Parkersburg tornado an EF-5; major flooding in Central America likely from 90E

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:46 PM GMT on May 28, 2008

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The tornado that devastated Parkersburg, Iowa on Sunday has now been rated an EF-5 by the National Weather Service. An EF-5 is the strongest possible classification a tornado can receive, and is only given to those tornadoes with estimated winds over 200 mph. The winds in the Parkersburg tornado were estimated at 205 mph. At those wind speeds, total destruction of homes occurs. Even those sheltering in basements are not safe--several of the six deaths from the Parkersburg tornado were from people sheltering in basements.

The Parkersburg tornado cut a path 43 miles long and between 3/4 miles and 1.2 miles wide across Iowa, killing six people, completely destroying 350 buildings in Parkersburg, and injuring 70 people. It was only the second EF-5 tornado this decade in the U.S. The other EF-5 occurred in May 2007, when much of Greensburg, Kansas got leveled. The Parkersburg tornado was the first F5 or EF5 tornado in Iowa since the Jordan, Iowa tornado of June 13, 1976, and was the second deadliest in Iowa since official record-keeping began in 1950. Iowa's deadliest tornado hit Charles City on May 15, 1968, killing 13 while producing F5 damage.


Figure 1. EF-5 damage from the May 25, 2008 Parkersburg tornado. At EF-5 winds speeds (over 200mph), homes are completely destroyed or removed from their foundations. Image credit: Iowa Helicopter. The NWS Des Moines office has posted ground damage photos from their damage survey.

Major flooding likely in Central America from 90E
An area of low pressure (90E) in the Eastern Pacific off the coast of Costa Rica, near 10N 88W, is steadily organizing and appears likely to develop into a tropical depression later today or tomorrow. The National Hurricane Center is currently assigning a "High" probability (>50% chance) that this will be a tropical depression, in its new experimental Tropical Weather Outlook. Satellite loops show that the low has developed a very large and expanding circulation. This circulation is likely to expand across Central America into the Western Caribbean, allowing the storm to tap moisture from the Atlantic and Pacific. Storms that are able to tap the moisture sources of both oceans can be extremely dangerous rainmakers, even if they are weak tropical depressions. Already, 90E is generating very heavy rains in excess of six inches per day near its center. The storm is expected to move northeastward over Costa Rica or Nicaragua by Thursday or Friday, and should being dangerous flooding rains of 5-10 inches to those nations and Panama. Most of the computer model guidance suggests that the storm will then track to the north, spreading very heavy rains across Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, and southern Mexico by Saturday. These heavy rains will cause life-threatening flash flooding, particularly in mountainous regions.

Since 90E is beginning to dominate the circulation pattern of the region, it appears unlikely that a tropical depression will form in the Western Caribbean in the coming week, as some computer models have been predicting. It is possible that 90E could cross Central America and pop out in the Western Caribbean near the Yucatan Peninsula, or in the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche. However, the crossing of Central America will severely disrupt the storm, and the odds of 90E becoming a depression in the Atlantic basin are low.


Figure 2. Observed precipitation for the 24 hours ending at 12Z (8am EDT) Wednesday May 28, 2008. Rainfall amounts in excess of 2000mm (eight inches, yellow colors) occurred near the center of disturbance 90E off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Image credit: U.S. Navy Monterey.

I'll have an update Thursday morning.

Jeff Masters

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340. Baybuddy
8:58 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
stormcat is stormtop, cats start marrying dogs Dr. M becomes Mc Cains V.P. running mate, CHAOS!!!!
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339. Patrap
3:59 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Thanks guys... I guess I will just contact Dr. M to request the change



Dr. Masters does not handle blog issues. That is for the WunderBlogAdmin Link
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338. weatherfromFlorida
8:58 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
I am going to make a very bold
prediction regarding 90E, that 90E will be still a
Invest one second after this post.
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337. seflagamma
4:57 PM AST on May 28, 2008
thanks Michael; I thought he changed his handle last year.
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336. weatherboykris
8:58 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
334. presslord 8:57 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
stormkat is stormtop?!?!


Yes...Where have you been? He changed his name in 2006.

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335. floridastorm
8:55 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
there is actually two lows
developing
one, 90E two, sw carribean
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334. presslord
4:55 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
stormkat is stormtop?!?!
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333. FLWeatherFreak91
4:55 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Thanks guys... I guess I will just contact Dr. M to request the change
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3634
332. weatherboykris
8:54 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
329. FLWeatherFreak91 8:53 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Is there any way to change your handle without signing up for a new account? I hope so bc I have a paid account and I don't want to have to make another...


If you're a paid account, the admins could probably change it for you if you specifically request it.

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330. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
8:53 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
329. FLWeatherFreak91 8:53 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Is there any way to change your handle without signing up for a new account? I hope so bc I have a paid account and I don't want to have to make another...

