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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Remember don't feed the trolls..they can get really grouchy..

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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.
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Quoting FOREX:


Weather Channel just said the El Reno Tornado was an EF 5


Worse, widest tornado ON RECORD
Image fronm Normon NWS
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Frankly my dear, I don't give a darn who chases tornadoes and who doesn't, as long as they don't charge money and bring tourists.


Why not? It's a free market - if people can make money posting videos of houses/farms being demolished, why can't people operate tours so that they can see it in person?

Edit: sarcasm flag ON.
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Everybody, think for a second... a tornado with the same size and same winds hitting Arlington. University of Texas-Arlington would be gone. Cowboy Stadium would be heavily damaged if not collapsed to ground due to lack of support, Six Flags of Texas would be gone, along with about 100,000 homes and 400,000 people in path of tornado. Fort Worth and/or Dallas will be affected as well. This is not that unthinkable as you think.

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Quoting TylerStanfield:

Funny guy. Sorry but no. Shear has barely dropped over the last 3 hours, and wont really drop much more.
Bubble Burster.....LOL
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
True. Wasn't thinking when I said that. I was just stunned how strong it was. However, I was speaking of downtown OKC. It's not unthinkable an EF5 will hit metro OKC itself and goes through downtown OKC one day and wipe it off. Beside, people said Joplin and Moore was "destroyed" even though tornado only got between 33% to 50% of town.
Well at least I got you to stop and think about what you meant. What you say is the same for all metro areas in Tornado and Dixie Alleys. (And elsewhere, Chicago maybe.) Truth is, the odds of it happening are with the house, in other words, slim, when you consider the vast area tornadoes have to run around in (add: and how many EF4 and 5 actually occur). "Destroyed," when people use it that way, and I am not saying it's proper to do so, refers to level of damage, not the extent of damage. I see "destructive" used quite often. And "war zone." That way you don't need a percentage. Yes, in this sense "it is not unthinkable a destructive tornado would hit downtown OKC."

'Bye now. I need to check on the weather.
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Quoting luvtogolf:


And still developing down in the GOH like you have saying all day?


lol very funny

I would put it somewhere near 23N 87W
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9555
Tornados belong to the sphere of exceptional experience a lot of people are looking for today (as well as f.e. base jumping, racing, hiking Mount Everest, climbing active volcanoes, looking for violence and so on). Probably because daily life usually won't provide those borderline experiences as it did in challenging former times. It's difficult to deal with this "need". Prohibit all those activities? Some people would run wild (especially males - and I don't add a "lol").

Concerning tornados which undoubtedly are especially breathtaking: I remember an early interview with the swiss and in Germany famous-infamous weatherman Joerg Kachelmann, who answered - being questioned how he would like to die: "As a weatherman of course in the eye of an tornado". Now his saying is formed into the slogan: "Better to die in a tornado, than never to see a tornado." I restrain myself commenting this.
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Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue2 min
91L is doing a fair job battling dry air & some vertical shear. If org trend continues, then we get a subtropical or half-tropical storm
Member Since: October 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1948
Quoting seminolesfan:

I give you a 60% chance of injuring a shoulder if you keep patting yourself on the back so vigorously.


And I'm not sure what he's talking about either, I live in west-central Florida and I've got an 80% chance of rain through the week.
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553. FOREX
Quoting nigel20:

I was thinking the same thing.


Weather Channel just said the El Reno Tornado was an EF 5
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Quoting DataNerd:
I now feel more confident that we may NOT see andrea out of this system.

Surface circulation is currently utterly exposed and convection is waning. Will have to see what the next 36 hours brings but I don't expect any more than a TD out of this.

Certainly the main issue will be rainfall, but the sfc circulation is visible meandering to the southwest at present on visible satellite with the mid-level circulation collapsing altogether.


We will see but it could easily dissipate in 24 hours. Too much shear.

The NHC confirmed that shear would be weakening to the moderate range by tomorrow.
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I did some size comparisons of the El Reno tornado to College Station, TX (where I live) and Texas A&M (where I go to school) in Google Earth, and the results are pretty dramatic. The width of the tornado is slightly more than double the length of the university campus and almost as wide as the town itself, which is mind boggling to me. I have the actual measurements up on my twitter if you're interested in actually looking at them.

