A wild weather Sunday

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:03 PM GMT on March 13, 2006

Sunday was a wild weather day across the Midwest, with 104 reports of tornadoes sent to the Storm Prediction Center, 336 reports of hail, and 89 reports of damaging thunderstorm winds. Damage survey teams are on the ground today to determine the how many tornadoes actually touched down, and how strong they were. Several of the tornadoes were 1/2 mile in width, and may have been violent F3 storms. I'll report tomorrow on the results of these damage surveys. The number of tornadoes was no doubt less than 103, since many of the tornado reports referred to the same tornado that affected more than one county.

Figure 1. Severe weather reports from Sunday's severe weather outbreak.

The severe weather will continue today, but atmospheric conditions are not nearly as volatile. The greatest threat of severe weather will be from large hail and damaging severe thunderstorm winds, although a few scattered tornadoes may pop out late this afternoon across Ohio and adjoining states. Today should be the last day of the severe weather outbreak, as the cold front associated with the strong low pressure area responsible moves off of the East Coast Tuesday morning.

Wildfires in Texas
Grass fires in drought-parched Texas killed seven people yesterday in the Panhandle, four of them in a car crash on I-40 caused by thick smoke obscuring visibility. More than 1,000 square miles of Texas burned yesterday--an area about two-thirds the size of Rhode Island. These fires were far more extensive than the ones in January that prompted the governor to declare a drought disaster. "This is probably one of the biggest fire days in Texas history," said Warren Bielenberg, a spokesman for the Texas Forest Service, in an interview with CNN. Amarillo has had only .32" of rain so far this year, compared to 1.55" in a normal year. The outlook today is more promising, as winds are expected to be lighter and temperatures cooler. The 10-day forecast is also somewhat promising, as a very active jet stream pattern is forecast to bring the chance of a major storm system to the desert Southwest and Texas early next week. However,this could also bring another severe weather outbreak to the country.

Figure 2.Latest drought map for the U.S., showing dry conditions in the Texas Panhandle that contributed to yesterday's deadly fires.

Jeff Masters

Lightning at St. Louis Gateway Arch (jbpwings)
Lightning show at the Gateway Arch
Lightning at St. Louis Gateway Arch

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71. sayhuh
6:37 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Dunno..hard to explain that one. I was focusing more on the storms closer to home regarding the storms that pasted Holton, Warrensburg, Sedalia...
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70. weatherwannabe
6:09 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Sayhuh, thanks. We are all wondering what the heck hit us. Those pictures are a tiny sample of the damage that was all over the city. It was the same or worse all over the city. I've been through so many severe thunderstorms I've lost count. I've also had a torndao hit my neighbothood about 3 years ago. I've never experienced anything quite like it. It was a unique sever weather event. The local newspaper today called it a microburst, but we're talking damage over a 20-30 square mile area.
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69. sayhuh
5:04 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
The first two pics really make me wonder what happened there...also seeing the snapped phone pole. Its hard not to want to call this tornadic. Too weird! Great pics.
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68. weatherwannabe
2:41 PM GMT on March 14, 2006

img border="0" src="http://media.lawrence.com/img/photos/2006/03/14/Kristi_Johnson_BEFORE_t600.jpg
" width="600" height="400">

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67. sayhuh
2:58 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
Weatherwannabe, I live in Lee's Summit..and not sure that the set up was a derecho..that would have indicated more of a linear bow echo type storm, and I believe when you all got hit, it was still much like meso single type storms. No doubt you all got hit hard, and based on the speed of the storms that day [ some moving at 85mph ], I would think that the combo of the speed and outflow might have created 80mph + winds. Definitely, we all got hammered! We like many got the golfball/baseball size hail!
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66. weatherwannabe
2:36 PM GMT on March 14, 2006
louastu, thanks for the terminology. It does seem like it was a derecho. If you click on the "Readers photos" link there are some very good pictures of what it looked like.

Inyo, there were a lot of reoprts of funnel clouds, but I saw it and looking at the photos its clear that iut was not a torndao. However, there were street signes that faced north and south that were snapped in half and there were signs that faced east and west that were snaoppoed in half. Some trees fell toward the east while others fell the west. It was like a swirling non tornadic wind - if that makes any sense.
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65. Inyo
8:37 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
yeah, something on that size scale doesn't sound like a tornado.

One thing to think about: were all the trees, power poles, etc, blown down pointing the same direction? This is usually indicative of 'straight line' winds whereas tornados just throw stuff all over.
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64. louastu
7:40 AM GMT on March 14, 2006

I am not sure if this is what occurred, but it sounds like it MAY have been a derecho. A derecho would be a bizarre event to say the least.
62. weatherwannabe
6:16 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I live in Lawrence,KS and have for about 18 years. I have seen many severe storms and a few tonrnadoes. The storms that blew through on Sunday AM and the wodespread damaage were things I have never witnessed before. Street signs were snaped in half, major power poles were snapped in half, 100+ year old trees were snapped in half, roofs were striped from buldings etc. And it was not localized, it was all over the city. It was like a hurricane hit the city. I've seen microbust damage and torndao damage, this was something I have never before witnessed. It terrified my neighbors, all of who lived through a tornado striking my neighborhod three years ago. To call it bizarre would be an understatement. Someone needs to study this storm to figure out what the hell happened here.
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61. redefined
6:09 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I was driving from Branson, MO to Chicago, IL yesterday. You can imagine it was an interesting trip. I drove into Springfield, IL at just after 8pm. They just had a huge tornado rip through town and the whole city had no power. It was pretty creepy driving through.
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60. atmosweather
11:36 PM EST on March 13, 2006
The biggest March outbreak was the Deep South Outbreak on March 21-22 1932. Contained 73 tornadoes, 27 of which were killer tornadoes, and resulted in over 350 fatalaties and 2150 injuries.

