Join 3,418 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A “high-end, life-threatening” tornado outbreak is likely on Saturday
April 13, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

The Storm Prediction Center (NOAA) has issued a rare “high risk” outlook for severe weather more than a day in advance. A “high-end, life-threatening” tornado outbreak is likely on Saturday from Texas northeastward to Iowa. Weather briefing. More info. This is only the second time a 2-day forecast of this type has ever been issued, the last time was for an outbreak on April 7, 2006, when more than 70 tornadoes touched down, killing 13 and causing more than $1 billion in damage. Running total of tornadoes to date compared with historical averages.
posted by stbalbach (171 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hope that they're wrong this time. Stay safe people.
posted by Blue Meanie at 8:20 PM on April 13, 2012


Tornado Alley has become Tornado Boulevard. Be safe everyone.
posted by PapaLobo at 8:21 PM on April 13, 2012


Oh, that's what my wrists and ankles are trying to say. I wish they could just, you know, email me.

More seriously, take care, folks. I hope they're wrong about the tornadoes, but it's a good thing to have some warning.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:22 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. That's a big damned storm coming in from the Pacific. Hopefully they're being excessively pessimistic with their forecast.

On a lighter note, remember that when reporting on hail, always use sports equipment analogies to describe the size:
Hailstones the size of golf balls or ping-pong balls fell .... baseball- or even softball-sized hail could hit the South this weekend.
On the other hand, the correct way to describe the size of tumors is by comparisons with fruit
posted by rmd1023 at 8:26 PM on April 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Four feet of hail fell in Texas earlier this week.
posted by humanfont at 8:47 PM on April 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Jesus. Stay safe, everyone.
posted by rtha at 8:56 PM on April 13, 2012


Cripes.

Please everyone, take some precautions.

Family Emergency Plan

Emergency Supply List.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:59 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


If this is the same front that went through the Bay last night, it's massive. We had about three hours of electrical storms, something we never get around here. Reminded me of Michigan. Stay safe everyone.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:00 PM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yikes, I'm in E. Nebraska, right where the risk has been upgraded. Knew we were supposed to get some rain tomorrow. Hope it stays quiet...
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 9:00 PM on April 13, 2012


In Oklahoma City, staying up for the next round, due here in 10 minutes or so.
posted by francesca too at 9:20 PM on April 13, 2012


We had a very adventurous afternoon here in Norman. I can hear the thunder from the second round of storms about to hit us. We're basically planning for a very long day tomorrow. We even have a drinking game for one of our most famous meteorologists.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:20 PM on April 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hi doctor, I think Pottawatomie County alone deserves three drinks.
posted by francesca too at 9:23 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


francesca, did you happen to see this week's episode of Nova on the 2011 tornado outbreak? They interviewed Gary to talk about how much he still depends upon spotters. I was really hoping for an interview with Val. I'm sticking with Rick Mitchell, though, for now, because I'm digging this 3-D doppler.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:28 PM on April 13, 2012


Best of luck to everybody in the middle of the country.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:29 PM on April 13, 2012


My parents live in Iowa City and are flying here to Seattle tomorrow. I really, really, really, really, really hope that goes as planned.
posted by KathrynT at 9:41 PM on April 13, 2012


So work let us out early today, and I, having entirely rational priorities, went to pick up my Cabin in the Woods tickets instead of going home and huddling up. And that is the moment the Norman tornado chose to slice across my route from work to home, and that, kids, is how Joss Whedon saved your Uncle Ormond's bacon.
posted by ormondsacker at 9:43 PM on April 13, 2012 [29 favorites]


I never hear about people going into storm cellars in these occasions. Are these not as ubiquitous as old movies make them seem? Outside of California I've only ever been to the east coast, so I'm sorry if this sounds like a silly question.
posted by Defenestrator at 9:46 PM on April 13, 2012


Tornadoes are pretty dramatic, but the actual risk to any specific person is going to be pretty low.
I never hear about people going into storm cellars in these occasions. Are these not as ubiquitous as old movies make them seem?
As you go further north, most houses usually have basements. Down south those they're much less common. The reason is just that you have to make sure the foundation of the house goes below the storm line, so you might as well put in a basement while you're at it.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 PM on April 13, 2012


In 2011 there were 550 tornado deaths, including 316 people on April 27 in five Southern states, and 161 people in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22.

In case anyone had forgotten just how deadly a day of tornadoes can be. I know the risk to any one person is statistically negligible, but damn - a day of supercell storms hitting their stride as night comes on sure sounds scary to me.
posted by mediareport at 9:53 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The reason is just that you have to make sure the foundation of the house goes below the storm line, so you might as well put in a basement while you're at it.

delmoi meant 'frost line.' But yeah, I knew people in Arkansas who had storm cellars, for example.
posted by jedicus at 9:57 PM on April 13, 2012


Really, really glad that we rented a house with a basement last year instead of an apartment. Granted, we're at the very northern edge of the big pink "HIGH" circle (in Sioux City, IA), but "CELLS WOULD LIKELY FORM OVER WRN SECTIONS OF THE HIGH RISK AREA WHERE HEATING WILL STEEPEN LOW LEVEL LAPSE RATES...THEN WOULD PROCEED RAPIDLY NEWD WITH AN INCREASING TORNADO THREAT. VERY LARGE HAIL WILL ALSO BE LIKELY. THE NRN EXTENT OF THE TORNADO THREAT WILL DEPEND ON THE ACTUAL LOCATION OF THE PRIMARY BOUNDARIES." has me worried. Although, it seems like the Missouri River tends to dull the edge of storms coming up from the south. Fingers crossed!
posted by jason_steakums at 9:58 PM on April 13, 2012


