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 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
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


For all we know, both could do something. We had a setup similar near Salina, KS late last evening. One tornado passed just south of Salina...and then the second supercell right behind it ended up making its own tornado and passed over Salina.

It almost looks like the two in TX have merged
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
Quoting HurricaneDean07:

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

that'll be where the center sets up.
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
This is the best it's looked all day on radar, looks as if something might fire along that front later tonight into the morning

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Quoting weatherh98:

The "hook" north of 30 degrees is not the system,its to the south and you can barely see it on water vapor.

Icant post a water vapor, the computer wont let me but golook for yourself.


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.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

The lead storm will choke it off... It's pretty unlikely the second storm will become the dominant one of the two


For all we know, both could do something. We had a setup similar near Salina, KS late last evening. One tornado passed just south of Salina...and then the second supercell right behind it ended up making its own tornado and passed over Salina.
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:

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

It's still very frontal in nature so even if it does blow up convection it won't really matter.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
Front has really stalled out over TX, cells could pop at any time overnight and into the morning
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Quoting RTSplayer:
Actually has a bit of convection on the western side now.




Still very disorganized.

The "hook" north of 30 degrees is not the system,its to the south and you can barely see it on water vapor.

Icant post a water vapor, the computer wont let me but golook for yourself.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting RTSplayer:
Actually has a bit of convection on the western side now.




Still very disorganized.

That western flank that has convection flaring up slightly is where the system is actually, 31 N, 51 W.
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
Quoting RTSplayer:
Actually has a bit of convection on the western side now.




Still very disorganized.


The western convection is some clouds produced by a shortwave upper trough swinging SE within the larger upper trough/low that's about to cut-off. The center of surface low pressure is still along the frontal zone near the eastern convective mass, and its going to take about 48 hours from now before that frontal surface low begins to look like a subtropical cyclone.

Look for the eastern convective mass to start organizing into bands about the frontal surface low (which is still now well-defined in satellite pictures at this time).
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

The lead storm will choke it off... It's pretty unlikely the second storm will become the dominant one of the two


Uhhhh lets see, i think the inflow boundaries are coming from the south, so i dont think that the northern cell would choke it of but i very wellmay be wrong
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


And I see another brand new supercell just to the SW of the Victoria supercell...look just south of Golad, TX. This second new supercell doesn't look as good as the Victoria one so far....


I think it will take over now though
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
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Quoting weatherh98:
I think the southernmost cell is going to take over, I think if a tornado forms, thats where it would now form.
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


And I see another brand new supercell just to the SW of the Victoria supercell...look just south of Golad, TX. This second new supercell doesn't look as good as the Victoria one so far....

The lead storm will choke it off... It's pretty unlikely the second storm will become the dominant one of the two
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


I'd be careful....there is another supercell about to pop up just west of the Victoria supercell if current radar trends continue. Whatever stabilizing atmospheric cap was over far south Texas has been busted by daytime heating...and now we are having strong...moist convective updrafts in a sheared atmosphere (you know what that means).


Certainly is not happening over the Houston area. Cap is holding strong so far
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 597
Actually has a bit of convection on the western side now.




Still very disorganized.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500
Quoting weatherh98:


Yea but its been weak


And I see another brand new supercell just to the SW of the Victoria supercell...look just south of Golad, TX. This second new supercell doesn't look as good as the Victoria one so far....
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I think the southernmost cell is going to take over, I think if a tornado forms, thats where it would now form.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting nigel20:

The beginnings of "Invest 91L"
Member Since: October 3, 2010 Posts: 40 Comments: 4129
Quoting Zappy:
Seems to be weakening... Can come back at anytime...





Rotation weak...


Yea but its been weak
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
420. Zappy
Seems to be weakening... Can come back at anytime...





Rotation weak...
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 62
Quoting weatherbro:
Looks like models are gon ho on a pronounced cool-down this coming weekend/next week for the East!

Nothing too major, just highs in the 60s.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30246
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Lol... They issued that only becuase of the Victoria storm... There's nothing else there!


