Tornadoes, Floods, and Severe Thunderstorms Continue in the Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:46 PM GMT on May 31, 2013

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It was yet another active day for tornadoes, flooding, and severe thunderstorms in the Midwest on Thursday, with NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) logging 16 preliminary tornado reports. Twisters touched down in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Illinois. The tornadoes missed heavily populated areas for the most part, but seven people were injured in Arkansas in two separate tornadoes, and two other people were hurt by lightning. The severe weather forced organizers of the outdoor Wakarusa Music Festival north of Ozark, Arkansas to delay the start of the festival. The band "Widespread Panic" was one of the groups scheduled to perform, leading to an Associated Press headline from yesterday titled, "Nine hurt in Arkansas storm; Widespread Panic delayed." Heavy rains from this week's thunderstorms have pushed the Mississippi River to major flood stage at most places from Burlington Iowa to Quincy Illinois, and the river is expected to crest near major flood stage at St. Louis early next week. In Iowa, the Cedar River at Cedar Falls, the Iowa River at Marengo, and the Skunk River near Sigourney and at Augusta are also in major flood. The latest forecast from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center calls for a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather today (Friday) over much of Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa in Oklahoma, and Joplin, Missouri, with the potential for several strong EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes.


Figure 1. Lightning strike from a severe thunderstorm near Guthrie, Oklahoma on May 30, 2013, as photographed by KFOR-TV. (AP Photo/KFOR-TV)


Figure 2. Severe weather outlook for Thursday, May 30, calls for a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather over much of Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa in Oklahoma, and Joplin, Missouri. You can follow today's severe weather outbreak from our Severe Weather page.

A mostly quiet year for violent tornadoes
After a very quiet March, April, and first half of May, the U.S. tornado season has become very active during the last half of May, and is beginning to catch up to normal. TWC's tornado expert Dr. Greg Forbes has a preliminary count of 181 tornadoes for the month of May, through May 29, which is 35% below the 10-year average of 279 through May 29th. May 2012 had only 121 tornadoes. The 2013 tornado tally has risen significantly in the last half of May, due to 7 of the last 15 days having above-average numbers of tornadoes. Fortunately, we are well below-average for strong and violent EF-3, EF-4, and EF-5 tornadoes so far in 2013. According to NOAA, the U.S. has averaged 43 EF-3 or stronger tornadoes per year during the period 1954 - 2012. With tornado season nearly half over, only twelve EF-3 and EF-4 tornadoes have been recorded so far in 2013. An average year should have had at least twenty of these tornadoes by this point in the year. Here are the twelve EF-3 and stronger tornadoes so far in 2013, as detailed in Wikipedia's excellent Tornadoes of 2013 page:

EF-5, May 20, Moore, Oklahoma. 24 deaths, 377 injuries, $2 billion in damage.
EF-4, May 28, Ottawa County, Kansas. Intensity based on mobile Doppler radar data. See the Capital Weather Gang's description of this tornado.
EF-4, May 19, Shawnee, Oklahoma. 2 deaths, 6 injuries.
EF-4, May 15, Granbury, TX. 6 deaths, 24+ injuries.
EF-4, May 18, Rozel, Kansas.
EF-4, February 10, Hattiesburg, MS. 0 deaths, 82 injuries.
EF-3, Corning, KS, May 28.
EF-3, May 27, Lebanon - Esbon, KS. 1 injured. Wind gust of 175 mph measured by TIV2 intercept vehicle.
EF-3, May 15, Cleburne, TX. No deaths or injuries.
EF-3, January 30, Adairsville, GA. 1 death, 17 injuries, 363 buildings damaged or destroyed.
EF-3, April 11, Kemper County, AL. 1 death, 9 injuries.
EF-3, May 19, Luther - Carney, Oklahoma.


Figure 3. The annual number of EF-3 and stronger tornadoes, 1954 - 2012. The greatest number of these dangerous tornadoes was 131 in 1974, the year of the notorious "Super Outbreak." The minimum was just 15, set in 1987. The average is 43 per year. Image credit: NOAA.


Video 1. Impressive 2-minute timelapse of the Bennington, Kansas wedge tornado of May 28, 2013, as filmed by the Aussie Storm Chasers. As discussed in an excellent blog post by Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang, the violent EF-4 tornado stood still for nearly an hour, and had wind gusts as high as 264 mph at an altitude of 300 feet measured by Doppler on Wheels.