I know there's no connection (or a tenuous one, at best) but here in the DC metro in the last 2 weeks or so we've gone from frost warnings and mid-30s to mid-80s back to mid-30s and now we might hit 90 on Saturday. This is nuts and I am not surprised that this is happening elsewhere and that it's producing the circumstances required to support massive tornadoes. I've read that NOAA is testing new early warning systems in Tornado Alley, and hope they help.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:04 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was amazed by this warning; it's very striking the changes they are making to predictions in light of last year's huge tornado outbreaks.

Here's a question for the tornado-preparation-savvy: If you have two shelter places in your house to choose from, which is better?
1. a large open unfinished basement - fully below grade but with glass windows in dugouts, and with tools/cut lumber/junk lying around
2. a windowless coat closet on the first floor, which backs up to the chimney in the center of the house.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 PM on April 13, 2012


I'd take the basement, as far away from the dugout windows as possible.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:09 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Growing up on the edge of Tornado Alley, we were always taught that the basement was best because it's more likely that the roof will be taken off than the roof and the first floor. I'm not sure how the windows change things, but if they're the small casement windows I'm thinking of, you can probably cover them with stuff you have lying around.

I have no idea if this is official anymore, but this is what I remember from grade school.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:10 PM on April 13, 2012


Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang on this early warning - the post copies some of the regional forecasts within the affected area.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:15 PM on April 13, 2012


I'm currently on the edge of the oddly frivolous purple bullseye and kinda freaking out a bit. There's something that absolutely has to be done Saturday morning but, after that, I'm thinking of putting GF & dogs in the car and making the four or five hour drive to Branson for the rest of the day and night.

I know, statistically, everything will probably be ok and I suppose someone will tell me I'd have a better chance of getting splattered on the highway, but I really don't feel like playing the odds tomorrow. I've been through a tornado once before and don't feel the need to do it again. Really, really hate this time of year.

Agreed on the basement choice over the closet. If you knew for an absolute certainty that the tornado in your area was an EF1, then the closet would probably be ok. But otherwise, get underground.
posted by honestcoyote at 10:16 PM on April 13, 2012


Also I should say, I'm not in the midwestern areas affected by this current forecast -- but my area does have its share of tornadoes every year and I've found myself in the basement thinking, huh, I might be better off in the coat closet.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:17 PM on April 13, 2012


Absolutely the basement. You might see some broken glass scattering about downstairs, but upstairs you might see broken glass, broken 2x4s, appliances, trees from outside, etc etc flying. Being near the chimney is also very bad, when a tornado hit the Little Sioux Scout Ranch out here a few years back, the chimney/fireplace came apart and collapsed on people.

Also, if you have a gas line, the shutoff valve is likely downstairs and in a worst-case scenario you'll want to make sure that gets shut off immediately after the danger has passed.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:19 PM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Excellent points!
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:20 PM on April 13, 2012


For what it's worth, I checked Amazon and you can get plastic shields for your basement windows for about $30/window. The phrase you want is "window well cover." These aren't going to withstand a 2x4 in an F4, but they'll protect you from incidental debris.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:32 PM on April 13, 2012


I never hear about people going into storm cellars in these occasions. Are these not as ubiquitous as old movies make them seem?

Without basements, Joplin had scant refuge from tornado [and, uh, previously]
posted by dhartung at 10:32 PM on April 13, 2012


In 2011 there were 550 tornado deaths, including 316 people on April 27 in five Southern states, and 161 people in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22.

In case anyone had forgotten just how deadly a day of tornadoes can be. I know the risk to any one person is statistically negligible, but damn - a day of supercell storms hitting their stride as night comes on sure sounds scary to me.


As a Joplin native, I think this bears repeating. If you live in the affected area, PLEASE get prepared and take appropriate measures to stay safe. This is some scary shit.
posted by naoko at 10:32 PM on April 13, 2012


Just looked at Omaha's forecast out of curiosity since it's in the center of the bullseye that I'm on the edge of, and it feels a lot less "oh shit" than the storm prediction center warning. Actually, a lot of the areas in the bullseye do. It's weird, very detailed storm prediction warnings, and pretty much just "oh hey, watch out for storms you guys" when you get down to the local level.

I work with a meteorologist who was similarly "meh" about the whole thing today, and it seemed an expression of the whole "oh it's the midwest, nut up, we've seen worse!" hubris people have about weather out here. A lot of people in South Dakota, Nebraska and western Minnesota and Iowa tend to have this weird macho thing about weather because we're in the sweet spot for getting severe winter AND summer weather, which gets people cocky because they confuse luck with toughness.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:36 PM on April 13, 2012


Like, I have this childhood memory of most of my neighborhood thinking it was awesome to get up on rooftops, sit in lawn chairs, crack beers and watch the tornado go by. That kind of thing.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:39 PM on April 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hailstones the size of golf balls or ping-pong balls fell .... baseball- or even softball-sized hail could hit the South this weekend.

