Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Entering Joplin....

Will report back later....

Take a Look at the Looxcie...

One of the cool toys from Radio Shack that we'll be using on this trip is the Looxcie camcorder.  It uses bluetooth technology - you can clip it over your ear just like a bluetooth headset.  The video is recorded in HVGA resolution and can be stored on the device itself (4-5 hours recording time depending on the size of the clips) or on your bluetooth-connected smartphone.

It was especially designed for use with an iPhone, but is also compatible with Android 2.1+ technology.

Passin' Thru T-Town...

This puffy little congested cumulus cloud was trying hard to get going, but just couldn't make it.  Took this photo passing over Riverside Dr. on I-44 in Tulsa just a minute ago.

We should be in Joplin around 7:45-8pm.

Hello, Norman...

We're passing through the meteorology capital of the world, Norman, OK at this time.  We're the white circle with the white dot in the center of it, near the center of the image above.

Several cumulus towers along the way late this afternoon, but the cap is holding them down...

Welcome to the Sooner State!

Plan of the Day

We're going to head to Joplin to meet up with the Radio Shack folks that have been assisting with the recovery in the community (they also have a store there that was pretty well destroyed).

That will take us about halfway to our target for tomorrow, which still looks like central Nebraska.

More updates to come....

Made it to Ft. Worth....

At the Radio Shack HQ waiting to meet up with the others and hit the road...

Today will be a "down day" meaning there is no organized severe weather expected within the area that we can be reasonably sure to reach before dark.  We'll most likely use the day to travel to the target area for tomorrow, which appears to be Nebraska at this time....

Stay tuned!

Severe Weather Outlook for Today...

Today, the primary severe weather threat shifts Eastward into the upper Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.  Chicago and Detroit will both be under the gun from a threat severe storms later today & this evening.  Large hail and damaging winds will be the primary threats, although at least isolated tornadoes are also possible.

The greatest threat today will be in the red shaded area on the image above, with a less widespread risk of severe weather in the yellow shaded areas.   I think we may see that yellow (slight) risk category shifted back Southwestward into Missouri along the cool front on the mid-morning update from the SPC.

Further Southwest, isolated thunderstorms are possible from southwest Missouri into portions of Oklahoma and northwest Texas, along the same frontal boundary that will produce more widespread severe weather further to the Northeast.  A strong capping inversion will exist across this region this afternoon, however any storm that does manage to develop could become severe, with large hail the primary threat.

I'm getting ready to head off to Dallas now to meet up with the Radio Shack team.  We'll then be on the road to meet up with the Weather Channel's "Great Tornado Hunt" up in the Northern Plains.  Stay tuned!

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Storm Chaser" Killed by Baseball Sized Hail

Warning!!! - Graphic image below!!! - Do not scroll down if the kiddos are in the room.......

A storm chaser was killed near Atkinson, Nebraska this evening when baseball sized hail hit him in the head repeatedly.  The graphic photo is below:

Photo Courtesy Mike Theiss

Seriously... other than cattle, I think this is the first photo I've ever seen of an animal killed by hailstones.  Pretty wild....

High Plains Action Getting Underway...

***Update, 5:45 PM CDT:
...and the tornado reports come rolling in:

Red icons with Tornado in them are on-ground tornado reports; green icons with 3 dots are large hail reports.

----------------------------------Original Post Below:

The above thunderstorm is rotating strongly on radar, located near the Nebraska/South Dakota border, about 65 miles North/Northeast of Broken Bow.  No on ground reports yet, and believe me, if it were producing something on the ground we'd know it.  According to the spotter/chaser GPS tracker app, there are nearly 75 chasers/spotters observing this storm at the present time (and those are only the one's reporting with GPS tracking).

I suspect this is the same region we'll be deploying to tomorrow with the Radio Shack Team, on the way to meet up with the Weather Channel and "The Great Tornado Hunt 2011".  Tomorrow really looks to be an "off day" in the Plains severe weather wise, but a good day to get into position for Wednesday's severe weather which will likely be in much the same region as today.

