Tornadoes rip Oklahoma, killing 5; oil spill headed towards Texas

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:09 PM GMT on May 11, 2010

Oklahoma residents are picking up the pieces and surveying the damage after a devastating tornado outbreak that left at least five people dead, dozens injured, and hundreds of millions in damage. Our severe weather expert, Dr. Rob Carver, has some amazing images and videos of the tornadoes in his blog. One solace Oklahomans can take in the disaster is that the data taken by scientists during the tornado outbreak may help forecasters issue better tornado warnings in the future. Usually, a proven way to reduce the incidence of dangerous weather phenomena is to schedule a multi-million dollar field experiment to study the phenomena. This is what happened last year, when the largest tornado field study ever conducted, Vortex2, kicked off. The $10 million study deployed an armada of over 100 storm chasing vehicles across the Great Plains, and were disappointed by one of the quietest tornado seasons in history. But it's pretty tough to have two consecutive record quiet tornado seasons in a row, so the Vortex2 program scheduled the study to run this year as well, beginning on May 1. Unfortunately for the residents of Oklahoma, the atmosphere unleashed one of its classic tornado outbreaks yesterday, in a region NOAA's Storm Prediction Center had outlined at "High Risk" for severe weather. The Vortex2 team was ideally positioned to intercept the tornadoes, according to the team of University of Michigan students that has been writing our featured Vortex2 blog, and I am told that they successfully collected what is probably the best data set even taken of a tornado outbreak. This was no mean feat, since yesterday's storms were moving 60 mph, making it extremely difficult to position the chase vehicles to capture the storm's secrets.

Figure 1. The Wakita, OK multiple-vortex tornado of May 10, 2010.

Oil spill may approach Texas early next week
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has pushed steadily westward along the Louisiana coast, and is expected to reach central Louisiana near Atchafalaya Bay by Thursday, according to the latest trajectory forecasts from NOAA. Winds over the Gulf of Mexico this week will blow from the southeast at 15 - 20 knots, threatening to bring oil to large portions of the Louisiana coast. The Mississippi and Alabama coasts will also be at risk, but the risk to the Florida Panhandle is lower. It appears quite unlikely that oil will get into the Loop Current anytime over the next two weeks, and spread to the Florida Keys and beyond. However, the strong southeast winds are expected to shift more easterly late this week, and drive a westward-moving ocean surface current with a speed of 1 - 2 mph along the west coast of Louisiana late this week (Figure 2). This current may be capable of transporting oil all the way to the Louisiana/Texas border by Monday. However, the concentrations of oil in the water will be much less than what is present close to the blowout, and it is unclear what the potential danger is for the western Louisiana and eastern Texas coasts. The greatest danger is to the Eastern Louisiana coast.

Figure 2. Surface ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, May 14, at 8pm EDT as forecast by the 8pm EDT run of the NOAA HYCOM model at 8pm EDT on Sunday, May 9, 2010. Note that a strong ocean current near 1 m/s (about 2 mph) is forecast to set up along the Western Louisiana coast, which could take oil close to the Texas offshore waters by Monday. Image credit: NOAA RTOFS.

Next Post
I'm in Tucson for the American Meteorological Society's 29th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. I'll be posting Wednesday morning on some of the latest findings presented at the conference, or discussing yesterday's tornado outbreak.

Jeff Masters

Our first OK Tornado (Foamy)
2010-05-10 16:51 CSTD
Our first OK Tornado

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819. xcool
Seastep lol heybtwntx08
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KSC Shuttle Atlantis white room Cam
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
Quoting Skyepony:
Pat~ I saw it.. Everyone working on it was really happy. A cellphone could have taken a better video. It went higher than expected.

I love the "FULL TILT" CAM message at .0078 post launch..LOL

Was cool though fo sho..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
The Corps of Engineers. Im not gonna open dat one tonight skye.
Heard specks of it amid the din last week.

But I WILL bookmark for tomorrow.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
814. Skyepony (Mod)
Pat~ I saw it.. Everyone working on it was really happy. A cellphone could have taken a better video. It went higher than expected.
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813. Skyepony (Mod)
Corps defends actions during Tennessee flooding

Weather Prayer Group Really Works~ lol.. They must remain more powerful than the wishcasters or Miami could be lost..
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Quoting xcool:
Patrap I NEED BEER ! ! ! Can you help me?

There you go! LOL. I can certainly help on that front.

Had a very productive day, and I'll leave it at that.

Don't want to think about the conditions that are aligning.

That being said, I think shear is going to be higher than anticipated.
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Quoting CycloneBoz:

I'll go from last to first in addressing your concerns...

