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

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

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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

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1209. Patrap
6:48 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
Annular is a Eyewall condition,not a Type of Hurricane. Link
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1208. IpswichWeatherCenter
11:19 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Tropical Weather Update [12:16 BST 27/5/08] EPAC YELLOW ALERT (20%)

Hi

We have a Yellow alert for East Pacific development today......

MORE
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1207. IpswichWeatherCenter
11:16 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
This will be interesting....
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1206. BahaHurican
7:05 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Before I go, I'd like to say a special "thanks much" to HGW, who makes a consistent effort to post info on cyclones in other basins. We may not say much about it, but we do appreciate it.
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1205. BahaHurican
7:00 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
1202. Weather456 7:00 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
I was ridicule by a few blogers, along with Taz in 2006 when we were posting about Ioke, since then, I tend to shy away from that.


Thing is, Ioke is the kind of storm we SHOULD be posting about, regardless of the basin it's in. Actually, the chances of an Ioke in the ATL are pretty low, so when we see one in the CPac and WPac, it's worth watching. Ioke is one of the better examples of an annular cyclone, and it broke numerous records for longevity and peak strength etc.

If we can only watch ATL and EPac storms, we are losing out not only on the full entire TC watching experience, but also on the opportunity to develop a true understanding of these natural phenomena and how they function.

Alright, I'm off the soap box LOL. I gotta go to work!
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1204. IKE
6:02 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
1203. BahaHurican 6:00 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
I don't think Modelsactually had anything forming before tomorrow anyway, fury.

Is anybody looking back to see if the original GFS long-range forecast was actually on target? That had to have been 8-10 days ago at least.


It had a system forming in the Caribbean.......
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1203. BahaHurican
6:56 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
I don't think Models actually had anything forming before tomorrow anyway, fury.

Is anybody looking back to see if the original GFS long-range forecast was actually on target? That had to have been 8-10 days ago at least.
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1202. Weather456
6:56 AM AST on May 27, 2008
1190. all4hurricanes 6:24 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Narki formed I predicted this a few days in advance I also said Typhoon that is in the prediction. I bet nobody cares though why arn,t we obsessed over other oceanic storms like the Atlantic ones?


Nope...I also watch other basins but post little about them during this time of year. I was ridicule by a few blogers, along with Taz in 2006 when we were posting about Ioke, since then, I tend to shy away from that.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1201. BahaHurican
6:53 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
1190. all4hurricanes 6:24 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Narki formed I predicted this a few days in advance I also said Typhoon that is in the prediction. I bet nobody cares though why arn,t we obsessed over other oceanic storms like the Atlantic ones?


Some of us do watch the other basins, all4. A lot of the people who stick with the blog year round do it because they want to watch SPac and SInd storms. Personally I think we can learn a lot more about TCs and how they function if we look at the entire globe and not just one basin. There's something to that teleconnection theory . . .
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1200. stoormfury
10:37 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
good posting 456 and i quite agree with the potential of these systems but i still do not see anything happenning despite what the models try to say. like you ialways make my forecast on what met parameters are present and what is in the future before i get too excited about making any positive announcements. we will wait and see if the models are correct with one of the systems to emerge off the African coast
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1199. extreme236
10:45 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
An excerpt from the EPAC TWD:

RECENT
AND AND CURRENT PRES ANALYSES REVEAL THAT THIS MOISTURE CONTINUES
TO BE TIED IN TO A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRES WHICH COVERS THE FAR
ERN PACIFIC ROUGHLY FROM 04N TO 15N E OF 100W TO CENTRAL
AMERICA. COMPUTER MODELS SUGGEST THAT THIS AREA MAY EVENTUALLY
CONSOLIDATE INTO A SPECIFIC LOW CENTER WITHIN THE NEXT 24-48
HOURS...AND LIKELY TRACK TO THE NE ACROSS CENTRAL AMERICA AND
THEN MORE NLY IN 3 OR 4 DAYS.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
1198. extreme236
10:39 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Just to point something out here...on the NHC 48-hour formation map, the southern Caribbean is also included in the cone now.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
1197. hurricane10
6:29 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Look at the GFS LONG Range on the 8th there is a nice low near florida. 2 links
LINK 1
LINK 2
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1196. stoormfury
10:32 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
nothing will happen inthe MDR for the time being. condtions are not conducive for tropical stoem development in the near future i cannot see any development until the middle of june
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1195. Weather456
5:16 AM AST on May 27, 2008
The Tropics Come Alive