@1900hurricane
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22.55 Clock: districts evacuated Straubingen


The residents of five municipalities in the district of Straubing-Bogen forced to leave their homes. The district office shall order the immediate evacuation of entire districts or major streets. In local gyms or community centers have been set up homeless shelters.

Affected communities are the Parkstetten, Aiterhofen, Irlbach, Niederwinkling and Mariaposching. Local residents can receive on citizens' phone in Straubing-Bogen district office by phone 09421/973-332 further information.


22.30 Clock: Bitterfeld dam bursts


The situation in Bitterfeld has again a little relaxed. On Seelhausener lake, the water has reached a critical level, a piece dike was blown up. This prevents that the dam stops. The lake water is now flowing towards depression. Reiner Haseloff, Minister and Interior Minister Holger Stahlknecht (both CDU) followed the controlled demolition site with.
Member Since: October 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1948
Quoting CybrTeddy:


It's identical to the system that became Debby at this point.

I was thinking the same thing.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


It's identical to the system that became Debby at this point.
Debby was hard on the eyes as well so I'm sure if 91L develops she won't feel so lonely.At least we don't have one of these in the gulf..

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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Researchers, I'm guessing might use visuals to correlate with data. Also, they need to be close to get their instruments close.

I went out and watched the fascinating cloud that was tor-warned for my town on Thursday. At the same time, I got out of the storm's path without placing myself in danger from another cell off to my SW. Friday I drove to the dryline where I'd feelo safe and I photographed the El Reno cell forming and also observed and photoed its rear flank before the tornado before and after the tornado dropped. Was a huge storm - Giant.

Frankly my dear, I don't give a darn who chases tornadoes and who doesn't, as long as they don't charge money and bring tourists.


But you did not have a video camera mounted on your dash/windshield recording every single expression you made. And you then did not edit that video together and release it - with a "not for broadcast" watermark on it - so you could profit from it . . .

Why do you think the Samaras and Young families were so concerned about the cameras falling in to the hands of the media?

Tornado Porn.

I can only hope, we never see the video of what happened to them. Even in the name of "education".
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Did anyone see that Judge Judy case with the Parrot just now?

I can't believe Judge Judy believes a classified ad is a legally binding document.

Someone should throw HER out of court, not the plaintiff.

People write classified ads which are very short because you pay by the word or by the character. The ad is not a legal contract, which ought to be obvious because barter transactions are almost always negotiated anyway.

For example, if you had an ad where a used car was for sale, advertised for $5000. The buyer and seller negotiate and agree on $4500. Later it turns out the buyer only actually paid $4000.

Using Judge Judy's insane non-logic which she used in the bird case, if the hypothetical car seller took the buyer to court, he would be awarded $1000, which is clearly wrong and ridiculous.

The verbal contract was for a "Sitter" to take care of the bird until she could take it again later. It was not for an actual free Bird.

Judge Judy literally just robbed the plaintiff on nation wide television.

One of the worst small claims court injustices I've ever seen.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 32 Comments: 1501
Quoting washingtonian115:
Looks horrid.91L (if it develops) has a shot at surpassing Danny and his ugliness.


It's identical to the system that became Debby at this point.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
I'm going to give this thing between 50% and 70%


And still developing down in the GOH like you have saying all day?
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542. FOREX
Quoting washingtonian115:
Looks horrid.91L (if it develops) has a shot at surpassing Danny and his ugliness.


It looks better than 48 hours ago.
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Quoting Dakster:


I'll third that recommendation - if I didn't HAVE to use IE for a couple of work websites I need to access, I would never open it up.


I agree....kinda like the Neil Young song....." Piece Of Crap".....lol
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Looks horrid.91L (if it develops) has a shot at surpassing Danny and his ugliness.
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Quoting anotherwrongyear:
they just went down90% to 60 and 50% chance of rain here thursday and friday and their not really talking much about it anymore here in daytona beach today... and they dont have the watch box around thursday anymore on the 5 day outlook so i think i may be right.. we wont get much here from this

I give you a 60% chance of injuring a shoulder if you keep patting yourself on the back so vigorously.
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Quoting Gearsts:
Didn't the GFS show it recurving?