We'll be testing out some really cool new equipment that can help you protect your family during severe weather (and even help you get some great video if you're a storm chaser).  I'll be live blogging and sharing photos/video as well.  

Please stay tuned!

Severe Weather Threat for Memorial Day

The above image shows today's severe weather outlook from the SPC in Norman.  Severe thunderstorms are possible anywhere within the yellow shaded areas on the image above.  An enhanced risk of severe storms, including tornadoes, large hail & damaging winds, is forecast within the red shaded area. 

Strong to locally severe thunderstorms are already underway early this morning from eastern North Dakota into portions of southern Minnesota.  This activity is not the "main show", which will come later this afternoon & evening.

If you live in these areas, please pay attention to the weather this afternoon & evening, especially if you have outdoor plans this Memorial Day.

Snow Depth in Aspen Greater Today than on 1-1-11

...according to an article from the Aspen Times.   The base snow depth right now is around 70 inches, compared to 38 inches on 1-1-11.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Great Tornado Hunt 2011

I've been invited to ride along with Radio Shack & The Weather Channel for the final days of "The Great Tornado Hunt 2011" this coming week!  We'll be out from Tuesday through Friday - or at least that's the plan right now.

I'll be live blogging (and tweeting) from the field, and we're also going to try and set-up a live video stream as well.  My twitter handle is "svrwxtweets" if you're not already following me.

I'm excited about this, and hope to share some awesome video and/or pictures with you next week!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tornado Videos from OKC Area Storms 5/24/11

Below are a couple of videos that have emerged showing some of the tornadoes that struck the suburbs of OKC this past Tuesday.

First, the tornado near Chickasha:

The parent thunderstorm apparently produced "melon" size hail as the storm passed Blanchard and headed toward the Norman area:

Next, the tornado near El Reno (this is the largest tornado of the day, which eventually struck the Piedmont area):

Both have been preliminarily rated EF-3.  More details on these and the other Oklahoma tornadoes of Tuesday to come...

Severe Weather Outlook for Today

Severe thunderstorms are possible this afternoon & evening anywhere within the yellow shaded areas on the image above. 

A surface dryline will become better defined today from Kansas into Oklahoma, along or just West of I-35 by late afternoon.  The atmosphere in this region, while becoming increasingly unstable, will also be very strongly capped.  This means that thunderstorm development late this afternoon & early this evening will be isolated.

Any thunderstorm that does manage to form would likely be severe, with very large hail and damaging winds the greatest threat.  An isolated tornado also cannot be ruled out, but this is not the primary threat today.

Thunderstorms may form on a more widespread basis across this region tonight, mainly along and either side of the Kansas/Oklahoma border into adjacent corners of southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.  This development will occur near a warm front lifting North across the region, as moist, unstable air continues to flow Northward after dark.  Large hail would be the primary threat with this activity tonight.

In the Northeast, scattered clusters or small lines of severe thunderstorms are forecast to develop this afternoon as a frontal boundary and upper-level weather disturbance continue to impact the area.  Large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes will be possible with this activity.  Severe weather is not expected to be as widespread in this region as it was yesterday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Satellite Photos of Damage in Joplin

The above are satellite photos taken over Joplin.  The right half of the image shows what it looked like before the tornado this past Sunday, and the left image shows the same area afterward.

As you can see, there is a large brown swath of significant damage running from the lower right to the upper left corner of the "after" image. 

I'm struggling a bit with the grey "blotches" on the upper half of the "after" image.  I can't tell if those are passing clouds at the time the photo was taken, or if they are suction vortex spots.  A suction vortex is (as the name implies) an embedded vortex within the body of the main tornado that literally sucks everything up like a vacuum cleaner.  The ground can literally be stripped right down to the dirt, even beneath concrete.  There were no doubt suction vorticies in the Joplin tornado (based on other damage photos and video that I've seen), but I want to examine this and a few other photos taken by the same satellite on my better computer at home before drawing any final conclusions.  I am also going to try to match this photo up with some areal damage video that I've just received as well.

