Record heat fuels destructive fires in drought-baked Colorado

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:42 PM GMT on June 12, 2013

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Destructive wildfires erupted in three locations in drought-baked Colorado on Tuesday, fanned by strong winds and the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the state so early in the year. The mercury soared to 100°F in Denver on Tuesday, their earliest 100° day on record (previous earliest 100° day: June 14, 2006, 102°.) It was the second consecutive day Denver recorded its hottest temperature for so early in the year. At Lamar in Southeast Colorado, the mercury soared to 111°, just one degree below their hottest temperature ever measured, and 3° shy of the all-time hottest temperature ever measured in Colorado, the 114° reading in Sedgwick on July 11, 1954. The most destructive fire in Colorado Tuesday was the Black Forest fire burning near Colorado Springs. The fire destroyed over 60 buildings and forced the evacuation of several thousand people. The fire was aided by nearly ideal conditions on Tuesday afternoon--Colorado Springs hit 97° (only the 2nd time the city has been that hot this early in the year), with sustained winds of 29 mph gusting to 36 mph, and a humidity of 4%. Colorado Springs is under extreme drought.


Figure 1. A garage is fully engulfed in flames as the Black Forest Fire continues to burn out of control northeast of Colorado Springs, Colo. on June 11, 2013. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post/Getty Images)


Figure 2. Wild fires burn near Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Springs, and Royal Gorge in Colorado, and in two locations in New Mexico, at 4:40 pm EDT June 11, 2013. Record heat and strong winds hit the region on Tuesday, causing critical fire conditions. The Image credit: NASA.

The forecast: better, but still dangerous
Fire conditions will not be as dangerous in Colorado today, as winds will be lower, and temperatures will be a few degrees cooler due to a weak cold front that moved through the state overnight. Nevertheless, the air is still extremely dry and temperatures will be very hot, making it difficult for firefighters to gain the upper hand on the blazes. A red flag warning for dangerous fire conditions is posted for Colorado Springs, where winds of 10 - 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph, are expected in combination with relative humidities as low as 9% and temperatures in the low 90s. Colorado and New Mexico can expect a destructive fire season the remainder of June and into July, due to severe to exceptional drought conditions and hot temperatures. Relief will likely come in July with the arrival of wetter conditions thanks to the annual Southwest U.S. monsoon. Colorado Springs experienced the most expensive wildfire in Colorado history in 2012, the $353 million Waldo Canyon fire. The burn started on June 23rd and burned through July 10th, burning a total of 18,247 acres. Approximately 347 homes were burned, 2 people were killed, and over 32,000 residents were evacuated.


Video 1. A close escape from the Colorado Springs Black Forest fire. "I could hear the roar and the explosions of residential propane tanks heading toward Black Forest and Shoup Roads. Then came a wave of intense heat followed by a burst of fast-moving, oncoming flames. Firefighters and cops panicked, ordering me to leave: "Take pictures somewhere else," yelled one officer. I'm certain within moments of my escape the fire gobbled up a gas station and Firehouse BBQ restaurant at the corner I was standing on."

Related: Wildfires in the U.S. will be at least twice as destructive by 2050, burning around 20 million acres nationwide each year, according to a federal report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2012. The report cited research predicting that a 1.8°F increase in temperature in Colorado would cause a factor of 2.8 - 6.6 increase in fire area burned.

Wunderground member mfrazzz has a webcam pointed at the Colorado Springs Black Forest fire.


Figure 3. Severe weather outlook for Wednesday.

Severe weather outbreak Wednesday and Thursday
Tens of millions of Americans will be subject to a large outbreak of severe thunderstorms on Wednesday and Thursday, as a powerful low pressure system moves from the Great Lakes area to the East Coast. The greatest danger on Wednesday is for an organized complex of thunderstorms, possibly becoming a "derecho" event that brings widespread damaging straight-line winds to multiple states. A few strong tornadoes are also possible, and the Storm Prediction Center has issued their highest level of alert "High Risk" for Chicago and northern Indiana. This is the first "High Risk" forecast SPC has put out in 2013. Today marks the first "High Risk" forecast for Chicago since May 30, 2004, and the 16th since 1980. You can follow the outbreak on our severe weather page.


