Killer tornadoes smash Iowa and Minnesota

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:09 AM GMT on May 26, 2008

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An exceptional tornado outbreak continues to hammer the U.S. tonight, in what has been an extraordinary year for tornadoes. A mile-wide tornado plowed through Parkersburg, Iowa this afternoon, killing at least five people and injuring 15, according to KCRG. The tornado passed just north of the airport in Waterloo, Iowa, which recorded sustained winds of 64mph, gusting to 94 mph at 5:37pm CDT. Damage appeared to be at least EF-4 in photos I saw, and possibly EF-5 (over 200 mph). In Minnesota, another powerful twister killed at least one person and injured 9 in the Minneapolis suburb of Hugo this afternoon.


Figure 1. Satellite image of the supercell thunderstorms that spawned the Parkerburg, Iowa and Hugo, Minnesota tornadoes on May 25, 2008.

A slow-moving low pressure system that began in Colorado on Thursday spawned 48 reports of tornadoes Thursday, including the EF-3 mile-wide twister that killed one person in Windsor, Colorado. On Friday, an additional 63 tornado reports occurred, mostly in Kansas. The tornado that hit Quinter, Kansas on Friday was the eighth violent EF-4 tornado of the year. The last year that had more violent tornadoes was 1999, when 13 such twisters were recorded. Two people were killed in Cairo, Kansas when a tornado smashed a car trying to flee the storm. If you want to see why one should not try to escape a tornado in a car, take a look at what the tornado did to the car. Saturday was relatively quiet, with only 13 tornado reports, but Sunday's tally (so far) of 37 has brought the 4-day total to a remarkable 150+ tornado reports. Some of these tornado reports are undoubtedly of the same tornado, so the actual number of tornadoes for the 4-day outbreak may be less than 150.



Figure 2. Radar reflectivity image (top) of the May 25, 2008 Parkersburg, Iowa tornado. The position of Parkersburg is marked by a circle with a cross in the middle. Bottom: Doppler velocity image of the tornado, showing a small core of red and blue colors right next to each other, denoting strong winds towards and away from the radar, the classic signature of a tornado vortex.



Figure 3. Radar reflectivity image (top) of the May 25, 2008 Hugo, Minnesota tornado. The position of Hugo is marked by a circle with a cross in the middle. Bottom: Doppler velocity image of the tornado, showing a small core of red and blue colors right next to each other, denoting strong winds towards and away from the radar, the classic signature of a tornado vortex.

Severe weather forecast
Severe weather will pound the U.S. again Memorial Day, with the main action expected to stretch more than halfway across the country--from Colorado to New York. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed central Kansas under its "Moderate Risk" category for severe weather, one step below its highest level of concern, "High Risk". Yesterday was also a "Moderate Risk" day in Iowa and Minnesota. The Weather Underground Severe Weather page and Tornado page are good places to go to follow the severe weather. Also, tune in to the chase accounts and awesome storm photos from Wunderblogger Mike Theiss.

I'll have an update Monday morning, including a look at the tropics, where the computers models persist in predicting a tropical storm may form in the Western Caribbean or Eastern Pacific late this week.

Jeff Masters

Tornado (MikeTheiss)
A large and violent tornado near Quinter, Kansas. Photo Copyright Mike Theiss
Tornado
Large Tornado near Quinter, Kansas (MikeTheiss)
Photo of a large tornado near Quinter, Kansas on May 23rd, 2008.
Large Tornado near Quinter, Kansas

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297. grumpier
6:51 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
First air survey video of damage in Iowa from the large wedge tornado(es) yesterday:
http://www.kcci.com/video/16395381/index.html

The pilot stated that he followed the damage for 43 miles.


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296. illchemist
12:41 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
I suggest reading over the document, "Owning the weather in 2025."
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295. scottsvb
3:31 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
My attitude was a question if he was a Met and a bunch of you little teenage kids wanted to ensight something over it.

He handled it like a WUSS.. Got scared and ran off holding hands with you guys who follow him.

That is why us Mets dont use these blog boards. Oh and btw I had 7 people who wrote me last night into this morning telling me I was right to ask and also said some mean stuff about him (which I have nothing personal against).
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294. all4hurricanes
2:47 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
What are the chances something will form before hurricane season begins?
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293. FitzRoy
2:21 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Sorry to hear about the terrible storms you're having - I've been intermittently lurking for some weeks now.

We are also sharing your fuel price squeeze in the UK. Here, one UK gallon costs £5.67, or $11.22. In terms of US gallons that is £4.71, or $9.32!!! What do you pay?

Take care of yourselves.
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292. TheCaneWhisperer
2:14 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
From what I can understand Cane, it will be a broad area of low pressure that spans the EPAC and over into the Western Caribbean. In which a center can relocate anywhere within the area. Similar to what happened last year. I can't remember the storm name but it hopped over Florida.
291. CaneAddict17
2:00 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Is anyone else confused about how the models expect a developing tropical storm to cross about 400 miles of the mountainous countries of Honduras and Nicaragua? Most of the models show it crossing this and emerging in the West Carib almost unharmed. Don't storms usually struggle to make it over much smaller landmasses like Cuba or Hispanola? I guess if it keeps on the eastern flatter side of Nicaragua it could be fine...
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290. cchsweatherman
10:03 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
In the latest runs, we now have three models (GFS, NOGAPS, and CMC) all forecast a significant tropical cyclone hitting South Florida by the first week in June. Even though the track could always change, this is the highest model consensus we have had to date with this potential system. For the first time, I will place in my Tropical Weather Discussion that there will be a Western Caribbean storm by week's end when I update it later today.
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289. IKE
9:08 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
NEW BLOG!
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288. IKE
9:04 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
The ECMWF hasn't trended toward development...yet. Somebodies right and somebody is wrong with these models(GFS,CMC,NOGAPS vs. ECMWF, UKMET...east PAC development).
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287. TheCaneWhisperer
2:00 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
I was surprised as well Drak. There's a rather strong consensus building up here. Much better than the past week anyway.
285. IKE
9:00 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
I don't understand why ScottsVB is so bitchy when he comes in here......he was like that last year...he's trying to incite folks....
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284. HurakanPR
1:55 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Is there a rotation near 48L , 8L, moving wnw? Is that a UTT? Just asking.....
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283. MasterForecaster
1:57 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Drakoen I commend you on the way you handled the situation with Scottsvb... seems like theres always someone on here trying to start trouble.

