I was selected to be a member of the NOAA tornado assessment team for the Oklahoma City tornado in May 1999. Several meteorologists were immersed in the evaluation of the forecast, the warnings and the response. I use some of the lessons learned in my presentations. Chief among them: PAY ATTENTION when warnings are issued!
Two main teachable moments from Moore in 1999:
-Have a plan for the extraordinary event - timing is not always convenient.
-Share the word that severe weather is approaching.
NOAA Weather Radio has been around for 40 years,yet few take advantage of the 24 hour a day warning service. The latest trend is for a warning app on a cell phone. But many homes, businesses and schools should have a NOAA Weather Radio in place.
Information on NOAA weather radio can be found here.
With regard to yesterday's devastating tornado in Moore: Weather officials estimated the strength of the storm to be an F4 or F5 on the Fujita Scale--the highest rating a tornado can achieve. The National Weather Service said it packed winds of up to 200 mph.
The NWS in Norman, Okla., said the tornado was on the ground for approximately 40 minutes, and a tornado warning was in effect for 16 minutes before the twister developed.
More rain for portions of Minnesota is on tap for the next 24 hours. Heavy rains have fallen, particularly in southeast Minnesota the past week.
A frontal boundary is likely to extend west to east through central Minnesota this afternoon. The contrast in air masses should be the focus for storm development today.
Forecast maximum temperatures today from the NWS.
The NAM predicts this band of showers through central Minnesota this afternoon.
Severe storms are not expected in our neck of the woods today, but the Storm Prediction Center is focused on large hail and destructive winds in east Texas and into Arkansas in the next 24 hours.
The weather pattern dries out in the upper Midwest for Thursday and Friday. We'll take a look at the upcoming holiday weekend weather in the afternoon blog.
Craig Edwards(0 Comments)
Major Tornado Outbreak In Moore, Oklahoma
A major tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma near Oklahoma City this afternoon.
There is major damage, with schools and many buildings devastated.
Here's the WxUnderground "WxUndermap" image from 3:17pm showing the classic "hook echo" and "debris ball" just west of Moore as the tornado approached.
Here's a closer look. You can see the "debris ball" directly over Moore, OK at 3:32pm CDT.
Debris balls occur when the tornado lifts debris high enough into the air to be detected by the radar beam.
Heres' the radar loop just as the "Tornado Vortex Signature" (TVS - purple triangle) moves away from Moore to the east.
Preliminary estimates put the tornado's path length at 20 miles with an incredible path width from 1 mile... to possibly over 2 miles.
Here's the preliminary path from the Norman, OK NWS.
Looking at the damage, with concrete foundations wiped clean on some buildings this is likely going to be and EF4 to EF5 tornado with winds over 200 mph.
-Here the latest OKC radar loop.
Reports indicate there was an estimated 16 minutes lead time between Tornado Warning and 1st tornado touchdown near Newcastle, and about 30 minutes before twister hit the town of Moore.
It will take some time, NWS damage surveys and analysis to put this tornado in proper perspective. One thing is clear now, this is a major historical and meteorologically significant event.
Paul Huttner(0 Comments)
Spring has turned tropical in Minnesota. Our parade of storms hasn't stopped...it just warmed up.
At least we don't have to shovel it.
50 tornado reports over the weekend in the Central Plains? Nearly 3" rainfall totals over central Minnesota and the metro?
I'd call that a "productive" system. Do the Twins lead the Majors in rain delays this year?
Our rain & thunder threat lingers today and tomorrow. With an active warm front draped over Minnesota we could see a few more severe storms again this afternoon & evening.
Keep the weather radio handy again later today.
Eventful Severe Weekend
The thundery weekend onslaught triggered several significant events in Minnesota.
-Minnesota's 1st tornado of 2013 touched down Friday at 5:45pm near Wilder in Jackson County in southwest Minnesota. No damage was reported.