Jeff Masters

Pyrocumulus from Rocky Mountain National Park fire (JeffMasters)
The Big Meadows fire was caused by lightning in Rocky Mountain National Park. The heat from the fire made some respectable pyrocumulus clouds as I watched from Snow Mountain, above the YMCA camp where the Chapman Conference on Climate Change was occurring.
Pyrocumulus from Rocky Mountain National Park fire
JarosoFire(2) (taosmtngirl)
Thundercloud created by fire below. See Gil's (gilg7) photos also.
JarosoFire(2)
Silver Fire, Gila National Forest (Shotonsite)
Burning in the Black Range in the Gila National Forest in SW New Mexico.
Silver Fire, Gila National Forest

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Quoting AussieStorm:
It is very colorful and spread out over a lot of places.
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Reports
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Quoting sar2401:

I didn't mean the discrete storms from earlier today, I was talking about the storms from this bow line, which seems to be one of the requirements for a derecho.




@wunderground Weather Underground 55s
1:10 AM ET: Close up look at the vortex on the north end of the #bow #echo.
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1071. sar2401
Quoting floridaT:
I thought you were from ca?

Grew up in Cleveland, got married when I was 20, moved to California, lived there for 40 years, and have lived in Alabama for seven years. I was actually back there visiting in 1969 after having left in 1966. One of the reasons was to get my '57 Chevy and drive it back to California. Not much went right that trip.

Would you like a copy of my CV? :-)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
1070. zampaz

512
WFUS51 KILN 130508
TORILN
OHC041-159-130545-
/O.NEW.KILN.TO.W.0002.130613T0508Z-130613T0545Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILMINGTON OH
108 AM EDT THU JUN 13 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WILMINGTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN DELAWARE COUNTY IN CENTRAL OHIO...
EASTERN UNION COUNTY IN CENTRAL OHIO...

* UNTIL 145 AM EDT.

* AT 107 AM EDT...RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF
PRODUCING A TORNADO LOCATED NEAR MAGNETIC SPRINGS...MOVING EAST AT
65 MPH. IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF
PRODUCING DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT LINE WINDS.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
DELAWARE...
SUNBURY...

IN ADDITION...RADNOR...WARRENSBURG...LEONARDSBURG...K ILBOURNE...
GALENA AND OLIVE GREEN ARE NEAR THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS
THUNDERSTORM.

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.

TORNADOES ARE DIFFICULT TO SEE AND CONFIRM AT NIGHT. TAKE COVER NOW.

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER...GO TO OUR WEBSITE AT WEATHER.GOV/ILN AND
SUBMIT YOUR REPORT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA...WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY.



LAT...LON 4037 8292 4036 8290 4036 8284 4035 8275
4019 8279 4033 8332 4040 8329
TIME...MOT...LOC 0509Z 282DEG 54KT 4035 8324



BINAU
Member Since: February 2, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 904
Quoting sar2401:

The water temps really don't change from day to night in the Gulf.

True but since that high has been sitting there they havent but last week it was changing. BOC was 87 during the day and turned 84 at night. So sometimes it does drop the temps
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1068. sar2401
Quoting bigwes6844:
That high pressure making these temps stay nice and juicy!especially at 12am

The water temps really don't change from day to night in the Gulf.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
Getting nasty around the other side of the world! MJO is in full effect there
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Goodnight guys.
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1065. sar2401
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I'd say it has:


I didn't mean the discrete storms from earlier today, I was talking about the storms from this bow line, which seems to be one of the requirements for a derecho.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
Like I said, Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals) is the first major sport stadium to receive "Storm Ready" status from NOAA and NWS. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies), Target Field (Minnesota Twins), and Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati Reds) had since joined "Storm Ready" team.

Link to Busch Stadium's Storm Ready status

Coors Field joins Storm Ready with 3 other parks
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Da Hawksssss!
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That high pressure making these temps stay nice and juicy!especially at 12am
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Gonna be a rough night...

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1060. sar2401
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
A very well developed MCS, Derecho or not. Great structure.