I'd be careful....there is another supercell about to pop up just west of the Victoria supercell if current radar trends continue. Whatever stabilizing atmospheric cap was over far south Texas has been busted by daytime heating...and now we are having strong...moist convective updrafts in a sheared atmosphere (you know what that means).
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
The storm is headed right at Victoria... Victoria is a town of well over 60,000, so if this thing drops a tornado like it looks like it soon could, we could have problems


Well it isnt moving all to fast.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6439
Quoting weatherbro:
Looks like models are gon ho on a pronounced cool-down this coming weekend/next week for the East!


Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
The storm is headed right at Victoria... Victoria is a town of well over 60,000, so if this thing drops a tornado like it looks like it soon could, we could have problems
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
Looks like models are gon ho on a pronounced cool-down this coming weekend/next week for the East!
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It must not be on the ground.

Figure somebody would have seen it by now.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0555
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0629 PM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...PORTIONS OF MIDDLE TEXAS COASTAL AREAS AND ADJACENT
COASTAL PLAIN

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH UNLIKELY

VALID 152329Z - 160100Z

THE NEED FOR A WATCH IS NOT CURRENTLY ANTICIPATED...BUT TRENDS WILL
CONTINUE TO BE MONITORED FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF AN INCREASING SEVERE
THREAT.

LOCALLY ENHANCED CONVERGENCE ASSOCIATED WITH THE INTERSECTION OF AN
INLAND ADVANCING SEA-BREEZE AND SOUTHEASTWARD ADVANCING WEAK COLD
FRONT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE INITIATING MECHANISM FOR ISOLATED
INTENSE CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT TO THE SOUTHWEST OF VICTORIA. THIS
IS BEING SUPPORTED BY FAIRLY LARGE CAPE OF 2000-3000+ J/KG...IN THE
PRESENCE OF HIGH BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE AND STEEP MID-LEVEL LAPSE
RATES. DEEP LAYER SHEAR BENEATH 30-50 KT SOUTHERLY 500 MB FLOW IS
AT LEAST MARGINALLY SUFFICIENT FOR SUBSTANTIVE MID-LEVEL UPDRAFT
ROTATION. AIDED BY A FOCUSED AREA OF ENHANCED LOWER/MID
TROPOSPHERIC WARM ADVECTION...ACTIVITY MAY PERSIST AT LEAST ANOTHER
SEVERAL HOURS. IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT A SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN
COVERAGE WILL OCCUR...BUT THE RISK FOR LARGE HAIL COULD
CONTINUE...ALONG WITH SOME POTENTIAL FOR AN ISOLATED
TORNADO...PERHAPS EVENTUALLY A LOCALIZED STRONG DOWNBURST...MAINLY
WEST/NORTHWEST OF CORPUS CHRISTI THROUGH 00-02Z.

..KERR.. 04/15/2012

Lol... They issued that only becuase of the Victoria storm... There's nothing else there!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
Rotation is too weak to have a tornado warning on the storm at this time. I'd still watch it though.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30246


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0555
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0629 PM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...PORTIONS OF MIDDLE TEXAS COASTAL AREAS AND ADJACENT
COASTAL PLAIN

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH UNLIKELY

VALID 152329Z - 160100Z

THE NEED FOR A WATCH IS NOT CURRENTLY ANTICIPATED...BUT TRENDS WILL
CONTINUE TO BE MONITORED FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF AN INCREASING SEVERE
THREAT.

