Tornadoes kill 21 in Missouri and Oklahoma

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:44 PM GMT on May 11, 2008

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Killer tornadoes swept through Oklahoma and Missouri, yesterday, killing at least 21 people. Hardest hit were the towns of Picher, OK, where seven died, and Seneca, MO, where ten died. Damage photos I saw from these towns showed buildings swept clean from their foundations, indicative of at least EF-4 damage, and possibly EF-5. Yesterday's deaths brings the 2008 U.S. tornado death toll up to 96--the most tornado fatalities since 1998, when 130 people died. With at least another month left in peak tornado season, 2008 already ranks as the 12th deadliest year in the 59-year record.


Figure 1. Storm damage reports from the Saturday, May 10 tornado outbreak. Image credit: NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

Today's severe weather forecast
Severe weather is not done with the region yet--the Storm Prediction Center has placed much of the Southeast under their "Slight Risk" category for severe weather today. Two tornadoes have already been reported today, one in Georgia, and one in Kentucky. The Weather Underground Severe Weather page and Tornado page are good places to go to follow today's severe weather. A more significant chance of tornadoes and severe weather is expected Wednesday and Thursday over the deep south, from eastern Texas to Alabama.

Storm chasing with Mike Theiss
No word yet from Wunderblogger Mike Theiss on which storms he intercepted during yesterday's mayhem. Mike is in Tornado Alley this week, performing his annual chase efforts. Be sure to catch his spectacular photos and chase accounts.

Jeff Masters

Tornado over McAlester, OK (obso)
Another view of tornado from downtown McAlester.
Tornado over McAlester, OK
Rainbow Left, Funnel Right, House Middle (Californiaboy)
The back edge of a tornadic storm as it left the town of Tom Bean, TX. This storm produced several weak funnels, none of which I ever saw touch down. Still a breathtaking site.
Rainbow Left, Funnel Right, House Middle
Wallcloud near Lacrosse, Kansas (MikeTheiss)
Photo of a wallcloud crossing road near lacrosse, Kansas on May 25, 2008. Photo copyight Mike Theiss
Wallcloud near Lacrosse, Kansas

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55. robomaeyhem
4:22 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
Wow, the center of the low is 2 counties below me
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54. Clearwater1
8:25 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
2004 went down as record setting year for tornado activity in the Midwest. Of course 2004 was a very active hurricane season as well. Now 2008 seems to be another terrible year for tornadic activity. Any thoughts on this or just an awful consequence
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52. HIEXPRESS
3:49 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
Anoutfit called Weatherflow has a pole with an instrument package out on my favorite beach. Are they stealing our weather and selling it back to us?
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
51. weatherbro
7:38 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
how strong was the volcano that caused the year with out a summer?
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50. TerraNova
3:43 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
Real sad...the situation keeps going down hill and relief is barely getting anywhere. The government of Myanmar is making a huge mistake.

CNN: Relief boat sinks, leaving aid in Myanmar river
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49. neutrino006
07:21 PM GMT on mai 11, 2008
I know I'm not posting here too often, and excuse my offtopic if it is, but...WOW! This kind of weather is a bit unusual, and it seems is leaving every time a trail of destruction bigger than last year... or a past years. Maybe this intense activity is not only generated by the global warming, maybe it is some cosmic and natural "forces" implicated in the process of intensification. Right now, I am wondering why a massive cold front is standing over eastern europe, and the powerful african current it doesn't have sufficient strenght to move it to a northern position, and in my town actualy is like in early spring, cold and often cloudy... Meanwhile, allmost threatening Japan, the typhoon Ramassun just reached yesterday it's peak, like a cat 5 storm... Everything is corelated, and it is kinda sincronized but I need to gather more info about this. I'm still impressed about the large scale of dammage... I'm trying too to understand what is happening, and I want to try to give a word of hope to those who suffered after they lost everything... The Best be with you all!
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48. CaneAddict
7:40 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
I have updated my blog on the Tropical Wave near 50W and on the blob of convection west of Africa.

Josh's Weather Center

Click on "Josh's Blog" on the navigation bar. Post comments if you wish.
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47. CaneAddict
7:38 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
That tropical wave around 50W, looks to be moving slightly north of due west (I hope it moves above 10N...I need the rain)...

It could be following what the GFS was forecasting, It to skirt the coast of South America and make it into the Caribbean.
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46. HIEXPRESS
3:32 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
32. OrchidGrower 2:45 PM EDT
...some sort of "ripple" of energy ran through Georgia in the warm sector...

Sounds like an outflow boundary or pre-frontal trough.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
45. ycd0108
7:26 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Link to CMC image:
http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/data/satellite/goes_eusa_1070_100.jpg
Look at the stuff to the east of the swirl
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44. stormdude77
3:17 PM AST on May 11, 2008
That tropical wave around 50W, looks to be moving slightly north of due west (I hope it moves above 10N...I need the rain)...
42. StormJunkie
7:12 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Ok, off to have dinner with Mom! See y'all later ☺
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
41. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
3:00 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
that will be mom natures way of fixing global warming terra nova blow up a big super cano wipe out 90 percent of the planets life forms
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40. StormJunkie
7:09 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
No kidding, I don't want to be around to see that.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
39. TerraNova
3:08 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
TN, no question Yellowstone would be a global disaster!

