Invest now to improve tornado warnings; an early start to hurricane season?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:24 PM GMT on May 27, 2011

The Atlantic hurricane season officially begin on Wednesday, June 1, and recent computer model runs predict that we may have some early-season action in the Central Caribbean Sea to coincide with the start of this year's season. The GFS, NOGAPS, and ECMWF models have all indicated in some of their recent runs that a tropical disturbance may form between Jamaica and Central America sometime in the May 31 - June 2 time frame, as a lobe of the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) pushes across Central America into the Caribbean. Up until now, wind shear has been too high to allow tropical storm formation in the Caribbean, due to the presence of the Subtropical Jet Stream. However, this jet is expected to push northwards over Cuba over the coming week, allowing a region of low wind shear to develop over most of the Caribbean. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. The main impediment to development will probably be lack of spin, as we don't have any African tropical waves that are expected to enter the Caribbean Sea next week, to help get things spinning. Stay tuned.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Songda.

Typhoon Songda heads for Okinawa and Japan
Typhoon Songda brushed the Philippines yesterday, bringing heavy rains that killed at least two people. Fortunately, the brunt of this year's first Category 5 storm missed the islands, and Songda has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Songda is turning northwards and will threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa. On Sunday,

Invest now for better tornado warnings
National Weather Service forecasters issued a tornado warning 24 minutes in advance of the Joplin, Missouri tornado this.week, which is now being blamed for at least 132 deaths--the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. However, we can do better, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) put out a press release on May 23, arguing that investments in weather service forecasting technology are needed to reduce loss of life in future violent tornadoes:

"The 24-minute lead time is a great improvement over the average lead time of 13 minutes for tornado warnings. The meteorologists in the Springfield Weather Forecast Office are commended for their lifesaving work," said Dan Sobien, NWSEO President. "But in our age of advanced technology and communication, when new radars and modeling opportunities exist that can provide more lead time to get people out of the path of a storm, hundreds of people do not have to die because of a tornado event."

Sobien says the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes are examples of how the government's neglect to invest in NWS related infrastructure over the last 10 to 15 years has failed to provide the tools necessary to protect lives and property. He says that the tools forecasters use to issue tornado warnings are woefully inadequate and that the technology exists to provide lead times so far in advance of the storm that it would make the need for tornado warnings as we know them obsolete. "The much touted Doppler Weather Radar, also known as the Weather Service Radar or WSR-88D, was developed in 1988. Since that time, technological advances, including phased array radars developed by the Department of Defense, have been shown to increase the current lead time on tornado warnings by almost 50 percent."

"The much touted Warn on Forecast process utilizes Meso-scale modeling and has the potential to let forecasters know hours in advance where a thunderstorm would form and if it is likely to contain strong winds, hail, or even a tornado. With adequate staffing, local National Weather Service forecasters who understand local terrain and the model output, could be embedded with emergency managers and decision makers. In the event of a storm, the forecaster could provide emergency managers with the tornado track with some margin of error and people in the way of the storm could be evacuated hours before the tornado hits. This technology is being developed and tested right now, however without funding it will never be available."

"The art and science of severe weather warnings made considerable progress during the 1980s and 90s, going from almost zero lead time to average of about 13 minutes for tornado warnings. However, in recent years, that progress has stalled, even while the technological advancements have accelerated. If the country made the type of investment in the National Weather Service that it did in the 1980s, scenes like the ones in Missouri this week and in Alabama and Mississippi last month could be a thing of the past."

"I am very proud of my co-workers at the National Weather Service this tornado season. They saved many lives and having been there myself, I can assure you, they feel personally about every lost life," said Sobien. "I know that budgets are tight and there are many priorities, but if you put investing in the National Weather Service up to a vote today in tornado alley, I think the approval would be a landslide."


I wholeheartedly agree with this view--investments in better tornado forecasts and tornado observing technology will potentially give us a huge return in lives saved. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday or Tuesday with a new post.


Jeff Masters

Tornado Power (Betty2)
Sunday, LaCrosse, WI a tornado hit. This is a photo of a 2x4 board that slammed through a tire.. and, freaky, but it left the air in the tire! Photo was taken by my neighbor, Lori Hines, Gays Mills WI.
Tornado Power
25 May, (rdjgonzo)
May 25, 2011 at 7:10pm. Picture taken from Bartlett (Shelby County) TN.
25 May,
What A Storm (llpj04)
What A Storm

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Morning all.

Recent jet stream analysis....

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1085. Bitmap7
Quoting kmanislander:


Pressure gradient tightening between broad low pressure to the South and high pressure to the North.


