Invest now to improve tornado warnings; an early start to hurricane season?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 04:24 PM GMT die 27o May, anno 2011

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The Atlantic hurricane season officially begin on Wednesday, June 1, and recent computer model runs predict that we may have some early-season action in the Central Caribbean Sea to coincide with the start of this year's season. The GFS, NOGAPS, and ECMWF models have all indicated in some of their recent runs that a tropical disturbance may form between Jamaica and Central America sometime in the May 31 - June 2 time frame, as a lobe of the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) pushes across Central America into the Caribbean. Up until now, wind shear has been too high to allow tropical storm formation in the Caribbean, due to the presence of the Subtropical Jet Stream. However, this jet is expected to push northwards over Cuba over the coming week, allowing a region of low wind shear to develop over most of the Caribbean. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. The main impediment to development will probably be lack of spin, as we don't have any African tropical waves that are expected to enter the Caribbean Sea next week, to help get things spinning. Stay tuned.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Songda.

Typhoon Songda heads for Okinawa and Japan
Typhoon Songda brushed the Philippines yesterday, bringing heavy rains that killed at least two people. Fortunately, the brunt of this year's first Category 5 storm missed the islands, and Songda has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Songda is turning northwards and will threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa. On Sunday,

Invest now for better tornado warnings
National Weather Service forecasters issued a tornado warning 24 minutes in advance of the Joplin, Missouri tornado this.week, which is now being blamed for at least 132 deaths--the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. However, we can do better, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) put out a press release on May 23, arguing that investments in weather service forecasting technology are needed to reduce loss of life in future violent tornadoes:

"The 24-minute lead time is a great improvement over the average lead time of 13 minutes for tornado warnings. The meteorologists in the Springfield Weather Forecast Office are commended for their lifesaving work," said Dan Sobien, NWSEO President. "But in our age of advanced technology and communication, when new radars and modeling opportunities exist that can provide more lead time to get people out of the path of a storm, hundreds of people do not have to die because of a tornado event."

Sobien says the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes are examples of how the government's neglect to invest in NWS related infrastructure over the last 10 to 15 years has failed to provide the tools necessary to protect lives and property. He says that the tools forecasters use to issue tornado warnings are woefully inadequate and that the technology exists to provide lead times so far in advance of the storm that it would make the need for tornado warnings as we know them obsolete. "The much touted Doppler Weather Radar, also known as the Weather Service Radar or WSR-88D, was developed in 1988. Since that time, technological advances, including phased array radars developed by the Department of Defense, have been shown to increase the current lead time on tornado warnings by almost 50 percent."

"The much touted Warn on Forecast process utilizes Meso-scale modeling and has the potential to let forecasters know hours in advance where a thunderstorm would form and if it is likely to contain strong winds, hail, or even a tornado. With adequate staffing, local National Weather Service forecasters who understand local terrain and the model output, could be embedded with emergency managers and decision makers. In the event of a storm, the forecaster could provide emergency managers with the tornado track with some margin of error and people in the way of the storm could be evacuated hours before the tornado hits. This technology is being developed and tested right now, however without funding it will never be available."

"The art and science of severe weather warnings made considerable progress during the 1980s and 90s, going from almost zero lead time to average of about 13 minutes for tornado warnings. However, in recent years, that progress has stalled, even while the technological advancements have accelerated. If the country made the type of investment in the National Weather Service that it did in the 1980s, scenes like the ones in Missouri this week and in Alabama and Mississippi last month could be a thing of the past."

"I am very proud of my co-workers at the National Weather Service this tornado season. They saved many lives and having been there myself, I can assure you, they feel personally about every lost life," said Sobien. "I know that budgets are tight and there are many priorities, but if you put investing in the National Weather Service up to a vote today in tornado alley, I think the approval would be a landslide."


I wholeheartedly agree with this view--investments in better tornado forecasts and tornado observing technology will potentially give us a huge return in lives saved. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday or Tuesday with a new post.