Luckily there's no signs of it erupting any time soon!
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38. StormJunkie
7:02 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Awesome footage by Jim Reed!

STL, life without risks is not life at all. We just all take them in our different ways.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
36. StormJunkie
7:01 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
TN, no question Yellowstone would be a global disaster!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
34. TerraNova
2:58 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
The last time a supervolcano erupted, it nearly wiped out the human race. It left only about 2,000 survivors.
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33. Tazmanian
11:46 AM PDT on May 11, 2008
WSU volcano expert says eruption in Chile may grow

PULLMAN - It's an explosive topic. The Chaitén Volcano erupting in Chile is causing chaos in the South American country, as villages are evacuated and a massive ash cloud billows out of the mountain.

WSU Geology Professor and volcano expert, Dr John Wolff says the volcano has been blowing up since last Friday and there's no telling when it will stop. The 20-mile plume has sent ash into Buenos Aires, shutting down the airport. But if the plume changes formation, it could get even worse.

"Everybody’s seen or remembers the 9-11 footage, when the towers came down and the billowing clouds spreading out," said Wolff. "The type of activity I am referring to, which is called a pyroclastic flow, is like that except the cloud that is spreading out over the ground is several hundred degrees, it's very very hot."

Some have compared the situation to Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Wolff said the activity is not unusual, but special in the fact that this type of eruption only happens about six times each century.

"At any one time, there might be 20 volcanoes erupting, the next week there might be only half a dozen, so it all evens out," he said.

Back in the US, Wolff said Yellowstone is a super volcano that will eventually blow.

"It would certainly devastate the surrounding area, the ash cloud could spread over most of the United States," be said.

Closer to home, he said, although Mount St. Helens has been getting more active since 2004, another Cascade Mountain is more dangerous.

"Rainer is an ice capped volcano and those are very dangerous, because as soon as any heat reaches the upper levels of the volcano, it doesn't even have to be a big eruption, the ice will melt and cause devastating mud flows," said Wolff.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115437
32. OrchidGrower
6:44 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
I realize that every hurricane season has its own unique features, but in general the weather so far this year looks to me an awful lot like 1999. That was my first year living in Atlanta, and like this year, our severe weather (tornadoes and hail) season started early and ran late. I don't remember much about the hurricane season that year except for Hurricane Floyd and its disastrous stall over North Carolina.

On the severe weather subject, I wonder if anyone here could help me understand a fairly unique feature that I've observed this spring.

At least twice now this year we've had a strong cold upper-level low to the west, surface low near to that, and attached warm and cold fronts. Nearly 24 hours before the cold front came through, some sort of "ripple" of energy ran through Georgia in the warm sector -- south of the warm front and continuing southward -- firing off a small number of violent and tornadic storms. No mesoscale disturbance rotating these storms around itself, just a patch of incredibly violent thunderstorms.

It was out of a little patch like this that Atlanta got its Downtown tornado on March 14th. The next day the whole state had a widespread severe weather outbreak with the warm front and cold front. This weekend, much the same: Yesterday a patch of a few severe thunderstorms appeared, well south of Atlanta, in the warm sector and not on the warm front. The disturbance slid southeast, firing off violent storms for many hours; two people died. This morning, the main storm system came through as a completely separate entity.

I've watched many dual severe weather outbreaks in my day, one associated with a warm front, another associated with the low and/or cold front, but these odd "patches" or lines of extremely violent storms, well ahead in the warm sector, are new to me. Any comments?
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31. nash28
6:39 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Exactly HI! God forbid anyone do that around my neighborhood today. The winds are blowing everything to my house.
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30. HIEXPRESS
2:36 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
Dry Wind 29, gusting to 45, 92F & just waiting for some booger-eating moron to flick a cigarette out the window & it's off to the races. It's inevitable. Film at 11.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
29. nash28
6:33 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
The poor Midwest and Deep South have been absolutely hammered week after week. Can y'all throw some moisture down to Tampa please?
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28. CaneAddict
6:29 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
13. StormJunkie 6:12 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
CA, the latest GFS has that wave skirting just N of SA. It shouldn't ever amount to anything more then some rain for the islands, but it does look like it may move right off shore and along the curve of SA.


Yeah, The only reason it looks some-what impressive for this time of year at this time is due to 5kt-10kt shear within the area, As it continues to move in a general westward direction shear gets as high as 50 knots, Which is very unfavorable.
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27. StormJunkie
6:30 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
I agree TN, it is a feeble looking thing at very best. Not really very interesting. I am guessing you are debating if it should even be labeled a wave anymore?

