the Creston, IA tornado.
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/dmx/StormSurveys/2 012/2012-04-14_Creston_Writeup.pdf

Not sure if this was posted yet either. This is the infamous video of the chasers we were talking about last night; they thought they were near the Wichita airport but were near McConnell.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFcnlXsFuvM
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Quoting RTSplayer:


So even if it doesn't meet the textbook definition of a TS, it's apparently going to be about the same strength anyway.


It's going to be like the Florida system from last October that the NHC simply called "something else" no matter what.
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FWIW, the way it moves and how it weakens due to shear seems inconsistent with a non-tropical or extra-tropical cyclone, more of a sub-tropical system. To add to that, the pressure gradient on the models is very large, indicative that the pressures are very spread out and not focused over the convection, which is more of a characteristic of a sub-tropical storm, this was seen in Sean most recently when it was a Sub-Tropical Storm. Tropical Storm Ana in 2003 formed very similarly, and faced similar SST's. Also, this system will be moving southwards towards Bermuda, so will be facing somewhat warmer SST's. When this low gets going, we should be able to get a phase diagram from the models to show us if it's warmed core or not. I will probably do a blog tomorrow.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Im kinda wondering how the models are all in a concensus about this!!!


Nature and models don't follow artificial man-made groupings or definitions on cyclone formation.


It could make a "warm seclusion" or just a "rotating thingamajig" for which we don't have a technical name.


GFS still takes it to 50kts surface winds.

NAM takes it to 46kts surface winds.

Euro still takes it to 33m/s @ 850mb layer which again translates to roughly 65mph surface winds.



So even if it doesn't meet the textbook definition of a TS, it's apparently going to be about the same strength anyway.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1494
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I think the rain cooled air is coming into the victoria cell.

Down draft dominant may turn into a wind problem now.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I highly doubt it. For one, Sea Surface Temperatures are not sufficient at all for tropical, or even subtropical, development. Wind shear is also only above 30 knots. ;)


What about TS Grace 2009 or TS Vince 2005? You can have a very cold temp upper low cut-off above the frontal surface low to steepen the atmospheric lapse rates for convective instability. This notion that 26 deg C is required is because that is in general the required surface temp to produce instability with the typical tropical latitude lapse rate profile. This rule of thumb needs to be modified to account for systems like these.

Shear will reduce once the intensifying frontal surface low occludes and wanders beneath the developing cut-off upper low (similar to a mautre non-tropical cyclone). When the frontal surface low gets directly beneath the cut-off upper low, you get deep-layered/low shear cyclonic rotation.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
I dont know what is the opinion by all of you,but I dont like the naming of Sub-Tropical systems.This is the reason it's hard to have fewer than 10 named storms since they began naming them. (Except 2009) Prior to the last decade, there would not even have been the consideration of naming such a system.


That doesn't mean that they aren't worth naming. They can be as bad as tropical systems in terms of flooding and winds.
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Here's what's up with the line moving through SE Texas this evening:

From the AFD:

Line of storms still looking awfully raggedy as it moves into the area largely in part to the strong cap in place over SE TX. But that being said a bit reluctant to remove the mention of severe at the moment as there is still a very isolated chance of strong to severe activity through the remainder of the afternoon.

Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 927
I dont know what is the opinion by all of you,but I dont like the naming of Sub-Tropical systems.This is the reason it's hard to have fewer than 10 named storms since they began naming them. (Except 2009) Prior to the last decade, there would not even have been the consideration of naming such a system.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 13271
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Mention in the 8 PM TWD

WATER VAPOR IMAGERY SHOWS A VIGOROUS SHORTWAVE
EMBEDDED AT THE BASE OF THE UPPER TROUGH SUPPORTING AN OCCLUDED 1012 MB LOW CENTERED NEAR 31N51W.


okay thats what i thought was the llc sorry guys.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I highly doubt it. For one, Sea Surface Temperatures are not sufficient at all for tropical, or even subtropical, development. Wind shear is also only above 30 knots. ;)


I've seen weirder things happen in the tropics. 2003's Ana faced similar conditions.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I highly doubt it. For one, Sea Surface Temperatures are not sufficient at all for tropical, or even subtropical, development. In addition, wind shear is only above 30 knots. ;)


That is less shear than what the February invest was in and also shear is expected to be minimal by the time the low develops. The water is cool, but it wouldn't be a new record for a subtropical storm to form over it. It is after all, 18C all the way up to the Azores which is warm for this time of year. Hurricane Vince formed in the water temps near Bermuda.
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Mention in the 8 PM TWD

WATER VAPOR IMAGERY SHOWS A VIGOROUS SHORTWAVE
EMBEDDED AT THE BASE OF THE UPPER TROUGH SUPPORTING AN OCCLUDED 1012 MB LOW CENTERED NEAR 31N51W.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10458
727 PM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CORPUS CHRISTI HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
VICTORIA COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST TEXAS

