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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890. pottery
11:02 PM AST on May 28, 2008
OK Ivan and Geek. Thanks for that.
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889. weatherfromFlorida
2:56 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Looks like TD-One E is about to make landfall here shortly, shes moving NW. However, if it really strengths and pulls a Humberto on us, She could survive the trip and become an Atlantic Storm.
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888. HurricaneGeek
10:55 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
880.
I think, that if I understand what you are saying, pottery, that is the same idea that happened with hurricane Wilma. As it crossed the Everglades, a warm, wet habitat, it strengthened. Also, it could be due to the fact that it was moving at 22 mph, or there abouts, so by the time the back end crossed FL, the front end was in the water on the Atlantic side. One thing I know for sure, the back end was way stronger. We got up to 111 mph!! Crazy
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887. Ivansrvivr
2:58 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
880. I can name 2 tropical systems that strengthened over the FL everglades. Irene in 99 and Wilma in 05.
886. taco2me61
2:52 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Y'all have a great night and will check back in tomorrow.... Although I will be busy because my insurance company dropped me like a bad habbit, and I'm stuck in trying to find a new insurance company....

Maybe they know something this year that we all have feared..... The sad part is I have Never used them for any damage from any Storm....

Taco :0)
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885. Ivansrvivr
2:56 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
881. read the last sentence. it will be a mature tropical wave.
884. Drakoen
2:56 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
881. moonlightcowboy 2:56 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
870. Dayum, Drak. That's a mouthful! Need some Rolaids? It'll take me a month to decipher that one! LOL


I could have made it harder to understand lol;P
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883. Ivansrvivr
2:54 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
876. that probably has to do with the fact that it is gaining strength which means it is gaining height and steering winds are taking over.
882. Drakoen
2:54 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Yep. Just as I thought a chance to be a minimal tropical storm.
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881. moonlightcowboy
9:55 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
870. Dayum, Drak. That's a mouthful! Need some Rolaids? It'll take me a month to decipher that one! LOL
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
880. pottery
10:46 PM AST on May 28, 2008
456 You raise an interesting topic there about weather systems losing/gaining strength/convection over land/sea.
I raised this with Dr.M 2 yrs ago, when we were talking about a tropical wave that was about to enter the Amazon and Orinoco area of South Am.
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 ?
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879. weatherblog
2:49 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
If TD 01E starts moving north/northwest (as it seems to be doing now), a hurricane is possible. Therefore, any Caribbean development will definately be delayed until 01E moves far enough away from the Caribbean or dissipates. I personally think the only chance for us to have Arthur is for 01E to go east into Central America. If it goes east, all the convection with 01E will help flourish the potential system in the Caribbean...and you know the rest.

Caribbean development in the next 7 days: 10-15%, but it will be higher if 01E makes a quick landfall.

This is all just my opinion by the way.
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878. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
2:53 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I did not know they issued advisories for 25 knots systems..
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877. Tazmanian
7:53 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
000
WTPZ31 KNHC 290249
TCPEP1
BULLETIN
TROPICAL DEPRESSION ONE-E ADVISORY NUMBER 1
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP012008
800 PM PDT WED MAY 28 2008

...TROPICAL DEPRESSION FORMS NEAR COSTA RICA...EXPECTED TO BRING
HEAVY RAINS TO PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA...

AT 8 PM PDT...0300 UTC...THE GOVERNMENT OF COSTA RICA HAS ISSUED A
TROPICAL STORM WARNING FOR THE PACIFIC COAST OF COSTA RICA. A
TROPICAL STORM WARNING MEANS THAT TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE
EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

TROPICAL STORM CONDITIONS ARE ALSO EXPECTED TO SPREAD ACROSS THE
PACIFIC COAST OF NICARAGUA DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS.

FOR STORM INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR AREA...PLEASE MONITOR
PRODUCTS ISSUED BY YOUR LOCAL WEATHER OFFICE.

AT 800 PM PDT...0300Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION ONE-E WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 10.2 NORTH...LONGITUDE 86.5 WEST OR ABOUT 105
MILES...165 KM...WEST-NORTHWEST OF CABO BLANCO COSTA RICA AND ABOUT
130 MILES...210 KM...SOUTH OF MANAGUA NICARAGUA.

THE DEPRESSION IS MOVING TOWARD THE NORTH NEAR 3 MPH. A TURN TO THE
NORTH-NORTHWEST WITH AN INCREASE IN FORWARD SPEED IS EXPECTED OVER
THE NEXT 24 TO 36 HOURS. ON THE FORECAST TRACK...THE CENTER OF THE
DEPRESSION WILL BE VERY CLOSE TO THE COASTS OF COSTA RICA AND
NICARAGUA DURING THE NEXT DAY OR SO.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 30 MPH...45 KM/HR...WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. THE DEPRESSION IS EXPECTED TO BECOME A TROPICAL STORM AS IT
APPROACHES THE COAST.

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 1003 MB...29.62 INCHES.