Remains of Hurricane Barbara bringing heavy rains to Mexico
Hurricane Barbara died on Thursday as it attempted to cross Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec into the southernmost Gulf of Mexico. While there is no low level circulation apparent on satellite loops this Friday morning, there is a bit of spin at middle levels of the atmosphere, and the remains of Barbara are kicking up some heavy thunderstorm activity over the southernmost Gulf of Mexico and adjacent land areas of Mexico. Wind shear is a high 20 knots in the region, and the area of disturbed weather is quite small, so I don't expect any development to occur over the next few days. Wind shear is predicted to remain high over the Gulf of Mexico for the next six days, and none of the reliable computers models is calling for tropical cyclone development in the Atlantic during that period. Late next week, wind shear is predicted to drop, and there is a better chance for tropical cyclone development in the Gulf of Mexico or Western Caribbean. Both the GFS and ECMWF models suggest that a strong tropical disturbance with heavy rains may affect Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Western Cuba, and the Southwest Florida by Friday next week.


Figure 4. Remains of Hurricane Barbara in the southernmost Gulf of Mexico as seen by MODIS at 12:05 pm EDT Thursday, May 30, 2013. Barbara had just been declared dead one hour prior to this photo. Image credit: NASA.

Saturday, June 1, is the first day of hurricane season, and I'll post a quick look at what we might expect to see in June.

Jeff Masters

More Wild Weather 4 (Nikongranny)
More Wild Weather 4
Bennington, Ks Tornado (weatherfanatic2010)
This was one of the easiest chase days ever. Left Salina, Ks and thought about going after the storms to the NW but turned back after about 15 miles when the storm that spawned this tornado went up. Me and my group setup just west of Bennington about 20 minutes before this tornado touched down, catching a brief rope tornado about 10 minutes before this tornado touched down. It sat almost stationary for about 45 and we watched it's entire life cycle without having to move.
Bennington, Ks Tornado
LP Supercell (adkinsadam1)
LP Supercell
Lightning (tjlpowell)
Lightning

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Rain here from 4PM to now!Up to 1.21 and coming down!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1159. Patrap

809
WFUS53 KSGF 010049
TORSGF
KSC021-010115-
/O.NEW.KSGF.TO.W.0029.130601T0049Z-130601T0115Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO
749 PM CDT FRI MAY 31 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SPRINGFIELD HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN CHEROKEE COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST KANSAS...

* UNTIL 815 PM CDT

* AT 747 PM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 13 MILES WEST OF TREECE...AND MOVING EAST AT 25
MPH.

HAZARD...DEVELOPING TORNADO AND PING PONG BALL SIZE HAIL.

SOURCE...WEATHER SPOTTERS REPORTED FUNNEL CLOUD. SPOTTERS REPORTED
A FUNNEL CLOUD TO THE WEST OF CHETOPA.

IMPACT...MOBILE HOMES WILL BE HEAVILY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.
SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO ROOFS...WINDOWS AND VEHICLES WILL
OCCUR. FLYING DEBRIS WILL BE DEADLY TO PEOPLE AND ANIMALS.
EXTENSIVE TREE DAMAGE IS LIKELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
BAXTER SPRINGS...CRESTLINE...FAULKNER...LOWELL...MELROSE. ..
NEUTRAL...RIVERTON AND TREECE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

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.



LAT...LON 3717 9469 3699 9469 3699 9500 3700 9507
3700 9508 3713 9508
TIME...MOT...LOC 0048Z 267DEG 22KT 3702 9506

TORNADO...RADAR INDICATED
HAIL...1.50IN



BOXELL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
Quoting ScottLincoln:

Which is odd, considering that all three of the circulations being watched right now are south of I-40....

This is why being in your car during tornadic storms is dangerous. We really don't need a vehicle exodus anywhere, going in any direction.


They could not go North, OK HP probably forced them all to turn around just to get them off the highway.

I35 northbound just closed at Indian Hills Road.
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3733
Quoting daddyjames:


At one point yes, OKC/MOORE/El-Reno been in a Tornado Emergency for about an hour now.


