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

Share this Blog
2
+

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

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: 940 - 890

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

940. HIEXPRESS
11:34 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Water is my stock in trade. I'm out. GN
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
939. moonlightcowboy
10:31 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Nicaraguan topo: The mountainous central area forms a triangular wedge pointed southeast, rising at its highest to some 2,000 m (6,600 ft). The plains and lake region, in a long, narrow structural depression running northwest to southeast along the isthmus, contains a belt of volcanoes rising to 1,500 m (5,000 ft) and extending from the Gulf of Fonseca to Lake Nicaragua.

Honduras topo: The interior, which constitutes approximately 80 percent of the country's terrain, is mountainous.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29594
937. Beachfoxx
10:34 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
JP,

Good point. Hopefully everyone has their H-plans in place. Extra Bottled water, etc...
My fears are what will happen to gasoline prices if the GOM is hit too hard.
$9 or $10 a gallon??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
936. Tazmanian
8:34 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
some one make the gas go down
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
934. weatherblog
3:30 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Alright lol everyone has their opinions. Be back later..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
933. pottery
11:26 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Thanks, Hiexpress.
I guess that what I am doing , is challenging the whole concept .
But its too late I think. My last remaining brain cell is about to shut down........
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
932. Ivansrvivr
3:25 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
917. A tropical system can push water as it moves. A forest canopy does not give as easily, isn't as moist and is nowhere near as smooth. Remember that trees in a tropical rainforest fall fairly easily and there is land underneath. Often tropical rainforests are found in mountainous areas with the rainforest occurring on the windward side taking advantage of orographic lift. My cat's natural habitat is tropical rainforest. I have done some homework on the subject.
930. moonlightcowboy
10:29 PM CDT on May 28, 2008

Guatemala topography

A tropical plain averaging 48 km (30 mi) in width parallels the Pacific Ocean. From it, a piedmont region rises to altitudes of from 90 to 1,370 m (300 to 4,500 ft). Above this region lies nearly two-thirds of the country, in an area stretching northwest and southwest and containing volcanic mountains, the highest of which is Mt. Tajumulco (4,211 m/13,816 ft). The larger towns and Lake Atitlán are located in basins at elevations of about 1,500 to 2,400 m (5,000 to 8,000 ft).
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29594
929. Beachfoxx
10:28 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
RE: post 921
LOL You make it sound like Bi-polar disease...

wet, wet.. depression sure has a lot of moisture if storm totals are this high.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
927. moonlightcowboy
10:25 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Yep, rain, JP. Doc said 5 to 10 inches.

El Salvador mtnous topo: This is the agricultural, industrial, and population center of the country; the capital, San Salvador (682 m/2,237 ft above sea level), is in this region. Almost surrounded by active volcanoes%u2014Santa Ana (2,381 m/7,812 ft), San Vicente (2,173 m/7,129 ft), San Miguel (2,132 m/6,995 ft), San Salvador (1,967 m/6,453 ft), and Izalco (1,965 m/6,447 ft)
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29594
925. weatherblog
3:27 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
*923

Yes, I know that. Just stating I think this could get stronger than originally thought...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
924. TheCaneWhisperer
3:22 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Everyone seems so sad? We're 37 min away from day two of everything you looked at last week? There hasn't been this much moisture in the Caribbean since Wilma.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
922. HIEXPRESS
11:23 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
910. pottery
There is a lot greater mass holding the heat in the ocean, and the specific heat index of water is higher .
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
921. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
3:21 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
National Hurricane Center
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number One
03:00 AM UTC May 29, 2008

At 03:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression EP0801 (NONAME) located near 10.2N 86.5W has 1 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts up to 35 knots. The depression is reported moving northwards at 2 knots.

The depression is expected to produce total rainfall of 10-15 inches over portion of Central America from Costa Rica northwards through portions of Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatamala. Isolated maximum storm totals amount of 20 inches are possible in areas of higher terrain. These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Forecast and Intensity
========================
12 HRS: 10.8N 86.5W - 30 knots (Tropical Low)
24 HRS: 12.0N 86.8W - 35 knots (TS)
48 HRS: Overland


wet, wet.. depression sure has a lot of moisture if storm totals are this high.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
920. Beachfoxx
10:21 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Well, this certainly did surprise me! Tropical activity so soon...

Aargh!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
919. weatherblog
3:16 AM GMT on May 29, 2008

This looks like a very organized storm (and only getting more organized). If it keeps the trend up and stays off of land, I personally think- a hurricane? Why not? SST's are pretty supportive, it seems to only be getting stronger every hour, and if this were in the Atlantic basin in the GOM, I think the NHC would already have this is as a 50 MPH tropical storm. Just my opinion once again.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
917. pottery
11:15 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Ivan, Re: friction.
I'm not sure about that one. The kind of forest that exists in many of these areas, ( Africa, S America, parts of Cent. Am. ) are virtually closed canopy things. The top of the trees is not a smooth surface, as you say, but its nowhere as uneven as hills or mountains.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
916. cdo
3:17 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
our first false alarm of the 2008 Alantic Hurricane Season.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 7
915. sporteguy03
3:20 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
JP,
Why Does TWC choose FL??
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
914. TheCaneWhisperer
3:16 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
913. sporteguy03
3:17 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
JP,
TD 1E=Gratification for some.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
911. Ivansrvivr
3:10 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Water stores heat whereas land rapidly builds and releases heat. The issue with a tropical system over a jungle would be friction. Thick trees found in a tropical jungle would cause friction which would weaken a tropical storm, just not as much as dry land or mountains.
910. pottery
11:08 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Express, thanks for that. I understand what yr. saying there, But I would not have thought that temps would fall so quickly, from a shadow , as to make a difference.

