Tornado smashes small Kansas town; major tornado outbreak today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:30 PM GMT on May 05, 2007

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A terrible scene--played out all too often in 2007--happened again last night in Greensburg, Kansas. The sirens sounded, warning of an advancing tornado, but the black of night hid the 3/4-mile wide monster twister approaching from the southwest. The residents of this small town of 1600 had time to find safe shelter, but the tornado was so powerful, that even sturdy buildings could not protect the residents. The tornado destroyed or heavily damaged 90% of the town, destroying the central business district, city hall, and the high school. Eight people died, plus one more person 30 miles away. Damage surveys are not yet complete on the tornado, but photos I've seen of the destruction show damage consistent with EF4 winds(168-199 mph). It is possible the storm was an EF5 (winds more than 200 mph). The ten deaths yesterday bring the U.S. tornado death toll to 69 so far this year, three more than the toll for all of last year. For those interested, I've saved a 1 Mb animation of the radar reflectivity and Doppler velocities of the tornado (thanks to Wunderblogger redefined for saving these!) The animations show some very strong rotation and odd swirling behavior that I don't recall ever seeing in a tornado radar animation before.

Wunderblogger Mike Theiss was out chasing yesterday and caught some of the storms; be sure to tune into his blog over the next few days to read his chase accounts.


Figure 1. Radar image of the strom that spawned the Greensburg, KS tornado of May 4, 2007.

Major severe weather outbreak today expected
More strong (EF2 and EF3) or violent (EF4 and EF5) tornadoes are possible again tonight, and the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has put a large area of Kansas and Nebraska under its highest risk level, "High Risk". This is the fourth time this year that SPC has issued its "High Risk" forecast. The last time it did so, on April 24, an EF3 tornado struck the Mexico/Texas border near Eagle Pass, killing ten (the "High Risk" area defined by SPC was actually a bit north of where the tornado struck). Tornadoes have already been reported in Colorado and Nebraska today, so tune into our severe weather page and radar page to follow the outbreak.

Coastal Carolina storm
The latest (8am EDT) computer forecast models continue to show a moderately strong coastal storm developing several hundred miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on Monday. The storm will be extratropical in nature when it forms. It will bring strong winds and high surf to the Carolina coast for several days early next week, as it meanders offshore. Water temperatures are 22-23 C off of the coast, which may be warm enough to allow the low to acquire some subtropical characteristics and become the season's first named storm. However, none of the models are showing this, and I put the odds of a Subtropical Storm Andrea forming next week at about 10%.

Jeff Masters

LP Supercell with Wallcloud (MikeTheiss)
Small "Left Split" LP Supercell with blocky wallcloud in Oklahoma. Mike Theiss - All Rights Reserved
LP Supercell with Wallcloud
Lightning 5-4-07 (kshippychic)
Lightning 5-4-07

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188. hurricane23
10:54 PM EDT on May 05, 2007
Posted By: HurricaneFCast at 10:51 PM EDT on May 05, 2007. (hide)
Navy labeled low off SE Fl as Invest96w.

No such thing... located in the Indian ocean
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
187. kmanislander
2:53 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Hurricanefcast

I think you have your oceans mixed up
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
186. HurricaneFCast
2:48 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Navy labeled low off SE Fl as Invest96w
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184. HurricaneFCast
2:46 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
GFS has got the low down to 1001 mb..easily TS Strength, within 48 hours.
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183. kmanislander
2:45 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
well the forecast calls for the start of something late tonight and then intensifying from tomorrow.
We shall see.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
182. HurricaneFCast
2:43 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Ehhh... Anyone got a copy of the SST's for the coast of FL in the next few days? Residual low from this cold front could be on its way moving southwest off the coast of the Carolinas.
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181. Bamatracker
2:45 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
i hate wait and see.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
180. Baybuddy
2:42 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
No invest's this month. (i hope) I was at the grand hotel in point clear and overheard some tourists discussing wunderground. I must admit it was pretty cool!
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179. hurricane23
10:42 PM EDT on May 05, 2007
Iam leaning towards a subtropical depression hybrid type system.Its actually supported by the phase diagrams out of FSU.We'll see what happens.


Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
178. Bamatracker
2:42 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
kman...thats what i'm going to be looking for tomarrow. Waiting to see something come together.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
177. sfranz
2:42 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
I saw this happening as I was watching the IR last night. Unfortunately, I didn't capture it as I was viewing it. It's a little harder to see here, but this is the atmospheric collision that produced the Greensburg tornado, as seen by GOES West in infrared and water vapor.



Greensburg tornado infrared

Greensburg tornado water vapor

(I've set it to run five times and stop. Reload if you want to see it run more).

Sorry - the links seem to be failing in Firefox. If you don't see the pictures try:

http://www.mirawebdesign.com/temp/kansas-tornado-ir-01.gif

and

http://www.mirawebdesign.com/temp/kansas-tornado-wv-01.gif

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176. hurricane23
10:41 PM EDT on May 05, 2007
The good thing is that the very low pressure forming off the SE US coast, which was not forecasted by the GFS until a few days ago, will keep shear high in the caribbean longer through at least the end of next week.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
175. Bamatracker
2:40 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
12 24 32 22 19 2 there ya go!!!!LOL!!




