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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1139. Cavin Rawlins
1:41 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
This is the wave I'm watching, clearly assoicated mid-level cyclonic turning along the axis near 6W.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1138. weathermanwannabe
1:26 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
1129. jphurricane2006 9:07 AM EDT on May 29, 2008

Good Morning Folks.....Still here and "kicking"....Will be heading to the Destin beaches for the weekend tommorow and may do a "live" report from the Gulf on June 1st (competing with Cantore on South Beach)...But, all in all, looks like we will have a pretty active season and I hope that calmness and courtesy preveils on the Blog (certainly from the regulars) so we don't set a bad emample for the newer participants and lurkers...I'm here to learn and I suspect that we will learn a lot this particularl season....Good Day
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9413
1137. 69Viking
1:18 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
They said they would be back...promises, promises.........

Ok, that link brought back some memories!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3130
1136. IKE
1:15 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Managua, NK........

"Managua, NK (Airport)
Updated: 14 min 24 sec ago
Heavy Rain
73 °F
Heavy Rain
Humidity: 94%
Dew Point: 72 °F
Wind: 12 mph from the East
Pressure: 29.74 in (Steady)
Visibility: 0.6 miles
UV: 1 out of 16
Clouds:
Scattered Clouds 1600 ft
Mostly Cloudy 7000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 164 ft"
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1135. homegirl
1:14 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
new blog
Member Since: August 1, 2006 Posts: 45 Comments: 7425
1133. IKE
1:12 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
They said they would be back...promises, promises.........

Link
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
1131. 69Viking
1:10 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
1129. jphurricane2006 8:07 AM CDT on May 29, 2008

Too funny! They'll be back!
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3130
1128. marknmelb
1:07 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Hopefully this thing will hold together and we can get some MUCH needed rain here in Florida early next week. Just not this weekend...

I know. Beggers can't be choosers.
Member Since: July 17, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 408
1126. NEwxguy
1:05 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
1124. 69Viking 12:58 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
GM all,TD1E looks impressive,but doesn't look like it has much time left.Cold up here in northeast this morning,Florida send some of your heat up here.

Ok, we'll try! How's that global warming feel in the NE!?

Guess we aren't part of the globe,no warming up here 36 deg this morning
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 888 Comments: 15989
1125. 69Viking
1:05 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Test
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3130
1124. 69Viking
12:58 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
GM all,TD1E looks impressive,but doesn't look like it has much time left.Cold up here in northeast this morning,Florida send some of your heat up here.

Ok, we'll try! How's that global warming feel in the NE!?
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3130
1121. seflagamma
12:57 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
good morning everyone,
thanks for all the updates. Looks like we have Alma???

busy at work but will check in as I can throughout the day. Thanks for keeping the info flowing!

Gams
Member Since: August 29, 2005 Posts: 302 Comments: 40956
1120. kmanislander
12:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
BBL
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
1119. kmanislander
12:56 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
The weather is getting pretty nasty here now in the Caymans from the moisture coming up from the South. That's one good thing as the drought has been severe this year
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
1118. 69Viking
12:54 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Good morning everyone! Nice map Storm.
Member Since: August 25, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 3130
1117. nash28
12:52 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
06z GFS still brings a good soaking to FL.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
1116. kmanislander
12:51 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Doc

The Navy site has TD1E as Alma which means it will be officially upgraded to a TS shortly
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
1115. Patrap
12:51 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
NRL Alma Link



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
1114. DocBen
12:50 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Interesting evening - looks like 1E is gunning to get a name; Nakri is now a Cat 4; and the Carib seems to have an independent center to the east - 90L on the way?
Member Since: May 16, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
1113. NEwxguy
12:48 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
GM all,TD1E looks impressive,but doesn't look like it has much time left.Cold up here in northeast this morning,Florida send some of your heat up here.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 888 Comments: 15989
1112. kmanislander
12:48 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Hi Storm

The High that was over Costa Rica has now moved back overhead of Alma thus providing the environment for the strengthening we have been seeing. The high stretches over the Caribbean South of about 14N and shear there has fallen to 10 knots.

