Little Change to 91L; Amateur Storm Chaser Killed in May 31 El Reno, OK Tornado

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:59 PM GMT on June 04, 2013

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There has been little change to tropical disturbance 91L in the Southeast Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean. Satellite loops show a large area of heavy thunderstorms with poor organization, and there is no evidence of an organized surface circulation trying to form. Wind shear is a high 30 knots, and is forecast to remain high, 20 - 30 knots, today, so any development should be slow to occur. However, wind shear is predicted to drop to the moderate range, 10 - 20 knots, on Wednesday, which should give 91L a better chance to organize. NHC is giving the disturbance a 30% chance of developing into a tropical cyclone by Thursday. I put these odds higher, at 40%. The Hurricane Hunters are on call to fly into 91L on Tuesday afternoon, but this flight will likely be cancelled. Regardless of whether or not 91L develops into a tropical depression, heavy rains will be the storm's main threat. Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Western Cuba, and South Florida can expect 5 - 8" of rain from the disturbance over the next four days. Heavy rains from 91L may spread up the U.S. East Cost late this week. The computer models predict that 91L should stay large and poorly organized, and if it does develop, it will be difficult for it to get any stronger than a 45 mph tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.


Figure 1. Latest satellite image of Invest 91L.


Video 1. The May 31, 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma EF-3 tornado as filmed from a commercial tornado tour led by Tempest Tours. This is one of the most impressive videos I've ever seen, from a meteorological standpoint, of a developing tornado. It appears that the chasers got closer to the tornado than they liked, as evidenced by the honking horns you hear, telling people to leave, a few minutes into the video.

Amateur storm chaser killed in Friday's El Reno tornado
Tornado scientist Tim Samaras and his two chase partners, Paul Samaras and Carl Young, were killed Friday by an EF-3 tornado that hit El Reno, Oklahoma. It has now been revealed that the storm killed an amateur storm chaser, Richard Charles Henderson. According to an article in The Oklahoman,

From his pickup, amateur storm chaser Richard Charles Henderson took a cellphone photo of the first tornado Friday and excitedly sent it to a friend. Minutes later, that tornado would kill him.

“That was the end of his life right there,” said the friend, George “Sonny” Slay. “He said, ‘I'm having fun,'” Slay recalled Monday. “He told me he was riding around … chasing the storms …. I said, ‘You better quit that!'
“And, then, I guess he was en route to the position that he got in because he said, ‘There goes Channel 9!' He said, ‘You might even see me on TV.' And, then a few seconds later, he said, ‘Oop, there's Channel 5!'”

Slay said the picture came in at 6:05 p.m. About 10 minutes later, Slay heard a loud popping noise over the phone. Henderson cursed, and then asked Slay if he had heard the sound.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I heard it. What was it?' And he said, ‘It's debris hitting my pickup.' I said, ‘You better get your ass out of there.' Then the phone went dead.

Henderson, of Hinton, was one of at least 18 people who died because of Friday's tornadoes and storms. His body was found near El Reno.


Henderson's death underscores the dangers of storm chasing by people who don't know what they are doing, and is also likely the unfortunate consequence of the huge amount of dramatic media attention that storm chasing has received in recent years.


Video 2. The view from my veteran storm chaser Chris Novy's D-TEG dashcam as he accidentally drove his storm chasing vehicle into a swollen creek, nearly killing him.


Figure 2. Chris Novy posted on his Facebook page this image of the bridge he drove off. Note the guard rail that stops short of the plunge he took. I hope the road commission extends this guard rail to prevent a future accident!

Veteran storm chaser almost killed in Friday's El Reno flash flood
There is also news that another veteran storm chaser, Chris Novy, nearly died in Friday's storm--but from a flash flood. As Novy recounted in Mike Smith Enterprises Blog,

"I approached a flooded road and made a quick U-turn rather than driving [all the way] into the water. This was a naturally smart move. Unfortunately my turn resulted in me plunging off a hidden embankment and splashing nose-first right into a swollen creek where I sunk straight to the bottom, I traveled several hundred feet underwater with the car quickly filling up. At one point I was completely surrounded by water and just holding my breath in the darkness. Somehow the driver-side and passenger-side windows broke and I was flushed from the vehicle. I surfaced after a bit and found myself racing down the creek. A cop called out to me and I was able to swim to him and his life-saving grab.

