Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:59 PM GMT on June 04, 2013
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.
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.
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!
Comments will take a few seconds to appear.