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Tennessee tornadoes

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:11 PM GMT on April 08, 2006

It was a night to huddle in the basement and cower in the face of nature's incredible fury throughout Tennessee last night, as another wave of deadly twisters swept through a state already reeling from last Sunday's 24 tornado deaths. At least 31 tornadoes touched down yesterday, killing 11 and creating tremendous destruction in the Nashville area. Sumner County, just north of Nashville, suffered eight dead. You can see the impressive line of storms that swept through the area in this 3-hour radar animation (1.4 Mb). The breadth, intensity, and duration of the storms covering the Tennessee Valley yesterday and last night was truly impressive to behold. With the peak of tornado season still a month away, the three major tornado outbreaks so far this year have already killed 49 people, compared to the average of 45 killed during the entire year each of the previous three years. Through the end of March, 286 tornadoes hit the United States, compared to an average of 70 for the January-March period in each of the past three years.

Severe thunderstorms from last night's onslaught will continue to affect Florida, Alabama, and Georgia today, but the risk of tornadoes is much reduced. It appears that the coming week will be much quieter,with no major tornado outbreaks likely. However, the jet stream pattern remains very active over the coming two weeks, and another major tornado outbreak during the week following Easter is a stong possibility. The tornado season of 2006 is more than making up for the quiet tornado seasons we've been blessed with the past three years!

Figure 1. Radar snapshot of the tornadic thunderstorms that swept through Tennessee yesterday. Note the classic hook-shaped echo from the cell southwest of Nashville, indicating a tornado.

Jeff Masters
The Real Deal
The Real Deal
Didn't have to chase this tornado down. I stepped out my back door and there it was. NWS rated it an F2
Friday night lightning
Friday night lightning
One good photo out of 221 bad. Most of the others were just black sky. This one suprised me! Taken Sunday Morning at 12:30am CST.


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

Reader Comments

Thanks for the update. Under severe weather warning now in Pensaola, however, we have sunny skies. Strong storm over the airport earlier. The devastation of last yesterdays storms are heartbreaking for those affected.
*last yesterdays=yesterday and last night's

wow..this is the closest I have been to having the number 1 comment!!

Anyway, I have noticed that Gulf is starting to get hot again!!
The SPC now shows 445 tornadoes this year, as well as 36 tornado deaths this month (equal to all of 2004), but less killer tornadoes (this may mean that the tornadoes this year have been more violent). By the way, the last three years were not as quiet as you may think - there were 1,819 tornadoes in 2004, and 2003 and 2004 both had over 500 tornadoes in May.
another great update. Thanks Dr Masters.

Hopefully we will get some much needed rain out of some of this in Florida this weekend; just hope the sever weather stays away.

Record breaking Tornadoes this year huh???
Before you say that this year will break tornado records, consider that the current weather pattern may not continue, and that 2004 had a record (I think) 1,819 tornadoes; also, the 445 tornadoes to date are only reported tornadoes, not confirmed (there were 140 tornado reports on March 12-13, but only 84 confirmed).
Here is a 24 hour radar loop of the storms moving across Tennessee.

this is pretty sickening

10. Inyo
yeah those are some wicked hook echoes
11. Inyo
also lou, the amazing thing about the loop you posted is that the first cell that popped up existed in some form for like 500 miles
One of the supercells during the March 12-13 outbreak broke records for distance and lifespan - 800 miles and 17.5 hours. Link
I am concerned that above average temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico may be providing more fuel for tornado outbreaks as well as hurricanes. While there are a lot of other factors involved, this isn't good news for either the rest of the peak tornado season or the upcoming hurricane season.
Hopefully Florida will get some rain without too much severe weather.
Yes Florida nees the rain bad. But we do not need the tornado's very warm here and I hope it is not a sign of very bad weather.
Im not as concerned about the tornadoes here in East Central Florida. More concerned about lightning sparking wildfire. We are so dry.

I'll be happy for every drop of rain.
Hard to believe that less than 6 months ago we were flooded from Wilma.
Has anybody noticed that all of the 500+ hail reports yesterday are now gone from the SPC's site?

