Wild Weekend Weather for Contiguous U.S.
For what may have been the first time in modern records the contiguous U.S. faced a simultaneous threat from a tropical storm, blizzard, tornado outbreak, and extreme wild fire threat this weekend. However, with the dissipation of Tropical Storm Karen, only a 'trifecta' was achieved. On the other hand, record heat occurred in the mid-Atlantic and flooding hit Louisville, Kentucky. Here is a brief roundup of the superlatives.A map of how the ‘weather-Palooza’ played out across the lower 48 U.S. states.
Map courtesy of Stu Ostro of The Weather Channel.1). Tropical Storm Karen:
Karen degenerated into a post-tropical low-pressure system on Sunday ending any serious threat to the Gulf Coast. For more details see Jeff Master’s blog for all the latest news about the storm.2. Blizzard in the Plains:
The winter storm that struck Wyoming, western South Dakota and Nebraska on Friday and Saturday will go down in the record books as one of the, if not the, most extreme such so early in the season on record for any region in the United States. Rapid City, South Dakota measured 23.1” downtown, the city’s 2nd greatest snowstorm on record (for any month), just falling short of a 25.6” snowfall in April, 1927. The Black saw phenomenal totals with 58.0” reported near Beulah and 55.0” in Lead. This would be the heaviest 24-hour snowfall on record for the state of South Dakota (previous record at Lead with 52" reported on March 14, 1973). The blizzard was accompanied by peak wind gusts to 71 mph at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, 70 mph at Harrison, Nebraska, and 69 mph at Kings Canyon, Wyoming. Snowfall in Wyoming up to 36.0” accumulated in the mountains south of Casper. Casper itself picked up 16.3”, its 10th greatest snowstorm on record (for any month and 3rd greatest October total).A photograph of the blizzard raging in the Rapid City area on Friday.
Photographer not identified.3. Red Flag (Wild Fire) Warnings:
A very intense Santa Ana wind event ramped up in Southern California on Saturday. So far, only a few fires have broken out. 1500 acres is burning near Camp Pendleton in the San Diego area causing the evacuation of 260 residents. A fire near Oxnard in Ventura County destroyed 4 buildings and displaced 78 people on Saturday. Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph occurred at several locations with a peak gust of 90 mph reported on Laguna Peak at the 1100-foot elevation. Here is a list of the 70-mph+ reports (note that it is a running list, so Laguna Peak is mentioned three times).
In the San Francisco Bay Area high winds up to 60 mph (in the Oakland Hills) caused spotty power outages and minor tree damage. They also fueled several grass fires in the vicinity of Fairfield, the largest of which burned 1000 acres and consumed a farm structure.4. Tornado and Extreme Storm Outbreak
An exceptionally strong tornado outbreak for October occurred on Friday producing 17 (preliminary count) tornadoes in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. The most intense was an EF-4 monster that struck Wayne, Nebraska on Friday evening. The tornado injured 15 people in the town and destroyed dozens of building along its 19-mile-long path. At one point it reached a width of 1.38 miles. It is only the sixth F-4 of F-5 (or EF-4, EF-5) tornado to occur in the U.S. during October since 1950. A photograph of the EF-4 tornado as it bears down on Wayne, Nebraska Friday evening.
Photo from TornadoTitans storm chaser group.But wait…there’s more!
Tropical Storm Karen may have dissipated but moisture from the storm system became entrained in a southerly flow in advance of a strong cold front moving through the Midwest resulting in flooding downpours in Louisville on Saturday and Sunday morning. 6.92” of precipitation was measured at Louisville International Airport between noon on Saturday and noon on Sunday. This was the 2nd greatest 24-hour precipitation event in the city’s modern history (records go back to 1872), following a phenomenal 10.48” measured on February 28-March 1, 1997 (which stands as the Kentucky state record).Rainfall map for western Kentucky depicting the 24-hour totals for the 7 am. To 7 a.m. October 5-6. The figure for noon to noon was 6.92” in Louisville.
Map from NWS-Louisville.Flash flooding in Louisville has prompted some evacuations and caused extensive damage to roads and homes in the area. Boat rescues are underway as I write this (4 p.m. EDT) Sunday).
Photo by Scott Utterback, AP.
Temperatures in parts of the mid-Atlantic states broke several daily records on Saturday in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Salisbury, Maryland hit 92° breaking their previous daily record of 88° set in 1959. Dulles Airport outside of Washington D.C. hit a record 90° (tying the same in 1967) and Bluefield, West Virginia reached 84° breaking their previous daily high of 81° set in 2007.Summary
Although the ‘quadruple whammy’ I blogged about last Friday never came to pass (thanks to the dissipation of TS Karen), this weekend was surely one of the most varied, extreme weather-wise, in the nation’s meteorological history. October is normally considered a relatively ‘quiet’ month of the year by meteorologists (exclusive of tropical storms of course) so this weekend in October is going to be remembered for some time to come.
Christopher C. Burt