Good Tuesday morning to all!

Well the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season official begins on Sunday but that isn%u2019t stopping the slumbering giant from waking up and giving us some preview action of what is suppose to an above average hurricane season. There are 4 areas of interest out there and only two has prospect of development.

More

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1194. extreme236
10:24 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
06Z GFS, 00Z NGPS show a Caribbean system.
00Z ECMWF briefly shows a EPAC system and the 00Z UKMET shows a EPAC system.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
1193. IKE
5:27 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
It looks like the system everyone is interested in around Panama, is going to hang around the Yucatan peninsula/Belize area, for a few days.......
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1192. hurricane10
10:26 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
tight circulation on QUIKSCAT in EPAC
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1191. IKE
5:25 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
Because 99% of the folks on here don't live over there...it's always been that-a-way on here.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1190. all4hurricanes
10:21 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Narki formed I predicted this a few days in advance I also said Typhoon that is in the prediction. I bet nobody cares though why arn,t we obsessed over other oceanic storms like the Atlantic ones?
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1189. BahaHurican
6:21 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Anyway, I'm out for the day. I may get a chance to peep in later, but given the potentially hectic nature of my schedule, I doubt it. Enjoy the day, all, and happy "blob" hunting!
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1188. BahaHurican
6:10 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
The other item of interest for me this a. m. is the cold low off to the east of us (Bahamas). This generated some refreshing northerly winds here yesterday, along with a refreshing "one cloud" shower around 2 p.m. yesterday (since that's normally the beginning of the hottest part of the day, it really kept temps in our area down). I had expected it to move further east and north by now, so it's interesting that it's still "hanging around", as it were.
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1187. IKE
5:11 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
00Z ECMWF.....

Link


This looks like a drawn out system...time wise...this may go on for awhile...not saying it's going to amount to anything.....
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1186. BahaHurican
6:07 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Re: 1184

Actually Kori, I meant this:

SUBJECT: CATEGORY ONE TYPHOON EAST OF PHILIPPINES

At 6:00am UTC, Tropical Depression [1000 hPa] intensified into a tropical storm and was designated the name "Nakri". The storm located near 14.3N 137.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts up to 50 knots and is reported moving north-northwest slowly.

I don't expect to see more than a closed low from that area around the Isthmus of Panama (E or W of it) before the weekend. I am noting the increased buildup in activity there with interest, however.
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1185. FLWeatherFreak91
5:52 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
well at least I can almost guarantee that some tropical moisture will be thrown up my way in some form next week.
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3619
1184. KoritheMan
9:37 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Baha, don't you mean EAST Pacific?

By the way, the image in my post isn't working. Oh well...
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1183. KoritheMan
9:40 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Morning, FLWeatherfreak.

Yeah, the models may be losing the system, or at the very least, they're confused. But this is to be expected with weak systems that are very disorganized and not even a TD yet.
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1182. FLWeatherFreak91
5:37 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
G'morning all. I see that the 00z nogaps has the system staying fairly weak and traveling East of Fl. This is a very different scenario than the GFS portrays with a TS hitting S fl. The models are losing the system it seems
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3619
1181. BahaHurican
4:52 AM EDT on May 27, 2008
Morning, guys.