Analysis:
It probably would have been best for the police car (seen right before my turn) to have completely blocked the road the emergency lights on. As it was, the scene seemed like just a water hazard but probably should have been clearly marked as a no-go zone.

I should have come to a complete stop and taken more time to evaluate the situation. Ideally I should have just put it into reverse and slowly backed out. I took a dangerous situation and made it even worse leaping before I looked.

Lessons learned:
Turn around, don't drown!"



Figure 3. Portlight volunteers hard at work in Moore, Oklahoma, after the devastating May 20, 2013 tornado.

Portlight helping victims of Oklahoma tornadoes, and hosting the Getting It Right Conference
I had the pleasure last night of giving the welcoming speech to the attendees of the "Getting It Right Conference" in Atlanta, hosted by my favorite disaster relief charity, Portlight.org.The conference has brought together over 125 disaster response professionals to discuss shelter and transportation accessibility for people with disabilities. There will be live blogging from the conference on Portlight's wunderground blog, 8am to 5pm Tuesday, and 8am to 11am on Wednesday. Check it out! It's remarkable how far Portlight has come since its humble beginnings in September 2008, when wunderground members Patrick Pearson and Paul Timmons put together a grass-roots effort to help out victims of Hurricane Ike. Portlight has now dispensed over $2 million in aid to the needy, and hundreds of volunteers have worked on various Portlight projects since 2008. Indeed, Portlight volunteers are now hard at work helping victims of Oklahoma's devastating May tornadoes. Keep up the great work!

Jeff Masters

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Quoting anotherwrongyear:
oh ok thats cool no offense its just that there are alot of fruits in here as you can see by the childish and fruity comments

^^^
This post just broke my irony meter!
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2106
614. VR46L
Quoting SLU:


Well is was also 8hrs earlier too...


Na It wasn't, 17.00 UTC was less than 5 hrs ago ...

GMT , UTC and Zulu all stand for the same thing
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6613
i thought 91 would be a td tomorrow now it seems like thurs as it starts northeast to the big bend area
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Not to strain out hairs or anything but an EF5 tornado is never typical :)
Yeah, victims would disagree with me. Sorry for not thinking right today. I'm just tired from work. However, I'm just stating that we will never know which tornado is stronger. Yes, Moore tornado of 1999 was the highest winds ever, but that was also measured higher up in tornado so wind speed would be little lower at 500 feet. I'll say El Reno tornado of 2013 is little stronger, but we need research to compare both of tornado to see. There's many other tornadoes that wasn't measured by DOW as well so we'll never know.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


Forbidding amateur storm chasing would probably require a constitutional amendment, particularly since it affects interstate commerce since the chasers are almost guaranteed to be crossing state lines at some point, and the videos are sold and distributed to interstate markets: television and internet.

Start telling people you'd like to make it illegal to drive down the highway while a passenger films, and I'm sure you'll get like zero votes.


LOL - yeah, I know that.

The proliferation of news outlets putting their workers into harm's way during weather events is ludicrous, and the "one-upmanship" it inadvertently creates is ridiculous.

I have tremendous respect for forecasters at TWC, and recognize legitimate reasons for spotters and researchers having to place themselves at risk for legitimate purposes. However, there is no need for TWC to send chasers here. They could patch into local affiliates who have experienced chasers. And the dramatization of it . . .

TWC should be renamed TWPC - The Weather Porn Channel
Member Since: June 25, 2011 Posts: 2 Comments: 3731
610. SLU
Quoting VR46L:


The wind sat from a few hours ago is virtually worthless due to the rain contamination





Well is was also 8hrs earlier too...
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
This is where people make mistake. 318 mph winds were recorded higher up in tornado in couple of thousands of feet, not on ground. Surveys and research said that tornado is about 200 mph on ground (can't back this up however as I can't find the source anymore). 2013 El Reno tornado is 296 mph just few hundred of feet above the ground. I'm not saying El Reno tornado is the strongest ever, but 1999 Moore tornado is just an typical F5 that killed lot of people in metro area.


