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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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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738. Thundercloud01221991
1:39 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
they may issue warnings as it may even reach TS strength after a good diurnal cycle
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737. HIEXPRESS
9:37 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
728. moonlightcowboy
720. XPRESS, not sure what you're implying there. To be certain of my post, I was referring to StormW's earlier post where building a fire was similar to tropical venting.

Nothing, buddy. Just making a joke. I'm not reefer ing.
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736. pottery
9:37 PM AST on May 28, 2008
456, post 726.
Can you explain that a little more?
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735. HurricaneGeek
9:37 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
SD77, hi! =) thanks.
Would they issue warnings too? it's very close to the coast.
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734. moonlightcowboy
8:38 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
Have a good sleep, TN.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
733. kmanislander
1:37 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Here's what I mean about the high

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731. pottery
9:29 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Thanks Kman, thats what I thought. Wondered if my eyes were playing tricks, with dates and times , or what. Whew...........
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730. stormdude77
9:33 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Hi HG...good to see ya, and nice avatar!
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729. TerraNova
9:31 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Tropical Storm Watches will be issued

It's very possible that they'll issue TS watches, probably for the norhern coast of Nicaragua down past Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Noew we have the NHC track and intensity forecast to use...bet you they don't show it surviving the cross.

Anyway good night everyone. Big flooding in store for Central America, and this area is very susceptible to mudslides.
Member Since: July 30, 2007 Posts: 76 Comments: 4063
728. moonlightcowboy
8:32 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
720. XPRESS, not sure what you're implying there. To be certain of my post, I was referring to StormW's earlier post where building a fire was similar to tropical venting.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
727. kmanislander
1:34 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
MLC

All of a sudden the tropics have come alive. I have also been watching the high set up in the Atlantic and strecth back to Florida much like 2004 and last year. Hope that does not continue !
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726. Weather456
9:31 PM AST on May 28, 2008
716. kmanislander 9:29 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Pottery

Take a look at this image. There are some small blow ups of convection due S of the CV islands but they do not seem to merit mention as compared to what is now coming off of Africa.

I agree it does sound odd


Its odd but possible. We cannot discern that until the wave emerges.
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725. HurricaneGeek
9:30 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
As far as the wave(s) about to come off Africa, there is not to much dry air directly off the coast. That image is a certain level of the atmosphere, I think. Does it have to be moist in all? I don't know.
Shear is low and dropping right off the coast, but higher farthur out. Was some model predicting development?
This are the two main things that I know to look for, lol.
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724. pottery
9:32 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Right i I have been looking at SAL images, thanks.
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723. kmanislander
1:33 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Actually Pottery, the AVN I posted of the storms coming off Africa show the same relatively weak convection I just mentioned
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722. pottery
9:29 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Thanks Kman, thats what I thought. Wondered if my eyes were playing tricks, with dates and times , or what. Whew...........
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721. Drakoen
1:29 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
I think 01E will have a chance to become a minimal tropical storm. The center of circulation is currently moving to the north adjacent to Costa Rica.
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720. HIEXPRESS
9:26 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
603. Drakoen
What is the GFS smoking?
703. moonlightcowboy
- StormW's built a fire once or twice I think!

Yeah, there's some burners on here. Wouldn't think Storms one of them. ;) \m/
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719. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1:28 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
they changed the times.. wtf

It should still be 03:00UTC 09:00UTC 15:00UTC 21:00UTC

it was the JTWC that issued an hour after the NHC released their advisories.
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718. Thundercloud01221991
1:28 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Tropical Storm Watches will be issued
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717. HurricaneGeek
9:28 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
TerraNova, glad I could help =) good evening to you as well!
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716. kmanislander
1:27 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Pottery

Take a look at this image. There are some small blow ups of convection due S of the CV islands but they do not seem to merit mention as compared to what is now coming off of Africa.

I agree it does sound odd

Sorry, wont post. Pull up the SAL image and look at the Tru Color, you will see the convection down low
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715. stormdude77
9:21 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Good thing this isn't July or August !