-The 1st tornado warning of 2013 for metro area counties (Pierce & St. Croix) was issued Sunday PM
-Two raucous "sunrise surprise" T-Storms outbreak pounded the Twin Cities Saturday & Sunday AM
-The 1st Tornado Watch of 2013 for the metro was issued Sunday
-Several reports of wind gusts between 60 & 70 mph raked the southeast metro Sunday PM
-The Twin Cities piled up 2.88" of rainfall at MSP Airport since Friday.
-May rainfall now stands at 3.74" (that's +1.68 vs. average)
Can the mosquitoes be far behind?
Here's a map from the Twin Cities NWS with Sunday's severe weather reports.
And the national map from SPC.
How To Dismantle A Drought:
The productive rains have piled up in Minnesota. A good chunk of the Dakotas and Minnesota bagged some 2"-3" rainfall totals last weekend.
Our frequent tropical deluge is courtesy of another stalled weather pattern. As the "vertically stacked" upper level and surface spin in the eastern Dakotas, waves of showers & T-Storms break out in MInnesota. Like cards in a 10 year olds bicycle wheel, each time an upper air disturbance blows by we get a wave of rain & thunder.
Monday's Weather Tap IR loop shows the low spinning away in the eastern Dakotas.
Expect the next wave of rain & thunder this afternoon and evening, especially from the Twin Cities north through the northern half of Minnesota.
Severe Risk Lingers:
The atmosphere will get irritable again this afternoon, and should be unstable enough to produce a few severe T-Storms later this afternoon and evening... mainly from the Twin Cities east.
Here's today's severe risk from SPC.
...UPPER MS VALLEY AND WESTERN GREAT LAKES...
EARLY VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS ONLY BROKEN CLOUD COVER OVER PARTS OF IA/WI EASTWARD INTO MI/OH. RELATIVELY STRONG DAYTIME HEATING AND LITTLE CAP SHOULD RESULT IN SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS TODAY AND TONIGHT TO THE EAST OF A SURFACE LOW OVER MN. MLCAPE VALUES OF 1500-2000 J/KG WILL PROMOTE VIGOROUS UPDRAFTS IN THIS REGION...WHILE SUFFICIENTLY STRONG VERTICAL SHEAR HELPS TO ORGANIZE THE CONVECTION. PRESENT INDICATIONS ARE THAT MULTIPLE LINES/CLUSTERS OF THUNDERSTORMS WILL AFFECT THIS REGION...WITH A FEW SUPERCELLS POSSIBLE. HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS ARE THE MAIN THREATS...BUT ISOLATED TORNADOES CANNOT BE RULED OUT.
Our stubborn low will finally move out Wednesday.
The sunniest brightest days of the week? Thursday & Friday. Naturally.
The early look at Memorial Day Weekend calls for a mix of sun & clouds with a chance of scattered showers & T-Storms and high in the 70s.
Paul Huttner(1 Comments)
NOAA has cancelled the tornado watch for the Twin Cities.
A Flash Flood Watch is in effect into Monday morning.
Get the latest warnings and storm reports here.(1 Comments)
Here we go.
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has issued a Tornado Watch until 9pm tonight for most of southern Minnesota including the Twin Cities metro area.
URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 180
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
110 PM CDT SUN MAY 19 2013
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
* TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF
CENTRAL AND EASTERN IOWA
SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL MINNESOTA
* EFFECTIVE THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 110 PM UNTIL
900 PM CDT.
* PRIMARY THREATS INCLUDE...A FEW TORNADOES POSSIBLE SEVERAL DAMAGING WIND GUSTS TO 65 MPH POSSIBLE A FEW LARGE HAIL EVENTS TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER POSSIBLE
THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 105 STATUTE MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 70 MILES NORTH NORTHEAST OF REDWOOD FALLS MINNESOTA TO 25 MILES SOUTH SOUTHEAST OF WATERLOO IOWA.
REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.
-Latest Twin Cities radar loop
-Latest Warnings from Twin Cities NWS
Storms will develop this afternoon in an increasingly unstable air mass and move north.