* UNTIL 830 PM CDT

* AT 724 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR
SAXET LAKES...OR NEAR VICTORIA...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 15 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
VICTORIA DETAR HOSPITAL NORTH...
VICTORIA COLLEGE...
VICTORIA COLONY CREEK COUNTRY CLUB...
DACOSTA...
VICTORIA REGIONAL AIRPORT...
TELFERNER...
WOOD HI...
SALEM...
INEZ...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH...PREPARE
IMMEDIATELY FOR DAMAGING WINDS...DESTRUCTIVE HAIL...AND DEADLY CLOUD
TO GROUND LIGHTNING. PEOPLE OUTSIDE SHOULD MOVE TO A SHELTER...
PREFERABLY INSIDE A STRONG BUILDING BUT AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING DESTRUCTIVE WINDS AND LARGE
DAMAGING HAIL
. SEEK SHELTER NOW INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY
AWAY FROM WINDOWS!
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I highly doubt it. For one, Sea Surface Temperatures are not sufficient at all for tropical, or even subtropical, development. In addition, wind shear is only above 30 knots. ;)


Im kinda wondering how the models are all in a concensus about this!!!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting RitaEvac:


No, wish a squall line like that would plow thru the whole region at 5-10mph pace


We could use a good 1 inch/hr squall line.
Member Since: June 18, 2010 Posts: 3 Comments: 927
Quoting yqt1001:
From the fact that the area of interest hasn't developed yet, but will soon and that the models have steadily predicted development I expect at the least an invest. We'll see about storm formation though, seems to have a better shot than the February invest.

Definately, and agree with you completely. We'll just have to wait and see if a named storm can form out of it.
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Quoting yqt1001:
From the fact that the area of interest hasn't developed yet, but will soon and that the models have steadily predicted development I expect at the least an invest. We'll see about storm formation though, seems to have a better shot than the February invest.

I highly doubt it. For one, Sea Surface Temperatures are not sufficient at all for tropical, or even subtropical, development. Wind shear is also only above 30 knots. ;)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30241
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


LOL...well whoever said its SURFACE center is near 30N 50W is right according to the latest NHC TAFB analysis at this link. Check out the 1012 mb surface low as of 1800Z.

This surface low is along a cold front. The cold front (which a trough of low pressure with air mass contrasts) is supported by divergence east of a cut-off upper trough. The cut-off upper trough is located east of Bermuda.

A cyclone moving by southern Greenland has advected in plent of warm air from the south...causing a blocking upper ridge to form over the Azores to the NE.

The severe weather cyclone over the western US has advected in plenty of warm air from the south as well...causing another blocking upper ridge to form over the eatern US to the west.

The cut-off upper trough east of Bermuda is trapped between the two blocking ridges...and is amplifying into an upper low as the neighboring blocking ridges are amplifying around it. As it amplifies into an upper low, divergence over the frontal surface low will increase...and the frontal surface low's pressure will drop as a result. Once that happens, the cloud mass will start to organize around the frontal surface low as it gets stronger. But until then...all the clouds will remain organized about the cut-off upper trough as wee see now. That is why it doesn't look anything like a subtropical cyclone now...give time for the frontal surface low to strengthen.

The air masses across the frontal surface low will also have to diminish before we can call it subtropical. That is also expected to happen as well with time. I'd say it will be Invest 91-L around Tuesday.

NHC thinks its a "Developing Storm"
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Well, so far been lucky with the Victoria cell.

velocity shows positive totally embedded in negative, so there must be some significant rotation going on.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1494
From the fact that the area of interest hasn't fully developed yet, but will soon and that the models have steadily predicted development I expect at the least an invest. We'll see about storm formation though, seems to have a better shot than the February invest.
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I have not had a chance today, but I wanted to say what a great buncha bloggers we had here last night tracking the severe weather. Too many to list, but we know who was posting the excellent info and and warnings.
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469. Zappy
Victoria TX is being pounded with hail.
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 62
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


LOL...well whoever said its SURFACE center is near 30N 50W is right according to the latest NHC TAFB analysis at this link. Check out the 1012 mb surface low as of 1800Z.

This surface low is along a cold front. The cold front (which a trough of low pressure with air mass contrasts) is supported by divergence east of a cut-off upper trough. The cut-off upper trough is located east of Bermuda.

A cyclone moving by southern Greenland has advected in plent of warm air from the south...causing a blocking upper ridge to form over the Azores to the NE.

The severe weather cyclone over the western US has advected in plenty of warm air from the south as well...causing another blocking upper ridge to form over the eatern US to the west.

The cut-off upper trough east of Bermuda is trapped between the two blocking ridges...and is amplifying into an upper low as the neighboring blocking ridges are amplifying around it. As it amplifies into an upper low, divergence over the frontal surface low will increase...and the frontal surface low's pressure will drop as a result. Once that happens, the cloud mass will start to organize around the frontal surface low as it gets stronger. But until then...all the clouds will remain organized about the cut-off upper trough as wee see now. That is why it doesn't look anything like a subtropical cyclone now...give time for the frontal surface low to strengthen.

The air masses across the frontal surface low will also have to diminish before we can call it subtropical. That is also expected to happen as well with time. I'd say it will be Invest 91-L around Tuesday.