So far, all the severe storms are in Ohio,and both the VIL's and storm tops have decreased over the past half-hour. The line at least looks like it's not getting stronger.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
Quoting sar2401:

I didn't even know what a derecho was but I was at Edgewater Yacht Club when that thing hit. Those were some of the strongest winds I've ever been in. A friend had invited us to go out on his boat to watch the fireworks. A couple of girls showed up and he decided to take them instead, so we watched the fireworks from the breakwater. I never saw him or the girls again. :-(
I thought you were from ca?
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ABOUT DERECHOS

More about derechos. Everything there is.

The line storm (1934 painting)



Derecho in Illinois in 2008



Photo in Oklahoma in advance of a derecho in 2001.

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Quoting zampaz:

Stay safe from the fires, smoke is bad there, wear a mask.

Yeah, it's a bad time to head out to Colorado, but I won't be out there long. I'll be chasing across much of the plains with Silver Lining storm chasing tours. :-)

Quoting sar2401:

I didn't even know what a derecho was but I was at Edgewater Yacht Club when that thing hit. Those were some of the strongest winds I've ever been in. A friend had invited us to go out on his boat to watch the fireworks. A couple of girls showed up and he decided to take them instead, so we watched the fireworks from the breakwater. I never saw him or the girls again. :-(

That's terrible. :-(

Though you might hear a lot about tornadoes, or tropical cyclones in the news, other types of severe weather, such as damaging winds, hail, and floods can be just as deadly.

Anyways, now I'm off. See y'all tomorrow.
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1056. OHGamer
First severe thunderstorm warning for metro CMH issued.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WILMINGTON HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR... UNION COUNTY IN CENTRAL OHIO... NORTHEASTERN MADISON COUNTY IN CENTRAL OHIO... SOUTHEASTERN LOGAN COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO... SOUTHEASTERN HARDIN COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO... NORTHWESTERN FRANKLIN COUNTY IN CENTRAL OHIO... DELAWARE COUNTY IN CENTRAL OHIO... NORTHEASTERN CHAMPAIGN COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL OHIO...

* UNTIL 130 AM EDT.

* AT 1249 AM EDT... RADAR INDICATED SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM NORTH OF ESSEX TO WEST MANSFIELD TO LIPPINCOTT... MOVING EAST AT 50 MPH.

STORM HAZARDS INCLUDE... DAMAGING WINDS TO 70 MPH...

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE... NORTH LEWISBURG... RICHWOOD... MARYSVILLE... MECHANICSBURG... PLAIN CITY... DELAWARE... ASHLEY... DUBLIN... POWELL... LAKE DARBY... HILLIARD... POLARIS... WORTHINGTON... UPPER ARLINGTON... SUNBURY...

IN ADDITION... MIDDLEBURG... KENNARD... MINGO... RAYMOND... SOMERSVILLE... CABLE... BROADWAY... POTTERSBURG... ESSEX... WOODSTOCK... PHARISBURG... MAGNETIC SPRINGS... MILFORD CENTER... STATE ROUTE 4 AT STATE ROUTE 161 AND NEW DOVER ARE NEAR THE PATH OF THESE SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

SEEK SHELTER IN A STURDY BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS AND DOORS UNTIL THESE STORMS HAVE PASSED.

TORNADOES CAN DEVELOP SUDDENLY IN THESE CONDITIONS. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. IF IN A MOBILE HOME... A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS... MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER.

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER... GO TO OUR WEBSITE AT WEATHER.GOV/ILN AND SUBMIT YOUR REPORT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA... WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY.
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1055. sar2401
Quoting zampaz:

Sad for your loss of friends.

Thanks, I appreciate it.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
A very well developed MCS, Derecho or not. Great structure.

Yep, it's impressive...

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1053. sar2401
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
sar2401 that is horrible!