Stay tuned and expect severe weather warnings this afternoon and evening.
Paul Huttner(0 Comments)
First Tornado of 2013 skips through southwest Minnesota Friday evening:
A lone supercell thunderstorm produced the season's 1st confirmed tornado sightings in Minnesota Friday evening. Here are the reports from the Sioux Falls NWS.
FSD issues Tornado Warning for Cottonwood, Jackson [MN] till 6:15 PM CDT * AT 545 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR WILDER AND MOVING SOUTH AT 10 MPH.
FSD: 3 N Lakefield [Jackson Co, MN] law enforcement reports TORNADO at 06:10 PM CDT -- relayed by jackson county emergency management
Splash & Dash
This weekend features a little something for everyone in Minnesota.
Soaking rain for your lawn & garden? Check.
Sunny, "beach-worthy" hours with highs in the 80s? Roger that.
A little humidity with dew points in the 60s? Copy that.
A Sunday PM severe threat just to keep the weatherman on his toes? Yup.
Big, recently angry Lake Mille Lacs will finally go completely ice free this weekend after stubbornly clinging to the last chunks of ice this week.
You can't please all of the people all of the time, but here's a look at why this weekend's weather may offer a little something for everyone.
Weekend Weather Grab Bag: Pick your spots
Timing is everything.
You'll have opportunities to get just about anything done this weekend outside...but you'll have to pick your spots.
After a possible early morning round of showers and T-Storms, Saturday looks like the "drier" day of the weekend...but with that pesky low swirling in the eastern Dakotas we can't rule out an isolated shower or T-Storm at any point this weekend.
Still...I can see many dry hours Saturday, and high should reach the lower 80s. It will feel like summer again in most of Minnesota Saturday afternoon.
Saturday's severe threat is focused in western Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas. The best chance for a T-Storm with damaging winds and hail? Sioux Falls to Canby and Ortonville.
Here's Saturday's risk area from SPC.
By Sunday the severe risk spreads east as upper level energy moves in over southern Minnesota. That means severe storms may roam southern Minnesota Sunday afternoon and evening...including the Twin Cities.
Here's the verbiage in Sunday's "convective outlook" from SPC.
...NRN PLAINS/UPPER MS VALLEY/MID-MO VALLEY...
AN UPPER-LEVEL LOW IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP ACROSS THE NRN PLAINS ON SUNDAY AS SOUTH TO SOUTHWEST FLOW REMAINS IN PLACE ACROSS THE MID-MO VALLEY AND UPPER MS VALLEY. AT THE SFC...A LOW IS FORECAST TO MOVE SLOWLY ACROSS THE NRN PLAINS WITH A TROUGH EXTENDING SWD INTO THE MID-MO VALLEY. THE SFC TROUGH SHOULD BE THE FOCUS FOR CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT SUNDAY AFTERNOON. THE MODELS SUGGEST SEVERAL THUNDERSTORM CLUSTERS OR AN MCS WILL DEVELOP AND MOVE NEWD ACROSS THE REGION. A MODERATELY UNSTABLE AIRMASS IS FORECAST ALONG WITH STRONG DEEP LAYER SHEAR PROFILES SUGGESTING THAT WIDESPREAD SEVERE THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT WILL BE POSSIBLE SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING.
Bottom Line? Keep an eye out Sunday afternoon/evening for the possibility of watches and warnings and severe storms.
"Enhanced language" in new Impact Based Warnings:
Friday we got our 1st preview of some eye catching language in NWS new "Impact Based Warnings" that debut in Minnesota this year.
This storm near Windom produced the 1st tornado report of the year in Minnesota Friday evening.
Here's the warning for the 1st tornado of 2013 in Minnesota Friday evening.
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SIOUX FALLS SD
547 PM CDT FRI MAY 17 2013
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SIOUX FALLS HAS ISSUED A
* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTH CENTRAL COTTONWOOD COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA...