That's weird. Maybe someone deleted them by mistake?
I would imagine they backup those files, so I would think they will have them back on there soon.
Hail reports are back.
*marks as spam*

Anyone notice this deep, warm-core cyclone very near water? *doesn't like the idea*

BTW, amazing lightning photo - that's my new desktop.
I have to think that La Nina somehow has a part to do with this last March/April outbreaks. Warmer gulf, jet stream change, and the amplitude of the lows seem deeper than I normally remember...two now with sub 990 mb. Maybe I am crazy, but I don't remember them that low [pardon the pun] before.

Is there anything to this?
28. WSI
Looks like the severe weather today was nothing compared to yesterday, thankfully. We could have used more rain from the system here in the piedmont of NC, but will gladly pass on that to get rid of all the severe weather. Looks like Skywarn Spotters called in a fair amount of reports yesterday. If anyone is interested in helping out the NWS in this regard, I posted information about it on my blog. Very good program to be a part of in my opinion.
Dr Masters,

See in the newspaper here in Florida that Monday is the 2006 National Hurricane Conference. They are expecting record breaking crowd this year. Are you or any of your staff attending this year in Orlando????

Just wondering..
That is a VERY NIce Picture of lightning...WOW.
I try my best to get some of the most brightest shots I can and only have produced 15 or so... Good Shot!!! :0)

Now as for lower Alabama and Mobile we only got a 10th of a inch and need more, so dry here. My garden needs it bad...
Look at the name of the road where this tornado was sighted.

Look at this sattelite loop of the April 2-3 severe weather event.


If you are using a 56K modem you may want to view this one.

O_O Forget the cyclone I just posted - there's a system at 60hr on the GFS with solid tropical charictaristics and <1010mb pressure NE of the Bahamas, which is supposed to survive a total of 42 hours.
Colby..TD at best?
It's an early season sub-tropical possibility. Water temps are in 60's north of Bermuda and in the low-mid 70's south, so I dont think anything fully tropical could develope. GFS also forcasts for some pretty fierce upper level shear, but mid level shear will be pretty light.
My bad on the previous post. Dont know where I got Bermuda from. Anyways, near the Bahamas the water is still only near 76 near FL and closer to 70 farther out. So full tropical development is still unlikely. Mid level shear is still favorable near the Bahamas and even a small area of low upper level shear developes around 72 hours lasting until 90 hours. Will be interesting to watch, we'll see what happens.
Don't forget last years Greeks.
If you're referring to the water temps, I beleive all the storms formed over water that could support tropical cyclones then moved over colder water. They were also helped by a very cold upper level environment. If the same conditions that were present for those storms are present now it makes things a litte more favorable, but the system would still be trying to form over water 3-5 degrees colder then the normal 80F waters needed.
tej, those were never totally tropical except Epsilon, and E went back and forth. They retained enough extratropical charictaristics to thrive in a hostile enviornment.

say, yeah, I doubt more than a TD.
I noticed lastnight the GFS & NOGAPS hinting at that possible TD. I'd like to see the NOGAPS tonight, seems it's not working? as all the rest save gfs? For now looks no more than a TD if it makes it to that. on the 200mb-850 shear that area suddenly drops to 10 on tuesday at 00z, that's much lower than the 30 or 40 it called for lastnight. Something to watch, seems it would move NE out to sea anyway.

The formerly well-defined low pressure center at the
southern end of the Gulf cold front has lost its presence in
satellite imagery.
This deep layer system supports the 1001 mb surface low
Interesting mid-level low at 24N 43W. Showers around the center.
I have noticed a lot of warm-core or hybrid systems being displayed on models in the Atlantic lately; I check this and this every day now and expect a tropical cyclone to form at any time, especially as we get closer to June.
Also, the (see top of page 6)Weather Research Center says that this year will be a very long year with early and late storms (ignore the prediction for number of storms; this is just based on the averages for similar years).
The gfs (scroll right & click forward) is being most persistant about TD forming around Bahamas. This afternoon it's moved more south around 1000-1004mb forming in southern Bahamas & moving back into S Fl while dissipating. It's got the circulation loosely rapped up, barely warm core & is the most intese of the models on this. The NOGAPS, cmc & ukmet show showers trying to get rapped around, moving back into SFl.