It really was. Never even knew the storms were coming. Long before the days of weather radios or even sirens. The sky was scattered clouds a half-hour before and scattered clouds a half-hour after. The whole thing lasted about 25 minutes. My black '57 Chevy with a brand new engine was crushed by a falling tree as well. I had pretty much forgotten about it until I saw your post.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
Quoting sar2401:

I didn't even know what a derecho was but I was at Edgewater Yacht Club when that thing hit. Those were some of the strongest winds I've ever been in. A friend had invited us to go out on his boat to watch the fireworks. A couple of girls showed up and he decided to take them instead, so we watched the fireworks from the breakwater. I never saw him or the girls again. :-(
I was in 2006 St. Louis Derecho #1 (there was 2 derechoes in STL area in 3 days that year) on July 19th. That derecho produced winds of 80-100 mph and it was the strongest storm I've ever seen (still is up to today). Busch Stadium suffered minor damage from that derecho and 40 fans was injured when plastic boards fell into the crowd when the winds came to stadium before derecho struck suddenly. Because of that, Busch Stadium is the first major stadium in USA to have "proven" weather shelters in event of derecho or tornado. Busch Stadium also add the radar to the scoreboard so fans will know when to get inside.
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I was born in March of 77, but I remember that well BaltimoreBrian. :) I remember flying a kite very successfully that day; which could have meant so many things back then. I'm out, stay safe all.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
A very well developed MCS, Derecho or not. Great structure.

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1049. zampaz
Quoting Ameister12:
Off to bed! Good night everybody!

I need to get up bright and early to leave for Denver. Hopefully these storms won't keep me up.

Stay safe from the fires, smoke is bad there, wear a mask.
Member Since: February 2, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 904
July 4, 1977 DERECHO
"The Independence Day Derecho of 1977"


You can read about it but one part I'm posting here.

Figure 4. Area affected by severe downburst damage over northern Wisconsin during the derecho of July 4, 1977 (shaded areas "B" and "C" on Fig. 2b). From the damage severity, wind gusts were estimated to have been between 73 and 112 miles per hour in the light red shaded areas, and from 113 to 157 mph in the dark red shaded areas. (From Fujita 1978).

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1047. zampaz
Quoting sar2401:

I didn't even know what a derecho was but I was at Edgewater Yacht Club when that thing hit. Those were some of the strongest winds I've ever been in. A friend had invited us to go out on his boat to watch the fireworks. A couple of girls showed up and he decided to take them instead, so we watched the fireworks from the breakwater. I never saw him or the girls again. :-(

Sad for your loss of friends.
Member Since: February 2, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 904
Off to bed! Good night everybody!

I need to get up bright and early to leave for Denver. Hopefully these storms won't keep me up.
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sar2401 that is horrible!
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Lot of good points being made, sar2401 is right; derecho has to be a continuous bowing line of 58+ winds. The discreet storms shouldn't be included in that from earlier. That said, I'm pretty sure we'll cross the threshold of a derecho before the night is over. The line in Wisconsin can't be connected with what was happening in IL, and Indiana; they weren't connected. Most of what happened in Northern Illinois was discreet and not a bowing segment. Now I've confused myself....
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
1043. sar2401
Quoting BaltimoreBrian:
JULY 4, 1969 DERECHO
"The Ohio Fireworks Derecho"


This derecho had one of the first bow echoes identified by radar. It was very deadly as well. 18 killed by wind and 27 more by flash flooding by training storms behind it that night. Much like the storms in Michigan now.

radar image from 8:30 p.m. July 4 1969 Akron, OH



More than 100 boats in Cleveland OH harbor to watch the fireworks were flipped over.

I didn't even know what a derecho was but I was at Edgewater Yacht Club when that thing hit. Those were some of the strongest winds I've ever been in. A friend had invited us to go out on his boat to watch the fireworks. A couple of girls showed up and he decided to take them instead, so we watched the fireworks from the breakwater. I never saw him or the girls again. :-(
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
1042. ncstorm
Good night guys..

everyone in the path of the severe weather, stay safe!

round 2 today..:)
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1041. OHGamer
watching latest weather channel info that line is gonna be in metro Columbus in about 30-45 mins (eta 0115-0130 EDT)...this line is racing fast.
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1040. sar2401
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:
Anyone know what the blinking V-shape would be?


Likely a blip in the return due to ground clutter or some electronic problem.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
Quoting ncstorm:
2012 Derecho caused over two weeks of power outages..