ThHis is an excerpt from the San Juan NWS discussion of this afternoon.

PRECIPITABLE
WATER BEGINS INCREASING THURSDAY NIGHT FROM A LOW OF AROUND 1.35
REACHING 1.8 INCHES BY SUNDAY WHEN ANOTHER TROPICAL WAVE IS
EXPECTED TO PASS BY.
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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".

Researchers, I'm guessing might use visuals to correlate with data. Also, they need to be close to get their instruments close.

I went out and watched the fascinating cloud that was tor-warned for my town on Thursday. At the same time, I got out of the storm's path without placing myself in danger from another cell off to my SW. Friday I drove to the dryline where I'd feelo safe and I photographed the El Reno cell forming and also observed and photoed its rear flank before the tornado before and after the tornado dropped. Was a huge storm - Giant.

Frankly my dear, I don't give a darn who chases tornadoes and who doesn't, as long as they don't charge money and bring tourists.
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SOI values for 04 Jun 2013

Average for last 30 days: 11.9
Average for last 90 days: 6.0
Daily contribution to SOI calculation: 22.8
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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.

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


The one around 40W. It will bring some squally weather to the NE Caribbean by Sunday.
Didn't the GFS show it recurving?
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Plenty have been that strong. This El Reno EF5 just happened to have an OU research team around to prove the true winds.

BTW, this is the third EF5 in what might be called the OKC Metro area since May 24, 2011. It would take an EF5 20 or more miles wide to "destroy OKC." Tornadoes are not like hurricanes. Destruction within, say, a mile-wide path is what you see in news photos and vids. Everything appears normal if you look to one side of the path or the other. Some things can even look relatively normal within the path of a violent tornado.
True. Wasn't thinking when I said that. There are some tornadoes in recorded history as bad or worse. I was just stunned how strong it was. This tornado was still one of the strongest that regular radar (WSR-88D) ever recorded. Even Scott Lincoln was very impressed and he have seen about thousand of cases of strong tornadoes. Also, I was speaking of downtown OKC. It's not unthinkable an EF5 will hit metro OKC itself and goes through downtown OKC one day and wipe it off. Beside, people said Joplin and Moore was "destroyed" even though tornado only got between 33% to 50% of town.
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Quoting Gearsts:
What wave and what is gonna happen?


The one around 40W. It will bring some squally weather to the NE Caribbean by Sunday.
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New center looks to be forming around 23.0N and 86.5W and is moving E/NE under the convection.
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The district Deggendorf orders more evacuations, in the Czech region of Bohemia, the water is high on the streets, houses were evacuated, the A3 highway is closed in both directions due to flooding.
Member Since: October 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1948
527. FOREX
Quoting Andrebrooks:
the one on the mid-Atlantic


has a nice spin and some convection.
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Quoting DataNerd:
I now feel more confident that we may NOT see andrea out of this system.

Surface circulation is currently utterly exposed and convection is waning. Will have to see what the next 36 hours brings but I don't expect any more than a TD out of this.

Certainly the main issue will be rainfall, but the sfc circulation is visible meandering to the southwest at present on visible satellite with the mid-level circulation collapsing altogether.


We will see but it could easily dissipate in 24 hours. Too much shear.


With all due respect, not much of this makes any sense. The surface circulation that you are speaking of is not the real center. There is one large low pressure gyre, as there has been for days, with several small vorticies spinning around it. Secondly, convection is pretty much persisting as it has for 2 days now. And finally, nothing points to it dissipating. In fact, the best conditions for development should be tomorrow and Thursday.
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Quoting Gearsts:
What wave and what is gonna happen?

The one east of Puerto Rico...he's just hoping for some rain.
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22.30 Clock: requests for assistance via Facebook


The social media prove themselves during the current Flutnot as a valuable tool. In the affected cities to network people and seek help through groups such as "flood Dresden" or "flood district of Leipzig and Altenburger Land" . There overnight offers for each affected region to be made public, not least.