I believe 2006 could break that 73 mark.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
59. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
8:23 PM PST on March 13, 2006
any one like to come to my blog it is hot tonight so drop me a post
58. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
8:22 PM PST on March 13, 2006
look like SteveGregory may had did his last update ever
57. Inyo
4:18 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
the lows in the higher mountain areas of southern california were near zero this weekend.. i think some all time record lows were broken up there.

A month ago it was nearing 70 degrees up there and plants were starting to sprout. It will be a weird spring.
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56. lightning10
3:55 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Interesting stuff. The weather channel said it was the worst March out break ever from early reports. I would have thought there where worse but shows how much I know. I feal kind of bad because yesterday I wasnt focused on the east so much as the west coast.

LA tied a record cold temp last night at 42 degrees and broke a record the night before.
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55. Skyepony (Mod)
2:51 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
StSimons~ That is bad...
"Today we're over 380 ppm," he said. "That's higher than we've been for over a million years, possibly 30 million years. Mankind is changing the climate". (Professor Sir David King)

It's monday ~ weekly ENSO report is out...


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53. ForecasterColby
2:32 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Yeah, yesterday was amazing.

Members of my site, I've got a poll up.
52. Skyepony (Mod)
2:06 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I was moved by something in the CNN article that Dr Masters posted enough for me to share my knowledge of Horses & Wildfires. I put it in my blog...

I think yesterdays outbreak of storms pretty much crushed my hopes of it being a below average year for tornados.
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51. louastu
1:55 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
43░F right now, with the wind coming from the West at almost 30 mph.
50. louastu
1:49 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
It can be.
49. atmosweather
1:47 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Lol, March must be so topsy-turvy up there with all the strong warm and cold fronts coming through. I though Orlando was bad enough (85 tomorrow, 72 on Wednesday).
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
48. louastu
1:43 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Ya, it is gonna be in the 40's tomorrow though.
47. atmosweather
1:43 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Although weren't you guys in the 70s today?
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
46. louastu
1:38 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
That is summer like weather for Indiana.
45. atmosweather
1:34 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I wish it was in the upper 30s, louastu! Today the heat index reached 91 degrees in Orlando. Very nice but a little too warm for March even here.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
43. louastu
1:33 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I guess it is probably because I always go in January.
42. F5
1:29 AM GMT on March 14, 2006

Thanks...wish it were possible. The fires out in W TX are amazing. I walked out of the house this morning and could smell the smoke. We are 8 hours from there. Last week, there was a pretty big fire a couple miles from my house, but fortunately, they got on it pretty quick. Even more lucky for the mobile home park right next to where the fire was.

Supposedly there's a chance for rain next weekend. Have to wait and see if it pans out or not. Hope you don't flood out. I've been in that position too, with lots of snow on the ground, then thunderstorms melting all the snow. Bad combination.
41. ForecasterColby
1:26 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Not most days. I was there day before yesterday at Disney, was like 78.
40. louastu
1:09 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Seems like whenever I go to Orlando it is in the upper 30's.
39. atmosweather
1:05 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Yeah, Tallahassee recorded 3.3 inches.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
38. DenverMark
1:03 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
January '77 was amazing. Even Miami had a few flurries. I think the FL Panhandle had a good snow with 2 or 3" in Pensacola.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
37. louastu
12:47 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I thought I had already posted "Is that the most you have seen?"
36. louastu
12:46 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
What the heck?
35. louastu
12:45 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
In Orlando anyway.
34. atmosweather
12:31 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
We had 0.2 inches of snow here in Orlando in 1977.....
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
33. louastu
12:31 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
The most memorable snow for me was a storm that dropped 6 inches of snow in about 2 hours, on a day that we were not supposed to have any accumulating snow. That storm was also memorable for me because it melted in about 3 hours.
32. atmosweather
12:28 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
Play this game : Kitty Canon

My high score is 2228 feet
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
31. DenverMark
12:21 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
We had 3 feet of snow in Denver 3 years ago (March 18-19, 2003). It was fun - shut everything down for a couple of days! This winter we've had a hard time getting more than 3" out of any one storm. Season total for DEN only 25".
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
30. louastu
12:03 AM GMT on March 14, 2006
I can't remember what two and a half feet of snow looks like.
29. LadyMacbeth
11:58 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
I figured I would check in on this band of storms and let everyone know that Wisconsin's drought problems are probably not forefront on our Wisconsinite minds right now - those of us who are shoveling two and a half feet of snow and breaking four and a half foot plow ridges, that is. XD

This is the most snow we've seen all winter, and in our area near Almena, WI it's the most snow we've seen in years, especially in one snow fall.

If I get any photos of this mess, I'll definitely post them up for everyone to laugh at. XD
27. louastu
11:42 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
I made it to level 5. Looks too hard.
26. louastu
11:35 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
What is your highest score on that game?
25. louastu
11:34 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
I can spot it, doesn't look like much of a threat to me.
24. ForecasterColby
10:51 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
The air is pretty dry, but is anyone else seeing this low?


Look E of the Bahamas.
23. ForecasterColby
10:48 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
Want to go totally out of your mind?

^^ That game can drive you to insanity. ^^
21. louastu
9:56 PM GMT on March 13, 2006
Hopefully this season won't be as bad as last season.

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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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