15 feet is the total length of the rope. It will be tied off at around 4 feet. You have to do some trig to figure it out, but a 15 foot fall is unlikely, unless I get lifted straight up in the air, like Mary Poppins! :)

I figure a 10 foot fall at the most, but what would probably really happen is that I'd be blown backwards, which is a 4 foot fall. It will be interesting to experience something like that. I've yet to have a hurricane knock me down. I had to squat all the way to the pavement on Bayou Blvd. when a 150-170 mph gust hit me during Hurricane Ivan.

The audio is going to be fine. You're just going to have to trust me on that. These bluetooth devices were designed for motorcycle riders who have those monster bikes that travel well over 120 mph. It's unfortunate you could not hear the cell phone call from my wife from inside the helmet. It was like "surround sound." It was extremely clear and loud enough.

Finally, more about taking debris hits to the head, neck or where ever.

The suit that I will wear protects me from head to toe. My boots are fireman steel-soled / toe and are lined with kevlar. My gloves are EMS extricate-type gloves firemen use at car crashes. They are kevlar lined. I have a pretty thick kevlar collar I wear around my neck. And I'm wearing alot of sports padding to include baseball catcher's shin guards, chest guard, and hockey shoulder pads. I even have lacrosse arm guards.

I'll be wearing a Coast Guard rated life vest, and I'll be carrying a Kestrel 4000 weather station, GPS locator, and a personal EPIRB.

Finally, I have my utility belt. It's equipped with a holster, policeman's flashlight, spring-loaded automatic knife, leatherman, wirecutters, and quick-release lash rope.

I'll have no exposed skin now in a hurricane, so face-shots like you saw in Hurricane Dolly may be over. I'm as protected as I can be without severely encumbering my movement in the storm.

My team should be equally equipped.

So when it's time, relax and enjoy the internet window our team will provide to you, live in real-time...should a hurricane make landfall this year.

Have you tested all your "hurricane apparel" and had objects launched at you at the equivalent of 155MPH, to test the equipment?

I am NOT trying to be an "anus", I just want to make sure you are prepared for every possible situation.

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810. Relix
Man this season will be bad for the Caribbean and Antilles. I know it.
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Did you see the Ares Abort-I LES test video?

Brought back Lil Joe Apollo film memories for sure. I was wowed for 3 minutes.

By something other than bad news and oil.

NASA successfully tested the pad abort system for the Launch Abort System developed for the Orion crew exploration vehicle at 9 a.m. EDT. The 97-second flight test is called the Pad Abort 1 test, or PA1. It is the first fully integrated test of the Launch Abort System developed for Orion. The test took place at the U.S. Armys White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, N.M.

The Launch Abort System is being designed to offer a safe, reliable and robust method of removing the astronaut crew from danger should an emergency occur on the launch pad or during the vehicles climb to orbit.

Pad Abort 1 Launch

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
U telling me..I saw the Launch tag last week,which was busy for me,and I almost fainted.
Guess were not gonna make a crew ..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
807. Skyepony (Mod)
Pat~These last launches are coming too quick..

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806. xcool
Seastep no:)
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Quoting xcool:
Seastep ?

Nothing, just not liking this season. Did you see the buzzkill edit?
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KSC Live Feeds

Ch 4
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
803. xcool
Patrap I NEED BEER ! ! ! Can you help me?
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Lowercal's entry

For about the next week and half the International Space Station (ISS) will be making visible evening passes over North America. Between launch and docking Shuttle Atlantis will also be visible traveling along the same orbit as a separate point of light.

Check satellite pass predictions at
or try the simpler tool at
Satellite Flybys by
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
Atlantis, gurl !

Fri 05/14/10

12:24 AM......MEC pre-flight bite test
12:39 AM......Tanking weather update
01:24 AM......Final fueling preps; launch area clear
01:54 AM......Red crew assembled
02:39 AM......Fuel cell integrity checks complete

02:54 AM......Begin 2-hour built-in hold (T-minus 6 hours)
03:04 AM......Safe-and-arm PIC test
03:54 AM......External tank ready for loading
04:17 AM......Mission management team tanking meeting
04:45 AM......NASA TV fueling coverage begins
04:54 AM......Resume countdown (T-minus 6 hours)

04:54 AM......LO2, LH2 transfer line chilldown
04:58 AM......Final crew medical checks
05:04 AM......Main propulsion system chill down
05:04 AM......LH2 slow fill
05:34 AM......LO2 slow fill
05:39 AM......Hydrogen ECO sensors go wet
05:44 AM......LO2 fast fill
05:47 AM......Crew medical checks
05:54 AM......LH2 fast fill
07:49 AM......LH2 topping
07:54 AM......LH2 replenish
07:54 AM......LO2 replenish