Jeff Masters

Tornado Power (Betty2)
Sunday, LaCrosse, WI a tornado hit. This is a photo of a 2x4 board that slammed through a tire.. and, freaky, but it left the air in the tire! Photo was taken by my neighbor, Lori Hines, Gays Mills WI.
Tornado Power
25 May, (rdjgonzo)
May 25, 2011 at 7:10pm. Picture taken from Bartlett (Shelby County) TN.
25 May,
What A Storm (llpj04)
What A Storm

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Good Morning.......Triple digit temps forecast for the Big Bend/North Florida towards the end of the week and we need rain in many parts of the Southeast and Texas.

Point Forecast: 4 Miles NW Tallahassee FL
Friday: Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 100.
Saturday: Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 101.


Assuming this type of heat continues for the Gulf and SE States over the next few months, we may see some "devil's high" ridging in the Western Atlantic which will prevent recurvature once the Cape Verde season starts per this article:

Forecasting U.S. hurricanes 6 months in advance
J. B. Elsner,1 R. J. Murnane,2 and T. H. Jagger1

A weak fall/winter NAO is associated with weaker middle latitude weather systems (and thus less precipitation) over North America and Europe. The relatively dry fall/winter season continues into spring and the dry conditions subsequently lead to a
tendency for greater middle tropospheric ridging during the summer and fall. Ridging over the eastern and western sides of the North Atlantic basin during the hurricane season displaces the middle tropospheric trough of lower pressures to the north. The trough, which induces hurricane movement to the north and east, is therefore unable to recurve hurricanes that are moving westward toward the United
States thus increasing the probability of landfalls along the Gulf and southeast coasts. Support for this hypothesis comes from the positive correlation between monthly precipitation totals from January through May at stations in a region extending from Ohio to Massachusetts and fall/winter NAO values. In other words, weak fall/winter NAO conditions lead to less precipitation, more ridging, less recurvature, and a higher probability of landfall.


There was some talk about this earlier in the week.....Florida and/or Gulf may see a major impact this season later on down the road in August or September.
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Now Upgraded to Moderate Risk

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1134. Bitmap7
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
Quoting BahaHurican:
7544, I'm hoping enough of the moisture lasts to make it to this side of Cuba... still waiting to see if the shear subsides enough. In any case, it doesn't look like we'll get much of anything before the weekend... at least S FL has had a couple days of afternoon showers in the last 2 weeks...

In related "news"... lol... our mangos have started to come down in MAY.... I think the extended drought conditions have caused the trees to release them early. Even the tiniest ones are coming down, apparently ripe, when they're not even big enough yet to be full....
Mangoes are almost done here now. Have been ripe for about a month. Early this year :)
Member Since: October 9, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 8435
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Was not aware of that. Thank you. Sounds like they believe that atmosphere is juicy enough and all the other conditions must be pretty conducive for this to trek all the way in.


Yeah should get the bump up at 1630z or basically 8 minutes from now. It's like you said, that line ahead of the bow could be severe also so im not to suprised.
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1131. IKE
GFS 12Z @ hour 120....pressure looks about the same as the 6Z run to me......


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Just heard via WFO Chicago/Romeoville that SPC is upgrading to moderate risk ahead of the bow.

Link
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1128. Bitmap7
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
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just heard the joplin tornado moved the hospital 4inches from the foundation!!!
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1122. Bitmap7
12z GFS seems to be going aggressive so far. Should be tagged soon. I am just so eager to see the GFDL and HWRF now XD.
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Quoting Skyepony:
It's already caused injury..

1440 UNK SOLON JOHNSON IA 4181 9149 *** 1 INJ *** NUMEROUS TREES DOWN. INJURY REPORTED DUE TO FALLING TREE NEAR LAKE MACBRIDE. (DVN)


That wind is going to be nasty when it gets into Chicago coupled with a few isolated tornadoes and there could be more injuries as the day goes on.
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1120. Skyepony (Mod)
It's already caused injury..