Tybee Bomb

I don't know press, it looks like we are setting up in a somewhat dry slot. If so it will be late this afternoon/early evening before anything can develop here. At least that seems to be what the NWS is still thinking as of 1:30ish
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26. nash28
6:31 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
That is quite a sight STL! Quite a powerful storm system!
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25. nash28
6:31 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Some unreal severe weather this year! Dallas has seen more tornado warnings this spring than I can remember.
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24. presslord
2:29 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
SJ...Do you think we're gonna go thru this again today?
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22. TerraNova
2:26 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
I know; but satellite imagery does not show a rotation in the low level cloud deck, either.
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21. StormJunkie
6:22 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Tornado warnings back up in GA

One about to pass over Tybee. Just keep the lightening away from that bomb folks!
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
20. StormJunkie
6:18 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
TN, while I tend to agree, it also looks like QS missed most of it. The wave would have been further E at the time of the QS pass closer to 45 maybe which is in the blank spot.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
19. presslord
2:18 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
the good news about the weather here over the last 24 hours (and I'm not just kiddin') is that my allergies are almost tolerable...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
18. moonlightcowboy
1:09 PM CDT on May 11, 2008
Thanks for the update, Dr. Masters!
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17. pottery
2:16 PM AST on May 11, 2008
cchs. Looking at that area for the past couple days myself. Hoping it gets here , and drops anchor. LOL
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16. presslord
2:15 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
the californiaboy picture is just stunning...
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15. pottery
2:10 PM AST on May 11, 2008
Greetings.
a hot 94 here ( 91 at the airport, 10 miles north of me ). Heat index 98 !!! Feels like that too.
You know, this is a small tropical island, about 80 miles by 50 miles. It is not supposed to ever get as hot as this, and 15 years ago, it NEVER did.
I notice the difference in the vegetation, and the fact that El Tucuche mountain, at 3012 ft, used to ALWAYS have a cloud sitting on it, obscuring its summit. Have not seen that cloud in some years now, because the inversion level has gone up to 3500 feet.
This has affected the streams that spring from the mountains that run the length of the north coast ( this is the last section of the Andes, that swings east at Columbia, and down the northern flank of Venezuela, to here ( Trinidad). This is naturally affecting water-catchment areas, as is de-forestation on the hillsides.
From where I am, I can see the Andes of Venezuela, on the Paria peninsula, rising to 6000 ft. There are still enormous tracts of virgin rainforest there, and the Orinoco River ( which is no small stream) empties into the ocean right here. Trinidad is almost in its delta actually.
The Orinoco flood waters provide us with an abundant source of flora and fauna from the mainland, and it is not uncommon to see huge "rafts" of trees and other vegetation washed up ,on the south coast here, with monkeys, snakes,bugs, caiman, etc coming ashore. Its a 7 mile crossing.
Just a little ramble, on an otherwise gentle day. I'll stop now, open another cold beer.
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14. TerraNova
2:14 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
Quickscat doesn't show anything that looks like a low level circulation or surface circulation to me.
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13. StormJunkie
6:10 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
CA, the latest GFS has that wave skirting just N of SA. It shouldn't ever amount to anything more then some rain for the islands, but it does look like it may move right off shore and along the curve of SA.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
12. CaneAddict
6:09 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
AN ATLANTIC OCEAN TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 48W SOUTH OF 9N MOVING
WEST 10 TO 15 KT. SCATTERED MODERATE SHOWERS AND ISOLATED STRONG
THUNDERSTORMS FROM 3N TO 4N BETWEEN 48W AND 49W. THIS WAVE MAY
REACH THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA ISLANDS BY WEDNESDAY.


They did'nt really mention any low-level circulation or an increase in organization...they also didnt mention it running into South America.
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11. CaneAddict
6:07 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
9. TerraNova 6:03 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
No way! That could pass for a Hurricane at first observation! Where is that located?

The center is right over Kentucky, or about 80 miles SW of Columbus, Ohio. Here's a radar image showing what look like squall lines moving through Ohio and West Virginia.


Definitely impressive, Thanks Terra.
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10. CaneAddict
6:05 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
Also CCHS, I believe the NHC has picked up on that also as there TWD is taking a little longer then usual.
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9. TerraNova
2:00 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
No way! That could pass for a Hurricane at first observation! Where is that located?

The center is right over Kentucky, or about 80 miles SW of Columbus, Ohio. Here's a radar image showing what look like squall lines moving through Ohio and West Virginia.
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8. CaneAddict
5:58 PM GMT on May 11, 2008
cchsweatherman,
I observed that also....
I will have a blog update on that soon.
Good Observation!!


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7. cchsweatherman
1:50 PM EDT on May 11, 2008
Good afternoon all. Hope that everyone made it out well from these devastating storms that ravaged the Southeast.

Just wanted to point out a feature that has caught my attention over the past 24 hours. It appears the tropical wave now just off the NE South American coast has developed a low-level circulation as it has maintained its convection approaching land. I will watch this feature as it moves over northern South America and eventually when it comes back out into the Eastern Pacific. If it can maintain its structure, there could be a good chance we may see development of this feature once it moves out into the Eastern Pacific; thats to say if it will make it.


While watching satellite imagery, it appears the ITCZ may be making a significant push northward as it appears to have become rather flatline at around 7N. These tropical waves continue forcing the ITCZ further and further northward. Looks like there may be another tropical wave coming within the next few days as there has been some intense convection building over Western Africa and moving along the AEJ.

Comments?
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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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