LOCALLY ENHANCED CONVERGENCE ASSOCIATED WITH THE INTERSECTION OF AN
INLAND ADVANCING SEA-BREEZE AND SOUTHEASTWARD ADVANCING WEAK COLD
FRONT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE INITIATING MECHANISM FOR ISOLATED
INTENSE CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT TO THE SOUTHWEST OF VICTORIA. THIS
IS BEING SUPPORTED BY FAIRLY LARGE CAPE OF 2000-3000+ J/KG...IN THE
PRESENCE OF HIGH BOUNDARY LAYER MOISTURE AND STEEP MID-LEVEL LAPSE
RATES. DEEP LAYER SHEAR BENEATH 30-50 KT SOUTHERLY 500 MB FLOW IS
AT LEAST MARGINALLY SUFFICIENT FOR SUBSTANTIVE MID-LEVEL UPDRAFT
ROTATION. AIDED BY A FOCUSED AREA OF ENHANCED LOWER/MID
TROPOSPHERIC WARM ADVECTION...ACTIVITY MAY PERSIST AT LEAST ANOTHER
SEVERAL HOURS. IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT A SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN
COVERAGE WILL OCCUR...BUT THE RISK FOR LARGE HAIL COULD
CONTINUE...ALONG WITH SOME POTENTIAL FOR AN ISOLATED
TORNADO...PERHAPS EVENTUALLY A LOCALIZED STRONG DOWNBURST...MAINLY
WEST/NORTHWEST OF CORPUS CHRISTI THROUGH 00-02Z.

..KERR.. 04/15/2012
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30246
409. Zappy
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 62
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

I agree... NWS is taking a big risk by only issuing a severe thunderstorm warning


I agree too...this storm looks VERY BAD on radar...this could escalate....
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Quoting Zappy:
CELL NEAR VICTORIA TX NEEDS A TORNADO WARNING NOW!

I agree... NWS is taking a big risk by only issuing a severe thunderstorm warning
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
406. Zappy
CELL NEAR VICTORIA TX NEEDS A TORNADO WARNING NOW!
Member Since: April 14, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 62
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CORPUS CHRISTI TX
636 PM CDT SUN APR 15 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CORPUS CHRISTI HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN GOLIAD COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS
SOUTHWESTERN VICTORIA COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST TEXAS

* UNTIL 730 PM CDT

* AT 633 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL...
AND DESTRUCTIVE WINDS IN EXCESS OF 70 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED
NEAR FANNIN...OR 7 MILES EAST OF GOLIAD...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT
15 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
FANNIN...
COLETO CREEK PARK...
SCHROEDER...
OAK VILLAGE...
MISSION VALLEY...
SAXET LAKES...

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!

&&

LAT...LON 2867 9685 2852 9726 2874 9742 2889 9734
2887 9730 2897 9717
TIME...MOT...LOC 2335Z 237DEG 14KT 2869 9727

$$

GW
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
On the NWS doppler, Victoria supercell in Texas looks more impressive than any other supercell storm in the United States right now. Watch out..its got a classic hook echo!
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Quoting RTSplayer:
See that?

Vortex Signature near Victoria. Hook has formed.

F0 62 dBZ 49,000 ft. 66 kg/m² 60% chance 100% chance 1.50 in. 16 knots W (269)


Yeah, this one definitely needs a warning
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
See that?

Vortex Signature near Victoria. Hook has formed.

F0 62 dBZ 49,000 ft. 66 kg/m² 60% chance 100% chance 1.50 in. 16 knots W (269)

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500
Quoting RitaEvac:
Need for that isolated storm west of Victoria to unzip the bag along that front NEward and have a solid line like last night in West TX we saw


You and I both wish it would. The atmosphere has a nice cap over it right now. All these damn chemical plants lol
Member Since: August 18, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 597
This supercell is going to need a tornado warning soon. It's forming a hook.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 108 Comments: 30246
I think the storm in southern TX needs a tornado warning
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 79 Comments: 7293
Yeah...

See that?

It's not exactly impressive yet, but it's already trying to make a hook.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500
Need for that isolated storm west of Victoria to unzip the bag along that front NEward and have a solid line like last night in West TX we saw
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Quoting EugeneTillman:

Don't you just wish that cell right outside Victoria was sitting right over Galveston Island?


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

That's actually not good.

That cell is isolated.

Hopefully it's just a rain maker.

Victoria, TX cell

F0 65 dBZ 48,000 ft. 78 kg/m² 70% chance 100% chance 1.50 in. 14 knots W (263)
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1500

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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.

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