THANK YOU!!!!!!
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

The odds of that happening are about as good, or maybe better, than the odds of this becoming a major hurricane :)


Uhhhyea youre prolly right
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting weatherh98:


What if aliens came and scooped up everyone on the blog:)

The odds of that happening are about as good, or maybe better, than the odds of this becoming a major hurricane :)
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7290
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

Keep in mind, it's going to be sub-tropical in nature..


Yes but its also really weak, its not the BIG low, its just south of that.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting weatherh98:

Yes thats what im talking about, it just gotspinning.

Well, lets sit back and find out.


LOL...well whoever said its SURFACE center is near 30N 50W is right according to the latest NHC TAFB analysis at this link. Check out the 1012 mb surface low as of 1800Z.

This surface low is along a cold front. The cold front (which a trough of low pressure with air mass contrasts) is supported by divergence east of a cut-off upper trough. The cut-off upper trough is located east of Bermuda.

A cyclone moving by southern Greenland has advected in plent of warm air from the south...causing a blocking upper ridge to form over the Azores to the NE.

The severe weather cyclone over the western US has advected in plenty of warm air from the south as well...causing another blocking upper ridge to form over the eatern US to the west.

The cut-off upper trough east of Bermuda is trapped between the two blocking ridges...and is amplifying into an upper low as the neighboring blocking ridges are amplifying around it. As it amplifies into an upper low, divergence over the frontal surface low will increase...and the frontal surface low's pressure will drop as a result. Once that happens, the cloud mass will start to organize around the frontal surface low as it gets stronger. But until then...all the clouds will remain organized about the cut-off upper trough as wee see now. That is why it doesn't look anything like a subtropical cyclone now...give time for the frontal surface low to strengthen.

The air masses across the frontal surface low will also have to diminish before we can call it subtropical. That is also expected to happen as well with time. I'd say it will be Invest 91-L around Tuesday.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Its completely surrounded by dry air except the north side, slightly moist. I dont like the odds

Keep in mind, it's going to be sub-tropical in nature..
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

How cool would that be though? A major hurricane in the middle of nowhere in the middle of April!


What if aliens came and scooped up everyone on the blog:)
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460. Zappy
Supercell near Victoria TX is showing embedded rotation and might be trying to form a hook.
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 62
Quoting RTSplayer:


LOL.

That would require some kind of miracle.

And some extra time over water, and gulf waters to add to that, or at least warmer than 24C
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

My opinion my change tomorrow, we'll see...but I have my doubts.


Its completely surrounded by dry air except the north side, slightly moist. I dont like the odds
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting RTSplayer:


LOL.

That would take some kind of miracle.

How cool would that be though? A major hurricane in the middle of nowhere in the middle of April!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7290
Quoting EugeneTillman:

Major Hurricane Alberto


LOL.

That would require some kind of miracle.


Edit:

Like turn south for 1000 miles and get in the MDR and caribbean...
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1494
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

My opinion my change tomorrow, we'll see...but I have my doubts.

I say A at the least D at the most ;)
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Poll Time!

This area of interst will...

A. Not be designated as anything
B. Designated as invest
C. Subtropical Depression One
D. Subtropical Storm Alberto


I say B

My opinion my change tomorrow, we'll see...but I have my doubts.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30241
Nice visible loop of Victoria,TX cell as the sun is setting out west, huge thunderhead plume casting shadow to the east
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Poll Time!

This area of interst will...

A. Not be designated as anything
B. Designated as invest
C. Subtropical Depression One
D. Subtropical Storm Alberto


I say B

I'm not answering until tomorrow, remind me then, and i'll answer...
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Poll Time!

This area of interst will...

A. Not be designated as anything
B. Designated as invest
C. Subtropical Depression One
D. Subtropical Storm Alberto


I say B


I dont think thats the low, its just south of that, surrounded by dry air. its pretty weak but i think thats the LLC
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

That western flank that has convection flaring up slightly is where the system is actually, 31 N, 51 W.

Poll Time!

This area of interst will...

A. Not be designated as anything
B. Designated as invest
C. Subtropical Depression One
D. Subtropical Storm Alberto


I say B
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7290
448. Zappy
Second supercell near Victoria TX seems to be showing some rotation...
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 62
Quoting RTSplayer:


Nah.

What you see on water vapor is usually an upper level low or an upper level high.

Surface lows show up best on visible and shortwave infrared, well, unless they are obscured by upper level disturbances.

Edit:

Well, it's embedded in dry air anyway.

I guess that might be the LLC after all, but if it is, it's weak as hell and surrounded by dry air in every direction.

Yes thats what im talking about, it just gotspinning.

Well, lets sit back and find out.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Good evening all. Still keeping an eye out here in northeast Texas for bad weather. So far we've only had on and off rain.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

It's still very frontal in nature so even if it does blow up convection it won't really matter.

The Azores high will cut the system from the frontal system tomorrow, Tomorrow is the true key to the formation of the storm.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


Nah.

What you see on water vapor is usually an upper level low or an upper level high.

Surface lows show up best on visible and shortwave infrared, well, unless they are obscured by upper level disturbances.


Okay, its barely visible just south of that low, i may be wrong but i dont know.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439

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About JeffMasters

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