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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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
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96. TampaSpin
12:21 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
I only see a ghost and that is all and i really don't believe in ghost.......lol
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95. Michfan
11:20 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Upper air graphics are showing a nice upper high setting up in the western Caribbean as well.
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94. TheCaneWhisperer
4:18 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
The dynamics and progression of what is forecast in the specific models FLWG. Obvious approximation but, close.
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93. catastropheadjuster
4:19 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
TS & SG03 thanks for the explanation. I hope this doesn't hint to us it's going to be a busy season. We still need a couple of years for folks to be able to get things back to normal if that can ever happen.
Sheri
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92. FLWeatherFreak91
12:16 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
83. jphurricane2006 12:15 AM EDT on May 26, 2008 Hide this comment.
no thanks FLfreak

this isnt about taking risks and making bullish predictions, we can discuss, we can speculate but to predict is kind of foolish at this point


Ok guys, if we must stick to analysis then I'll be for real- Let's look at the facts:

1) SST's are warming up well in our target areas.
2) Wind shear has just randomly begun to drop throughout the Gulf and Carib,
3) The GFS has been calling this storm for AT LEAST 10 days now (mind you, different tracks but same concept)
4) Climatologically, we may see something along these lines.
5) We downcast each other and don't put much trust in even the most reliable models.

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91. Michfan
11:16 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
114 has it exiting honduras north.
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90. sporteguy03
4:15 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Hi Sheri,
Personally, anything can happen, I think it is important to actually have something on satellite to look at first, it is impressive for model runs to consistently show something for days, once we have a system then it will be easier to factor if it will grow how strong etc...until then it is all in the computer's mind lol.
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89. weatherblog
4:17 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
The GFS also, once again, seems to be trying to develop a storm off of the African coast. Is that normal of the GFS this early in the season?
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87. TampaSpin
12:15 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
79. catastropheadjuster 12:13 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
I don't want to get my head bit off but isn't it kinda to early for these waves to become anything? I mean it will probaly be a rain maker right. Nothing bad.
Sheri


The heat is on and the GOM is heating up very fast. In 7 days it will be much warmer. The air temp in tampa is 75deg. right now at Midnight. Not much cooling happening at night now.
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86. hurricane23
12:15 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Here we are into the caribbean @ 115hrs...
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85. Michfan
11:10 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
The low looks pretty strong too.
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84. catastropheadjuster
4:14 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Hey H23 long time no see.
Sheri
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82. TampaSpin
12:12 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
If I'm right then I'll say "told you so" and if I'm wrong you can discredit me the rest of the season lol

Freak i would never throw the first stone and secondly the season is very long........lol
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81. Drakoen
4:13 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
78. JFV 4:12 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
I will sir, thank you! So, after all of this, are you still expecting development this week Drak? Based on the relentness of the models lately?


Friday is when we need to look out as the low emerges of the coast of Honduras. It will be over favorable TCHP and low vertical wind shear supported by an upper level high.
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79. catastropheadjuster
4:08 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
I don't want to get my head bit off but isn't it kinda to early for these waves to become anything? I mean it will probaly be a rain maker right. Nothing bad.
Sheri
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77. FLWeatherFreak91
12:09 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
72. TampaSpin 12:07 AM EDT on May 26, 2008 Hide this comment.
Weatherfreak,
You stick your neck out to be the first to get hammered........LMAO


I mean come on guys! we have to take some risks....it's midnight- let's have some fun and place some bets. No one needs take me seriously. If I'm right then I'll say "told you so" and if I'm wrong you can discredit me the rest of the season lol
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76. Drakoen
4:09 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
75. hurricane23 4:09 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Iam up for another 20 minutes or so...

Looks like the GFS out to 90hrs has the low about to cross over.


yea.
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75. hurricane23
12:07 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Iam up for another 20 minutes or so...

Looks like the GFS out to 90hrs has the low about to cross over.
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74. Drakoen
4:08 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
71. JFV 4:07 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Thanks Drak, I just bookmarked the website!!!