NORTH CENTRAL JACKSON COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA...
* UNTIL 615 PM CDT
* AT 545 PM CDT...A CONFIRMED TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR WILDER
AND MOVING SOUTH AT 10 MPH.
HAZARD...DAMAGING TORNADO AND TENNIS BALL SIZE HAIL.
SOURCE...WEATHER SPOTTERS CONFIRMED TORNADO.
IMPACT...MOBILE HOMES WILL BE HEAVILY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO ROOFS...WINDOWS AND VEHICLES WILL OCCUR. FLYING DEBRIS WILL BE DEADLY TO PEOPLE AND ANIMALS. EXTENSIVE TREE DAMAGE IS LIKELY.
* THE TORNADO WILL AFFECT MAINLY RURAL AREAS OF NORTH CENTRAL JACKSON AND SOUTH CENTRAL COTTONWOOD COUNTIES.
Get used to the more "graphic" language as part of an effort to get us all to take appropriate action...and warnings more seriously when they are issued.
The slow moving weather systems does have it's benefits.
We still need a good soaking in many areas to douse the drought. Take a look at NOAA's rainfall forecast for the next 5-7 days.
Good news for farmers and anyone else who depends on water for life. Oh wait...that's all of us.
Mille Lacs: Latest ice out on record
Lake Mille Lacs has been one big, stubborn, angry lake lately.
You can still see chunks of ice floating on the east side of the big lake Friday from the Hunter's Point resort webcam.
Last weekend's "ice attack" was one thing. This week Mille Lacs decided to deliver another unprecedented event.
According to the MN DNR, this is the latest ice out on record for Mille Lacs, besting the previous record of May 15th, 1950.
Most other lakes in central and northern Minnesota have been totally ice free for days including Leech, Red and even Fall lake near Ely.
Get the latest ice out dates here.
And then there's... Prom Night 2013:
Please forgive the brief digression, but I just can't resist.
Friday evening is Prom Night for Minnetonka High School, and many other young people in Minnesota.
Our son Luke is a senior at MHS and will graduate in 3 weeks. He's headed for the University of Kansas later this summer where's he's been accepted into the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications to study advertising.
Here's what it's like to be almost 18 and headed for prom night. Ahh...to be 18 again, if only for a night!
And no that's not his cherry red Audi...a loaner from some very generous friends.
Travel well young man!
Call it our May Monsoon...or a "June Preview."
Either way get ready for a change for the wetter the next few days. This is the rainy season in Minnesota.
A strong low pressure system that will "stall" over the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota this weekend into next week.
Occasional bouts of rain and thunder...and some of the rain will be heavy at times.
No, the weekend won't be a total washout, but you'll have to pick your spots to enjoy that Twins game or stroll through Art-A-Whirl "up Nordeast."
In this Updraft we'll try and time out some of the rain...and track rapid ice out trends in central and northern Minnesota this week.
Yes, that's a lot of rain & thunderstorm symbols in the NWS forecast the next few days.
To be sure, most of Minnesota will see several bouts of showers and T-Storms into early next week. The good news is...even though rain will come down heavy at times, the weekend won't be a total wash out.
-Latest Twin Cities radar loop from WxUnderground
Here's a quick breakdown of the weekend at this point:
Friday: Wave #1 rolls in with showers and T-Storms overnight through Friday morning. Rain focuses on southern Minnesota and will be locally heavy at times...and overall rainfall totals should be between .50" and 1" including the Twin Cities... but may top 1" in some areas.
Most of the rain should fall in the AM hours...and we may some peeks of PM/evening sun in the metro.
Saturday & Sunday:
As the low spins in the eastern Dakotas this weekend...scattered showers and T-Storms will pop up around Minnesota.
Right now...Saturday looks like the drier day for the metro. I can't rule out a stray shower or T-Storm...but we should see many dry hours Saturday. High temps should approach 80F in the south...with 60s & 70s up north.