When I was just a little kid, a hailstorm with softball sized hail stones hit my town. The stones were so large, a cross section of one hailstone from my town, photographed under polarized light to show the layers, was on the cover of Scientific American. My dad owned a commercial greenhouse, an old style "glass house" with 100% glass panes. There wasn't a single pane left intact.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:40 PM on April 13, 2012


In Omaha here. Should be interesting tomorrow. It feels very unsettled outside right now.
posted by Ostara at 10:42 PM on April 13, 2012


I wonder what truth there is to the superstition about green-yellow skies indicating imminent tornado forming conditions.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:01 PM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not sure about the truth of it, but oh man, does it ever scare the hell out of me when a bad storm comes in and then the sky looks bruised.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:02 PM on April 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Stay safe everyone.
posted by drezdn at 11:12 PM on April 13, 2012


Meant to mention that up in northern Ontario there was a specific shade of pale, almost pastel yellow that would appear on the horizon before major snowstorms when the temperature was unusually cold (less than, say, -30). The sky would start getting dark, and that yellow colour would appear where pink would normally be in a sunset. It was very recognizable and while not every storm was proceeded by it, when you saw it there was always a snowstorm bearing down from that direction. You'd get off the roads immediately and find somewhere warm to wait it out.

I'm sure the locals in tornado alley learn to recognize similar conditions, especially for the larger storms.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:23 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, in Michigan where I grew up that sort of grey-green sky color wasn't necessarily tornado-specific, but it was a sure sign of a serious fucking thunderstorm at the very least. Might mean tornadoes, might mean hail, might just mean a whole lot of rain and lightning getting dumped down very fast.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:28 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of people in South Dakota, Nebraska and western Minnesota and Iowa tend to have this weird macho thing about weather because we're in the sweet spot for getting severe winter AND summer weather, which gets people cocky because they confuse luck with toughness.

Same with Wisconsin.

I was at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison one afternoon, when the tornado warning sirens went off. People looked up, saw blue sky, and continued about their business feeding otters and buying weird molded plastic animals. It wasn't until someone got on the PA and informed everyone that there was a cell 2 miles away barreling towards us, and we were right in the path, and could everyone please just get into the Reptile House so that no one got hurt? Thank you, Henry Vilas Zoo.

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, the sky turned from blue to green, and we had horizontal rain and hail.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:29 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm in Wisconsin, and I wouldn't call it a macho thing. For one thing, I actually love sitting on the porch as a summer storm comes through. On the other hand, though I've seen some screamers -- rain pouring out of the sky by the barrel, trees whipped from side to side like railroad crossing wigwags -- I hope I would have the presence of mind to hightail it inside or even to the basement if anything really destructive came through: say, if I were seeing debris flying through the air.

But man, sitting in the basement from the time it starts until the radio bothers to relay a geographically vague all-clear? Bo-ring.

I am not particularly religious, but I would classify this as a type of spiritual experience, akin to the astronauts on the Moon. Sort of a God made this, we are made to witness it thing. If a tree fell in the forest ...
posted by dhartung at 12:11 AM on April 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hope I would have the presence of mind to hightail it inside or even to the basement if anything really destructive came through: say, if I were seeing debris flying through the air.

And I hope you manage to get inside safely at that point.
posted by naoko at 12:21 AM on April 14, 2012


if you are close enough to the tornado to see flying debris, you are too close

seriously, there is nothing stopping that tornado from whipping the debris right at your head, or sending an invisible crosswind to knock you off your ass into Oz. The tornado is the honey badger of weather. TORNADO DON'T CARE. TORNADO SMACKS THE SHIT OUT OF YOU.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:40 AM on April 14, 2012 [11 favorites]


I am glad to be in Tulsa and not in eastern Nebraska tomorrow. Norman got hit by a tornado Friday afternoon. It tracked less than two miles from SPC's office, IIRC.

TBH, the problem with setups like this isn't so much the number of tornadoes, it's the number of EF-3 and greater tornadoes. Even up to EF-2 or so, most buildings provide enough protection to keep people alive so long as there is at least some warning. Having no basement, I don't like my chances, so I keep an eye on the radar on severe weather days and am generally ready to depart to safer environs if necessary.

And yes, I stand outside and watch the storms roll through whenever possible, which basically means any time I won't get completely soaked from wind whipped rain or there's not a likely tornado about to come within a couple of miles.

There's also a side benefit to always keeping an eye on the sky: You get to experience surreal things like being the only person in sight as you fuel up while the tornado sirens blare, comfortable in the knowledge that the tornadic storm is miles away and not headed in your direction. Storms do sometimes abruptly change direction, but it's not terribly common with tornadic storms, and if it would have to take a left turn to get to you the storm is likely to weaken due to the change in relative winds.
posted by wierdo at 1:36 AM on April 14, 2012


The rule for tornadoes is: get low. It was explained to me that you could lay in a shallow ditch and have a massive tornado pass right over you and you should be fine. It's the stuff flying around that may hit you that's the real danger.
posted by zardoz at 1:55 AM on April 14, 2012


I wonder what truth there is to the superstition about green-yellow skies indicating imminent tornado forming conditions.