It been an hour for them and there is no signs of stopping. Please OKC get off the roads as quickly as possible.
Member Since: May 28, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 405
1156. Patrap

427
WFUS54 KTSA 010048
TORTSA
OKC105-113-131-147-010115-
/O.NEW.KTSA.TO.W.0053.130601T0048Z-130601T0115Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TULSA OK
748 PM CDT FRI MAY 31 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TULSA HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHWESTERN NOWATA COUNTY IN NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA...
EASTERN OSAGE COUNTY IN NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA...
NORTHWESTERN ROGERS COUNTY IN NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA...
WASHINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 815 PM CDT

* AT 744 PM CDT...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A
TORNADO WAS LOCATED 4 MILES NORTH OF AVANT...MOVING EAST AT 50 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN OR NEAR THE PATH OF THIS STORM INCLUDE...
OCHELATA...RAMONA...TALALA AND WATOVA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IF YOU ARE NEAR THE PATH OF THIS STORM...TAKE COVER NOW! IF NO
UNDERGROUND SHELTER IS AVAILABLE MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE
LOWEST FLOOR. MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES SHOULD BE ABANDONED FOR MORE
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. AVOID WINDOWS!



LAT...LON 3674 9565 3649 9561 3647 9613 3668 9615
TIME...MOT...LOC 0048Z 259DEG 41KT 3655 9603
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
Hind mesocyclone would be my bet for the one that becomes the storm's dominant mesocyclone. At this point, I really don't know though.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11670
Quoting JNTenne:
Can not believe all the people driving around in OKC underneath this funnel dropping beast?!


At one point a TV meteorologist said either get below ground or get out of town. The traffic jams show how many don't have adequate shelters.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10364
Power out East Side of Moore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KDDFlorida:
Exodus of vehicles south out of Oklahoma City.

Which is odd, considering that all three of the circulations being watched right now are south of I-40....

This is why being in your car during tornadic storms is dangerous. We really don't need a vehicle exodus anywhere, going in any direction.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3216
Another tornado reported to be heading towards El Reno, Tuttle, Union City area - this was hit before.
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3733
1150. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
1149. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
Quoting nervouspete:
Oh God. I've just got back the pub here in Wales. Got News9 running, KFOR, and reading your comments...

Are these Moore sized tornadoes? Because from what I'm hearing the track covers an even larger path of built-up area than the earlier disaster. And the things that are being said on this thread are chilling. Stormchasers hit?

I can't work out what's going on. This is the first tornado I've been following that's truly rain-wrapped and dark. This is scary.


At one point yes, OKC/MOORE/El-Reno been in a Tornado Emergency for about an hour now.
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3733
Quoting KDDFlorida:
Live feed states new Track approaching prior F5 in Moore.


Which one?
Member Since: May 26, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 34
1146. JNTenne
Can not believe all the people driving around in OKC underneath this funnel dropping beast?!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Exodus of vehicles south out of Oklahoma City.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Ricki13th:


It starting so quiet and just explode in May. 2011 was horrific. But this is in a span of weeks in most one area Moore.


Only a week and a half. It has been a bit stressful here in OK lately.
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3733
Oh God. I've just got back the pub here in Wales. Got News9 running, KFOR, and reading your comments...

Are these Moore sized tornadoes? Because from what I'm hearing the track covers an even larger path of built-up area than the earlier disaster. And the things that are being said on this thread are chilling. Stormchasers hit?

I can't work out what's going on. This is the first tornado I've been following that's truly rain-wrapped and dark. This is scary.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Oh wow. Incredibly lucky.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7952
Motorists injured, and others are missing
AP — The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says motorists have been hurt in a storm that hit the Oklahoma City area and that others are missing. The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for the city's downtown, airport and several suburbs as the storm rolled through central Oklahoma. The Highway Patrol is urging motorists to get off Interstate 40 and drive to the south.

Not good
Member Since: May 28, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 405
Quoting FIUStormChaser:
How close is Will Rogers Airport to Downtown OKC?


About 10 miles more or less.
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3733
Quoting interstatelover7165:
Time until Saturday, June 1, 2013 (Miami time)
0
DAYS
3
HOURS
24
MINUTES


in cayman it starts 5 min later
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1138. Patrap



4 TVS

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Then you missed 2011 season.


It starting so quiet and just explode in May. 2011 was horrific. But this is in a span of weeks in most one area Moore.
Member Since: May 28, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 405
1136. VR46L
Quoting hydrus:
Traffic on I-35 is at a halt. They say it resembles a parking lot, and the tornado is going to cross it.