Though the 850-200mb shear map has dropped the shear to most favorable conditions since lastnight for the area, but has it coming back into Central FL.

The system looks small but maybe someone will get some needed rain.
First I would like to say Good to see you back Inyo.

As for the storms sounds like its been a nightmare situation out there.

Last year the torandow season was a bit on the quite side. This year its been nothing but quite.
Michael~ Interesting they compare 2006 with 1933...
Looking at this, it looks like the tornadoes this year have been deadlier than the previous three years (I would not be suprised if May sets a new tornado record; 2003 has the record for now). Anybody want to bet that this year will beat 2004 in number of tornadoes (1,819; several hundred of these were from Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne and maybe should not be counted because hurricane induced tornadoes are different than severe weather outbreaks)?
What factors might the current La Nina have in this?
I believe La Nina has a positive effect on tornadic activity, mostly due to warmer, moister air moving up from the Gulf.
NOAA had a news story a while ago that said that this year's unusual tornado activity was due to the Gulf of Mexico being abnormally warm (from the warm winter).
yeah i think there was only 1 year that tornados were below normal in la nina.
I think I got that backwards...I had had hope of a below normal year for tornadoes, since only 1 year was above average in La Nina. Hope crushed a few weeks ago. It does seem the warm gulf has more to do with it than La Nina as NOAA suggests.

I thought the Greeks formed over water that was 70-80F, that's why everyone @ the NHC was so confused, no?

I'm just interested in tropical weather, always have been. I am a finance major, so I really have no weather background, except for an intro level Metrology course I took in college. :)
Where're you seeing that king?
Cyclone, I was just harping on the very same thing on the other blog. I think there is a very good chance we will see some tropical disturbance in the carribean or Bahamas in 3-5 days.
Cylone, have you looked at the models on this site?
The GFS and NOGAPS on that site have low pressure centers either in the Carribean or the Bahamas along with favorable shear during the 72-144 hour period.
It is barley April and the talks begin about possible TD's, sighs!
I know. It is scary. I hope this doesn't turn out to be another bad year.
Cyclone, where did you get the FSU? On the site I use the last image of FSU was during Wilma's landfall last year.
I had a bad feeling early for SFL, hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.
Levi, Dont see any significant development
FSU is traditionally very unreliable
Kinda like thier football as of late.
That's ok cyclone I knew you meant NW. lol
This time of the year, GFS is what I look to.
mobal, just look at these models and see what I mean. Look at the GFS and NOGAPS 850-200 mb shear and surface pressure forecasts they tell the story.
ProgressivePulse, Roll Tide, Had to do it
cyclone, I repeat: where did you get the FSU ensemble???
I bleed the Blue and Gold of Notre Dame, grew up in South Bend. Die Hard fan since age 4
Look even the official NHC forecast has a trough with low pressures in the Carribean in 72 hours.
Cyclone where did you go?
Interesting. I think this whole thing sounds very fishy.
Thunderstorms trying to flare NE of the low. Link

Here is a link to the Models
Progressive, that is the site I am using but you will notice that the last run made by the FSU ensemble was during Wilma's landfall!
Yes because most of the models are only used during Tropical Seasons
Most models use GFS information so at this time of the year when there are so many variables the GFS is the one to look at
Well for some reason Cyclone has a current FSU forecast but can't find the site?!?! That is weird.
Yes the center is hard to make out. I wouldn't exactly call them "storms," but the cloud tops are cooling.
92. MZT
UKMET shows that system southwest of Fla as cold-core.

Yes but GFS shows it almost warm core. Besides those are model analysis and they cannot be trusted to be right. That is an expirimental product too.
Here's the latest comparision of all the models. Almost all of them kill this thing pretty quick. Only the GFS shows it lasting another day and heading towards warm-core but never making it.

The newest GFS is more bullish on the system going warm core, but only shallow at best. This is probably because the SST are right around the 80 degree threshold for tropical cyclones. The GFS also takes 3 days before killing the system off.