---
not that I am aware of.
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329. FLWeatherFreak91
4:51 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Is there any way to change your handle without signing up for a new account? I hope so bc I have a paid account and I don't want to have to make another...
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3634
328. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
8:50 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory
3:00 AM JST May 29 2008

SUBJECT: CATEGORY THREE TYPHOON IN SEAS EAST OF THE PHILIPPINES

At 18:00pm UTC, Typhoon Nakri (T0805) [960 hPa] located near 16.0N 136.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts up to 105 knots. The storm is reported as moving north-northwest slowly.

Storm-Force Winds
==================
60 NM from the center

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

Forecast and Intensity
==========================
24 HRS: 17.6N 135.2E - 80 knots (CAT 3)
48 HRS: 20.0N 134.3E - 85 knots (CAT 4)
72 HRS: 22.8N 134.9E - 85 knots (CAT 4)

----
sure deepened quickly.. went from 975 to 960 in a 3 hour advisory
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327. weatherboykris
8:50 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
324. Ivansrvivr 8:49 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
295. CNN-Clinton News network Fox-the Bush bullets and blondes network!!!


That is so random...and yet I totally agree with it.

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326. seflagamma
4:50 PM AST on May 28, 2008
by the way, where is STORMTOP and lefty??? lol
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325. seflagamma
4:49 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Amazing, was just reading back at some of the knowledge on these blogs now and some of the new people here who are asking the questions we asked 3 years ago when we all started blogging here on Dr master's tropical weather blog.

What is most amazing is that now when you use some of the short terms, acronyms abbreviations, etc I usually KNOW what you are talking about. hey, most of us have come a long long way in our weather knowledge in the past 3 years..... now don't get me wrong, we were all weather geeks or weather nerds, etc first; that is what brought us here to begin with! LOL but now we can almost speak intelligently about weather reports and conditions with each other.

I just love this place thanks to the great bunch of people who come here... the new ones and the veterans! All are welcomed!

Carry on!

Gams
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324. Ivansrvivr
8:48 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
295. CNN-Clinton News network Fox-the Bush bullets and blondes network!!!(that is the censored version)
323. weatherboykris
8:47 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Good afternoon everyone. I really like that graphical Tropical Weather Outlook, it's much less ambiguous about what the NHC expects than the pure text product.
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322. Drakoen
8:46 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
321. atmoaggie
8:43 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Thanks Dr. Masters.

Those Parkersburg folks have quite a challenge before them.

Hi all, bye all...too busy for the blog.
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320. FLWeatherFreak91
4:41 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
From the most recent Tampa long-term forecast discussion:

.LONG TERM (FRIDAY NIGHT - WEDNESDAY)...FIRST...THE AREA OF LOW
PRESSURE ON THE PACIFIC SIDE OF CENTRAL AMERICA CONTINUES TO
ORGANIZE. MODELS ARE STILL STRUGGLING WITH HOW MUCH...IF ANY OF
THE CIRCULATION WILL SURVIVE ASSUMING IT CROSSES INTO THE GULF OR
CARIBBEAN SEA...BUT THE LATEST GFS AND ECMWF KEEP THE EFFECTS OUT
OF OUR AREA THROUGH AT LEAST WEDNESDAY.
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3634
319. CaneAddict
8:35 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
303. HouseofGryffindor 8:14 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
I will make a bold prediction that the system will eventually dissapate. This may occur while over water or over land.


Well eventually everything that develops dissipates...Lol.
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318. Drakoen
8:37 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
If 90E starts the Northward movement now like the computer models suggest there is an opportunity for it to become a depression.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
316. Levi32
12:32 PM AKDT on May 28, 2008
315. HouseofGryffindor 12:31 PM AKDT on May 28, 2008 Hide this comment.
314. Levi32 8:28 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
Lol forgive my stupidity but I'm not sure what you mean RR.


I think RR = redrobin


I wasn't asking what "RR" meant, I was just addressing him, sorry I guess that could sound both ways.
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314. Levi32
12:27 PM AKDT on May 28, 2008
Lol forgive my stupidity but I'm not sure what you mean redrobin.
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313. redrobin
3:19 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Yes they are connected, there's no doubt about it. It's hard to tell exactly what it is, but to me it appears to be a broad elongated mid-level circulation oriented SW to NE, with vort maxes embedded within it in the Caribbean. The only surface circulation is 90E, which has the anticyclone positioned directly above it, placing it as the dominant circulation in the whole mess.



hahahaheheheh sounds like a lot of things do that--Sorry RR is not home-I was being noisey and read that and could not help myself!!
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310. Levi32
12:15 PM AKDT on May 28, 2008
291. TerraNova 12:03 PM AKDT on May 28, 2008 Hide this comment.
According to this morning's ASCAT pass and satellite imagery loops, the Caribbean low is not fully closed off at the surface however soundings indicate a possible broad mid level circulation. Looking at visible imagery it looks like there might be a mid to upper level interaction circulation between the two features (somebody pointed out a figure 8 like circulation between the two centers).