Is it really a superstition? I've seen it happen dozens of times. It's a pretty good indicator to me. And so is staring up at the clouds overhead… if you see different layers of the low-lying clouds moving in different directions at the same time, look out.
posted by readyfreddy at 4:18 AM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I had heard that the green-yellow skies are caused by hail at high altitudes. If so, that indicates that there is a strong storm, but I do not know if it means that the storm is likely to produce tornados.
posted by thelonius at 4:21 AM on April 14, 2012


As a Missouri native and current resident, there was a lot of talk last year about the efficacy of tornado warnings in our area. It seems that because a tornado siren sounds so frequently in Spring around these parts, they are taken less seriously than they would be elsewhere. We're sort of desensitized to them, as this study by CBS shows...

I know that we, personally, don't always head out the door looking for suitable shelter -- we live in an old house with no basement and not a single closet that doesn't have an outward facing wall -- but I'm so scared of a possible tornado that you bet your ass we're packing a bag, puttin' on shoes, and watching the skies every time it sounds...
posted by youandiandaflame at 6:00 AM on April 14, 2012


I've only ever seen one tornado, but it was a big one. We were on the 6th or 8th floor of a small office building, and everyone was saying, "wow, the sky is turning green". It was amazing and scary.

Also if rain is running down the inside of windows on the 8th floor, it's time to go.
posted by sneebler at 6:06 AM on April 14, 2012


Tornadoes can come on very quickly. According to my kids' NatGeo magazine the average time between a tornado warning and a strike is 13 minutes.
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:04 AM on April 14, 2012


The last round of tornadoes here hopped over us, and hit the next town over. I watched the funnels form, sitting outside my son's school because the kids were locked inside. There are no basements in this part of the country, but most people I know have a tornado room which has been reinforced. Having seen the aftermath of Joplin, I don't have much faith in ours.
posted by dejah420 at 7:04 AM on April 14, 2012


Watch the watches. Look for the phrase "Particularly Dangerous Situation". This isn't used lightly. The PDS slug is used on less than 4% of all tornado and thunderstorm watches, and means that the SPC is nearly certain that very severe weather is going to happen.

It seems that because a tornado siren sounds so frequently in Spring around these parts, they are taken less seriously than they would be elsewhere.

The problem is that the storms that form tornados are very large, but the actual damage swaths of tornados are often very narrow. It is very common to see one side of a residential street wiped out, and another basically untouched -- and it's impossible for NWS to know *which* side of the street that will be beforehand. Tracks of tornados are also unpredictable -- it may have been moving ESE for the last 10 minutes, then suddenly cut left.

So, a very large area in a tornado warning, most won't be hit -- but if you try to narrow it down, you find that the tornado jumps out of the warned area, and people who are not warned get hit.

One of the most controversial situations like this was the 1990 Plainfield Tornado, the only F5 tornado to hit the extended Chicagoland area. At the time, the Chicago NWS office (NWS KLOT) was responsible for the entire state of Illinois, as well as parts of IN and WI. The storm system was very large, and the forecasters were overwhelmed. There never was a tornado warning issued. There were severe thunderstorm warnings issued -- but they weren't getting spotter reports processes fast enough, and the first warning happened almost an hour *after* the first tornado had touched down. Being 1990, the WSR-88D (NEXRAD) radar network was in its infancy, the first prototype unit wouldn't be online until two months later, in Norman, OK.

The end result was that Plainfield was hit with absolutely no warning. 29 died, over 300 injured.

After this, there was a lot of thinking about warnings. First, it was obvious that NWS Chicago was overloaded, and in looking, it was obvious that a number of other midwestern offices were as well. So, warning areas for NWS Quad Cities (KDVN), St. Louis (KLSX), Indianapolis (KIND) and Paducah (KVWX) were extend into nearby Illinois areas and NWS Central Illinois (KILX) was created in Romeoville, IL, thus reducing the load on KILX.

Finally, however, the NWS warning slant changed -- esp. with the discover that the new WSR-88D could see areas of rapid, focused rotation and automatically flag them on the radar. Thus, the warning now goes out on the suspicion of a tornado. NWS estimates about 25% of the warnings it issues are for nascent tornadoes that don't form. They're good with that.

Indeed, they're so good with that they they've had to warn forecasters after the new dual polarization upgrade to the WSR-88D, currently underway. Dual Pol sends out two signals, one horizontally polarized, one vertically. This gives much more information about precipitation types, because it can, in effect, measure the size of precip in two dimensions. One of the tools they use is to compare the size in both. If they're close to the same, it means you're looking at round precipitation, if not, then oblong or random.

Tornado debris from a strong tornado shows up as an area of *very* low correlation. So, if there's a hook echo on the reflectivity scan, a strong gradient on the velocity scan, and very low correlation coefficient in the same spot, what you are seeing is a tornado on the ground throwing debris far into the air.

The problem: If you wait for this to issue a warning, then lead time of that tornado warning is 0 minutes. Worse, since it takes time to spin the radar, it's less than zero. So, the rule is to warn as before -- if the radar flags a TVS, look for obvious error, if not, issue the warning, then look for further evidence, and if you see a debris ball, use that to focus and enhance the warning.

