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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147. weatherboykris
5:10 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
New NOGAPS is looking pretty similar to the old one through 96 hours...
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
146. Drakoen
5:10 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
138. scottsvb 5:07 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
cause alot are asking your opinion and I'm just wondering what credentials are. If your not a Met..its ok...


Lets put it this way. I don't question who you are and you don't question who I am.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
145. Michfan
12:09 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
Go NOGAPS Go!!!!
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1747
144. scottsvb
5:09 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Ok if your not a Met then its all good... Its ok and no Im not baiting him. Eighter he is or isnt and people are just asking his opinion cause hes on here alot watching things and learning models and stuff. Its all good.
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1723
143. weatherboykris
5:07 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Drak's a pretty smart blogger scott. Generally, you can trust what he, SJ, TCW, MichaelSTL, Hurricane23, and several others have to say. Plus myself of course, LOL.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
142. Drakoen
5:07 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
139. weatherboykris 5:07 AM GMT on May 26, 2008 Hide this comment.
He's baiting you Drak...flag and walk away bro, LOL. Anyway, my thoughts on this system is that we'll need to watch carefully for it to just fizzle over Central America. The models seem to be jumping back and forth between it hugging the EPAC coast or the Carribean coast. Split the difference and it never gets over open water. Something to consider.


I know exactly what he is doing. Thats why I asked why he is asking me? It pretty obvious, no? :)
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
139. weatherboykris
5:05 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
He's baiting you Drak...flag and walk away bro, LOL. Anyway, my thoughts on this system is that we'll need to watch carefully for it to just fizzle over Central America. The models seem to be jumping back and forth between it hugging the EPAC coast or the Carribean coast. Split the difference and it never gets over open water. Something to consider.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
138. scottsvb
5:04 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
cause alot are asking your opinion and I'm just wondering what credentials are. If your not a Met..its ok...
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1723
137. Drakoen
5:05 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
136. JFV 5:05 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
I'm still here as well Drak! So what's up buddy?


Nothing. I'm waiting for the 00Z NOGAPS to complete its run.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
135. juniormeteorologist
5:02 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Okay, well i thought since you were intelligent i was going to let you be the first guest blogger, and too everyone, i will let you have a chance to be my guest blogger also!
134. Drakoen
5:03 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
132. scottsvb 5:02 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Drakeon do you have a degree in meteorology? Where from? What was your professors name?


Why are you asking?
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
133. moonlightcowboy
12:02 AM CDT on May 26, 2008
Thanks, scottsvb! Makes sense. We wait, we see!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
131. Drakoen
5:01 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
124. juniormeteorologist 4:55 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
hey drakeon, will you be a special guest on my blog tomorrow?


I will have to think about that.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
130. juniormeteorologist
4:59 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
hey everyone, i am about to head out. But go check out my tropical weather site.
129. scottsvb
4:55 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
For Guesscasting... here is the situation..if it stays more over or east of 85W and feels the trough over the Ohio Valley ..it will get pulled up the eastern gulf...but if it gets close to the Yucitan...it will miss the weakness between the ridges and start to feel the developing ridge over Tx-La early next week and get steered west. Anyways guesscasting on something that hasn't developed is far short of meteorology!
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1723
128. Michfan
11:55 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Thanks Drak. On a newer laptop. I need to send over my bookmarks from my desktop at home.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1747
127. Drakoen
4:55 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Early Climatology does not feature a straight western path through the gulf but a lifted path from the south from the Western Caribbean into the Western Gulf.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
126. moonlightcowboy
11:54 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Ok, well, am I missing something here, or could that mean Galveston, Houston - a TX landfall would be quite possible?
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
125. scottsvb
4:54 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Whatever is there is being steered by the ridge building over TX-LA
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1723
124. juniormeteorologist
4:55 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
hey drakeon, will you be a special guest on my blog tomorrow?
123. Drakoen
4:51 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
121. moonlightcowboy 4:50 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Have a good sleep, TS.

- Drak, you think it's responding to all the high pressure north and east? Heck, if it gets out there, it could be a slow mover, a staller - time to gain some strength?


It responding to a 1035mb high out in the Atlantic with a ridge extending into the Gulf. Normally storms aren't able to make it that far west into the Gulf with the amount troughs over the CONUS but seeing as how the Jet stream will be far enough north low pressure systems track along that jet stream and a ridge builds in south of the jet.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
122. scottsvb
4:47 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
why is it old tricks? its all a guessing game.. besides..climataligy tells us anything west of 85W usually heads west due to early summer ridgeing over Tx-LA. Its very acceptable solution but its only speculation games on development and movement in the near term.
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1723
121. moonlightcowboy
11:49 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Have a good sleep, TS.

