Killer tornadoes rip Iowa, and Minnesota; tropical depression possible late this week

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:08 PM GMT on May 26, 2008

Share this Blog
3
+

The 2008 Memorial Day Weekend tornado outbreak will continue to hammer the U.S. today, even as residents from Iowa and Minnesota clean up from the devastating tornadoes that killed eight people Sunday afternoon. A mile-wide tornado plowed through Parkersburg, Iowa between 5pm and 6pm CDT yesterday, killing five people in that city, and two in nearby New Hartford. It was the deadliest tornado in Iowa in more than 40 years. 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.


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

The slow-moving low pressure system responsible for all the mayhem began in Colorado on Thursday, when the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) recorded 48 reports of tornadoes, 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. Also on Friday, 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 of 43 brought the 4-day total from the 2008 Memorial Day weekend outbreak to a remarkable 157 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. BBC has some awesome aerial footage of the weekend tornadoes.



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. We've also saved a 12-frame radar animation of the Hugo cell, thanks to wunderground member Todd S.

Tallying up the numbers
The death toll from Sunday pushes this year's tornado deaths to 111, the most since 1998, when 130 were recorded. Assuming that the Parkersburg, Iowa tornado was an EF-4 or EF-5, there have been nine violent EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes this year. This is the most since 1999, when 13 such twisters were recorded. The total number of tornadoes this year is approaching 1100, and we may challenge the all time record for tornadoes in a year of 1817, set in 2004. Could this be a sign of climate change? No, I don't think so, and I'll explain why in a blog later this week.

Severe weather forecast
Severe weather will pound the U.S. again this Memorial Day, with the main action expected to stretch more than halfway across the country--from Texas to New York. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed much of Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle 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. After today, it appears the severe weather outbreak will finally diminish, with only a slight risk of severe weather expected Tuesday, and no severe weather expected Wednesday.

Possible development in the Western Caribbean or Eastern Pacific late this week
For the past 3-6 days, our most reliable global computer weather forecast models have been predicting the development of a low pressure system near or over Central America by Friday of this week. Given the persistence in the models in developing this low, we need to be alert to the possibility of a tropical depression forming in either the Western Caribbean or Eastern Pacific, on either side of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It is uncertain which ocean basin such a storm might form in, and whether or not there will be a tropical wave around to help kick off development. It may be that the low pressure region will stay anchored over land south of the Yucatan Peninsula, preventing any development. This is the solution preferred by the ECMWF model in its last few runs. However, the GFS, NOGAPS, and Canadian models all predict a tropical depression might form in the Western Caribbean near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. In contrast, the UKMET shows development in the Eastern Pacific, on the Pacific side of Central America. Climatologically, May tropical storms are much more common in the Eastern Pacific than the Western Caribbean, so we should not discount the UKMET solution, even though it is an outlier. All five models predict that the Central American low pressure area will move northward towards the Gulf of Mexico, and wind shear may fall enough to allow a tropical depression to form should the low's center emerge over water. I'll be posting daily updates on the situation this week.

Jeff Masters

Wedge Tornado (MikeTheiss)
A large and violent wedge tornado near Quinter, Kansas. Photo Copyright Mike Theiss
Wedge Tornado
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
Storm Damage (CAPEdcrusader)
These are pictures taken of the storm that went through Forest Lake / Hugo, MN. The tornado passed 3 miles south of us, but we got a pretty vicious shot of hail for about 15 minutes straight. The pictures of bldg damage are west of the worst tornado damage, probably where the funnel cloud was just about to reach the ground.
Storm Damage

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 959 - 909

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30Blog Index

959. Drakoen
1:12 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Now that I looked over the NOGAPS surface streamlines, i'm hoping the the QuickSat catches the area in the EPAC rather than the one in the southern Caribbean.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
958. KoritheMan
1:13 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Season is here all4.

It's pre season until June 1 if you want to get technical.

If something does form, just wait till all the "Is it moving north toward Florida?" "I think Florida will get slammed with this"

LOL, extreme! So true.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
956. KoritheMan
1:08 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
are we having another pre-season storm

You who said we wouldn't get any development until hurricane season!