THE DEPRESSION IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE TOTAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 10
TO 15 INCHES OVER PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AMERICA FROM COSTA RICA
NORTHWESTWARD THROUGH PORTIONS OF NICARAGUA...HONDURAS...EL
SALVADOR...AND GUATEMALA. ISOLATED MAXIMUM STORM TOTAL AMOUNTS OF
20 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE IN AREAS OF HIGHER TERRAIN. THESE RAINS MAY
PRODUCE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES.

REPEATING THE 800 PM PDT POSITION...10.2 N...86.5 W. MOVEMENT
TOWARD...NORTH NEAR 3 MPH. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...30 MPH.
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...1003 MB.

AN INTERMEDIATE ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL HURRICANE
CENTER AT 1100 PM PDT FOLLOWED BY THE NEXT COMPLETE ADVISORY AT 200
AM PDT.
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876. TheCaneWhisperer
2:52 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
It's not drifting either, it's moving at a pretty good clip.
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875. Ivansrvivr
2:51 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Actually my "tropical batteries" idea has been largely discounted. It is just an Idea I had when my cell phone battery was dead one day.
874. CaneAddict
2:53 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
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873. Hurricaniac
2:53 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Good evening, all.
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872. Tazmanian
7:52 PM PDT on May 28, 2008

Tropical Depression ONE-E Forecast Discussion
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Home Public Adv Fcst/Adv Discussion Wind Probs Archive
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



000
WTPZ41 KNHC 290250
TCDEP1
TROPICAL DEPRESSION ONE-E DISCUSSION NUMBER 1
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL EP012008
800 PM PDT WED MAY 28 2008

THE LARGE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE OFF THE COAST OF COSTA RICA HAS BEEN
GRADUALLY ACQUIRING ORGANIZATION TODAY. LAST-LIGHT VISIBLE IMAGERY
SUGGESTED A REASONABLY WELL-DEFINED SURFACE CIRCULATION...AND THE
00Z DVORAK CLASSIFICATIONS FROM TAFB AND SAB WERE BOTH T2.0...
SUGGESTING ENOUGH CONVECTIVE STRUCTURE TO CONSIDER THE SYSTEM A
TROPICAL DEPRESSION. THE CONVECTION IS STILL RATHER THIN...CONFINED
MOSTLY TO A FEW BANDS WELL AWAY FROM THE CENTER...ALTHOUGH ONE
SMALL BAND HAS DEVELOPED CLOSE TO THE CENTER OVER THE PAST HOUR OR
TWO. GIVEN THE SPRAWLING NATURE OF THE SYSTEM...THE INITIAL
INTENSITY IS SET AT 25 KT... SLIGHTLY BELOW THE DVORAK ESTIMATES.

THE INITIAL MOTION IS HARD TO GAUGE...BUT IS ESTIMATED TO BE 010/3.
THE DEPRESSION IS LOCATED WITHIN A BROAD CYCLONIC GYRE IN THE LOW
TO MID LEVELS...WITH A MID-LEVEL RIDGE TO THE NORTH OF THE
DEPRESSION IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. MOST OF THE OBJECTIVE GUIDANCE
AGREES ON A GENERALLY NORTHWARD TRACK INITIALLY...WITH A BEND TO
THE LEFT OVER THE NEXT DAY OR TWO WITHIN THE GYRE AND TO THE SOUTH
OF THE GULF RIDGE. THE OFFICIAL FORECAST IS IN BEST AGREEMENT WITH
THE 12Z UKMET AND THE DYNAMICAL MODEL CONSENSUS...TAKING THE SYSTEM
INLAND IN ABOUT 24 HOURS. HOWEVER...BECAUSE OF THE ORIENTATION OF
THE COASTLINE RELATIVE TO THE FORECAST TRACK...EVEN MODEST TRACK
ERRORS COULD RESULT IN LARGE ERRORS IN THE TIMING AND LOCATION OF
LANDFALL.

WIND SHEAR OVER THE SYSTEM IS FAIRLY LOW BUT THE BEST UPPER-LEVEL
SUPPORT IS WELL SOUTH OF THE CENTER...AND ONLY SLOW STRENGTHENING
IS EXPECTED UNTIL THE CORE CONVECTION BECOMES BETTER DEFINED.
WATERS BENEATH THE CYCLONE ARE WARM...AND THE SHIPS GUIDANCE BRINGS
THE DEPRESSION TO STORM STRENGTH IN 24 HOURS. NEITHER THE
GFDL...HWRF...OR LGEM MODELS SHOW MUCH DEVELOPMENT...HOWEVER. THE
OFFICIAL FORECAST IS IN BEST AGREEMENT WITH THE SHIPS GUIDANCE. THE
PRIMARY THREAT WITH THIS SYSTEM WILL BE LIFE-THREATENING FLASH
FLOODS AND MUD SLIDES ASSOCIATED WITH HEAVY RAINS...WHICH COULD
REACH 20 INCHES OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN OF CENTRAL AMERICA...
ESPECIALLY IN COSTA RICA AND NICARAGUA.


FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 29/0300Z 10.2N 86.5W 25 KT
12HR VT 29/1200Z 10.8N 86.5W 30 KT
24HR VT 30/0000Z 12.0N 86.8W 35 KT
36HR VT 30/1200Z 13.7N 87.4W 25 KT...INLAND
48HR VT 31/0000Z...DISSIPATED



and the 1st not to be name
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871. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
2:51 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Alec did
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870. Drakoen
2:50 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I'm not sure this surge of the coast of Africa will be the one the GFS is hinting. The GFS is showing a wave axis propagating from central Africa with strong potential vorticities along the poleward and especially the southern end of the wave axis. The K-index the which is the measure of the amount of convection possible is within the moderate range. To reinforce this, the Theta-e suggest strong instability ahead of the wave axis. In addition, the 925-700hpa shear shows lesser shear behind the wave axis and more shear ahead suggesting convection most likely will be ahead of the wave axis. If the GFS is correct, this will be a mature African Easterly wave.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30727
869. Ivansrvivr
2:50 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
who did what call grammer police?
868. moonlightcowboy
9:49 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
861. That's as good a post as I've seen on climatology as any I've seen - very reasonable discernment imo. Nice point, Ivan!
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867. HIEXPRESS
10:42 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Penguins 3, Red Wings 2 F
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866. HurricaneGeek
10:46 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
lol
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865. TheCaneWhisperer
2:48 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
That is one heck of a mid low spinning in the SW Caribb.
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864. Ivansrvivr
2:46 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
CW, it does look like it is moving NW. If that is the case it will parallel the coast and likely strengthen which would end any chances of development in the W.Caribbean for a while.
863. Weather456
10:46 PM AST on May 28, 2008
859. pottery 10:45 PM AST on May 28, 2008

Hows Trini doing tonight?
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862. moonlightcowboy
9:46 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
TAZ, post 858 looks kind of unusual doesn't it?
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861. Ivansrvivr
2:38 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
824.I have often compared the tropics to "batteries". Water stores heat well compared to land but it takes much longer for water to store heat. Big storms upwell and sap lots of stored energy from the deep waters. I believe that after 04 and 05, the "batteries" were dead and may have needed a few years to "recharge". there were so many tropical systems worldwide in 04 and 05. Very large strong systems. The last 2 years have seen fewer and smaller storms. If that was why there was a worldwide lull in tropical activity, by now the the batteries are likely "recharged" again.
860. moonlightcowboy
9:44 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
855. LOL, HG! They all belong!
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859. pottery
10:38 PM AST on May 28, 2008
MLC, there is a small bell going off in my head, saying that I know what you are saying, but the truth is, I dont recall. I certainly remember going to Tobago. I'll try to find the date of that trip, and dig in the archives to see what I find.
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858. moonlightcowboy
9:42 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
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857. Tazmanian
7:43 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
LOL
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856. Tazmanian
7:42 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
here i am moon
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855. HurricaneGeek
10:42 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
MLC, post 853. The first line, do you have enough commas? LOL
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854. TheCaneWhisperer
2:40 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
01E Moving NW?
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853. moonlightcowboy
9:40 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Yeah, I know, Ivan! Me, too! Look, I just had a b'day and qualifying for old-timers, ya know!

StormW? Heck, no one pays him any attention - do they?
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851. moonlightcowboy
9:38 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Where's TAZ, looks like 90E might be getting that famous structure he likes to mention!
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850. HIEXPRESS
10:37 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
June 1 - Ignore Amnesty Day

Clear your lists & start over.

New life for all - they may just have been having an off day.

(Too bad no one will see this.)
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848. Ivansrvivr
2:35 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Don't leave Drak out. He is major part of where my info comes from. So is 456,STL and StormW. 23 too.
847. Weather456
10:32 PM AST on May 28, 2008
831. JRRP 10:27 PM AST on May 28, 2008
why the waves that go out of africa look very strong and a few days are losing convecion ??
is the shear?
or the SST?


Two factors account for this:

The AEJ weakens as one travel west. The AEJ is the major driving force for the genesis and growth of AEWs

The low-mid level lapse rate that supports convection over land decreases over cooler waters. For example consider these two locations:

0E-10N - Surface Temp 30C - 850 temp 20C (large lapse rate)
20W-10N - Surface Temp 24C - 850 temp 20C (small lapse rate)

The reason the air temperature is less over the tropical atlantic is becuz of the cooling effects of the ocean surface.
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846. taco2me61
2:35 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Bunches of them MichaelSTL... bunches of them!!!
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845. pottery
10:30 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Cane @ 824.
I have tried in the past, to get a discussion going, about Storm energy. Surely the climate is generating an amount of energy, that must be dissipated? Every action has an equal and opposite... etc etc.
So, if the Atl. does not produce as many storms as it "should" , then where does the energy go ?? Same applies to other basins, and how does this affect Temperate climate etc etc.

Someone should do the research, and its not going to be me LOL
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844. JRRP
2:33 AM GMT on Mayo 29, 2008
thanks pottery
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842. Ivansrvivr
2:32 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
836. To think that this year will repeat of last 2 years is insanity(and very dangerous if you live in hurricane country). There is already more atmospheric moisture and less shear than at the peak of last season.
841. moonlightcowboy
9:33 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Pottery, remember going over to Tobago? Or maybe it was lilfish going to Trinidad. dunno, now!
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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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