So it seems. Our monsoonal low from yesterday has but heads with the tropical wave coming off of south america, fusing to form an even broader area of low pressure. The predominant one will turn out to be the wave though, as our monsoonal wave jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with high shear. By the time our wave pulls itself together shear should have fallen across much of the Caribbean and it should have everything it need to develop until it gets to the Greater Antilles. If it goes for the ridge weakness its going to get ripped to shreds from high shear and loose it s energy supply due to low ssts. If it gets stuck under the ridge; lets just say a lot of people could get pissed.
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Broad cyclonic turning on TPW:

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1083. 7080734
SEL4

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 394
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
855 AM CDT SUN MAY 29 2011

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

SOUTHEAST IOWA
NORTHERN ILLINOIS
NORTHWEST INDIANA
EXTREME NORTHEAST MISSOURI
LAKE MICHIGAN

EFFECTIVE THIS SUNDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON FROM 855 AM UNTIL 400
PM CDT.

HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 80
MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 65
STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 55 MILES SOUTH
SOUTHWEST OF CEDAR RAPIDS IOWA TO 10 MILES NORTH OF VALPARAISO
INDIANA. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU4).

REMEMBER...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE
FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY
DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.

DISCUSSION...AN ORGANIZING LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS OVER IA IS FORECAST
TO ACCELERATE AND TRACK EAST-NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE WATCH AREA
TODAY. RAPID LOW LEVEL DESTABILIZATION AHEAD OF THE
STORMS...COUPLED WITH INCREASING MESOSCALE ORGANIZATION...WILL POSE
A RISK OF A LONG-LIVED BOW ECHO AND RESULTING DERECHO. STORMS MAY
AFFECT THE CHI METRO AREA AS EARLY AS 18Z.

AVIATION...A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT
TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 70
KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 550. MEAN STORM
MOTION VECTOR 25040.


...HART
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Quoting Bitmap7:


AH noooooo.


Okay.
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Quoting Bitmap7:
Its evn windier outside this morning imo. I think the low is still there but its just that its lost its convection.


Pressure gradient tightening between broad low pressure to the South and high pressure to the North.
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Interesting small-scale severe weather outbreak going on across the Great Lakes region today, wouldn't be surprised to see that line of storms develop into a bow echo.
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1079. Bitmap7
Quoting kmanislander:


Ah, the pilot ? :-)


AH noooooo.
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1078. Bitmap7
Its even windier outside this morning imo. I think the low is still there but its just that its lost its convection.
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Quoting Bitmap7:


Walkers road/ South Sound. I was here last year but I changed my profile.


cool
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1076. Guysgal
Just want to wish Rock & Roll a Happy 60th B-day as today marks the release date of "Rocket 88"!

Link

Wishing you many more.
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1075. Patrap
One can get a city forecast Globally by using the SEARCH box on top of this and every wu page.

Chicago Wu page
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Quoting Bitmap7:


Walkers road/ South Sound. I was here last year but I changed my profile.


Ah, the pilot ? :-)
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1073. Bitmap7
Quoting kmanislander:


Welcome to the blog, I see you just joined this month.
Quite a few from here that post. What part of the island ?


Walkers road/ South Sound. I was here last year but I changed my profile.
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Quoting Bitmap7:


Yup

nice what district
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1071. 7080734
Here we go again, Chicago... I hope that this Saturday's nice at least, going to a graduation party. Any ideas how it'll look?
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Quoting Bitmap7:


Yup


Welcome to the blog, I see you just joined this month.
Quite a few from here that post. What part of the island ?
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Complete Update





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1068. Bitmap7
Quoting kmanislander:


The clouds immediately to our South are fairly low and probably do not have much moisture content but the ones with the "green" patches that are inching Northward will bring rain.

Do you live on GCM ?


Yup
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Quoting Bitmap7:


I am gonna check outside for clouds XD. Though those cloud signatures seem that they could cause more of an overcast and boring day.


The clouds immediately to our South are fairly low and probably do not have much moisture content but the ones with the "green" patches that are inching Northward will bring rain.

Do you live on GCM ?
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The 1008 mb low that was in the SW Caribbean is no longer shown here, just a broad swath of 1010 mb pressure. A new low is forecast to develop when the twave crossing over the Lake Maracaibo/Colombian NW coast gets into the mix.

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1065. Bitmap7
Quoting kmanislander:
The rain is tantalisingly close to us now. Got my fingers crossed.



I am gonna check outside for clouds XD. Though those cloud signatures seem that they could cause more of an overcast and boring day.
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The rain is tantalisingly close to us now. Got my fingers crossed.