(no guarantee is made to the accuracy of this prediction. Bamatracker or bamatrackers sponsors are not liable for any loss of finances from his advice)
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
174. kmanislander
2:41 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
seriously though when would we expect to see some sign of the forecast verifying ??
All I see off the E Coast is some high cirrus
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173. StoryOfTheCane
2:41 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
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172. Baybuddy
2:40 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Hey! Just in from the water... GREAT SUNSET!!!
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171. kmanislander
2:39 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
so give me the numbers for the lotto and the power ball LOL
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170. Bamatracker
2:39 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
evening mr. baybuddy!!
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
169. Baybuddy
2:38 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
anyone still here?
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168. Bamatracker
2:37 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
hey...i depend on crystal gazing quite a bit. between those and my tarot cards my predictions are untouchable.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
167. kmanislander
2:34 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
23

The GFS had the low coming up from 10 days ago. Now it has pushed it backed two weeks plus
These long range forecats are no better than crystal gazing
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
166. hurricane23
10:34 PM EDT on May 05, 2007
The Possiblity of seeing an invest in the next day or two is there.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
165. Bamatracker
2:35 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
I'm kind of curious to see which model is going to perform the best.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
164. Bamatracker
2:33 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
aahh..but it could be sub tropical which I learned earlier today has both tropical and extratropical characteristics...
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
163. hurricane23
10:30 PM EDT on May 05, 2007
Kman on the 18z you can see the low coming up from the caribbean bringing some rain for south florida.00z should becoming out in about an hour or so.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
162. MZT
2:31 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
The NAM certainly thinks this low will deepen quickly on Sunday night.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 793
161. kmanislander
2:32 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
agreed but waht we are watching for is not really tropical
This is the pre season act !
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160. Bamatracker
2:30 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
I find it interesting that we are watching something like this already. I seriously thought it would be mid June before the models started picking up on things.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
159. kmanislander
2:30 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Bama

That swirl was progged to move off to the E and make way for the big low everyone is talking about
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
158. kmanislander
2:27 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
hey there Bama

Seems like everyone is waiting and watching.
I have always been somewhat skeptical of models.
The GFS had a system coming up from the S Caribbean and the latest runs have backed off of that big time
So far no sign of a cut off low in the making
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
157. Bamatracker
2:27 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
i thought i saw a swirl of clouds of the coast of sc before the visible went out..eyes probably deseaving me though.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
156. Bamatracker
2:25 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
evening kman!!
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
155. kmanislander
2:25 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
SJ

I just had dinner !
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154. kmanislander
2:24 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
If something is supposed to spin up off the E Coast would we not be seeing some signs of it by now ?
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153. Bamatracker
2:23 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
now thats cool aswell SJ...I haven't really been able so see any good MIMIC's so from that I can study them to know them better.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
152. hurricane23
10:24 PM EDT on May 05, 2007
Hey SJ whats up?

NHC has a 1003mb area of low pressure in 48hrs of the coast.

rrrr
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
151. StormJunkie
2:24 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Got to go eat dinner. I'll get back to you in a little bit!

Good to see you 23 and kman
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
150. kmanislander
2:23 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
good evening all
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149. Bamatracker
2:23 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
evening 23!!
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
148. StormJunkie
2:23 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Cool Mimic historical loops
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
147. Bamatracker
2:22 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Those are cool pics!! Do you know where to find a video of storms? For instance from when a storm forms until landfall?
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
146. hurricane23
2:20 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
from the Charleston NWS office...

LONG TERM /MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY/...A POTENTIALLY SIGNIFICANT
COASTAL STORM MAY IMPACT THE RGN THIS WEEK BRINGING A VARIETY OF
HAZARDS THE PARTS OF THE AREA INCLUDING HIGH WINDS...DANGEROUS
SURF...STRONG RIP CURRENTS AND BEACH EROSION. ALL OF THE MODELS ARE
IN GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT FRONTAL CYCLOGENESIS WL OCCUR OFF THE
SC/NC COAST LTE TNGT INTO SUN AS THE SUPPORTING UPR TROF DIGS DOWN
THE ERN SEABOARD AND EVENTUALLY CUTS OFF JUST E OF CAPE HATTERAS.
THE 05/12Z GFS IS SIMILAR TO ITS PREVIOUS RUNS IN BEING THE ERN MOST
OUTLIER OF THE VARIOUS MODEL PKGS WITH THE ECMWF LOOKING MORE
REASONABLE AT THIS JUNCTURE. THIS TRACK WOULD RETROGRADE THE SFC LOW
CLOSER TO THE GA/SC COAST WITH THE LOW BEING CNTRD ABT 200 E OF SAV
BY THE END OF THE WEEK. THIS TRACK IS VERY CLOSE TO THE LATEST
MANUAL HPC PROGS. OBVIOUSLY THE EVENTUAL IMPACTS FROM THIS SYSTEM WL
BE HIGHLY DEPENDANT ON THE EVENTUAL MOVEMENT AND STRENGTH OF THE SFC
LOW AND THE STRENGTH OF THE RIDGE TO THE N OF THE SYSTEM.
COMPLICATING MATTERS IS THAT THERE ARE SIGNALS IN THE VARIOUS MODELS
THAT THIS SYSTEM COULD BECOME A SUBTROPICAL STORM OR SUBTROPICAL
DEPRESSION HYBRID...WHICH IS FURTHER SUPPORTED BY PHASE DIAGRAMS OUT
OF FSU.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13626
145. StormJunkie
2:18 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
Try this BT. Found from here.

Geuss that is mostly pics though. Let me look a little more.
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144. Bamatracker
2:15 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
old tropical systems
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
143. StormJunkie
2:14 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
What kinds of storms BT, old tropical systems, or like the past few days?
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
142. Bamatracker
2:12 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
im getting geared up for tomarrow. going to watch Tiger win the golf tournament and watch this thing develop in the atlantic.
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
140. StormJunkie
2:08 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
It's all good BT ☺

Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 15644
139. Bamatracker
2:04 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
hey SJ...you know a web site were you can get video or time elapse photos (satillite) of storms?
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367
138. Bamatracker
1:59 AM GMT on May 06, 2007
sorry SJ....didnt meant to.... :(
Member Since: May 17, 2006 Posts: 6 Comments: 1367

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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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