Nah, just kidding, buddy! It's all good. Only messin. Hell, development isn't even decided yet, and just as I wouldn't be surprised if tropical cyclogenesis DID occur, I would be equally unphased if development DIDN'T occur.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
955. TheCaneWhisperer
1:10 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Technically speaking, if the storm develops in the EPAC and moves into the Atl Basin, have we really had our first storm yet?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
954. extreme236
1:11 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
If something does form, just wait till all the "Is it moving north toward Florida?" "I think Florida will get slammed with this"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
953. HurricaneGeek
9:10 PM EDT on May 26, 2008
951. Even May 31 is preseason lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
952. TheCaneWhisperer
1:09 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Season is here all4.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
951. TheCaneWhisperer
1:08 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Preseason? It's the last week of May.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
949. HurricaneGeek
9:07 PM EDT on May 26, 2008
Alright guys, in my opinion the bottom line is... 'wait and see'. That's the best way to handle the situation right now. =) I'll be back whenever I get back lol. Take care ya'll =)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
948. Drakoen
1:06 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
944. Chicklit 1:05 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
"Some of you guys need a grammar lesson." Drak

Their (possessive)
They're (they are)


lol.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
947. all4hurricanes
1:04 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
are we having another pre-season storm
We might have to lengthen the hurricane season at least near the end with gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, Olga, and others that I do not remember from previous years ( I know there were 2 in 2003 ) or ones that have not formed. Maybe this only happens in the active years
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
946. KYhomeboy
1:03 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Interesting that in the southern caribbean convection has been persistant over the past few days while dying down during the expected times. There seems to be a possible circulation there....assuming....given that I haven't viewed any quickscat....but based off of the IR I would agree that its an area to watch. A lot of moisture seemsto be getting drawn into that region according to the last few frames. Interesting...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
945. TheCaneWhisperer
1:04 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
938. Drakoen 1:01 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
So much petty drama....


And no physical storm, sheesh.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
944. Chicklit
1:02 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
"Some of you guys need a grammar lesson." Drak

Their (possessive)
They're (they are)

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
943. TheCaneWhisperer
12:59 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
To enlighten a little further 7544. The GEM is a Numerical Model. The CMC is a computer graphic model. For whatever reason they gave it a different name. The other global models kept the same name for computer graphic and numerical, GFS ect....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
942. CaneAddict
1:02 AM GMT on May 27, 2008

936. jphurricane2006 12:59 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
wow CA, way to come in after we resolved the situation, we are done with it

are you trying to restart something?

Im done with it, and so was extreme, so why even bring it up again?


Buddy, I am not trying to cause issues...I just was personally getting annoyed how the last 10 or so post's from you were saying how the NHC was contradicting the situation. Your right its done! Anyway back to the news anker :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
941. KoritheMan
1:01 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Holy crap, I didn't realize the shear in the Carribean was 40 knots in some areas. That'll mean the EPAC/south Carribean disturbance won't be developing further for at least the next 24 hours. However, with models developing an upper-level anticyclone over the system in the coming days, it's very possible some tropical cyclone formation could occur.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
939. atmoaggie
12:59 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
These people are getting a constant downpour from cells that are completely stationary.

storm total

Looks like some are getting ~3 inches/hour.

Base reflectivity

Either really stationary or back building.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
938. Drakoen
1:01 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
So much petty drama....
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
937. weatherblog
12:59 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
934 great post!
Member Since: July 10, 2006 Posts: 27 Comments: 1623
935. weatherblog
12:57 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
I agree 100% with what jphurricane is saying. Those are my reasonings as well.
Member Since: July 10, 2006 Posts: 27 Comments: 1623
934. Drakoen
12:58 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Conditions depend on where the system tracks and where the upper level high centers. The GFS gives the system a small wind of opportunity to develop into a depression before making landfall in Nicaragua. After it exits Honduras, the GFS gives the system an opportunity to develop into a tropical storm under an upper level anticyclone on Saturday before possibly moving inland into the Yucatan.

The NOGAPS model has a more easterly solution with the direct southerly flow in the Caribbean which would give the system plenty of time over water with an upper level high to develop into a tropical storm and possibly a hurricane.