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1062. Bitmap7



Shear still falling by 5knots.
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invest status today,im guessing by next week this time maybe a td north of eastern cuba....if it goes north into the gom the sheer and dry air will destroy it...1st named TC around mid june imo this isnt the one
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Morning, day 5 GFS200mb looks highly unfavorable. IMO, it's only chance is to stay in the Caribbean.



which some models say it will do

This one is going to take some time; and we know how impatient people on here can get

Would not be shocked to see a couple thousands posts writing off this system over the next week.
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Hey Adrian,

I thought they same thing as well, but to me it seems if this thing can sit around long enough in the Carib, the subtropical jet will lift far enough north to allow more favorable shear conditions in the NW Carib. Who knows what the chances of it staying down there that long are, but it seems the ECMWF has picked up on this, with a more aggressive run last night. However, it looks like once it tries to make it north of the Greater Antilles it will get smashed by that jet. I wouldn't mind some sheared off convection headed to S FL :)


Morning, day 5 GFS200mb looks highly unfavorable. IMO, it's only chance is to stay in the Caribbean.

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1058. Grothar
Just got a nice reply from Allan Huffman. I had asked him why we were unable to post the images from his website, since it appears we are all having a problem with it. He said the thanked us for using his website and will look into why we cannot upload his images. I think that was nice of the guy to take time to answer us. He has a good site.
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Quoting beell:


Some record snowpack in the Rockies and Sierra's this winter. If it all melts at once...

Yeah, not good at all. There are flooding problems in parts of Montana as we write.
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1055. Bitmap7


It needs to start consolidating sometime today.
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Anyone want some late Sunday night rain?

Click image for loop
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1053. beell
Quoting Neapolitan:
As befits the beginning of June, it's gonna be a very warm to hot week coming up.

Today, much of Texas will be in the triple digits, and there'll be temps in the 90s all the way up into the Ohio River Valley. For tomorrow, The entire eastern 2/3 of the U.S. will be in the mid-80s and higher. In the early part of the week, that warmth moves into the western part of the U.S., too, with states like Montana and Wyoming seeing their first 80 degree plus weather of the year. Finally, late in the week, the Southeast and the Great Plains will be baking, with temps in the 90s the rule, and even some triple digits into Kansas.

All in all, it looks like lots of air conditioners are going to definitely get their first real workout of the season.


Some record snowpack in the Rockies and Sierra's this winter. If it all melts at once...
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1052. Skyepony (Mod)
Typhoons could carry radiation to Korea

I was going to post today's model plume but not seeing today's run out yet.
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will anyone on the gulf coast be lucky enough to get some rain from this soon to be system? tia
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Quoting HurricaneDean07:
Canadian shows it ride up the Coast of Nicaragua as a border TD/TS
EMCWF puts it going north then NE into jamaica as weak ts
GFS brings NNW as a TD toward the yucatan channel
Nogaps shows a moderate to strong tropical storm slowly moving up the coast of nicaragua.
so all show decent formation out of this.


UKMET is also with it.

Link
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Canadian shows it ride up the Coast of Nicaragua as a border TD/TS
EMCWF puts it going north then NE into jamaica as weak ts
GFS brings NNW as a TD toward the yucatan channel
Nogaps shows a moderate to strong tropical storm slowly moving up the coast of nicaragua.
so all show decent formation out of this.
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Good Morning, excerpt from NHC 8 a.m. Tropical Weather Discussion below:
...A SURFACE TROUGH IS ANALYZED FROM THE COAST OF COSTA RICA NEAR 10N83W NE TO 14N76W.
MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN BETTER AGREEMENT SUGGESTING THE ACTIVITY IN THE SW BASIN WILL INCREASE OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS...AS CYCLOGENESIS IN THE FORM OF A WEAK LOW PRESSURE CENTER DEVELOPS IN THE 36 TO 72 HOUR WINDOW ACROSS THE SW CARIBBEAN SEA WATERS.

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Morning all, I see the ECMWF went a lot more aggressive and the 00z GFS and the 06z GFS are complete opposites of one another. CMC is a tad more aggressive than previous run, and the NOGAPS is still onboard. We're seeing consistency, and I believe now a low-pressure area will more than likely develop in the next 24-48 hours. Will it become Arlene though? We'll see.
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1044. DDR
4-5 inches long range for me,typical for early june.
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1043. DDR
Just some light rain overnight at my location,eastern parts of Trinidad and Tobago received heavier downpours,still looking forword to some nice showers later.
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1042. DDR
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1041. Skyepony (Mod)
I was looking at the max temps over the next 3 days yesterday.. Pretty amazing how much 100 (green).
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Quoting kmanislander:


Hi there. Hot and dry here all day yesterday but the rain is lurking about 100 miles South of us. We could see it arrive here this afternoon if upper level winds ease off some. Right now those winds are holding that rain at bay.