456, I would love to see that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
909. moonlightcowboy
10:12 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Have a good sleep, HG, cchs and all.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29594
908. weatherblog
3:11 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
jphurricane,

Why do you believe it is very, very slim? Don't really understand your reasoning.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
906. weatherblog
3:04 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
*888

Yeah, Wilma was a rarity. I went to sleep the night before with maybe a 100 mph hurricane supposedly forecasted to weaken steadily. I woke up to Wilma at 125 mph just about to make landfall. The destruction was just unbelievable...

*889

weatherfromFlorida, that's what I'm currently thinking. It may seem like I'm smoking something, but 01E [to me] already looks like a moderate tropical storm. In the next 24 hours (assuming it doesn't make landfall), it could easily become a hurricane; also, it'd be increasing the chances for it surviving the crossing of Central America ...(though I doubt it will).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
905. Tazmanian
8:06 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
this is some in too look for ward too this year on TWC this looks so cool


After two years of relatively mild U.S. storm seasons, The Weather Channel (TWC) will mark the official start of the 2008 hurricane season with two days of live HD programming.

For the first time ever, The Weather Channel will be live in HD, reporting from the coast for the start of hurricane season. TWC efforts kick off June 1 and 2 with programming to emphasize hurricane awareness, education, and most importantly, readiness.

Storm Tracker Jim Cantore will be live on the Florida coast on both June 1 and 2. Coverage on June 2 will be the first ever live HD shots for the all-weather network. Not only will the in-studio crew be live in high definition, but viewers will see Cantore in the field with the TWC HD-equipped satellite truck. Live shots from Miami Beach will air June 1 from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m., and live shots in HD will air throughout the day June 2 (from 7-10 a.m. ET during Your Weather Today, at 7 p.m. ET on Abrams & Bettes, and from 9-11 p.m. ET on Evening Edition).

Additional TWC programming will include the following topics:


A look at if people have let their guard down or become complacent since the active 2005 season
A discussion of how much emphasis should be given to seasonal forecasts predicting an active season
Areas that are building stronger, smarter and safer
A wind demonstration to help homeowners better fortify against wind and water
Interviews and analysis with Dr. Steve Lyons, TWC Hurricane Expert; Florida Governor Charlie Crist; Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center; Bill Gray and Phil Klotzbach, seasonal hurricane forecasters; and building and construction experts
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
904. Weather456
11:03 PM AST on May 28, 2008
pottery

Also I have some information on Tropical Met regarding Tropical Moisture and Evapotranspiration...I wud get back to u on that.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
903. HIEXPRESS
11:00 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
880. pottery ...
I wanted to know why the generally accepted notion that storms would tend to weaken over land, did not take into account the vast amount of transpiration by tropical forest trees.
Especialy trop. forest in swamps, where daytime temps are very high, and humidity is vastly more than on the ocean.

Whats the thinking on this ? DR, M said at the time that a system would pick up more moisture from the sea, than the land. And generally, I would agree. But a tropical jungle ?


When the clouds move in over land, the heat (sunlight) is cut off, not so over water.

In Florida, an afternoon thunderstorm moving West has the sun shining ahead of it, An eastward moving anvil shades the ground ahead.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
902. Ivansrvivr
3:01 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
888, Wilma was strengthening over the everglades partially due to available moisture, also partially due to wilma's acceleration which reduced relative shear briefly. Wilma was too small and moving too quickly for atlantic induced strengthening to wrap all the way around the system as it passed by.
901. Drakoen
3:06 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I have something to say about the A/B High and tacking but I will keep you guys in suspense and leave it for tomorrow. Good Night!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
900. pottery
11:04 PM AST on May 28, 2008
OK 456. I am happy for the confirmation. Thats what I thought.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
899. JRRP
2:59 AM GMT on Mayo 29, 2008
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5425
898. TheCaneWhisperer
3:02 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I tell you what, that low in the SW Caribb is fighting it's A** off this evening.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
896. HurricaneGeek
11:04 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
no problem.
Alright everyone, it was nice chatting. I gonna go to bed. I have WUnderful night! =)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
895. Ivansrvivr
3:01 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
888, Wilma was strengthening over the everglades partially due to available moisture, also partially due to wilma's acceleration which reduced relative shear briefly. Wilma was too small and moving too quickly for atlantic induced strengthening to wrap all the way around the system as it passed by.
894. cchsweatherman
3:03 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Good night all. Really tired right now. I will have my full analysis on TD 1E tomorrow AM. Just checked both the 18UTC GFS and 18UTC NOGAPS and both have fallen in line with each other on a Northwest Caribbean storm in about 6 to 7 days. Very interesting.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
893. weathersp
11:03 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Here it is! Offical now!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
892. weatherblog
3:00 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
New models will start coming out in about an hour. Be back later to start my late night posting...too hectic in the day lmao.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
891. Weather456
10:57 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Whats the thinking on this ? DR, M said at the time that a system would pick up more moisture from the sea, than the land. And generally, I would agree. But a tropical jungle ?

Yeah its no suprise....the Amazon accounts for a great percentage of tropical moisture.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
890. pottery
11:02 PM AST on May 28, 2008
OK Ivan and Geek. Thanks for that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 940 - 890

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23Blog 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
63 °F
Overcast