But get the warning out. Even five minutes can save a lot of lives.
posted by eriko at 7:56 AM on April 14, 2012 [29 favorites]


A few weeks ago, tornadoes damn near wiped West Liberty and Salyersville off the map of KY, and Henryville and Maryville were similarly flattened in IN. The thing that kept coming up here was that people living in mobile homes are better off going outside and lying down in a ditch or getting into a parked car than staying inside when there's a tornado.
posted by dilettante at 8:00 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


First Mesoscale Discussion is out (MD 521). Mesoscale discussion are messages to forecasters that there is an area of concern worth watching. They often lead to later watches -- in this case, they're expecting to be issuing a tornado watch later.

The area of concern is roughly western Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle and far west, and North Texas near the panhandle.

I am, at best, an amateur meteorologist, but looking at a few things -- moisture transport and wind shear, it's pretty much a classic setup. Lots of moisture, more being brought in from the south, and strong wind shear between the 800mb and 500mb levels.

If you are in or near this area, keep your eyes open.
posted by eriko at 8:07 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


people living in mobile homes are better off going outside and lying down in a ditch or getting into a parked car

Far better the former. The thing that most often kills in tornadoes is getting hit by something flying in the air. Winds speeds are lower closer to the ground, due to friction. Getting into a ditch basically means you get the lowest wind speeds and there's no fetch for something to be picked up and thrown at you, except for along the ditch itself.

A car is better than a trailer home -- it's stronger, and has less surface area, but don't think a car is safe. This is what happens when a car meets F5 winds.
posted by eriko at 8:12 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems that because a tornado siren sounds so frequently in Spring around these parts, they are taken less seriously than they would be elsewhere. We're sort of desensitized to them, as this study by CBS shows...

They're testing new warnings with phrases like "mass devastation" and "catastrophic" in Missouri and Kansas because of this. Of course a few tornado seasons later people will probably be desensitized to those too.
posted by waterlily at 8:14 AM on April 14, 2012


A lot of people...tend to have this weird macho thing about weather because we're in the sweet spot for getting severe winter AND summer weather, which gets people cocky because they confuse luck with toughness.

Except for getting hit by a tornado / not getting hit by a tornado, luck has little to do with coping with or even surviving the kind of weather you get in the middle of the country. Whether or not knowing that a ligthtweight coat, no hat or gloves and tennis shoes is insufficient for -10° weather or that standing under a big tree on a hill is not a good idea during a thunder storm is equal to toughness, well, that's another matter.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:20 AM on April 14, 2012


holy crap eriko. that picture is insane. as terrifying as it sounds, i guess i'd rather be in a ditch and pee myself while scared than end up wrapped around a tree in my car. that was not what i was expecting to see when i clicked on that link.
posted by sio42 at 8:46 AM on April 14, 2012


Oh boy, I'm like...right in the center of that huge red blob. Pretty sure I'm the only mefite in central KS right now. huh.
posted by hellojed at 8:47 AM on April 14, 2012


Yeah, I'm in Kansas, but tucked up in the NW corner, so out of the mapped region. Crossing my fingers.
posted by rewil at 8:55 AM on April 14, 2012


We are just on the outer edge (but within!) the purple bullseye of doom and as the roofers finished installing our new roof 30 min ago, I can pretty much guarantee we will be hit. Now we are debating whether we should sleep in the basement, to avoid having to wake and move the baby in case of tornadoes over night. Ugh.
posted by girl scientist at 9:02 AM on April 14, 2012


Here's part of the forecast for Oklahoma City airport: TEMPO 1501/1504 VRB50KT 1/2SM +TSRA OVC020CB. That says "variable winds at 50 knots". 55 mph winds coming, oh, from every direction.
posted by Nelson at 9:03 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Defenestrator, you're right about seeing people run to storm cellars in "old" movies. generally really old homesteads in the country, and i'm talking 1800s here, would have a storm cellar. my great-grandparents had one, which they also used to store preserves. i remember on a willa cather tour i took as a kid a few of the old homes had them as well. i doubt they're built at all anymore, much less used, but everyone has basements. i imagine a lot of those old cellars are forgotten or collapsed by now.
posted by camdan at 9:05 AM on April 14, 2012


Eriko, I was on the 20th floor of Oakbrook Terrace Tower during the Plainfield twister. It was truly freaky awful.
posted by jeanmari at 9:08 AM on April 14, 2012


First watch up...WT165

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 165
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1045 AM CDT SAT APR 14 2012

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

CENTRAL KANSAS
NORTHWEST OKLAHOMA

EFFECTIVE THIS SATURDAY MORNING AND EVENING FROM 1045 AM UNTIL
600 PM CDT.

...THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION...

DESTRUCTIVE TORNADOES...LARGE HAIL TO 4 INCHES IN DIAMETER...
THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 80 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE
POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS...

(emphasis *not* mine -- on the web page, that slug is colored red)
posted by eriko at 9:11 AM on April 14, 2012


So the bullseye has moved around a bit and the purple zone of sudden death has expanded. My minuscule town is now firmly inside. No more complacency about being merely in the medium level of doom, it's now high.