Good morning. Some showers north of Jamaica moving westward.

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1039. Skyepony (Mod)
Mexico is having a heat wave..
Mexican emergency management officials issued a preventive alert as an intense heat wave sent temperatures climbing to more than 40° C (104° F) in several areas of the north and between 32°-40° C (90°-104° F) across most of the country. Meanwhile the governments in most of the 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City) alerted the public to take precautions against the rising temperatures in order to avoid sunstroke and other ills. The Sinaproc emergency management agency said Friday in a communique that the states suffering “extreme heat” of over 40° C (104° F) in some areas or across most of their territory are Sonora, Chihuahua and Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, all located in the north. Similar temperatures also occur in Sinaloa (northwest), San Luis Potosi (central), Veracruz (east), Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Yucatan, the latter four in the south-southeast of the country.Sinaproc recommends that the population drink more water, avoid prolonged exposure to sun rays, wear white or light-colored clothing and use caps, hats or parasols. It also warned that special attention should be given to children, the elderly and indigenous peoples. It said that the recommendations of the Health Secretariat should be observed to prevent illnesses from the high temperatures.

Health authorities said that the incidence of diarrhea-causing infirmities rose by 5 percent over the last few weeks. In the Federal District, authorities warned capital residents that the temperature will reach 32° C (90° F), and in consequence recommended inhabitants to drink plenty of water, wear light clothing and avoid exposure to the sun. For Sunday the authorities forecast continued high temperatures during the day, with a low of 15°-17° C (59°-63° F), with variable winds of 20-40 kilometers (12-25 miles) per hour and probable stronger gusts. The health secretary of the Federal District, Armando Ahued, said that the heat wave could cause fainting, dizziness and the feeling of a lack of air among passengers of the Metro. He said that capital authorities have placed fans, sprays and drinking water in the aisles of the Metro, since air conditioning does not operate on the trains. He added that the high temperatures over the past few days are an example of the effects of climate change in the world and described current thermometer readings as historic.
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1038. Skyepony (Mod)
Situation Update No. 2
On 29.05.2011 at 10:26 GMT 2

For everyone wondering what the loud explosion was in Northeast Philadelphia late Friday, we finally have an answer. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed Saturday an earthquake with a magnitude of 1.7 rocked the Far Northeast near the Franklin Mills Mall. The epicenter was Fairdale Road near Knights Road and the quake was 2.6 miles below the Earth's surface. There were no injuries and no damage reported, Philadelphia police said. The quake occurred at 9:33 p.m. and the resulting noise caused a flurry of calls to Philadelphia's 911 center, and 50 calls alone to the 8th Police District, said a Philadelphia police captain. One man who felt the ground shake was Pat Whitely of Philadelphia. "We were in Rite Aid and I went to my car,'' saud Whitely. "As I was sitting in my car I felt the ground move. Right after that, Rite Aid employees came running out and asked me if I felt the ground move," he said. His friend, Joe Schweizer, also of Philadelphia, described the noise as a "big bang and a shock." Within minutes, police, firefighters, Philadelphia Gas Works and PECO crews converged on the intersection and there was a sea of fire trucks and police cruisers. Hundreds of people were mingling in the streets talking about the noise and what it could have been. Police initially believed a gas leak may have occurred, but they said several helicopters with thermal imaging equipment ruled out that possibility. PECO's Ben Armstrong said there were no electrical outages reported and no reports of any transformers exploding. Earthquakes in this part of the country are "infrequent" and tend to happen with more regularity closer to the New York State border and in the Adirondack Mountains, said Mitchell Gold with the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network. "It was a very small earthquake with no damage, but earthquakes with a magnitude of less than 2.0 are rare," Gold said from his New York home Saturday. "There is no identified fault in the area where it occurred, but it may have been caused by normal stress in a slip of an unidentified fault." Another loud noise was heard early Saturday on Whiting Road in Philadelphia, but that has not been confirmed as an earthquake and may have been an aftershock, officials said.



Also going on, like yesterday the world tended toward vehicle accidents today it's explosions at chemical plants. One in NC & China so far. Sri Lanka had some bad flooding with a tragic landslip.

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1037. Bitmap7
That wave just coming off of south america seems to be our guy. The models also seem to be getting a bit aggressive with this. I sure hope it doesn't do a Paloma.
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1036. IKE

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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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