07:54 AM......Begin 2-hour 30-minute built-in hold (T-minus 3 hours)
07:54 AM......Closeout crew to white room
07:54 AM......External tank in stable replenish mode
08:09 AM......Astronaut support personnel comm checks
08:39 AM......Pre-ingress switch reconfig
09:00 AM......NASA TV launch coverage begins
09:54 AM......Final crew weather briefing
09:59 AM......Crew suit up begins
10:24 AM......Resume countdown (T-minus 3 hours)

10:29 AM......Crew departs O&C building
10:59 AM......Crew ingress
11:49 AM......Astronaut comm checks
12:14 PM......Hatch closure
12:44 PM......White room closeout

01:04 PM......Begin 10-minute built-in hold (T-minus 20m)
01:14 PM......NASA test director countdown briefing
01:14 PM......Resume countdown (T-minus 20m)

01:15 PM......Backup flight computer to OPS 1
01:19 PM......KSC area clear to launch

01:25 PM......Begin final built-in hold (T-minus 9m)
01:55:59 PM...NTD launch status verification
02:10:59 PM...Resume countdown (T-minus 9m)

02:14:59 PM...Orbiter access arm retraction
02:14:59 PM...Launch window opens
02:14:59 PM...Hydraulic power system (APU) start
02:15:04 PM...Terminate LO2 replenish
02:15:59 PM...Purge sequence 4 hydraulic test
02:15:59 PM...IMUs to inertial
02:16:04 PM...Aerosurface profile
02:16:29 PM...Main engine steering test
02:17:04 PM...LO2 tank pressurization
02:17:24 PM...Fuel cells to internal reactants
02:17:29 PM...Clear caution-and-warning memory
02:17:59 PM...Crew closes visors
02:18:02 PM...LH2 tank pressurization
02:19:09 PM...SRB joint heater deactivation
02:19:28 PM...Shuttle GPCs take control of countdown
02:19:38 PM...SRB steering test
02:19:52 PM...Main engine start (T-6.6 seconds)
02:19:59 PM...SRB ignition (LAUNCH)

Launch time line for STS-132, Friday May 14th.

Crew to arrive at KSC tomorrow,
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
800. xcool

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799. xcool
Skyepony .yeah and EPAC CLOSED for BUSINESS 2010
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798. Skyepony (Mod)
Pat~ what's launching? I must have lost the placard lotto but ya'll give me a time & I'll take ya'll a picture..
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797. xcool
Seastep ?

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795. Skyepony (Mod)
xcool~ That high pressure in the EPAC would shut down their season..WPAC hasn't been looking real favorable either. It's kind of amazing how the models have so aligned on Atlantic doom...
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Quoting Skyepony:
Oz~ Verizon Wireless worked great all through 2004 & 2005 here in ECFL. That would be my top choice.

Pat~ I had got go out & missed that whole chase end. Hope you find your copy..

Im gonna check in the am. The UStream was running and its there I believe.

Finding it in 3 systems iz the tricky part skye.

You going to the launch ,or should I say taking pics friday afternoon?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
OK, xcool, I was enjoying some laughter from my, again sorry, extended departure after a comment.

And now you throw that up? Buzzkill.

The whale is interesting still, in terms of what is going on with ocean currents.

EDIT: I still don't have this blog medium down. Is it just me, or is it tough sometimes to express as intended?
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792. Skyepony (Mod)
Oz~ Verizon Wireless worked great all through 2004 & 2005 here in ECFL. That would be my top choice.

Pat~ I had got go out & missed that whole chase end. Hope you find your copy..
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791. xcool
Projected Mean Sea Level Pressure Anomaly
In the spring of 2009, the European model (ECMWF) predicted that surface pressures across the Tropical Atlantic would be well above normal for the hurricane season - and it was right! The Bermuda High was so strong in 2009 that easterly wind speeds just above the surface across the Caribbean Sea approached 60 mph at times. Strong low-level wind shear ripped into each approaching system, tearing them apart as they reached the Caribbean. So what is the ECMWF predicting for 2010? Just the opposite of 2009 - very low pressures across the Tropics for this hurricane season.

The ECMWF forecast for August through October (peak season) 2010 is for well below normal pressure across the Tropical Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. In contrast, the model forecasts much higher than normal pressure across the Tropical Pacific. If this forecast is correct, then low-level wind shear across the Tropical Atlantic and Caribbean Sea would be significantly reduced in 2010. In addition, the decreased easterly trade winds would drive less dry air off the west coast of Africa. Increased moisture, more rising air and less low-level wind shear would be an ideal environment for tropical cyclone development this season.

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Quoting RTLSNK:

Sorry, had to step away from Hal for a few minutes to load some tupperware full of chili.

Will read back for info on the whale.

Another one! Thanks.