I'll post the other photos and areal video after I've been able to take a better look at them.

For more information on the Joplin tornado, please see my original post here (which is being updated as new information comes forward or is reviewed).

Rare California Tornado Captured on Video near Chico 5/25/11

Below is an impressive video (by California standards) of the tornado that I originally blogged about in the bost at the bottom of this thread yesterday evening.  The tornado becomes visible at about 6 to 7 seconds in, and the control room finally decided to pull down their caption at the bottom of the screen after awhile so that you can see the whole thing...

------------------Original post from 8:21 PM CDT 5/25/11 is below:

The above radar image shows a tornadic circulation in the storm just South of Chico, California a few moments ago. Several reports of funnels and brief tornado touchdowns have been received during the past half hour to 45 minutes from this area. This storm is drifting slowly toward the East.

In other wild California weather news today, moderate to heavy snow is falling a mere 70 or so miles East/Northeast of this area in the Sierra-Nevada range this evening.

Severe Weather Threatens Again Today - Not as Widespread/Intense

Severe thunderstorms are possible anywhere within the yellow shaded areas on the image above, mainly this afternoon & evening.  The greatest chance of severe weather, including large hail, damaging winds and a few tornadoes, is within the red & black hatched area on the image below:

A band of strong thunderstorms (leftover from overnight severe weather further to the West) is currently moving across middle Tennessee into northwestern Alabama.  Gusty winds and some spotty hail are the primary hazards with this activity as it continues moving Eastward this morning.  Widespread severe weather is not expected with this activity this morning.

Additional activity will redevelop near the Western border of the severe weather risk area this afternoon and progress Eastward this evening.  Large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes are possible with the activity from mid-afternoon into this evening.

Please pay close attention to the weather this afternoon & evening if you live in these areas.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tornadoes, Tornadoes, Everywhere - Even in California!

The above radar image shows a tornadic circulation in the storm just South of Chico, California a few moments ago.  Several reports of funnels and brief tornado touchdowns have been received during the past half hour to 45 minutes from this area.  This storm is drifting slowly toward the East.

In other wild California weather news today, moderate to heavy snow is falling a mere 70 or so miles East/Northeast of this area in the Sierra-Nevada range this evening.

Severe Weather Update

Severe thunderstorms continue to advance Eastward into the Ohio, Tennessee and middle to lower Mississippi Valley states this evening.  Many of the storms are showing signs of rotation on radar.  There are 21 tornado warnings currently in effect as of this writing.  

Tornado Watches continue throughout the evening along and ahead of this activity.  If you live in or near these areas, please stay very alert and be prepared to take immediate action if severe weather approaches your area.

Tornadic Storms Moving Into Memphis Area

***Update, 7:47 PM CDT:

I had an update ready to post at 7pm, showing that the severe thunderstorm with strong rotation having moved to the Northwest side of Memphis, but the freaking blogger kept crashing everytime I tried to publish the post.

I'm glad to report that although several funnel clouds and lowerings were reported across Northwest Memphis and Shelby County, no actual touchdowns seem to have taken place.  The above radar image shows that particular storm continuing to advance East/Northeast at 40 mph, along with several others.  Current Tornado Warnings are indicated by the purple polygons.

Please stay alert if you live ahead of this activity this evening.  Tornado Watches continue in effect.

***Update, 6:47 PM CDT:

If you live in Memphis, you should be in your shelters at this time.  The white circled area on the radar image above shows the most likely location for a tornado (very strong circulation still indicated on radar), while the purple circled area shows the most likely location of very large hail of golfball to tennis ball size.

This storm is moving East/Northeast at 40 mph, which will bring the most dangerous portion (with tornado potential) across the Northwest half of Memphis between 7:00 and 7:20 pm.