Feh. I miss living in the desert. No humidity, no tornadoes.
posted by honestcoyote at 9:12 AM on April 14, 2012


i'm in lincoln, i will say everyone's remarkably chill here. i went to ace this morning to buy a tarp and some rope, i figured there would be a run on everything, that was not the case.
posted by camdan at 9:28 AM on April 14, 2012


How to detect tornados on radar explains the basics of the hook echo and the TVS.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:36 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in Lincoln as well. Getting some heavy rain, and loud lightning and thunder. As far as I know, nothing worse than that yet. Wheee!
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 10:33 AM on April 14, 2012


Where can I go to monitor this situation? Is there a NWS page that has real-time updates about developments of cells and storms? My parents are flying from Cedar Rapids to Denver, their plane is literally taking off in a half an hour, and I want to keep tabs on what the air is doing since that's where the plane goes.
posted by KathrynT at 10:45 AM on April 14, 2012


On a lighter note, remember that when reporting on hail, always use sports equipment analogies to describe the size:

I demand an immediate shift to the use of animals. "Hail the size of mice-heads to squirrel-heads!"
posted by gjc at 10:48 AM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Eriko, I was on the 20th floor of Oakbrook Terrace Tower during the Plainfield twister. It was truly freaky awful.

The largest building in Illinois, outside of Cook County. There was a late summer storm last year that I drove around and through (up 294 and then out on 290), and I actually commented to myself that it must have been spectacularly terrifying to witness from that building. It was one of the most well-formed and disturbingly beautiful anvil type storm cells I've ever seen.
posted by gjc at 10:52 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


KathrynT: You want to look at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/crh/ You can click on the map to get taken to the local radar sites for more details
posted by thewalledcity at 10:59 AM on April 14, 2012


I'm also in Lincoln, nothing too bad yet, was pouring for 15-20 minutes, now just rain.
posted by thewalledcity at 11:00 AM on April 14, 2012


I used to wonder why every home in my area didn't have a storm cellar, too, until I saw one. Then I learned that the problem with building storm cellars is the classic one of drainage, as well as critter infestation (scorpions and snakes LOVE dark, damp, mostly-unused holes in the ground). In the old days they had another use as cool food storage, but that no longer applies.

Our home is old, so we don't have a reinforced tornado room or anything, but we do have an interior bathroom that is our go-to. I have to wonder if it's really much protection if a big one hits us, but there's not a hell of a lot we can do about it.

We're not in the path this time, hope all of you north of us are safe.
posted by emjaybee at 11:06 AM on April 14, 2012


KathrynT: go to radar.weather.gov, click the dot for the radar near where you are curious about and then look at the radar images for it. Reflectivity is the amount of precipitation in the air, velocity is the wind speed. But don't worry, airports have really good radar these days, and won't fly where there is the potential for wind shear.

Last year or so, I got a frantic call from a family member because a tornado warning was issued for an area where another older family member lives, and he wasn't answering his phone. The television news wasn't being terribly helpful. I fired up the above and was able to track the tornado and reassure the family member that the tornado was going to pass at least 500 yards north of the person's house.

(Here is an animated gif I made afterwards of screenshots of the zoomed in velocity screen. The MIA family member lives approx on the grey line above the 5 in 57. Everyone was fine.)
posted by gjc at 11:10 AM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to wonder if it's really much protection if a big one hits us, but there's not a hell of a lot we can do about it.

Just being protected from flying debris is half the battle. Another quarter is not being somewhere where the air can get under you and create lift. So inside a bathtub on a slab is pretty darn safe.

If I lived in such an area and didn't have a storm cellar, and didn't trust my bathroom, I'd probably dig a trench and cover it with a steel plate. I'd also be tempted to build a concrete bunker with plexiglass windows or some of those vee shaped holes like they have in castles. If I have to ride out a tornado, I damn well want to see the fucker.

(But I've got a touch of claustrophobia. The idea of surviving a bad storm, but then be trapped under a house for 36 hours gives me the willies. I'd rather lash myself to a tree. Almost.)
posted by gjc at 11:24 AM on April 14, 2012


Then I learned that the problem with building storm cellars is the classic one of drainage, as well as critter infestation (scorpions and snakes LOVE dark, damp, mostly-unused holes in the ground.

Right. My family had the only storm cellar on our street growing up, the classic budget concrete slab model. In the off-season, my dad would use it to store bales of old newspapers (against the day he might someday need a bale of old newspapers). You didn't get a huge drainage problem with the sold concrete walls, but it was always clammy and dank with condensation and spiders would come in through the air vents. When the storms came, you'd go out to that little six-person hole and sit on cold bare concrete, shooing away spiders and waiting till the adults thought it might be safe to come out. I am still not a particular fan of the smell of damp newsprint.
posted by ormondsacker at 12:18 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some current radar and warning images, via Capital Weather Gang:
Line of dangerous storms prediction through 8 am tomorrow
Wide view of current radar, relevant for next few hours
Warnings include "High" risk of every possible thing; rare to see that
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:19 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, we're getting going early. Right now, one of the most classic TVS I've ever seen is just NE of Dodge City, KS, and there's another (not as perfectly formed, because it's trailing the radar, not leading) too the south. The Northerly one looks to be passing between Jetmore and Spearville, KS, heading NW. The southern one (easier to see via hook-echo on reflectivity, rather than TVS on velocity) is between Minneola, KS and Ashland, KS, also heading NE, towards (fuck, I do not believe I am typing these words) Greensburg, KS. I think it'll pass NW of there, by Bucklin and Mullinville KS, but that's a town I really don't want to see in the line of a tornado.