- Drak, you think it's responding to all the high pressure north and east? Heck, if it gets out there, it could be a slow mover, a staller - time to gain some strength?
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
120. Drakoen
4:49 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
I'll be here to see what the NOGAPS 00z has to say and maybe what the UKMET 00z has to say.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
119. TampaSpin
12:48 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Drak you got the first look out......lol
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
118. TampaSpin
12:47 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Im out good nite all
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
117. Drakoen
4:46 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
116. moonlightcowboy 4:45 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
BOC and then west to Mexico, Drak?


North into the Gulf then west around Mexico/Texas.

It decided it wants its big high back.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
116. moonlightcowboy
11:45 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
BOC and then west to Mexico, Drak?
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
115. Drakoen
4:42 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
The GFS is back to its old tricks with the system going west in the Gulf in the general direction of Mexico.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
114. moonlightcowboy
11:41 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Have a good sleep, Adrian.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
113. hurricane23
12:38 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
At 168hrs its at 1004mb just about to enter the gulf.

Anyways iam out hope everyone has a great memorial day tommorow. Adrian
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112. weatherblog
4:24 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
This storm would probably go in the GOM; I think anywhere from the Central Gulf to Florida should monitor this [once the storm actually forms], and I think dry air is the only inhibitor right now for our future storm.

Climatology speaking and looking back at the past few years, the storm could hit the west coast of Florida (Alberto '06, Barry '07) or in the central gulf area (Arlene '05, Cindy '05). So, obviously the place where this mystery storm will land is very broad in the terms of narrowing down to an exact area of landfall. As far as strength goes, a tropical storm or minimal hurricane isn't out of the question but anything more than that would have to be in very favorable shear and SST's. And, I am not expecting that.
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111. TampaSpin
12:33 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
wrong one.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
110. Drakoen
4:33 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
NOGAPS

Please bookmark this. I'm tired of having to post the same thing over and over again.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
109. sporteguy03
4:28 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Yes FL,
I'm not sure anyone is saying not likely going to happen, many of the bloggers here have given reasons why it might happen from the SSts to the Shear values, models are just part of the tools mets use to forecast.

In a way it like horse racing on paper a horse might have great attributes but you still must finish the race even if you have great odds and it is certain that horse will win. Nothing is certain until it happens and until a system develops all that you see in the models never happened.
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108. scottsvb
4:31 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
All these model runs are entertainment until a low pressure system develops. It may not even cause it may stay over central america. We wont have a idea until weds 12 or thurs 0z runs.
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1723
107. Michfan
11:31 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Drak got a link for the NOGAPS?
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1747
106. TampaSpin
12:30 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Night freak, im going fishing in the GOM tomor at 6am i need my sleep also....
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
105. Drakoen
4:30 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
The NOGAPS 00z run is starting.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
104. FLWeatherFreak91
12:28 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
But anyways, I'm off to bed.... I've been typing random letters that don't fit together very well... tired. Sleep well guys.
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103. TampaSpin
12:25 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
This is my guess, a trough runs though Jamacia in to the Yucatan. My guess is a low will seperate from this trough and head north.
Check out the Water Vapor.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
102. Drakoen
4:28 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Half of the circulation likes the Yucatan the other half does lol...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
101. hurricane23
12:27 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
156hrs just of the tip of the yucatan.

1005/1006mb
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100. FLWeatherFreak91
12:25 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Yeah sport, I know what you mean. But what is the point of humans creating a forecast model if we basically say to ourselves, "not likely, not gonna' happen" until it's really there. We made the models to forecast, they're forecasting and we choose not to believe them.

I know they're wrong a lot, but this particular storm has been forecast for many runs by many models- maybe our technology is right this time?
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99. Michfan
11:23 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
144 has the low just off the coast of mexican yucatan / costa rican border.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1747
98. sporteguy03
4:21 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
FLFreak,
With all the models out there showing some type of development at some point, it almost makes you ask the question if nothing does develop do the models need to fixed?

I don't think anyone is downcasting but it is hard to say where a system is going when you don't even have an invest first.
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97. moonlightcowboy
11:18 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Looking at Adrian's post, there's tons of high pressure all around! Doesn't look like it'll have much room to go anywhere assuming it cranks up. Where would it go with high pressure like that? TIA
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610

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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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