This storm could deviate more toward the East over the next few minutes, so I highly recommend the entire city of Memphis take tornado precautions at this time.  A funnel cloud was recently reported near Edmondson.  A tornado could be on the ground already, or could form at any time.

***Update, 6:30 PM CDT:

A dangerous thunderstorm with strong low-level rotation on radar continues to move toward Memphis.  Based on the present track, the most dangerous part of this storm will be located over the Northwest side of Memphis at 7pm.  Please don't let your guard down if you live in the Southeast half of Memphis, as even a slight deviation in the movement of this storm could make a big difference.   If you live anywhere in Memphis, seek shelter as this dangerous storm approaches.

It is beyond comprehension to me why the NWS in Memphis has not yet issued a Tornado Warning for the city.  Please don't wait for this to happen, and take immediate steps to get to safe shelter as this storm approaches.

Very large hail can also be expected to the North of the circulation, up to tennis ball size is possible.

***Update, 6pm CDT:

The storm approaching Memphis has slown a bit, but is still moving on a path directly toward the city at this time.  A strong area of rotation is noted on radar very near Forrest City, AR at this time (white circled portion on the right half of the radar image above).

If you live in Memphis, prepare for severe weather, including a possible tornado, between 6:30 and 7pm.

This is a potentially very dangerous weather situation for Memphis.  Please seek immediate shelter as this storm approaches.

------------------------------------------Original Post:

Tornadic thunderstorms are advancing rapidly Eastward toward Memphis at this time.  

In particular, the storm currently approaching Forrest City, Arkansas is currently heading directly toward Memphis at 55 mph.  If the present speed & direction of movement continues, the storm will be entering the city by about 6:15 PM.

A tornado has not yet been reported on the ground with this storm, but it is violently rotating on radar and could produce a tornado at any time.

If you have not left work yet, I would strongly consider staying put.  If you do decide to head home, please make sure that you can get there by 6pm and to a safe shelter should this storm continue on its present path.

Severe Weather Update

The above radar mosaic was taken just a moment ago.  You can see strong to severe thunderstorms, some tornadic. across the Midwest, Tennessee and Mississippi River Valleys.  There are currently 23 Tornado Warnings in effect in this region, as shown by the red outlined areas on the image below.  

Tornado Watches continue for the following areas through this evening:

Severe Weather Heading Toward St. Louis Metro

Severe thunderstorms, some tornadic, are moving East/Northeast toward the St. Louis Metro Area.  Several waves of severe weather will be taking place beginning about 3pm in Western parts of the city, spreading East/ Northeastward throughout the remainder of the late afternoon and into the evening rush hour.

The purple polygons on the above radar image show where Tornado Warnings are currently in effect just West of St. Louis.

If you are at work please be sure to check on the weather before heading home.  In most cases, it would be better to stay at your place of business rather than to venture out into gridlock if a tornado or other very severe storm moves through your area.

Very large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes are all possible with this activity.

Tornado Watch Update

Tornado Watches are in effect for the above areas in red.  If you live in or South/East of these areas, please stay alert and listen for warnings for your area.

Severe Weather Update - Missouri

The above image was just taken from the Kansas City area radar.  As you can see, several bands of strong to severe thunderstorms are spiraling around an area of low pressure centered very near the Kansas City area at this time.  The small red funnel cloud icons illustrate the number of funnel cloud sightings that took place as some of the same storms moved through Kansas City on the lunch hour.

Only 2 actual touchdowns were reported, one in Overland Park and one in Harrisonville, and those are reported as having been "brief" with no damage or injuries reported (per the media and storm reports) at this time.

The storms heading East currenly toward Boonville and Pilot Grove produced several actual tornado reports near Sedalia.  The rotation appears stronger on this storm than compared to storms that moved through Kansas City, so if you live in the path of this storm (including the Columbia area), please seek shelter as these storms approach.