The GFS has a storm forming off the African coast, in about five days are so (not likely though in my opinion, although shear is favourable in the EATL)...
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714. GeoffreyWPB
9:27 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Depression but no TS watches? Do they not expect it to hit land or just behind in their postings?
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713. MasterForecaster
1:22 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Thanks everyone for your understanding regarding my previous question, guess I'm just a little giddy with season almost underway =/.

StormW your explanation was great thank you very much for helping out. This is going to be my first full season on the blog, I came in towards the end of last season. I appreciate how kind everyone has been and look forward to a great season with you all!

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712. moonlightcowboy
8:24 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
691. Hey, K'man. Yeah, those twaves have been rolling frequently and somewhat organized for this time of year. I keep saying we're going to see an invest pop from that way soon.
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711. TerraNova
9:27 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
701.
At 5 am and pm. And at 11 am and pm. When there are watches and/or warnings, it's each 5, 11, 8, and 2.


Thanks HG. Evening, BTW!
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710. hahaguy
9:26 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
bystander you have no idea lol
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709. GeoffreyWPB
9:24 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
If I remember correctly Drak...you predicted a depression a couple of days ago! Good job!
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708. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1:25 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory
9:00 AM JST May 29 2008

SUBJECT: CATEGORY FOUR TYPHOON IN SEAS EAST OF THE PHILIPPINES

At 0:00am UTC, Typhoon Nakri (T0805) [950 hPa] located near 16.0N 136.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 85 knots with gusts up to 120 knots. The storm is reported as moving north-northwest slowly.

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

Gale-Force Winds
======================
150 NM southeast from the center
120 NM northwest from the center

Forecast and Intensity
==========================
24 HRS: 17.7N 135.0E - 95 knots (CAT 4)
48 HRS: 20.1N 134.1E - 100 knots (CAT 4)
72 HRS: 23.1N 135.3E - 95 knots (CAT 4)

---
YIKES!!! The JMA might have to upgrade another storm to CATEGORY FIVE (105 kts) again this year!
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707. HurricaneGeek
9:24 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
701.
At 5 am and pm. And at 11 am and pm. When there are watches and/or warnings, it's each 5, 11, 8, and 2.
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706. pottery
9:23 PM AST on May 28, 2008
Hi Kman. Look at my post 676.
Do the coordinates make sense ?
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705. bystander
1:16 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
HaHa.....Looks like a different team tonight!! GO PENS!
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704. kmanislander
1:24 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
haha

Those are pretty powerful thunderstorm complexes for this early in the year.
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703. moonlightcowboy
8:19 PM CDT on May 28, 2008
- SJ, hey! It's been a day.

- StormW's built a fire once or twice I think! Nice, StormW!
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702. hahaguy
9:20 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
ya kman hopefully its not a sign to what is to come
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701. TerraNova
9:23 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
What times does the NHC issue advisories at now? I heard they changed the schedule since last year.
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700. Drakoen
1:22 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
No surprise a tropical depression has formed.
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698. HIEXPRESS
9:20 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
679. StormW 9:13 PM EDT ...Open the flue and create outflow at the top, the more air you move, and the fire grows.

I know a little something about that.
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697. Weatherkid24
1:20 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Anyone one want to dare to take a guess at the chance the wave coming off africa and developing into something??? Link
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696. kmanislander
1:21 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
TD1 probably won't hold that classification longer than 15 hrs unless it makes a major course change here shortly.
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695. Tazmanian
6:17 PM PDT on May 28, 2008
thanks storm
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693. TerraNova
9:19 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
Anything interesting going on out there?

Evening, SJ. 90E has just been redesignated as Tropical Depression 1.
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691. kmanislander
1:18 AM GMT on May 29, 2008
Good thing this isn't July or August !

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690. HIEXPRESS
9:08 PM EDT on May 28, 2008
666 Surfmom Do you remember if most of your afternoon seabreeze thunderstorms in the summer of 2004 moved inland, or on average did storms come out of the east and push off shore? It changes with the occasional stray trough, passing ULLs and so forth, and it is different further North or South up or down the coast, but the tendency, (and the point or line E-W across the state where the flow changes) is different year to year.
3 Hr TRMM regional
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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.