Sunday looks like the wetter day of the weekend as showers & T-Storms become more widespread. You'll notice the humidity by Sunday as dew points climb into the summer like 60s!
Severe Threat Increases:
The risk for severe storms increases Saturday over the eastern Dakotas and far western Minnesota. I am concerned there will be enough spin...or "wind shear" to produce some tornadoes Saturday...especially in eastern South Dakota and far western Minnesota.
Chances for a few severe storms may increase close to southern Minnesota...and possibly as far north as the metro by Sunday evening as more upper level energy rides in fromt the southwest. Looking at the maps, I anticipate NOAA's SPC may bump the risk area north Friday to include the metro for Sunday afternoon and evening.
Keep an eye and ear out for the possibility of an increased threat for severe storms...and possibly a few tornadoes in southern Minnesota Sunday afternoon and evening.
Monday & Tuesday: The wettest period may actually be Monday & Tuesday as the stalled upper low begins to pull east over Minnesota.
The patchwork of occasional scattered rain the next few days will give most areas a good shot at some widespread 2"+ rainfall totals. A bigger area of 3" top 5"+ totals will favor the northwest half of Minnesota.
Check out the impressive totals from NOAA's "Weather Prediction Center" (WPC)
The good news is we can use a good soaking for lakes, rivers, lawns and fields.
Going...going... gone: Ice going fast up north
This week's warmth and breezes has taken out ice fast in central and northern Minnesota.
Many lakes in northern Minnesota are now ice free...including many of the BWCA area lakes.
Here's the closeup 250 meter resolution NASA MODIS shot over northeast MN Thursday.
Even sprawling and stubborn "Ice Queen" Lake Mille Lacs is finally giving up her icy crust. Check out the sequence of NASA MODIS satellite shots this week that shows the big lake nearly ice free as of Wednesday.
Not all the ice is out at Mille Lacs. Here's the webcam shot from an "iced in" Hunter's Point Resort on the east side of Mille Lacs Thursday.
You can catch up with the latest ice out reports as the come into the MN DNR here.
Paul Huttner(0 Comments)
Classic Spring Weather
"Normal" weather...what a concept.
No big extremes ahead for the next few days...just a mix of sunny tranquil days, scattered showers and thunderstorms, some local grass greening downpours, and some sunny warm hours mixed in for good measure this weekend.
Kind of sounds like "May" in Minnesota.
Our weather pattern starts tranquil today, then takes a turn for the rainy.
In this Updraft we track some probable hefty rainfall totals over the next 5 days, and look between the clouds for some dry, sunny and warm hours this weekend.
Not a total washout...but you may have to pick your spots this weekend.
Typical for May in Minnesota.
Today is as good as it gets.
Plenty of sun and temps pushing into the low 80s is good tonic for us this spring. Get out and enjoy the sun and warmth today. Clouds will increase later this afternoon and evening.
Friday: Wet start...sunny finish?
I'm watching clusters of showers and T-Storms today rumbling through Nebraska and South Dakota. That's our weather fare for Friday morning.
An upper level wave will trigger round #1 of what could be a series of rain & T-Storm clusters this the next few days. Look for rain to increase in southwest Minnesota tonight...and roll into the Twin Cities before AM drive time Friday morning. It should be a wet commute Friday AM in the metro.
The European Model "meteogram" favors a few rainy hours between 4am and noon tomorrow.
Soaking rainfall totals Friday morning between .50" and 1" are quite possible across the southern third of Minnesota, including the metro.
Weekend Split: Saturday the nicer & drier day?
If you're looking for a few dry hours to stroll Art-A-Whirl or any other outdoor fare this weekend Saturday may be your best bet.
Scattered storms will favor the northern half of Minnesota Saturday, but I can't rule out an hour of rain in the metro or a passing shower/T-Storm.
Sunday looks like the wetter day of the weekend right now...as a slow moving low pressure system stalls in eastern South Dakota.