Severe thunderstorms will continue East across much of Missouri throughout the afternoon, as a strong upper level low pressure system moves across the region.  Tornado Watches continue for the area until 6pm CDT:

The threat of severe weather, including tornadoes, will reach the St. Louis Metro area later this afternoon, most likely after 3-4 pm...toward the rush hour. 

Particularly Dangerous Situation Tornado Watch Issued

The above Tornado Watch was just issued by the SPC, valid until 9pm CDT.  It contains the enhanced wording "This is a particularly dangerous situation...with very damaging tornadoes possible..."

If you live in these areas, please be on high alert this afternoon & evening.

Tornado & Severe Weather Threat Continues Eastward Today...

The threat of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, continues to spread Eastward today, into the Midwest, Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee Valley Regions.  The highest threat of severe thunderstorms, including the possibility of strong tornadoes, is within the pink and red shaded areas on the image above.

Very large hail (i.e., tennis ball size or larger) and strong tornadoes are possible within the pink, red and black hatched areas on the image above.  This threat includes the cities of St. Louis, Little Rock, Memphis, Evansville, Indianapolis and Lincoln.

Severe thunderstorms that began in Kansas and Oklahoma yesterday evening continue to progress Eastward this morning.  Tornado Watches are currently in effect for the following areas:

The threat of severe weather will not end across the watch areas once the current activity passes.  Thunderstorms are expected to redevelop in much of the same area (near the western border of the red outlined area on the 1st image) by early to mid afternoon, and progress Eastward into the evening.

In addition, the activity currently moving Eastward could reintensify over the Ohio Valley and portions of the Tennessee Valley later this afternoon.

Tornadoes, very large hail and damaging thunderstorm winds will all be possible with the activity this afternoon & evening.

If you live anywhere within the severe weather outlook areas, and particularly in the areas within the red and black hatching on the 2nd image, please pay very close attention to the weather today (particularly this afternoon & evening).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued - Central TX

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for portions of central & southcentral Texas, valid until 4am CDT.  This watch includes Austin, Georgetown and Waco.

A line of thunderstorms continues to develop Southwestward along the dryline and may move as far as the I-35 corridor from San Antonio to Austin during the night.

Large hail, damaging winds and dangerous lightning can be expected with this activity.

Problems With Blogger - Again

As I noted earlier this evening, I've been having sporadic problems with Blogger this evening.  Right now the problem is that I can't update the blogging status.  It's stuck on "Elevated Blogging".  I've been trying to change it to "Standard Blogging" for the night, but keep getting a javascript error.  According to the Blogger troubleshooting site, this is a "known problem for some users...." right now and they are working to fix it.

So, please consider this notice that I've gone back to standard blogging mode.  If you live in western Missouri or western Arkansas, please monitor local weather and news media for updates overnight.  As I mentioned in the post right before this one, a potentially dangerous situation will persist well into the night for these areas.  Please be sure that you have a way to receive warnings for your area if issued.

It got kind of crazy this evening.  While there is much damage in central and parts of eastern Oklahoma, I have not heard of widespread/significant casualties.  The loss of even 1 life is too many (and there have been fatalities in the OKC suburbs - last count I saw was 6), so please don't get me wrong.  I'm just grateful that the situation in Oklahoma did not turn out as bad as it could have.  We will hope and pray for similar results in Missouri and Arkansas overnight tonight.

I hope you all have a safe night!

Severe Weather Update - Missouri / Arkansas

Thunderstorms are moving Eastward toward western Missouri and western Arkansas.  Despite the time of day, widespread moisture and instability ahead of the activity, as well as a strong upper level storm system moving across the region from the West will maintain the threat of severe weather, including tornadoes, into the overnight hours.

Tornado Watches have recently been issued ahead of this activity over Missouri and Arkansas, as shown by the image below:

Tornadoes are particularly dangerous at night.  If you live in this region, be sure that you have a way to receive warnings during the night.  A NOAA Weather Radio is an excellent tool.  If you don't have one of those available, check to see if a local media or online weather outlet has a text alert service. 