1440 UNK SOLON JOHNSON IA 4181 9149 *** 1 INJ *** NUMEROUS TREES DOWN. INJURY REPORTED DUE TO FALLING TREE NEAR LAKE MACBRIDE. (DVN)
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1119. IKE
SYNOPSIS FOR CARIBBEAN SEA AND TROPICAL N ATLC FROM 07N TO 22N
BETWEEN 55W AND 65W
1130 AM EDT SUN MAY 29 2011

.SYNOPSIS...WINDS WILL INCREASE OVER THE CENTRAL AND EASTERN
CARIBBEAN THROUGH WED BETWEEN DEVELOPING LOW PRES OVER THE SW
CARIBBEAN AND HIGH PRES N OF THE AREA. THE STRONGEST WINDS WILL
LIE IN THE N CENTRAL CARIBBEAN. A TROPICAL WAVE ALONG 60W S OF
13N WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE ACROSS THE WINDWARD ISLANDS THIS
AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


heck of a bow, should be a lot of wind damage with that


I know, it's really starting to show a strong structure now as well.

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Quoting MrstormX:


Well right now it is just lots of moisture with a broad rotation, I wouldn't even consider it much of an invest yet. Once the structure becomes more apparent then we will see if this is going to be of any note, or a false alarm imo.
I would classify it as a " Pre-invest"

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1116. IKE
NAM @ 84 hours....


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Quoting MrstormX:


heck of a bow, should be a lot of wind damage with that
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Quoting Bitmap7:

Thats a weird feature.


Chicago could be in for an interesting lunchtime visitor.
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1113. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting 7544:
according to the local news this system if forms will bring lots of rain to so fla next week stay tuned wait watch and see
rains come first weekend of june
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
Quoting Bitmap7:

Thats a weird feature.


If it were over water it would be the years first "blob-AOI" lol
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Quoting BahaHurican:
7544, I'm hoping enough of the moisture lasts to make it to this side of Cuba... still waiting to see if the shear subsides enough. In any case, it doesn't look like we'll get much of anything before the weekend... at least S FL has had a couple days of afternoon showers in the last 2 weeks...

In related "news"... lol... our mangos have started to come down in MAY.... I think the extended drought conditions have caused the trees to release them early. Even the tiniest ones are coming down, apparently ripe, when they're not even big enough yet to be full....


not really the drought in neutral years i have noticed this

for instance in 2004 and 2005 as well here in the island of Grenada mango trees had to periods in which they gave out mangoes lol strange!!
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1109. Bitmap7
Quoting MrstormX:

Thats a weird feature.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
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7544, I'm hoping enough of the moisture lasts to make it to this side of Cuba... still waiting to see if the shear subsides enough. In any case, it doesn't look like we'll get much of anything before the weekend... at least S FL has had a couple days of afternoon showers in the last 2 weeks...

In related "news"... lol... our mangos have started to come down in MAY.... I think the extended drought conditions have caused the trees to release them early. Even the tiniest ones are coming down, apparently ripe, when they're not even big enough yet to be full....
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Geez. Just realized tomorrow is US Memorial Day holiday.... our holidays are so off kilter because of the lateness of Easter that I hadn't even realized it was that week already.... we get Labour Day this Friday and Whit Monday on the 13th - latest it's been in my lifetime.... lol
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The current bow-echo is forming in the same area as the June 18 Serial Derecho did last year. Normally when they form out there, thy can pack quite a punch in Chicago.
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1104. Bitmap7


Overall shear falling by 5 knots still.
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1103. 7544
according to the local news this system if forms will bring lots of rain to so fla next week stay tuned wait watch and see
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Back later
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1101. Bitmap7


Uh so close.
Member Since: May 4, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 429
DISCUSSION...AN ORGANIZING LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS OVER IA IS FORECAST
TO ACCELERATE AND TRACK EAST-NORTHEASTWARD ACROSS THE WATCH AREA
TODAY. RAPID LOW LEVEL DESTABILIZATION AHEAD OF THE
STORMS...COUPLED WITH INCREASING MESOSCALE ORGANIZATION...WILL POSE
A RISK OF A LONG-LIVED BOW ECHO AND RESULTING DERECHO. STORMS MAY
AFFECT THE CHI METRO AREA AS EARLY AS 18Z.

