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Major tornado outbreak expected today

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 1:26 PM GMT on April 06, 2006

Another major severe weather outbreak is predicted for today across the central U.S. The Storm Prediction Center has just increased the risk of severe weather to the highest category across eastern Kansas and neighboring regions of Missouri and Nebraska. An extrememly potent mix of warm, moist Gulf of Mexico air, a very strong jet stream, and an intrusion of dry air at mid levels of the atmosphere is expected to trigger another major tornado outbreak over the next two days that may rival the two previous outbreaks this year for number of tornadoes. More strong F3 tornadoes are expected today, along with baseball-sized hail and damaging thunderstorm winds. Tomorrow, the action moves into Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, as the storm system responsible tracks slowly eastward.

Figure 1.Severe weather outlook for today.

The April 2-3 tornado outbreak
According to NOAA, the 68 tornado reports and 26 tornado deaths Sunday in eight states brought the totals for the year to 355 tornadoes and 38 deaths. Sunday's storms also caused two wind-related deaths and approximately 196 injuries. This is the highest total number of reports for the first three months of the year since 1999 and is a sharp contrast to last year when only 96 tornado reports and five deaths occurred by April 3. The number of deaths to date is the highest since 1998. So far, NWS damage surveys have confirmed five F3 tornadoes from the April 2-3 outbreak.

I'll be back tomorrow with a discussion of why this year's severe weather season has been so bad.

Jeff Masters
Killer Supercell
Killer Supercell
Many of you no doubt saw on the news the devastation wreaked by a supercell thunderstorm that spawned in Arkansas and then moved into Tennessee near Memphis unleashing tornados, levelng towns and killing several people. This storm formed to the east of us here in Russellville and by that time, we had entered the dry clear air behind the front. I was out and about and saw above Crow Mountain, the top of the supercell. Then, it was about halfway between Little Rock and Memphis TN, so I was viewing it from nearly 150 miles away. The supercell blew up high enough that its anvil top was clearly illuminated by the setting sun as it flattened out on reaching the lower stratosphere. This was an awesome storm that lit up our eastern horizon with lightning (but no thunder) well into the night, as it went about the tragic business of killing Tennesseeans.


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