Thats only for the 00z run though.

You should bookmark:Link which gives you all the GFS runs.
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73. FLWeatherFreak91
12:06 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
canewhisperer- how can you say where the models are predicting landfall? The nogaps and gfs run out of time while the storm is offshore of cozumel....
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72. TampaSpin
12:05 AM EDT on May 26, 2008
Weatherfreak,
You stick your neck out to be the first to get hammered........LMAO
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70. Drakoen
4:05 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
lol these models have such a good audience.
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69. FLWeatherFreak91
11:54 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
With shear decreasing and water temps rising rather quickly, on top of the fact that many global models are predicting development, I'm goin' to go ahead and call this storm just for personal record. I do in fact believe we will be looking at Arthur (I'll stick with Tropical Storm Arthur at this point) in the GOMEX within the next 8 days.

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68. TheCaneWhisperer
3:51 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
NoGaps is set up to pull a Wilma.

GFS thinks panhandle of FL.

CMC is set up for a Wilma of whatever is left after the cross over MEX.


I have to go with climatology here and say the panhandle if we have something to look at. Highs are bullish in the SE this time of year.
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67. Drakoen
4:03 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
JFV the run comes out in hours and frames:Link
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65. Drakoen
3:57 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
62. JFV 3:56 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Are the models out yet Drak? Cause I'm waiting to see them before hitting the hay shortly there after!


I don't know if I will stay up for the NOGAPS 00z but I do know that the GFS 00z run is coming out now.
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64. SouthDadeFish
3:56 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
CNN reports 8 are now dead from today's twisters... Link
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63. TampaSpin
11:54 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
850mb vorticity pic looking interesting in that area also.
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61. TampaSpin
11:52 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
notice the wind sheer off the yuctan, not much there either, things are taking shape for development once something gets going.
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60. Drakoen
3:53 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
I'm still here....
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59. moonlightcowboy
10:50 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
- haha, haha!

- TS, yep, saw that earlier, too. We wait, we see!
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58. catastropheadjuster
3:47 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
I see the NGP & GFS are alike on this wave coming over from the Epac. Aren't them 2 models reliable in everyones eyes?
Sheri
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57. TampaSpin
11:45 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
Notice how sheer is dropping in the GOM
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56. hahaguy
11:47 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
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55. moonlightcowboy
10:47 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
Wow, 55 posts w/out a graphic! Everyone asleep? lol
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54. rareaire
3:45 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
well i guess we will have something to watch next week. I guess Im goin to run off to bed. You guys have a great evening.
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53. catastropheadjuster
3:42 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
Aquak I always read DrM's Blog and enjoy it very much. I have learned alot from reading what he has to say. Very Very smart man in my opinion.
Sheri
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52. hahaguy
11:43 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
i really enjoyed switching back from doc m's blog and his . too bad he left though
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51. moonlightcowboy
10:42 PM CDT on May 25, 2008
I know Aqua, he does a lot of research, work on his blogs, and they're good! But, he's a busier man nowadays, too! On top of weather, he's got to cover global warming, run a growing company and still manage to have a life. It's tasking, just reading it, let alone running it and putting it out there for all of us.
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50. aquak9
11:42 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
hahaguy, yes I do. Starting my fourth year here.

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49. catastropheadjuster
3:40 AM GMT on May 26, 2008
You know that song Oh Sherry by Steve Perry I think, I love it.Sorry folks i know this is DrM weather blog I guess we better get back talking about weather before we get in trouble.
sheri
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48. hahaguy
11:41 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
aqua do you remember the other mets blog that was on here?
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47. TampaSpin
11:40 PM EDT on May 25, 2008
Ok we i see we now have the GFS, NGPNGP GFS in agreement that a storm is coming out of the West Carribean into the GOM. I would start to think that something will be forming with 2 pretty good models in agreement.
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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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