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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790. tornadofan
9:04 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Post 780 - what is that map of?
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789. pottery
9:59 PM AST on May 28, 2008
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL Taz.
Are we friends again? I hope so.
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788. Tazmanian
7:04 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
ok moon
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786. Tazmanian
7:02 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
.
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785. moonlightcowboy
9:03 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Have a good sleep, K'man!

Hey, TAZ, it's all cool, dude!
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29598
784. cajunkid
8:59 PM CDT on May 28, 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.

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783. HIEXPRESS
9:57 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Ignore Pottery at your own risk. He won't let those hurricanes sneak up on us.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
782. GeoffreyWPB
10:01 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Said it before...to put someone on ignore just because they disagree with your forecast...is just plain ridiculous.
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781. pottery
9:59 PM AST on May 28, 2008
DDR, the calabash tree still has some on !! Remember, the new leaves have got to show, THEN..........
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780. moonlightcowboy
8:58 PM CDT on May 28, 2008


Here's the invest suspect area I'm thinking of.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29598
778. kmanislander
1:59 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I think I will call it an evening. Nothing new is likely to happen overnight and everything pretty much hinges on the track of TD1E.

See you all tomorrow. Have a great evening
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15807
777. Weather456
9:56 PM AST on May 28, 2008
748. Tazmanian 9:46 PM AST on May 28, 2008
pot is now # 25 on my Ignore


Well I'm gonna probaly be #26 after this. But its not nice to just place ppl on ignore list like changing clothes. It shows a lack of tolerance of other persons and thier opinions. And it is even worst when you state that you've put them on ur ignore list.
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776. GeoffreyWPB
9:59 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Cool...always follow your comments on the tropics....Very informative
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774. Drakoen
1:57 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
771. GeoffreyWPB 1:57 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Drak...bet you a beer (if you live close by WPB) that nothing gets labled off of Africa in the next two weeks!


lol no thanks. Maybe if there was more model support.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30181
773. JRRP
1:47 AM GMT on Mayo 29, 2008
could be the next wave
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772. Tazmanian
6:57 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL
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771. GeoffreyWPB
9:55 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Drak...bet you a beer (if you live close by WPB) that nothing gets labled off of Africa in the next two weeks!
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770. HurricaneGeek
9:56 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
HOG, yes it will be a TD at 11
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769. pottery
9:54 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Rain 77 ?? LOL man, and run outside and dance...........
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768. Ivansrvivr
1:49 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
The 3 most basic things needed for tropical development are warm SSTs, favorable atmospheric conditions, and triggers to act on the first two. Those storms would definitely be triggers. For some reason though it seems when the thunderstorms are very strong over Africa, they collapse over the ocean and often dont develop further. I have noticed that it is the waves that are a bit weaker over Africa that often develop further after emerging off the African coastline. It may be the collapsing action of the tall thunderstorms that weakens those waves. (That is just my observation)
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767. kmanislander
1:56 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
HOG

It is already according to Navy
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15807
766. HIEXPRESS
9:55 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Anyone got a link to direct view NEXRAD archive loops going back to 2000?
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
765. Weather456
9:48 PM AST on May 28, 2008
752. stormdude77 9:48 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Hi W456

So is that ''heavy convection'' moving off the African coast, an AEW?


Yeah

I posted some things on my blog this morning about the feature.

Hovemoller diagrams are one the tools I use to track tropical waves: The NHC has already confirmed one...I am waiting for them to confirm this one.

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764. kmanislander
1:56 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Pottery

You stand vindicated !
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15807
762. DDR
1:45 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
There are some patchy low clouds headed our way,maybe a sprinkle or 2
By the way is your calabash tree shedding its leaves? LOL
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761. Smyrick145
1:53 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Same here Taz, Pottery said nothing wrong
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760. Drakoen
1:50 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
That convection of Africa will be the next thing to watch. Favorable easterly wind shear and a moist environment. The GFS model indicates an area of low pressure will form on the southern end of the wave axis around 5N and gradually, with time, gain latitude.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30181
759. pottery
9:52 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Oh well..........
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758. CaneAddict
1:48 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
748. Tazmanian 1:46 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
pot is now # 25 on my Ignore


We dont care....stop bragging about how many ignores you have...its doesent make you cool. Add me if you havent already. make me 26
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 3 Comments: 2151
757. stormdude77
9:48 PM AST on May 28, 2008
It's raining here at my location (my grass is finally singing, LOL...)
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756. pottery
9:50 PM AST on May 28, 2008
OK 456. Many thanks.
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755. GeoffreyWPB
9:47 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Knuckle-Heads..(Don't know if the younger folk get that, but it is a joke)
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754. Weather456
9:41 PM AST on May 28, 2008
736. pottery 9:40 PM AST on May 28, 2008
456, post 726.
Can you explain that a little more?


Enviromental conditions can support tropical cyclone development off the coast of Africa. Its already a strong wave measured in terms of potential vortcity and strength of the AEJ. It isnt a question of whether conditions will be favorable but a question of if the wave will take advantage of this.
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753. pottery
9:45 PM AST on May 28, 2008
post 743, no rudeness intended there.STL.
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752. stormdude77
9:41 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Hi W456

So is that ''heavy convection'' moving off the African coast, an AEW?
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751. Ivansrvivr
1:44 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
739. those are huge tops on those storms over Africa. I would like to see what is happening underneath those.
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750. GeoffreyWPB
9:43 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Similar strong convection was coming off of Africa same time last year that amounted to zilch once they hit the waters. Nothing unusual. (Ref: Last years posts @ the same time)
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749. kmanislander
1:46 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Oh boy

here we go
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15807
748. Tazmanian
6:45 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
pot is now # 25 on my Ignore
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747. Tazmanian
6:45 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
pot that was rude
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746. Tazmanian
6:44 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
looks like STL this found some one to add to his Ignore
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745. pottery
9:43 PM AST on May 28, 2008
DDR, Yeah. Its getting hard to breathe here. coff coff..........
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744. TheCaneWhisperer
1:42 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
CPC changed their 72hr forecast for sure Kman.
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743. pottery
9:41 PM AST on May 28, 2008
STL, you are out of context there. You will have to go back a bit in the discussion.
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742. HurricaneGeek
9:41 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
To boot, this would be the wave most north so far, right? It's just about at 10N.
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741. kmanislander
1:42 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Michael

I was referring to the weak convection South of the CV islands, NOT the storms coming off the coast
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15807
740. DDR
1:38 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Hello pottery,i got some rain this morning
but i don't think it was as much as an inch.There are some huge bush fires in your area.
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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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