My question is is it possible the two systems/lows/features/whatever they are might be connected under one circulation at the middle levels? Because looking at air soundings the circulation at the 700-500 mb level seems to broad to be part of only one low pressure center.


Yes they are connected, there's no doubt about it. It's hard to tell exactly what it is, but to me it appears to be a broad elongated mid-level circulation oriented SW to NE, with vort maxes embedded within it in the Caribbean. The only surface circulation is 90E, which has the anticyclone positioned directly above it, placing it as the dominant circulation in the whole mess.
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309. FLWeatherFreak91
4:13 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
283. studjuderson 3:55 PM EDT on May 28, 2008 Hide this comment.
Today, is indeed a great day for a weather enthusiast like me because, the tropics are getting more interesting. I wonder if the FUJIWHARA effect will happen between the EPAC and the SW caribbean low.


Whoa, I just did a paper on the Fujiwhara effect in AP Enviro. so I can answer this well.

The effect can only occur when two already developed, equally strong lows move closer in proximity allowing transfer of moisture and pressure. If the systems are of different strengths (like the two we have now) then either one must become dominate or they must move far enough apart as to not affect each-other.
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3634
308. Drakoen
7:58 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
After looking at the satellite loops, models, and steering layers here my take on the situation. 90E elongated area of low pressure is currently located at 10.2N 86.7W just west of Costa Rica moving to the NNE. The system is currently establishing an upper level outflow with a weak upper level high over head. Water vapor imagery shows that the system is in a moist environment. 90E is competing with a lower to mid level low over Nicaragua which is perhaps influence the storms movement. Numerical model guidance has been poor in tracking this system and its interaction with the circulation over Nicaragua.

The system is running out of time to develop into a tropical depression as I believe the system will track over the mountainous areas of Nicaragua and and Honduras. This is likely to disrupt the circulation greatly enough to halt development when the system exits into the Gulf of Honduras and then in the Yucatan Peninsula with high pressure steering.

There is also another scenario where the low maybe absorbed by the area of low pressure over Nicaragua or the system may take a more easterly course into the Central Caribbean I view these solutions as unlikely because of the area of High pressure over the U.S.A however with the front ahead of the high that could induce a more southerly flow in the Caribbean as the area of high pressure out in the Atlantic weakens.

The track of this low remains uncertain and its best to continue to monitor the situation.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30833
304. cdo
8:12 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
my user name is cdo, just because people were referring to you as "eye" yesterday doesnt mean you can accuse everyone of being "eye" when they ask you to stick out your neck and make a prediction. Why were so many accusing you of acting like "eye" yesterday anyways?
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301. cdo
8:09 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
hey jp, what is your prediction with this system? You gonna stick out your neck and make one?
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299. MississippiWx
3:08 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Not much there, although a big surge could quickly raise it; then again it isn't persistantly high:

Thanks, Michael. With such potent tropical waves coming off Africa, it makes it hard for one to believe the SAL would pick up much.
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297. 69Viking
3:04 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
I think it's pretty interesting we have so much to talk about in late May. Waves are coming off Africa at a steady pace for this time of year. Could mean things start busy and stay busy. Need gas prices to lower so I can fill up my gas cans! I know, wishful thinking!
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296. moonlightcowboy
3:04 PM CDT on May 28, 2008


CIMSS WV and partial QScat. What's that mess in QScat around 10n, 90w? Dry air coming in from the nw? TIA
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
295. cdo
8:06 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
CNN is the Clinton News Network what on earth wold FOX be considered?
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292. earthlydragonfly
4:00 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
We also need an acronym guide to help some of us acrophobes COC GOM FUJIWHARA EPAC CNN

coc- Center of Circulation
Gom- Gulf of Mexico
Fujiwhara -- Who what????
Epac - Eastern pacific??
CNN - Clinton News Network??
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291. TerraNova
3:54 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
According to this morning's ASCAT pass and satellite imagery loops, the Caribbean low is not fully closed off at the surface however soundings indicate a possible broad mid level circulation. Looking at visible imagery it looks like there might be a mid to upper level interaction circulation between the two features (somebody pointed out a figure 8 like circulation between the two centers).

My question is is it possible the two systems/lows/features/whatever they are might be connected under one circulation at the middle levels? Because looking at air soundings the circulation at the 700-500 mb level seems to broad to be part of only one low pressure center.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
290. NEwxguy
8:01 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
284. MichaelSTL 7:57 PM GMT on May 28, 2008
271. NEwxguy 2:39 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
back in 1925 and 1953 there was little or no warning for tornadoes.


On the other hand, you have to wonder why records like this still stand:

I was thinking the same thing,things have changed so drastically as far as warnings,it seems pointless to hold on to such records,but we like to have statistics and records set for everything.
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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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