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282. Drakoen
1:57 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
I didn't realize it but the CMC thinks it will get picked up by the trough and head towards south Florida as a major hurricane lol!
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
281. FLWeatherFreak91
9:55 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
276. MasterForecaster 9:45 AM EDT on May 26, 2008 Hide this comment.
FLWFreak do they really just change their forecast based on what a single model says?

When the next few models come out let's see if accuweather changes anything drastically ok?


I have been checking their forecasts every day and yes, it does change rather drastically. Yesterday, for example, the forecast read "very hot" for the 3rd and 4th, and windy on the 5th. Today it says windy all three days. I think this has something to do with the fact that the GFS now brings the system much closer than it was doing yesterday.
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279. Drakoen
1:50 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
278. Drakoen
1:50 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
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277. hahaguy
9:45 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
oh god don't say accuweather lol
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276. MasterForecaster
1:43 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
FLWFreak do they really just change their forecast based on what a single model says?

When the next few models come out let's see if accuweather changes anything drastically ok?
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275. MasterForecaster
1:36 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Hmm...that 6-10 day accuweather forecast for Miami looks kinda ominous lol...

For anyone who needs a link to all the models in one place here you go:

Link
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274. FLWeatherFreak91
9:39 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
272. JFV 9:36 AM EDT on May 26, 2008 Hide this comment.
well hint hint, i wonder why they're forcasting so much wind for us down here in miami for next week! gang, any ideas LOL!


They're long-term forecasts are based entirely on the GFS model- I guarantee you. They watch one computer model and the right the forecast, so when the models change again, say bye bye to the wind forecast lol
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273. Weather456
9:32 AM AST on May 26, 2008
Shear forecast

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271. IKE
8:32 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
Here's their 6-10 day for Miami.......

Link
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269. FLWeatherFreak91
9:30 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
I know we don't like AccuWeather here for the most part, but just for kicks check out their forecast for June 3-5 for North Tampa.
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268. all4hurricanes
1:26 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
sorry I couldn't find a predicted shear map or those weakening shear/ strengthening shear maps. If the shear weakens all the dry air goes away and a big blob comes in I wouldn't deny it's formation
but what are the chances of that happening by later this week?
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267. IKE
8:27 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
It's not in the Caribbean now...more favorable shear where it's at...eastern PAC....
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266. Weather456
9:21 AM AST on May 26, 2008
Also the convective mass in the epac has been drifting eastward for some time now which is an indicator of the movement of the mjo.
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264. Drakoen
1:24 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
You can't use that current shear map. The models show an upper level anticyclone building over the system as it moves through the western Caribbean.
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263. all4hurricanes
1:07 PM GMT on May 26, 2008

I think 40 is enough to rip apart any hurricane
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262. ClearH2OFla
9:19 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Good Morning everyone. To those who served in our military, Thank you; i owe you a debt i could never repay.

Drak whats up. we could use the rain here in pinellas county so i say let the rains come.
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260. FLWeatherFreak91
9:15 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
But since this system will be sheared away to the East it would be far more beneficial for the rain deficit if it hit further north in the state.
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259. Drakoen
1:11 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
I just looked at GFS 06z and the NOGAPS 00z run and those runs seem to take the system into Florida. The GFS in Central Florida and the NOGAPS in South Florida. Both models have very impressive systems. Ultimately the track will be be based on the timing and strength of the shortwave and the position and strength of the A/B high.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29942
258. TheCaneWhisperer
1:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Morning Drak.
257. IKE
8:11 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
good morning........
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256. Drakoen
1:09 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Good morning everyone.
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255. IKE
8:07 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
Here ya go JFV....

Link
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253. all4hurricanes
1:00 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Wind shear just sort of took over the Caribbean so development seems unlikely at the moment but the dry air in the Caribbean is moving out
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252. TheCaneWhisperer
12:58 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
Morning All.

Looks like the models are coming into better agreement, as the time grows near, of a tropical system around the Yucatan late this week. MJO pulse is very, very slowly propagating eastward as seen by the moisture increase the Extreme Western Caribbean. We should start to see some action in the next day or two.
251. all4hurricanes
12:52 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
We don't see anything in Virginia we've only been in a tornado watch once that I can remember. and I've only seen golf ball sized hail here once. VA is a place void in natural disasters (not completely of course )
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250. IKE
7:46 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
249. all4hurricanes 7:46 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
IKE the deaths and twisters this year are well above average, I think the average # of deaths from tornadoes is around 50, I think we already surpassed that.


That's an advantage to living where I do...panhandle of Florida...usually don't see killer tornadoes here...usually...
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249. all4hurricanes
12:44 PM GMT on May 26, 2008
IKE the deaths and twisters this year are well above average, I think the average # of deaths from tornadoes is around 50, I think we already surpassed that.
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248. IKE
7:44 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
06Z NOGAPS places a system just off of the western tip of Cuba......

Link
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247. Weather456
8:41 AM AST on May 26, 2008
I would confidence is upgraded to moderate.
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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.