Not to strain out hairs or anything but an EF5 tornado is never typical :)
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For those doing comparisons, consider this: Friday's Union City/El Reno EF5 tornado was bigger across at its largest than Hurricane Wilma's eye at its smallest. That is, the former wouldn't even fit inside the latter...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13277
hmm just wondering what could happen if 91L loops around from the W side cyclonic movement looking at the steering this could happen
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9591
605. VR46L
Quoting SLU:
91L not looking too bad either



The wind sat from a few hours ago is virtually worthless due to the rain contamination



Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6613
Quoting barbamz:


And "newby" Levi just happened to be in touch with this extraordinary monster ... Maybe he's attracting this sort of stuff? OK people should consider it, lol.
LOL, yes. I think Levi will either fall in love with severe weather or go "whew" and leave as soon as he can and never return to Oklahoma.

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Quoting anotherwrongyear:
im in ormond next to daytona and i dont like guys just women
I wasnt asking you out on a date.
Im an old married guy myself.




























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Quoting nigel20:

It was pretty dry here in Jamaica up to a month ago, but it's very green at the moment. I love when the vegetation is lush and green as well.


Models want to bring above average rainfalls in the Caribbean and MDR. This setup seriously reminds me of 2010... which was very wet!
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Quoting wxchaser97:

Actually, he is correct. He said probably the strongest tornado this century(2000 ), and the other Moore F5 happened in 1999. The 1999 Moore tornado is the strongest on record all time.

Yeah, 1999 was the end of the 20th century and we're now in the 21st century.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 7463
600. SLU
Quoting washingtonian115:
That's the one the models develop..if dust hasn't completely engulfed the Atlantic by July we could see trackers like Bertha.


Yep. I'm actually expecting very early Cape Verde development this year. Note that according to CSU's forecast, 1961, 1996, 2005, 2007, 2011 are all analogue years and most of these seasons featured pre-August 1st named storm days south 23.5n and east of 75w which is a tell-tale sign of a major hurricane season ahead.
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Figures.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1503
Quoting RTSplayer:


No.

The strongest tornado on record is the OTHER Moore/Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado (1999), with winds over 300mph.
This is where people make mistake. 318 mph winds were recorded higher up in tornado in couple of thousands of feet, not on ground. Surveys and research said that tornado is about 200 mph on ground (can't back this up however as I can't find the source anymore). 2013 El Reno tornado is 296 mph just few hundred of feet above the ground. I'm not saying El Reno tornado is the strongest ever, but 1999 Moore tornado is just an typical F5 that killed lot of people in metro area.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


Forbidding amateur storm chasing would probably require a constitutional amendment, particularly since it affects interstate commerce since the chasers are almost guaranteed to be crossing state lines at some point, and the videos are sold and distributed to interstate markets: television and internet.

Start telling people you'd like to make it illegal to drive down the highway while a passenger films, and I'm sure you'll get like zero votes.


Only way out: lift your prices for gas to the level of european countries (esp. Germany). Few would be able to afford those huge chasing rides any longer ...
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 44 Comments: 5026
Quoting stormgirI:

it originated in the hippie days but my friends and I use it all the time. and I know a lot of people who use it who aren't hippies. i'm 19.
Good for you. lol
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Quoting RTSplayer:


No.

The strongest tornado on record is the OTHER Moore/Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado (1999), with winds over 300mph.

That was technically last century
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Quoting RTSplayer:


No.

The strongest tornado on record is the OTHER Moore/Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado (1999), with winds over 300mph.

Actually, he is correct. He said probably the strongest tornado this century(2000 ), and the other Moore F5 happened in 1999. The 1999 Moore tornado is the strongest on record all time.
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Quoting CaribBoy:


You're right, good rain! I'm happy when the rain is falling, I like to see my island lush and green (and hate the opposite lol).