Sunday & Monday look like the best chances for several hours of rain.
Rainfall totals could easily be over 2" by then in many locations. Keep in mind spring & summer "convective" rainfall is usually scattered...and rainfall totals can vary greatly a mile down the road.
Today's new U.S. Drought Monitor shows little change in drought in Minnesota from last week. Southeast Minnesota...and a sliver of far northern Minnesota are still "drought free" with near average soil moisture.
There are still sizeable chunks of western Minnesota that are in moderate to severe drought.
The rains the next few days look well placed to potentially erase some more drought areas in Minnesota.
If 4"+ totals verify by next Tuesday in western Minnesota, that would go a long way toward wiping out drought.
Weather fingers & toes crossed.
Paul Huttner(0 Comments)
"Goldilocks" Forecast Thursday
It just doesn't get any better than this. Not too warm...not too cold. Just right.
In my 30+ years of "weather feedback"...Wednesday was what most Minnesotans think of as "perfect weather."
Our pristine blue spring sky, decorative white clouds and budding green leaves seem long overdue this year.
In this Updraft we celebrate a repeat performance Thursday, then turn our eyes to a wetter weather pattern starting Friday. That's some good news for parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin that have been fighting wildfires in this week's warm dry air mass.
Spectacular Thursday...then "May Monsoon" kicks in:
Get out and enjoy Thursday. Thursday starts sunny...then high clouds filter in as the day wears on. Another day near 80F in May is a bonus this spring.
Our weather pattern goes back to wet mode starting Friday.
A slow-moving low sets up in the eastern Dakotas and will linger through the weekend...and into early next week.
This means waves of occasional showers & T-Storms across Minnesota from Friday through next Tuesday.
Drought Buster? Some of the storms will produce locally heavy downpours through this weekend into next week.
NWS Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPF) cranks out some 3"+ rainfall totals over a big swath of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest by next Tuesday.
The rainfall could further help alleviate what's left of drought in Minnesota in the next week.
Severe stays south?
I have my doubts about this right now...but NOAA's SPC is keeping most of the severe stuf south of Minnesota this weekend.
If the low tracks a little further north...I think we may see some strong to borderline severe storms this weekend in Minnesota.
As the old professor would often remind us, weather is seldom normal.
Some regions of Minnesota experienced record snowfall earlier in May and two weeks later, Mother Nature delivers the heat.
Here's how the Minnesota State Climate Office detailed Tuesday's heat burst.
>A taste of summer air surged into Minnesota on May 14th, sending the mercury soaring into the 80's and 90's across a good part of the state. A few locations even cracking 100 degrees. Notable exceptions were locations near ice covered lakes in northern Minnesota and near Lake Superior. At 2pm May 14th, the air temperature was 102 degrees at St. James and 44 degrees at Grand Marais.
The National Weather Service Cooperative Observer at Amboy also had a preliminary reading of 102 degrees.
Extremely dry air was in place as well, with desert-like relative humidity readings in the single digits at St. James. At 2pm while it was 102 degrees at St. James, the dew point temperature was only 28 degrees, creating a relative humidity of seven percent.
An amazing spread in maximum temperatures so far in May for Rochester: On May 3rd, Rochester set a record for the lowest maximum temperature of 33. Less than two weeks later they reach a record high of 97 on May 14th.
The National Weather Service in Chanhassen put together a nice meteorological explanation of the record heat on Tuesday
NOAA's IR satellite image validated the colder cloud tops of the showers as they moved into southwest Minnesota.
These showers are expected to diminish as they travel east this morning.
There remains quite the disparity in moisture this spring from northwest to southeast in Minnesota. Check out this map from the Minnesota from the State Climate Office on precipitation since April 1, 2013.
Showers and thundershowers are in the forecast from Thursday night through Monday. With any luck, the farmers will receive welcome moisture and your outdoor event dodges the rain. That's probably too much to expect.
Rain on the weekend. We'll deal with it one day at a time.