The scenario will be dependent on the ridge which the GFS has more westerly position than the NOGAPS.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
933. KoritheMan
12:55 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Evening, guys. So I see we have our first disturbance to talk about. Who cares if it's in the East Pacific, a disturbance is a disturbance. If this develops, doubt it will be anything significant. Nonetheless, it'll be an interesting feature to watch. I will probably start blogging about this area tommorow.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
932. CaneAddict
12:54 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
898. jphurricane2006 12:40 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
actually extreme no it doesnt say right now, go read it again
Action: | Ignore User


Why get so technical? Why agrue over what's contradictory and how they worded their sentences? Are you out there to cause trouble?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
931. extreme236
12:56 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
929. kmanislander 12:56 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Looks as if quikscat will miss the S Caribbean tonight


Probably the EPAC disturbance too.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
929. kmanislander
12:55 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Looks as if quikscat will miss the S Caribbean tonight
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15850
927. StormJunkie
12:52 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
924.

Also the NBDC in that same area of that site.

And welcome aboard ☺
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
926. StormJunkie
12:51 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
tallahasee...

LSU Wavcis site under marine data.

Great site for many aspects of the GOM. John Hopkins APL is pretty nice as well.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
925. StormJunkie
12:49 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Sitting here trying to psych myself up for some html work...It is not going well...Arghh....If I don't start I won't finish...Arghh....




Ooops, sorry y'all. Guess I know I really need to seek help now. I am talking to myself on the blog :~)
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
924. tallahasseecyclone
12:46 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
anyone know of a good site with actual SST for the GOM? I am especially interested in the North Florida sites. All of the sites I have found are unreliable and I am tired of listening to the Weather radio just to get them.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
923. extreme236
12:47 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Conditions not as dry as yesterday.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
922. 7544
12:45 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
912. TheCaneWhisperer 12:43 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
7544, that was one of the original tracks the GFS liked for a while when it picked up on the area. GEM is technically the CMC, the other letters must mean it is part of it's ensemble, like the GFS ensemble.

thanks for that info :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
921. TheCaneWhisperer
12:44 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
This should help out with the GEM.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
919. StormJunkie
12:43 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
907.

I agree Adrian, it was just a couple of weeks ago we were debating if the SSTs were cooler then average, or closer to average. Pretty evident now that they have been on the rise and are above normal in most of the Atl.

908.

Your local news media is mentioning jp. Does not get much more mentioned then that. NHC will mention it when and if the feature begins to develop and sustains the surface low.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
918. Drakoen
12:44 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Adrian the trade winds have died down significantly with the weak A/B high.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30613
917. IKE
7:45 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
Give it time......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
916. extreme236
12:43 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
908. jphurricane2006 12:43 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
just seems a lot are reaching for development that just isnt there, no one is mentioning it, lets just sit back and watch


I do partially agree with that...I think too many, perhaps including myself, expect development to occur when we have yet to see any real organization. We have reached the stage in the EPAC of having a disturbance to watch and a low in the Caribbean but nothing really significant yet.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
915. IKE
7:43 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
908. jphurricane2006 7:43 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
just seems a lot are reaching for development that just isnt there, no one is mentioning it, lets just sit back and watch


The NHC is mentioning a chance of slow development....and their the actual authority.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
914. HIEXPRESS
8:42 PM EDT on May 26, 2008
The ice is not melting.
Red Wings 2
Penguins ___
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
913. 7544
12:41 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
well it show a 998 on may30/to the 31st so it might be a td before june 1st the race is on
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
912. TheCaneWhisperer
12:39 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
7544, that was one of the original tracks the GFS liked for a while when it picked up on the area. GEM is technically the CMC, the other letters must mean it is part of it's ensemble, like the GFS ensemble.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
911. weathersp
8:36 PM EDT on May 26, 2008
I think what the NHC was trying to say was.. "Currently there are no signs of immediate development, however some signs of development may occur over the next few days and needs to be watched closely."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
910. extreme236
12:42 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
But I don't want to argue over it because then it will start to sound like the argument last week that somebody had with somebody over whether a tropical wave in the EATL would keep its convection for 36 hours...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
909. IKE
7:41 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
Their saying there are no signs of development, but there could be within the next 48 hours...they say that all the time.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 959 - 909

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Overcast
7 °C
Overcast