It was pretty dry here in Jamaica up to a month ago, but it's very green at the moment. I love when the vegetation is lush and green as well.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 7463
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
here is a link to NWS Norman info


And "newby" Levi just happened to be in touch with this extraordinary monster ... Maybe he's attracting this sort of stuff? OK people should consider it, lol.
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 44 Comments: 5026
Quoting Tornado6042008X:

With winds of up to 295.... yes 295 MPH just 500 feet off the ground. It is probably the strongest tornado so far this century.
 
This was what I call a BIGGIE BOOGIE TWISTING STORM. Just horrible:( 


No.

The strongest tornado on record is the OTHER Moore/Bridge Creek, Oklahoma tornado (1999), with winds over 300mph.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1503
Quoting anotherwrongyear:
NOT EVEN A DROP? thats what ive been saying i also have my doughts here in daytona, but some of the experts in here seem to disagree with me after all they have been very accurate the past 3 days ( not ) maybe we need to go to weather school like them
This will be a tricky system to forecast. If the low forms a well defined circulation at the surface ( which may not happen if the shear sticks around ) then it would likely take off and hit north of Tampa. If it stays on the baroclinic side, a more northerly track would be possible. The NAM model actually has the system going into the panhandle.
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Quoting SLU:
Seeing this on June 4th is a very bad sign.

That's the one the models develop..if dust hasn't completely engulfed the Atlantic by July we could see trackers like Bertha.
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587. SLU
Quoting CaribBoy:


Maybe the NHC will put a yellow circle on it at 8PM


Yeah if we were in July or later this would be an invest by now but the chances of it developing further are extremely low.
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Quoting daddyjames:


It doesn't, I agree. But (as I stated earlier) the "Reed Timmer"-ization of tornado chasing has to be curtailed. A number of the "ameteurs" would not have been motivated to do what they do without glorification from tv (Discovery Channel, TWC), movies (Twister), and that all important "15 seconds" of fame called "Youtube". Plus, that there is a market for these videos - ahem, StomChasers.com (an example of the "Reed Timerization") who had a "roll-in-the-hay" - is ridiculous.

What explanation is there, if you are out there doing "research", do you have cameras pointing at you in the car recording?

The dramatization - at this point "over-dramatization - of storm chasing has now reached the equivalent of "tornado porn".



Forbidding amateur storm chasing would probably require a constitutional amendment, particularly since it affects interstate commerce since the chasers are almost guaranteed to be crossing state lines at some point, and the videos are sold and distributed to interstate markets: television and internet.

Start telling people you'd like to make it illegal to drive down the highway while a passenger films, and I'm sure you'll get like zero votes.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1503
585. SLU
91L not looking too bad either

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Quoting anotherwrongyear:
NOT EVEN A DROP? thats what ive been saying i also have my doughts here in daytona, but some of the experts in here seem to disagree with me after all they have been very accurate the past 3 days ( not ) maybe we need to go to weather school like them
My brother in law lives in Daytona near the Walmart on Dunlawton and Clyde Morris. We should meet for an Iced tea. I will be in town on July 4 weekend.
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Quoting seminolesfan:
Shear Today:


Shear Thursday:



It isn't gonna blow up to a HURR and it shouldn't totally die.

Don't downcast or wishcast; Forecast or Watchcast!




you forgot fishcaster
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Quoting SLU:
Seeing this on June 4th is a very bad sign.



Maybe the NHC will put a yellow circle on it at 8PM
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Quoting nigel20:

The one east of Puerto Rico...he's just hoping for some rain.


You're right, good rain! I'm happy when the rain is falling, I like to see my island lush and green (and hate the opposite lol).
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Quoting JTDailyUpdate:


Worse, widest tornado ON RECORD
Image fronm Normon NWS

With winds of up to 295.... yes 295 MPH just 500 feet off the ground. It is probably the strongest tornado so far this century.
 
This was what I call a BIGGIE BOOGIE TWISTING STORM. Just horrible:( 
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577. SLU
Seeing this on June 4th is a very bad sign.

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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


lol very funny

I would put it somewhere near 23N 87W


Why funny?
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Looks horrid.91L (if it develops) has a shot at surpassing Danny and his ugliness.