In all, doesn't look like much to expect from this. Maybe a TD at best. I would be really surprised if we get Alberto out of this.
So you think that it will make TD status? That is what I think too, but TS is not out of the question by any means.
Thanks for the models Hurricane.

her is a link to some sea temp and has you can see there at all most 80!
cyclonebuster we do not want to her about the tunnels Please do it in your own blog thank you
Oh be quiet about the tunnels I have heard enought about them and I don't care. Just seed them.
I mean seed the hurricanes.
blow the tunnels up then we do not have to talk about them any more
How about we don't do a thing to them and deal with it. They are a part of nature and I cannot name a time where tampering it actually helped the situation, can you?
is there a way to put a boom in a hurricane to blow it up be for hiting land
Honestly, Levi, I don't even think it will make TD status. Right now it has to deal with 50+ knots of upper level shear for the next 24 hours. After 24 hours very small pockets of low upper level shear appear. In 72 hours a larger area of light upper level shear develops until 108 hours.

Mid level shear is very light until 12 hours from now it hits 30 knots or more. And until 90 hours there is no large area of low mid level shear.

That, plus SST at only 80 degrees, makes it doubtful anything will develope here.
Yeah Progressive!

I got to go for 30 minutes. Back in a few...
The Hurricane is not the problem, the Hurricane is here to clean our mess up. The more we mess the bigger they get. Limit the clean up and well you get a bigger mess.
How could this discussion gone to stopping this from forming? We'd be lucky to see a TD out of this. FL needs a good soaking from a system without lightning. The winds started coming from the east off the ocean, got some low, fast clouds headed west, but it's cold.
113. MZT
I suspect even if human beings have moved the Earth's temperature up a few degrees, the biosphere as a whole can handle it.

Weren't there periods millions of years ago where sea temps could have been 10 degrees warmer than today? Hurricanes may have been regular, weekly, year round events!

Anyway, it's still quite early now to be looking for the first 2006 cyclone. Heck we still have frost warnings in N.C. I guess like spotting the first star of the evening, people can't resist trying...
Agred Skyepony. This thing isnt much a threat to become a tropical storm, with no chance to become a dangerous hurricane.

And yes, we do need rain. In SWFL, near the coast, some dark, nasty looking low level clouds developed, but we never got any rain.
HurricaneMyles, I don't see mid-level shear over 30 knots. It stays below 15 knots the whole time. As for the upper shear, I agree the low has a lot to deal with at the moment, but this low is planning a long stay, so any oppertunity with low shear will be taken, whether it is pockets of it or not. The pockets are plenty big enough to help a small TD form anyway. And the SST's are almost 80 degrees. 80 degrees is the TS threshold for developement! You can get a TD at 75 degrees! Look at last year and the storms that formed with SST's in the low 70's. I think that if it gets enough moisture to work with, this system is going to take advantage and develope.
The pockers of low shear should only help if the TD is in that small area. It could be 100 miles away and dealing with 10 knots. It all depends on this low's track. As for the shear, I made a typo and didnt realize it. I meant it could hit 20 knots, and even then it was only in a limited area. 15 knots is quite accurate.

As far as last years storms, this isn't quite the same. They develope from pre-existing upper level lows that dealt better with shear due to thier cold core characteristics. This is just a surface low with no mid or upper level ciculation. We'll watch and see, but this is certainly nothing dangerous.
Agreed, but I still think that 10-15 knots of shear is no big deal. We will see. Nice to have something exciting going on. Goodnight. See you tomorrow.

her is the forcast for shear for the next 72 hours out the red means low shear and the blue mean high shear i hop this help out a little bit yet me no if it dos i off for the night
The latest (00Z April 10) CMC and UKMET models no longer have anything at all (existing or forecast) in the Gulf or Caribbean. However, they both suggest a marginally warm-core system northwest of the Canary Islands (CMC, UKMET); it has already existed for some time.
Nice pics.
Good post also David!
Okay people place you bets on went the first Tropical System of the season is going to appear. I think we overdue for a mid-May system..

And I am also betting based on previous up and downs of the hurricane peaks. This year will be above average but no where near the mind-blower of last year. However I don't think we seen the last of a mind-blowing year like last year. I have a feeling almost all those records (save the greek alphabet) ones will one day be shattered.