Although shear is till high in the NW Caribbean that may well slacken over time. We are also seeing a seperation of vorticity between Alma and the Southern and Central Caribbean which means the two ares of weather are finally going their own way. If the Caribbean area of disturbed weather hangs around long enough we may see some type of development over the next 48 hrs or so as Alma moves away

Here is the 850mb map
Link
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
1111. Patrap
12:48 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Wow..a whole page without imagery?

Were gonna fix dat right now.

GOES-12 (3 Channel) Gulf and Tropics (Updated every ~1/2 hour) Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129902
1110. TheCaneWhisperer
12:48 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Morning All.

CPC/TAFB 72hrs. I see the GFS is back to sniffing today. Glue maybe?

I can't stop the rains, I can't fly down to help after the rains. All I CAN do is send my prayers, keep them in my thoughts and move on. Big tragedy taking shape down there and it is sad to see yet another this year.
1109. Cavin Rawlins
12:48 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
1099. jphurricane2006 8:35 AM AST on May 29, 2008


I know of a wave that emerged around 48 hrs ago if that is what u mean.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1108. cchsweatherman
12:47 PM GMT on May 29, 2008

Figure 1 - First Visible Shot of ALMA (Source: NASA Satellites at weather.msfc.nasa.gov)

Very impressive structure indeed with intense and well-organized CDO over the system with obvious banding to the south. Based upon satellite imagery, I would guess this has reached moderate tropical storm strength (between 50 and 60 mph winds).
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1107. upinsmoke
12:47 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Here we go again 2008
1106. RJinBoyntonBeachFL
12:46 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I think we're in for a bad year, much like 2004; at least here in S FL.
Member Since: October 3, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 128
1105. MasterForecaster
12:43 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Morning Storm,

Wondering if you can tell me what you think will happen over the course of today with our TD...
1103. MasterForecaster
12:41 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Wow it sure is quiet around here.
1101. kmanislander
12:39 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Navy now has Alma for TD1E

good morning all
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15948
1098. floridastorm
12:35 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
the tropical wave off africa is something
to watch, but it is too far away from the u.s.
Member Since: May 20, 2008 Posts: 7 Comments: 148
1097. Cavin Rawlins
12:34 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1095. Cavin Rawlins
12:30 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
I will update my blog later this morning but just want to mention that the wave emerging off the coast of africa is associated with a broad area of low pressure roughly along the axis near 8-10N. CMC, GFS and EWMWF is developing this feature.

TD 01E is nearing TS status..Excellent organizationm seen on this morning's infrared imagery. Heavy rains expected to continue over Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Satellite estimates indicated Costa Rica picked up the bulk of the rain over the past 12 hrs, around 100mm.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
1094. cchsweatherman
12:28 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
Just by looking at satellite imagery for Tropical Depression 1-E, it has become quite evident that the circulation has tightened considerably overnight and strengthening is occuring, although you can see land interaction is having some impact on the system. I have deep concern for the people in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize that there may be significant flooding that will likely result in mud/landslides like we have seen in the past. Some computer models want to dump nearly 20 inches on them.

Now, the tropical wave exiting Africa is very impressive for this time of the year. Thus far, no wave has been able to maintain convection over water like this one has and the structure is very well-defined with possible low-level cyclonic turning taking shape. There is something that I have noticed with this wave: it seems that there is outflow occuring over the wave, more indicative of tropical development and strengthening. We may indeed see some tropical development off Africa if this holds.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1093. Ivansrvivr
12:19 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
JP, I may be reaching and you may be right. At least you see what I was talking about though. Tropics is a guessing game most of the time anyways.

The CV season looks like it will be tough one. the question is for who. If those waves stay on the southern end of their usual track it looks bad for caribbean and Eastern Gulf Coast/FL. If they shift a little more to the north than usual, they will be bad for Carolinas/Eastern Seaboard or fish.
1091. sporteguy03
12:09 PM GMT on May 29, 2008
JP & Ike,
That wave off Africa is incredibly strong for late May, isn't it? I mean the colors are almost off the chart?
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 5417

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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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