I don't think that is possible
91L is certainly not a looker though but I think the first storm of the season gets some bonus credit just for developing
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Quoting Gearsts:
What wave and what is gonna happen?


Sorry I was out... well I mean the wave currently at 40W! The GFS says it will miss the NE Carib but has trended closer, like the CMC.
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Shear Today:


Shear Thursday:



It isn't gonna blow up to a HURR and it shouldn't totally die.

Don't downcast or wishcast; Forecast or Watchcast!
Member Since: June 14, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2106
Quoting Tazmanian:




LOL



did you no hes a 15 year old?

And what does it mean that he is 15 years old. There are teenagers on here, like myself, that are smart.

Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good afternoon. Really no big changes to 91L today, just a very slow, gradual organization. If shear lets up another 5-10kts I think it will have a real shot at getting at least TD status.


I could see this system becoming a weak TS if all goes right. I highly doubt a strong TS as conditions are only marginal. I give it a 50% chance of developing.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I can't get over the magnitude of this. We tracked both the widest tornado ever observed and very nearly, if not the, strongest ever recorded on the planet.

It's no wonder many chasers were overtaken by this thing...the subvorticies had a forward motion of over 150 mph.
And you were right-on (old hippie word) saying you thought it was stronger than EF3.
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Quoting FOREX:


Weather Channel just said the El Reno Tornado was an EF 5
here is a link to NWS Norman info
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
1206 PM CDT TUE JUN 4 2013

...UPDATE ON MAY 31 EL RENO TORNADO...

METEOROLOGISTS WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND RESEARCHERS FROM
THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA CONTINUE TO INVESTIGATE INFORMATION
RELATED TO THE MAY 31 EL RENO TORNADO.

WITH THIS INVESTIGATION... THE TORNADO HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO AN EF5
TORNADO BASED ON VELOCITY DATA FROM THE RESEARCH MOBILE RADAR DATA
FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA RAXPOL RADAR
. IN ADDITION... THE
WIDTH OF TORNADO WAS MEASURED BY THE MOBILE RADAR DATA TO BE 2.6
MILES AFTER THE TORNADO PASSED EAST OF US HIGHWAY 81 SOUTH OF EL
RENO. THIS WIDTH IS THE WIDTH OF THE TORNADO ITSELF AND DOES NOT
INCLUDE THE DAMAGING STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS NEAR THE TORNADO AS
DETERMINED BY THE HIGH-RESOLUTION MOBILE RADAR DATA. THE 2.6 MILE
TORNADO PATH WIDTH IS BELIEVED TO BE THE WIDEST TORNADO ON RECORD
IN THE UNITED STATES.

.EL RENO TORNADO

RATING: EF5
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/: 16.2 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 2.6 MILES
FATALITIES: N/A
INJURIES: N/A

START DATE: MAY 31 2013
START TIME: 6:03 PM CDT
START LOCATION: 8.3 WSW OF EL RENO /CANADIAN COUNTY /OK NEAR COURTNEY ROAD ABOUT 1 MILE NORTH OF REUTER ROAD
START LAT/LON: 35.495 / -98.095

END DATE: MAY 31 2013
END TIME: 6:43 PM CDT
END LOCATION: 6.2 ESE OF EL RENO /CANADIAN COUNTY /OK NEAR INTERSTATE 40 AND BANNER ROAD
END LAT/LON: 35.502 / -97.848

$$

SMITH/GARFIELD/SPEHEGER/AUSTIN
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:


lol very funny

I would put it somewhere near 21N 86W

It seems as if 91L's circulation is still pretty broad.
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 7463
Quoting Dakster:


Fair enough.... Thanks for your thoughts behind it. I agree that at the moment it is the highest probable outcome. Absolutes in weather are not always good things and mother nature tends to prove weather forecasters wrong.

If you live in S Fla the weather forecast has called for 60% chance of rain for monday and tuesday, yet nary a drop, and 70 and 80% chance for tomorrow and thursday we shall see, I for one have my doubts.
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near 23N 87W
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9591
Remember don't feed the trolls..they can get really grouchy..

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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.