AVIATION...A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT
TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 70
KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 550. MEAN STORM
MOTION VECTOR 25040.


...HART
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1099. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2011 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic

East Pacific

Central Pacific

West Pacific
90W.INVEST
04W.SONGDA

Indian Ocean

Southern Hemisphere
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
Quoting BahaHurican:
Also looking at the jetstream analysis, it's not surpising tornadic threat has moved into the Chicago area today....


I agree, I saw the spc had a 5% of strong tornadoes across the Chicago area, and a 20% chance of 2 or more total tornadoes. I think that is a bit conservative for what could be a serial derecho later in the day.
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


Yeah, lol, that's an understatement. These monsoonal lows take A LOT of patients. The current state of things won't support much if anything, even through day 5. After that, who knows?
After 5 days probably another 5 days of development before it becomes a cyclone, lol. It will take it's sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet time.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Kman, it's clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds today in the NW Bahamas. Maybe TCI will get some rain.... though the jetstream imagery I've seen implies likelihood of that is low... will be interesting to see if the normal activity of the SW CAR low actually gives us a TD or TC by midweek.


That jet is what is keeping our rain to the South as well. As for TD or TC by mid next week I think the odds are against that but who knows.
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Also looking at the jetstream analysis, it's not surpising tornadic threat has moved into the Chicago area today....



Pretty nasty line moving through and it's forecast to intensify as it heads eastward across IL. I've got family in N Central IN, it's supposed to be there by mid-afternoon.
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1094. Patrap
.."I believe,I believe, I believe"...
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


which some models say it will do

This one is going to take some time; and we know how impatient people on here can get

Would not be shocked to see a couple thousands posts writing off this system over the next week.


Well right now it is just lots of moisture with a broad rotation, I wouldn't even consider it much of an invest yet. Once the structure becomes more apparent then we will see if this is going to be of any note, or a false alarm imo.
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Also looking at the jetstream analysis, it's not surpising tornadic threat has moved into the Chicago area today....
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Kman, it's clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds today in the NW Bahamas. Maybe TCI will get some rain.... though the jetstream imagery I've seen implies likelihood of that is low... will be interesting to see if the normal activity of the SW CAR low actually gives us a TD or TC by midweek.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


which some models say it will do

This one is going to take some time; and we know how impatient people on here can get

Would not be shocked to see a couple thousands posts writing off this system over the next week.


Yeah, lol, that's an understatement. These monsoonal lows take A LOT of patients. The current state of things won't support much if anything, even through day 5. After that, who knows?
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1089. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
XX/AOI/XL
MARK
11.13N/80.31W


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
Looks like our Midwest bow echo is starting to trying to transition into a comma echo, could happen within the next couple hours.

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Quoting Bitmap7:


So it seems. Our monsoonal low from yesterday has but heads with the tropical wave coming off of south america, fusing to form an even broader area of low pressure. The predominant one will turn out to be the wave though, as our monsoonal wave jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire with high shear. By the time our wave pulls itself together shear should have fallen across much of the Caribbean and it should have everything it need to develop until it gets to the Greater Antilles. If it goes for the ridge weakness its going to get ripped to shreds from high shear and loose it s energy supply due to low ssts. If it gets stuck under the ridge; lets just say a lot of people could get pissed.


My current thinking is that the convection will fire sporadically until forming up around Tuesday and then just hanging around for a week creating a soggy mess.
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Morning all.

Recent jet stream analysis....

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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