Further north, there's another TVS near Beloit, KS, however, it's very large -- which either indicates a massive wedge tornado or merely large core circulation in the storm. Unfortunately, it's about the same distance away from multiple radars, so there's nothing more there. Tornado warning is up.

There's another nasty cell in SW Iowa, SE of Omaha, NE. Looks like they just popped a tornado warning there as well -- Imogene, IA looks like one core and a possible TVS, another core is to the N of that, closer to Red Oak. Insanly high reflectivity, which almost always means large hail -- to get that high with just rain implies foot-an-hour rainfall rate.

Lots of other storms across the whole area.
posted by eriko at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


They just updated the tornado warnings for the two storms near Dodge City, KS -- both have confirmed, large tornados.
posted by eriko at 12:28 PM on April 14, 2012


lincoln hasn't been raining for an hour or so, at least not noticeably.
posted by camdan at 12:31 PM on April 14, 2012


My parents are flying from Cedar Rapids to Denver, their plane is literally taking off in a half an hour, and I want to keep tabs on what the air is doing since that's where the plane goes.

Yes, but that in many ways is a good thing.

1) Planes are a *lot* faster than cars. So, they can run away from storms.

2) Planes aren't bogged down by silly concepts like "roads", so they can run in any direction they need to...

3) ...including up.

Note, you can track flights on FlightAware.com. Looking at flights between KCDI and KDEN (can you say...United?) I see one in the air, and it appears to be flying a northern end-around the storm -- judging by the normal routing we see on previous flights. It might be bumpy for a bit there, but it will be fine.

If it's a later flight, it may be delayed as the storms approach Cedar Rapids. But, in general, the airlines have a real simple plan about thunderstorms -- fly around them. And, if they can't, you get delayed.
posted by eriko at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christ, you can really see the hook echoes on the radar images at weather.gov.
posted by Existential Dread at 12:51 PM on April 14, 2012


eriko, it turns out United actually has a flight tracker on their web site that displays the path of the plane along with weather systems. I watched them shoot through the band of green, giving seriously wide berth to two major storm centers. I bet it was bumpy as hell, but the flight was only delayed 12 minutes and it looks like it's about ready to land in Denver.

I'm extra jittery because my one-year-old was up vomiting all night and I've had next to no sleep. I've actually taken a flight that was threading the needle on some pretty intense weather patterns; crazy turbulence, and you could look out the window and see the giant updrafts punching through the cloud layers. The flight took twice as long as it normally does because of the tricky flying, and one gentleman (I use the term loosely) was bitching about it to the stewardess, "Doesn't the pilot know how to fly a damn plane?!" etc. I leaned over and said "Look, sir. Look out the goddamn window. Think about the fact that those cloud towers are miles high, and think about the winds that it takes to make a structure like that. You know there are tornadoes underneath us, use some goddamn sense." So really, if I give it an ounce of thought, I know that everything is likely to be fine. I just worry because that's how I roll.
posted by KathrynT at 1:39 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


eriko: " This is what happens when a car meets F5 winds."

Thankfully, most tornadoes, even on outbreak days, are not EF5s or even EF3s. And you can always get whacked on the head with flying debris. That doesn't even require a tornado. Simple 70-80mph thunderstorm gusts (aka straight line winds) will do that.

KathrynT, just so you know, the plane itself also has its own weather radar that the pilots use to help them avoid nasty weather phenomena. Also, being at 30,000 feet means you've got a long time to figure out how to recover if you suddenly find yourself falling out of the sky. OK, maybe that wasn't the best way to put it, but barring a wing getting torn off, severe weather is generally only an issue for aircraft when they are near the ground.
posted by wierdo at 2:37 PM on April 14, 2012


always use sports equipment analogies

I am currently seeing ant to scarab beetle head sized usage of the term 'baseball sized' on https://twitter.com/#!/wunderground.

The comments on http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2071#commenttop are worth a watch.
posted by titus-g at 3:21 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It'd be great if The Weather Channel didn't play the theme music from Saw when announcing that the midwest has a "Tor Factor" of 9
posted by hellojed at 3:37 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that Wunderground link is full of great specific comments. Right now they are watching and commenting on what appears to be a live feed from a storm chaser following a monster tornado on the ground in KS (pic at comment 1417 in that thread)

population density map of Kansas, from Wikipedia
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:08 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is something a little "Death Race 2000" about some of those storm chaser guys.
posted by gjc at 4:17 PM on April 14, 2012


The big tornado they were watching is tracking close to Salina, KS now. (I'm sure anyone who's in the warned zone is tuned into more timely sources of info than this thread but still.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:33 PM on April 14, 2012


Looks like the tornado near Salina lifted off the ground as it got close to the main city. Debris was spotted falling around some of the smaller communities in the area.
posted by Science! at 4:45 PM on April 14, 2012


On my cell so hard to link but at radioreference.com look for ks0lnk which is a ham repeater carrying live reports from several spotters in Kansas. So far so good. Lots of KS towns getting lucky with near misses today.
posted by honestcoyote at 5:05 PM on April 14, 2012


It's been a pretty good day so far, in that the supercells developed a tad west of the original thinking. In Oklahoma and Kansas, that tad west means incredibly low population density compared to central and eastern parts of the two states.