22.17 Clock: water level continues to rise in Dresden


The worst seems not yet over. Here you can track the water level of the river Elbe in Dresden.
Member Since: October 27, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 1948
523. FOREX
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
I'm going to give this thing between 50% and 70%


DataNerd recently posted within the last 30 minutes that the system is most likely falling apart as we speak.
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I'm going to give this thing between 50% and 70%
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 9555
Quoting Gearsts:
What wave and what is gonna happen?
the one on the mid-Atlantic
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 29 Comments: 943
Quoting CaribBoy:


Just a little bit more south please!
What wave and what is gonna happen?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I know Moore is never going to be tornado proof. There will be more for Moore and it's not unthinkable that an EF5 will destroy OKC one day. However, I can't see a tornado any stronger than what happened at El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31, 2013. However, anything is possible like you said.
Plenty have been that strong. This El Reno EF5 just happened to have an OU research team around to prove the true winds.

BTW, this is the third EF5 in what might be called the OKC Metro area since May 24, 2011. It would take an EF5 20 or more miles wide to "destroy OKC." Tornadoes are not like hurricanes. Destruction within, say, a mile-wide path is what you see in news photos and vids. Everything appears normal if you look to one side of the path or the other. Some things can even look relatively normal within the path of a violent tornado.
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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Re: Chasers dying and injured.

While I know your heart is in the right place, Doc M, the article does not speak to what degree of knowledge this "amateur" had.


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".

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Not sure any of the discussions cleared up a lot but here's one :)

MARINE WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
326 PM EDT TUE JUN 4 2013

THE GENERAL FORECAST SCENARIO REMAINS THE SAME WITH THE TROUGH
PREVAILING OVER THE NEXT 3-4 DAYS AND EXPECTED FORMATION OF A
SURFACE LOW OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. THE TROUGH AND LOW WILL SHIFT
NE AHEAD OF A MID-LATITUDE TROUGH DIGGING INTO THE SE UNITED
STATES LATER IN THE WEEK. LATEST SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS WHAT
APPEARS TO BE A LOW FORMING ON THE TROUGH AXIS NEAR 23N88W.
THIS FEATURE...OR THE ONE THAT DOES BECOME THE MORE DEFINITIVE
LOW ASSOCIATED WITH THE AFOREMENTIONED TROUGH WILL HAVE A MEDIUM
CHANCE OF DEVELOPING INTO A TROPICAL CYCLONE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE
OF DAYS.

AS FOR MODEL DEPICTIONS...AS STATED IN PREVIOUS FORECASTS...
UNCERTAINTY STILL REMAINS WITH REGARDS TO THE STRENGTH OF THE LOW
EXPECTED TO FORM. THE GFS IS APPEARING SIMILAR TO THE ECMWF WITH
REGARD TO THE WIND FIELD RELATED TO THE UPCOMING LOW FEATURE. THE
UKMET CONTINUES TO BE MUCH STRONGER WITH THE SURFACE WINDS AND
RESULTING SEAS OVER THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO THROUGH THE
REMAINDER OF THE WEEK...BUT HAS COME MORE IN LINE WITH THE FUTURE
TRACK OF THE EXPECTED LOW FEATURE IN COMPARISON TO THE OTHER
GLOBAL MODELS.

THE MAIN POINT HERE IS THAT IT IS THAT ONCE THE LOW HAS DEVELOPED
IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT IT WILL STRENGTHEN AS IT INTERACTS WITH
ANOTHER UPPER TROUGH LATER IN THE WEEK. DESPITE THE UNCERTAINTY
OF THE WINDS AND SEAS FORECAST OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS...EXPECT
SQUALLY CONDITIONS WITH TSTMS PRODUCING FREQUENT LIGHTNING AT
TIMES ACROSS THE ERN GULF OF MEXICO INTO PORTIONS OF FLORIDA
THROUGH THE END OF THE WEEK. WILL HIGHLIGHT FUTURE FORECAST
CHARTS AND TEXT PRODUCTS WITH "TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION
POSSIBLE."
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 459
I now feel more confident that we may NOT see andrea out of this system.

Surface circulation is currently utterly exposed and convection is waning. Will have to see what the next 36 hours brings but I don't expect any more than a TD out of this.

Certainly the main issue will be rainfall, but the sfc circulation is visible meandering to the southwest at present on visible satellite with the mid-level circulation collapsing altogether.


We will see but it could easily dissipate in 24 hours. Too much shear.
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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.