Luckily, this time we're not it the midst of a major heat wave.
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SPC did an amazing job, as is par for them. Had one EF2+ tornado hit Chicago during rush hour, it would have been a disaster. Now with this late night event unfolding, they look like they predicted it right.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
JULY 4, 1969 DERECHO
"The Ohio Fireworks Derecho"


This derecho had one of the first bow echoes identified by radar. It was very deadly as well. 18 killed by wind and 27 more by flash flooding by training storms behind it that night. Much like the storms in Michigan now.

radar image from 8:30 p.m. July 4 1969 Akron, OH



More than 100 boats in Lake Erie to watch the fireworks were flipped over.
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Quoting sar2401:

The line hasn't had widespread winds of 59 mph or higher. It only counts when that starts happening.

I'd say it has:

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1035. sar2401
Quoting Bluestorm5:
I didn't say Sandy took the record. I said one of long-time poster can tell how many they've seen in a single blog.

I know that, it was in reference to another post. I'm kind of a long-time member and, as I wrote, I can remember over 8,000. Maybe Rita or Katrina.
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1034. ncstorm
2012 Derecho caused over two weeks of power outages..
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Anyone know what the blinking V-shape would be?

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1032. sar2401
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:
From where this line formed (central IL) till now it has traveled already around 240 miles

The line hasn't had widespread winds of 59 mph or higher. It only counts when that starts happening.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
1031. zampaz

660
WFUS51 KCLE 130432
TORCLE
OHC095-123-143-173-130530-
/O.NEW.KCLE.TO.W.0011.130613T0432Z-130613T0530Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CLEVELAND OH
1232 AM EDT THU JUN 13 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CLEVELAND HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL LUCAS COUNTY IN NORTHWEST OHIO...
OTTAWA COUNTY IN NORTHWEST OHIO...
NORTHWESTERN SANDUSKY COUNTY IN NORTHWEST OHIO...
NORTHEASTERN WOOD COUNTY IN NORTHWEST OHIO...

* UNTIL 130 AM EDT

* AT 1230 AM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED 7 MILES SOUTHEAST OF PERRYSBURG...OR 9 MILES
NORTHEAST OF BOWLING GREEN...AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 60 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
ELMORE...PORT CLINTON...NORTHWOOD...WOODVILLE...GENOA...OREGON.. .
OAK HARBOR...PUT-IN-BAY...WALBRIDGE...MILLBURY...CLAY CENTER...
WILLISTON...ROCKY RIDGE...BONO...RENO BEACH...CATAWBA ISLAND AND
MARBLEHEAD.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. IF NO
BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE
BUILDING IN AN INTERIOR HALLWAY OR CLOSET.



LAT...LON 4159 8375 4172 8334 4154 8299 4152 8291
4155 8287 4158 8287 4160 8282 4165 8287
4167 8283 4167 8286 4173 8282 4167 8277
4158 8282 4155 8278 4155 8272 4152 8270
4140 8343 4149 8343 4147 8371
TIME...MOT...LOC 0432Z 246DEG 52KT 4149 8350



KING
Member Since: February 2, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 904
this line keeps growing northward I am keeping an eye on this. Even though chances are it wont make it up this far north I still am going to keep an eye on it.
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gonna be a hell of a night in ohio, line increasing speed
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1028. sar2401
Quoting beell:

There was one other major overnight derecho that I can find, which was on May 31, 1998. It was further north, and actually lasted 12 hours. Maybe history is repeating itself.
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 17485
Rita and Katrina had so many posts, saved lives. This is a derecho happening, amazing. Hope Jeff blogs on it tomorrow.
Member Since: April 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 2437
From where this line formed (central IL) till now it has traveled already around 240 miles
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1025. MsZola
A little while ago we had two t-storms develop parallel to each other, they were moving more-or-less southeast and we were right in between them.

As a result, we had no wind whatsoever, a brief period of heavy rain as the southern storm expanded, and a lightning show like I have never seen--the flashing was so constant it was like a strobe.

I tried to get a short movie of it, but sadly, the digital camera is getting old and just couldn't pick it up. I don't think I've ever seen that much lightning in my life.

Not happy with the look of that big bow echo...

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Quoting sar2401:

I recall over 8,000 but I have no idea which storm that was for. I don't think Sandy took the record.
I didn't say Sandy took the record. I said one of long-time poster can tell how many they've seen in a single blog.
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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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