God help them ... please lift ...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Cogar, OK under a tornado warning, green TVS.

WFUS54 KOUN 010040
TOROUN
OKC015-017-051-010115-
/O.NEW.KOUN.TO.W.0065.130601T0040Z-130601T0115Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
740 PM CDT FRI MAY 31 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN GRADY COUNTY IN CENTRAL OKLAHOMA...
EASTERN CADDO COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST OKLAHOMA...
SOUTHERN CANADIAN COUNTY IN CENTRAL OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 815 PM CDT

* AT 737 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR COGAR...AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 15 MPH.

IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO...LARGE DAMAGING HAIL UP TO TWO INCHES IN
DIAMETER IS EXPECTED WITH THIS STORM.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
MINCO AND COGAR.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW IN A STORM SHELTER OR AN INTERIOR ROOM OF A STURDY
BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND WINDOWS.
&&

LAT...LON 3543 9813 3537 9784 3521 9794 3537 9819
TIME...MOT...LOC 0040Z 293DEG 12KT 3538 9811

$$
WR


Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7952
This is one of the strangest supercells I have ever seen, spinning up random mesocyclones and tornadoes at will.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11670
Oh My Lord.....Prayers to the chasers out there, and all of OKC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Live feed states new Track approaching prior F5 in Moore.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
ok 00Z maps came out and its interesting

Shear is low and continues to fall in the GOH/W Caribbean a matter of fact the GOH only has 5-20kts and its still falling

BOC/GOM shear is high with 20+kts and still increasing in the BOC

Vort is getting stronger in the GOH

vort associated with EX-Barbara/90L had decreased and nearly non-existent and getting sucked into the more stronger vort in the GOH

convection is increasing in Honduras
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
Twin Lakes/Oklahoma City, OK (KTLX) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)
Flooding has to now be a concern. That supercell is persisting over the areas west of OKC.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrstormX:
I have never seen anything like this in my life.



This storm is a tornado factory that has anchored itself west of OKC. Mind blowing the location of this thing.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Tornado making beeline for northern edge of Moore. 2nd tornado is on heading toward Norman.
oh my god.. How awful!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1127. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
dear lord
take this evil vision from my sight


We need her in OK City !!!
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1126. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
Quoting Ricki13th:
Never quite seen a twister season like this ever
Then you missed 2011 season.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8032
Quoting Zappy:
Intensity must be screwing velocity

Nope. Just not that strong.There is a very distinct signature when a radar is not able to keep up with the velocities and that is not one. TBH I think all of these power flashes are from straight line winds or by a none violent tornado. Think EF1-2.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Mike Bettes' car... wow.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8032
Quoting JNTenne:
News 9 reporting tornado on ground in North Moore

That tornado is kind of interesting. I appears to have been riding the edge of the RFD, and it very quickly pushed SSE instead of the more easterly direction of most of the other tornadoes. When I first looked at it, I thought it was an erroneous circulation, but there is an apparent debris signature in dual pol data.
The circulations earlier in the evening were moving east at barely 20mph. This circulation moved to the SSE at 25-30mph, then dissipated as it neared the center of Moore.
Now, there is already a new area of rotation back to the north, just SE of downtown OKC, over Del City and Valley Brook. Very bizarre.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3216
@SeanSchoferTVN: The @weatherchannel vehicle just got thrown by tornado. @jimcantore
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Never quite seen a twister season like this ever
Member Since: May 28, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 405
1119. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
I have never seen anything like this in my life.
Member Since: May 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 4438
1117. hydrus
Twin Lakes/Oklahoma City, OK (KTLX) - Base Reflectivity (0.5)
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21507
Mike Bettes is very lucky to be alive as you can see how the car he was looks.

Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1115. Patrap
That one cell may vector Se toward Norman.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128875
I'm hopeing there wasn't any planes on the tarmac; was reading about the 2011 St Louis Tornado and pilots had no warning of the incoming twister
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1113. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
dear lord
take this evil vision from my sight
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54639
massive power flashes...44th st. valley brook
29th and se 44th Dell City, just west side of Tinker AFB
Link Live 9
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11358
How close is Will Rogers Airport to Downtown OKC?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Sure are a whole lot of mesocyclones with this sloppy supercell.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11670

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About

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