Been crazy with work.
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Quoting CycloneBoz:

We're using VerizonWireless for our communications. During Hurricane Ivan, VerizonWireless cell phone service was uninterrupted before, during and after the storm.

My bluetooth headsets are rated for extreme wind speeds, so don't'll be able to hear...and so will I. PensacolaDoug, who will be operating the computer using will switch audio to the webcam's microphone should anything go wrong with the wireless.

PensacolaDoug is also going to be notifying the network news desks around the some of the cell phone calls will be live broadcast over television.

Satcom phones actually have a record of poor performance in strong storms such as would be experienced in the eye-wall of a hurricane. Too much thick cloud coverage is the reason.

And about getting hit by debris...all I can say is that I'm not a palm tree. Still, it is one of my biggest fears which is why I wear two layers of kevlar, one course woven and the other fine woven.

Last night, I did address one of my other biggest fears being in a major category hurricane. I have a finished developing my quick-release lash rope system. Embedded tornadoes and "super-gusts" that can and will lift you up and matter how fat you are...really concerns me.

So if I stand out, unprotected, in a major category hurricane inner eye-wall, I'm going to tie off to something. I'll have 15 feet of play in the rope, so if I get swept up, at least I won't have too far to fall. :)

This very well could be the year that you folks here at get to see how really bad ass hurricanes can be.

What about your neck and head?? Kevlar may stop the missiles that will hit your lower half. I love you like a brother from a different mother, BUT, if a 2 x 4 hits your head or neck, it's all over. Remember that please.

Pleasantly surprised to hear that you'll have cell service, don't know how their network operates. Have you tried carrying on a conversation by a operating jet engine? That is how loud a 155 MPH wind will be, about 135 decibels. How will you hear?

And tethering yourself is a good idea, but have you thought about being slammed to the ground from 15 feet, by a 175MPH wind gust?

I am playing "Devil's Advocate" on PURPOSE. Just want to make sure you cover for every possible scenario. There is only 1 Cyclone Oz, we all want to keep you around for awhile :o).
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Pottery, seriously, thanks for the uplift.
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I have a file somewhere in one system that was running in the background I believe.

Ill have to check,..
been busy with Haiti and Oil as of late.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
We're parched here in SWLA...over 9" below norm on the rainfall. Water bill climbing each month.
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Quoting pottery:

What do you know about this 'Step' fellow. Has he been checked out? Can he be trusted? Or do we hang around here all night while he is out having fun?

Thanks for that.
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Sorry, been on a thinking binge.

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781. xcool
nooone is safe .
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Quoting txjac:
looks like we're safe HouGalv08

I hope you're kidding. And not basing that on post 709.
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Ill tune in fore sure.

The last chase was way cool,I saved it in the ol PC.

For the archives.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
Oilmageddon has a nice Mayan ring to it though
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139973
776. xcool
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775. xcool
Analog Years
An analog year is defined as a previous season with similar sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Pacific and similar atmospheric flow patterns prior to the start of the hurricane season to what we are seeing now across the Tropics. By comparing what%u2019s happening right now to certain seasons of the past (analog years), we may be able to predict the development and tracking pattern of the coming season. There is certainly some margin for error here, but analog years can provide some insight into what might happen in 2010.

For 2010, we%u2019ve identified four primary analog seasons - 1958, 1966, 1995 and 1998. In addition, the 2005 hurricane season (with 28 named storms) is very close to being considered an analog for 2010. What we see in these analog seasons is well above normal numbers of named storms and many long-tracked hurricanes originating in the far eastern Atlantic. With conditions across the Tropical Atlantic between Africa and the eastern Caribbean predicted to be very favorable for development in 2010, we think that quite a few storms may develop in this area. And since the Bermuda High is forecast to be weaker than normal, there%u2019s a good chance that many of these storms will recurve (turn to the north) well east of the U.S. However, the northeast and eastern Caribbean could be significantly impacted. But we don%u2019t think that all of these storms will turn northward east of the U.S. The Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico should be a very favorable region for development as well, so any storms developing farther west would very likely reach the Gulf of Mexico and either the Gulf Coast or the East U.S
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Quoting all4hurricanes:

Kentucky too they're overdue
Kentucky actually had a lot of damage from ex hurricane Ike.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 27403
773. xcool
doabarrelroll YEAH.I'M BACK.
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Popping out of lurk mode for a minute. With all the heat and predictions for this season...has the word "Apocalyptocain" appeared yet?
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Quoting snotly:

the (outflow?) boundary is so linear, it looks like it extends from Pittsburgh all the way back to north of OK city,

Actually, you're right. Storms firing along the warm front. I apologize :o)
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Quoting Bordonaro:

Storms are firing up along a low level jet streak.

the (outflow?) boundary is so linear, it looks like it extends from Pittsburgh all the way back to north of OK city,
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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