In addition to a threat of tornadoes, very large hail & damaging winds can also be expected in these areas overnight.

Tornado Reported Near Haskell, OK

***Update 9:19 PM CDT:  The circulation has reorganized and strengthened again, and is now located just East of Wagoner.  The storm is moving East/Northeast at 40 mph, and if you live in rural areas to the East/Northeast of Wagoner and over toward and South of Peggs, seek shelter from this storm as a tornado could develop again at any time.  Damage has taken place further West back toward Haskell from this storm and associated tornadoes.

***Update 9:10 PM CDT:  Radar indicates that the circulation associated with the tornado that just moved through the Haskell area has weakened considerably in the last 10-15 minutes.  It is currently located just North/Northeast of Porter, and is moving East/Northeast at 35 mph.

If you live in Wagoner or up toward Peggs, remain alert as this storm could still reorganize again and produce another tornado threat.

-----------------------------------------Original Post:

Spotters report a tornado near Haskell.  Radar is now indicating a debris ball (as noted by the white circle on the image below).  This is a very dangerous situation.  If you live in Redbird, Porter, or Tullahassee and Okay, seek immediate shelter.

Extremely Large Hail, Tornadoes In Metroplex

Softball size hail was recently reported in Irving, with widespread reports of 1 inch to golfball size hail across the Metroplex.  A strong circulation is also indicated on radar near Unveristy Park.  Tornado touchdowns have been reported just North of the Metroplex in the last half hour to hour, and additional touchdowns are possible as these storms move East/Southeast at 15-20 mph.

Tornadic Circulation Nearing Haskell, OK

Strong circulation is still indicated on radar with a storm approaching Haskell.  This storm is now moving more East/Northeast at 35-40 mph.  Haskell, Porter, Okay and Tullahassee are in the path of this circulation.  A tornado could occur at any time.  Please seek shelter if you are in the path of this storm.

Severe Weather Update - Tulsa Metro Area

Strong to severe thunderstorms with very strong, gusty winds of 65 mph and hail up to 1 inch diameter continue to move East out of the Tulsa Metro area at this time.  By 9pm CDT, this activity will have completely moved through the city and off to the East.

On the southern end of the line, a storm North/Northeast of Okmulgee is still showing strong rotation and may produce a tornado, but it will remain South of Tulsa.

Tornadic Circulation Continues Okmulgee County, OK

A strong tornadic circulation continues to be indicated on radar just East/Northeast of Beggs.  It is moving Northeast at 35 mph.  The area from jsut East of Winchester through Haskell is in the path of this storm.

Seek shelter immediately.  This storm is producing a tornado or one is imminent.

Tornado Near Beggs, OK - Moving NE 35 MPH

Radar and spotters indicate a tornado on the ground very near or just Southwest of Beggs, moving NE at 35 mph.  If you live in Beggs, Winchester, or near to Southeast of Liberty as well as portions of extreme southcentral & southeast Tulsa county, seek immediate shelter.

Tornado Update: Beggs, OK / Okmulgee County

Rotation continues to intensify on a storm just Southwest of Beggs.  A tornado is likely occurring or is likely at any time.  If you live in Beggs, seek immediate shelter.  This tornado may be wrapped in rain, and you may not be able to see it.  Preston and Winchester are also in the path of this storm.

Heads-Up: Potential Tornadic Storm SE Creek, Okmulgee, S. Tulsa Counties

The storm southwest of Beggs continues to show organized rotation and now possibly a debris ball.  If th is storm continues on its Northeast path at 35-40 mph, it could eventually affect northern Okmulgee and parts of southern Tulsa County. 

Stay alert and watch this storm closely.  If you are in its path, seek immediate shelter.

Severe Weather Update - Okfuskee / Okmulgee Counties OK

Rotation continues to increase on a severe storm located just Northeast of Boley.  This storm is moving Northeast at 35-40 mph.  If you live in Welty, Nuyaka, Beggs or southeast of Slick, seek immediate shelter as a tornado could form at any time....