I'm not surprised to see a fast-growing system in the WPac, considering that SSTs are warmer than average there right now. Should be interesting to see how far this system gets strength-wise in the long term.
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1180. KoritheMan
8:32 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
A lot vorticity associated with the EPAC/Carribean low.

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1179. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
7:31 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory
15:00 PM JST May 27 2008

SUBJECT: CATEGORY ONE TYPHOON EAST OF PHILIPPINES

At 6:00am UTC, Tropical Depression [1000 hPa] intensified into a tropical storm and was designated the name "Nakri". The storm located near 14.3N 137.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts up to 50 knots and is reported moving north-northwest slowly.

Gale-Force Winds
======================
100 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
==========================
24 HRS: 15.8N 136.8E - 45 knots (CAT 1)
48 HRS: 17.6N 136.3E - 55 knots (CAT 2)
72 HRS: 19.7N 135.9E - 65 knots (CAT 3)
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1178. moonlightcowboy
12:53 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
What a fireball of hot dry air!



CLICK on RAMSDIS IR3 WV LOOP

After looking at that loop I, still, just can't see how anything can form and move north. The rotating swirl out at about 13n,80w could possibly spin up on the tail of the TUTT exiting the neCarib over Hispaniola, but that's all I can see with all that high pressure and dry air moving (seemingly for some time to come yet) south. Also, notice on the loop that close in the area of the ePac low, the flow begins to have a westward movement.
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1177. Michfan
1:00 AM CDT on May 27, 2008
GFS is on some major crack now.
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1176. scottsvb
5:10 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
system out in the eastern atlantic has a 2% chance to make it across...one near 51W has about a 3% chance to develop... carribean 25%
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1600
1175. JLPR
1:02 AM AST on Mayo 27, 2008
lol did everyone went to sleep =P

thats some interesting convection near 5N 30W

I think I am in the phase in which I think everything will develop lol

and for the West Caribbean possible system...
well when it crosses to the Caribbean then I will pay attention to it =)
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1174. TexasGulf
4:32 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
I hope 5N-30W system doesn't develop. That would be a bad omen, having a Cape Verde system crossing the Atlantic and forming a T.S. in Carribean this early in the season.

The Gulf still looks like an unfriendly environment for development now. The Carribean is a breeding spot if the right wave moves into place this week.
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1172. moonlightcowboy
11:33 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
Have a good sleep TCW and whomever else is off, too.

456, I know you're watching those waves out there. What's your take on what's coming off and across, now?
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1171. TheCaneWhisperer
4:27 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Night All.

MJO is coming around today as expected 456. Interesting area for sure.
1169. moonlightcowboy
11:28 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
1160. TXG, I'm watching that sucker, too. Been saying that as well. A CV is gonna slip up on us!
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1168. scottsvb
4:28 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
JFV you should know where the models are at by now..just save a link to your favorites.
Member Since: January 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1600
1166. TheCaneWhisperer
4:25 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
GFS lost the trough interaction idea, for sure.
1165. Michfan
11:21 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
GFS is still running it across the Yucatan it looks like with a strong Bermuda high as well.
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1164. Michfan
11:20 PM CDT on May 26, 2008
http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/carib/gfs/00/model_l.shtml

JFV
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1163. dean2007
4:18 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
Link
SPC Outlook for today (Tuesday)
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1161. TheCaneWhisperer
4:16 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
GFS is running the same, but weaker storm.
1160. TexasGulf
4:09 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
I like that wave located at 5N-30W. It is moving West over warm seas, not much shear in its path and it will be moving into favorable environment for development.

Of any wave I've seen recently, that one looks like it has a chance to develop as a tropical storm. If it stays south and misses the connection with that trough, it may be our first named storm of the season by week end.
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1159. taco2me61
4:09 AM GMT on May 27, 2008
ok all, Well I'm out for the nite..... I will be checking to see what Jeff has to say about this thing......

Have a great nite everybody and I will chat with you tomorrow....

:0)
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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.