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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839. Weather456
10:22 PM AST on May 28, 2008
GeoWPB,

look at post 808
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838. taco2me61
2:25 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
FLW,
you beat me to the punch.... I was going to say that same thing.....All the storms out there will only bring lots of wet air to the mix of what is yet to come.....


Taco :0)
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837. moonlightcowboy
9:29 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Pottery, Lilfish's down there, too, I'm pretty sure. I thought at one time last year, you went over to the next island there where lilfish was. At the time, I think lilfish was going somewhere else and ya'll missed each other.
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836. pottery
10:28 PM AST on May 28, 2008
JRRP, there was strong shear, and dry air too. Both of those conditions are changing now I think.
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835. Tazmanian
7:29 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
how many do you have whats see oh gets to 30,000 commets 1st this year by the end of nov

You have posted 5037 entries in your own blog.

You have posted 25506 comments in all blogs
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833. pottery
10:25 PM AST on May 28, 2008
MLC, I dont remember Littlefish . When was that ?
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832. moonlightcowboy
9:26 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
LOL, Pottery, it won't happen much! =P
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831. JRRP
2:20 AM GMT on Mayo 29, 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?
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829. pottery
10:23 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Its cool MLC. But you left yourself wide open there LOL
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828. TheCaneWhisperer
2:24 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Agreed 456, just looking down the pipe @ the potential waves.
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827. moonlightcowboy
9:24 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Pottery, I want to know where "Littlefish" is? Peeked in here once, hasn't been seen again. Can usually spot a lil booger in split second!
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826. FLWeatherFreak91
10:23 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
820. GeoffreyWPB 10:22 PM EDT on May 28, 2008 Hide this comment.
Would all those waves coming off of Africa cool the waters and inhibit further development of future waves? Just a novice here.


They may have a very slight cooling effect on the SST's, but they actually help future tropical development by "wetting up" the dry air which lies in the central Atlantic this time of year.
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3619
824. TheCaneWhisperer
2:20 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Evening Pottery.

Very active indeed. Mother Nature has been relatively tranquil the past couple years. You have to expect there's a lot of built up heat to expend somewhere.
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823. moonlightcowboy
9:22 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Oh, heck, Pottery, too. Pottery, our point person! Absolutely!!!

See, that's what happens when you do that sort of thing, you leave someone out! LOL, gets me everytime!

We couldn't do "tropics" without Pottery!
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822. Weather456
10:18 PM AST on May 28, 2008
815. TheCaneWhisperer 10:18 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Post 773.

I see four potential waves there.


Only one exists. The two clusters nearest to the coast is one wave.
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821. pottery
10:20 PM AST on May 28, 2008
MLC, I'm here wavin' and wavin' , but I'm not on yr. list either LOL
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820. GeoffreyWPB
10:20 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Would all those waves coming off of Africa cool the waters and inhibit further development of future waves? Just a novice here.
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819. FLWeatherFreak91
10:18 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Wow we change gears quickly here! I left the room around 8 and come back now to a new TD in the Pac, talk about Alma, and talk about very strong waves coming off of Africa. I'm about to check myself, but what is the model consensus with the CV waves?
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3619
818. moonlightcowboy
9:19 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Drakoen, do you know of any archived SAL data? I've been poking around at CIMSS, thought they'd have the images, but I can't find them. Any place else?
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817. stormdude77
10:17 PM AST on May 28, 2008
All I can say is, ''Wow, it looks really impressive''. Will see if it holds together into tomorrow...



Good night, everyone!
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816. pottery
10:18 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Hi Cane. A trainload of weather in those waves, if they all become waves.
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815. TheCaneWhisperer
2:13 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Post 773.

I see four potential waves there.
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814. moonlightcowboy
9:16 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Drakoen, too! LOL
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813. tillou
2:15 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
extreme236, definetly one big mess.

Well at least the carribean waters will cool off with all that convection over it.
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812. Drakoen
2:15 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
803. moonlightcowboy 2:11 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I know there's about three of us at least - 456, Ivan and myself, more that have been looking at these twaves for some time now and anticipating the possibilities of seeing something early from them.


way to leave me out of the mix MLC. LOL!
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29864
811. Tazmanian
7:14 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
thanks pot
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810. Tazmanian
7:14 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
LOL STL i this did
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809. cajunkid
9:09 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
start with what the bickering or the tropical cyclones? The bickering started a month ago lol

I thought the bickering never stopped lol

good night all
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808. Weather456
10:10 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Another advantage of this wave...its over Sub-Saharan Africa or the Guinea Coast....meaning its not much different from the oceanic enviroment when it emerges unlike further north where the difference is large and waves tend not to adjust.
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807. pottery
10:10 PM AST on May 28, 2008
OK TAZ. Thats good man. I really enjoy your input here.
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806. GeoffreyWPB
10:08 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
There are many conservative bloggers on here...and some outlandish. When it comes to crunch time...listen to the NHC and your local mets.
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805. extreme236
2:10 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
However, before I go, in reference to that convective mass exiting the African coast, if the GFS is right, it would certainly be interesting to see the first tropical cyclone in the Atlantic be a CV storm.
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803. moonlightcowboy
9:09 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
I know there's about three of us at least - 456, Ivan and myself, more that have been looking at these twaves for some time now and anticipating the possibilities of seeing something early from them.
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802. extreme236
2:08 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
TD One-E looks nice...should have more convection tomorrow.

I call this image "One Big Mess"

Good night all!

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801. Tazmanian
7:09 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
STL i e mail you
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798. Tazmanian
7:08 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
i wish we had 90L to play with
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797. Weather456
10:07 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Remember the wave axis remains east of the convective mass...but impressive feature

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795. moonlightcowboy
9:06 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Tfan, that's Dennis '05.
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794. Drakoen
2:06 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
784. cajunkid 2:03 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I see not much has changed on here from last season...or the past three for that matter.

Good to see some of the same people.

Didn't think we would start this early.


start with what the bickering or the tropical cyclones? The bickering started a month ago lol.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29864
793. Tazmanian
7:07 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
yes pot
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792. Tazmanian
7:05 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
ok STL



find i wont say any thing on oh i got on my ignore then and when i do put some one on my ignore i wont say oh i put on would that make evere one happy
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791. DDR
2:02 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Yea pottery
A late start this year...we're now starting to transition, dam...
maybe a couple of weeks agian?
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790. tornadofan
9:04 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Post 780 - what is that map of?
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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.