Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Didn't The Severe Weather Pan Out?

Last week's potentially huge severe weather outbreak didn't quite pan out -- THANKFULLY! But why?

The night before, a squall line of severe thunderstorms developed from north-central Texas into Oklahoma and pushed east into Arkansas.

The storms did a few things -- they created a large shield of clouds that covered much of then moderate to high risk area that was expecting severe storms. The cloud cover didn't break for much of the day and kept daytime heating down.

As you probably know, daytime heating is a key element to "cook" up the atmosphere and create instability.

The storms also made the atmosphere more stable -- and without that daytime heating, there wasn't enough dynamics to make a large outbreak.

The negative was southern Missouri, northern Arkansas and the Ohio River Valley still saw copious amounts of moisture fall.

Did you know a large chunk of northern Arkansas has seen anywhere from 14 to 18 inches of rainfall since March 1?

That is so hard to imagine for climates in the west where they see less than that in an entire year (and that is accounting for both rain and melted snow!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Large Severe Weather Outbreak Possible

The center of the nation has been active as of late, and that trend will continue as a potent storm system takes shape Wednesday over the central Rockies and ejects out into the center of the nation Thursday into Friday.

The storm system is already on shore in the Pacific Northwest -- bringing valley rain and mountain snow to the northwest.

It will move across the Rockies and organize Wednesday night somewhere across southeast Colorado.

Those of us along the eastern slopes of the Rockies will see a cold rain and snow. In fact, Denver is under a winter storm watch for up to 8 inches of snow by noon on Thursday.

As the low moves east and draws up TONS of warm, moist air out ahead of it -- severe thunderstorms will break out as the dry air behind the front collides with the warm moist air out ahead of it.

Some discussions are calling for potentially the biggest tornado outbreak of the year.

Strongs winds at the surface out of the southeast, and even stronger winds just above the ground out of the southwest as the storm moves in, will provide plenty of rotation necessary for tornadoes.

Long track tornadoes are expected.

As if that isn't scary enough, most rivers from Missouri and Illinois, and points south, are at bank full if not out of their banks.

With a widespread 1-3 inches of rain expected over this region, we could see additional historical flooding in the days and possibly weeks to come.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Tornadoes Strike Another Metropolitan Area

Just a few weeks ago, tornadoes touched down in metro and downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

Last night, a tornado (or tornadoes) moved across the Little Rock metropolitan area.

For me, it hit close to home since I am from there.

I have a part-time job in the evenings and about 8:30 pm I took a break to call my mom. Something I usually don't do but about once every few weeks because of the time difference.

She answered and said there had been a possible tornado touchdown in SW Little Rock and it was heading their way.

I let her go so she could call my grandma and monitor the situation.

A little while later she sent me a text message saying that a wall cloud was spotted near where they live and that sirens were going off. Then the TV said the center of the tornado was potentially traveling right for their neighborhood.

She got up and looked outside and saw what she described as fast moving fog and that the trees were almost bent over. Then she heard the freight train sound.

They sought shelter in the bathroom and within no time at all it was over.

The tornado that had touched down in southwest Little Rock and again in North Little Rock over the National Weather Service and the commuter airport had went right up her street.

Just a few blocks away there was damaged homes, fallen trees and a fire.

They immediately lost power so she hasn't been able to see if there is any damage to her home on the outside, but from what they can tell from inside, all is ok.

What a close call!

A security driver for a car dealership in SW Little Rock recorded the tornado pass by. This is good video! Click here to watch. The video is about a minute long, and the part where the tornado passes by is on the last portion of it.

If you look closely you will see a light pole in the middle of the screen blow away as the tornado passes over.

I am sure as daylight spreads across Arkansas today and the full extent of the damage is accounted for, there will be some incredible scenes on the news.

To top it off, the poor flooded regions of the state are seeing very heavy rain once again.

I will be traveling home in a few weeks to meet up with everyone, and from there will be driving to Upper Michigan for a vacation.

It is going to be odd to see areas I know so well damaged from this tornado.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

More Flooding Rain

Hello -- it has been a few days since I have been able to post.

I have got to get back into my field at some point so I can talk about the weather like I used to. I am getting out of practice!

Unfortunately it looks like another heavy, pro-longed rain event is setting up over the mid-south.

The NWS office in Little Rock has a nice story about it. Click here

Some model data shows a widespread 2-4 inches with some isolated pockets of 4-8 inches falling over the same areas that saw up to a foot of rain in mid-March and massive flooding.

We'll have to watch and see how it unfolds.

I am traveling to Arkansas in late April and then will be driving up to Michigan for a week with my family.

It will be interesting driving right through the heart of all the flooded area in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.