It'll be interesting to see how things develop over the next few hours. The main concern for much of the area was how things will take shape around 11PM-5AM overnight. We may end up with "only" a nasty squall line or we may get some tornadic supercells out ahead of it. (squall line tornadoes are rarely very strong, but they are much less predictable than the ones spawned by supercells) Unfortunately, conditions are forecast to be quite favorable for all sorts of severe weather overnight.
posted by wierdo at 5:35 PM on April 14, 2012


Salina's all clear. for about 45 minutes it was looking like something was going to hit us. At one point they estimated the tornado was 1/4th a mile wide with lots of debris and damage potential. It looks like it touched down at the airport west of town, and then lifted over most of the town. Entire state's pot-marked with supercells right now, so there might be another one tonight.
posted by hellojed at 5:36 PM on April 14, 2012


Almost a dozen funnels spotted since this morning. If you click on the tornado spotters cars you will see live streaming.
posted by francesca too at 5:54 PM on April 14, 2012


Comments 1771 and following in the Jeff Masters blog comments linked above are now discussing whether the large tornado near Greensburg KS is an F5; one commenter says it has wind speeds of nearly 300 knots.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:04 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And another, different very large one approaching Wichita.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:19 PM on April 14, 2012


Yeah, this Wichita thing's looking crazy scary.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:37 PM on April 14, 2012


The tornado emergency bulletin NWS just issued for Wichita includes:

THIS IS A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION. YOU COULD BE KILLED IF
NOT UNDERGROUND OR IN A TORNADO SHELTER. COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION OF ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOODS IS LIKELY. MANY WELL
BUILT HOMES AND BUSINESSES WILL BE COMPLETELY SWEPT FROM
THEIR FOUNDATIONS. DEBRIS WILL BLOCK MOST ROADWAYS. MASS
DEVASTATION IS HIGHLY LIKELY MAKING THE AREA UNRECOGNIZABLE
TO SURVIVORS.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:41 PM on April 14, 2012


Jesus.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:43 PM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Check that - I think that warning was part of the one issues for Conway Springs KS just now. Still, NWS not fooling around with the stronger wordings.

I'm having a hard time distinguishing excitable amateurs from reliable reporters in the Jeff Masters blog thread, but some of them are reporting the Wichita tornado was 1.75 mi diameter, possibly now two tornadoes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:46 PM on April 14, 2012


Live reporting from Wichita.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:52 PM on April 14, 2012


The live reporters in Wichita are saying it's a 0.5 mi wide tornado, and the Conway Springs warning seems to be the same storm.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:54 PM on April 14, 2012


I think that Wichita storm is the same one that sprouted a bunch of tornados in NW Oklahoma earlier this evening. Be careful if you're in its path.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:02 PM on April 14, 2012


KSN weather forecaster just told all non-essential staff to go to shelter...while on TV. I hope the signal doesn't cut out, because that'll be just really fucking eeire.
posted by hellojed at 8:11 PM on April 14, 2012


Man, the live Wichita report is gripping stuff. "We know how many steps it takes to get the shelter." A large tornado is currently moving into the city of Wichita.
posted by stbalbach at 8:11 PM on April 14, 2012


We have a PDS tornado warning for Wichita and Lyon,KS.

This is ugly.
posted by eriko at 8:11 PM on April 14, 2012


I remember working at the newspaper in Lawrence the night a smaller tornado hit the south side of town. We were all going about our business until the meteorologists ran in from the tv station across the street and yelled at everyone to go to the basement.
posted by rewil at 8:14 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Power flashes in SW Wichita.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:15 PM on April 14, 2012


SWAT Chasers is reporting power flashes in Wichita. This is incredible watching live storm chaser feeds from francesca's feed above.
posted by stbalbach at 8:15 PM on April 14, 2012


The one in Lyons looks like it's heading our way. None of the stations are covering it since the one in witchia is bigger.

South western part of my county just got a tornado warning. I'm worried because it's night and spotter's can see damage or how big the funnel is.
posted by hellojed at 8:16 PM on April 14, 2012


Wow, KSN evacuated everyone from the studio except 3 people.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:22 PM on April 14, 2012


Been tracking the storm's using the wind sheer radar from NOAA .

Christ, time for more burbon
posted by hellojed at 8:23 PM on April 14, 2012


The SWAT Chasers are currently in the middle the tornado with flying stuff hitting the car.
posted by stbalbach at 8:27 PM on April 14, 2012


Gah, some of those people in the Weather Underground blog comments are just creepily giddy about this thing.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:28 PM on April 14, 2012


Jesus god. This is awful.
posted by rtha at 8:29 PM on April 14, 2012


NWS has issued a Tornado Warning now for Wichita. KSN described the tornado as large and brutal.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:29 PM on April 14, 2012


Andover looks like it's in the path now. Shades of 1991.
posted by rewil at 8:37 PM on April 14, 2012


I'm not familiar with Wichita, did the most densely populated parts just dodge a bullet when it started heading up I-35?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:37 PM on April 14, 2012


It's amazing that you can drive into the middle massive thunderstorm and stream relatively high quality video with a perfectly audible voice over at the same time.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:40 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


My father is a long-range trucker (we live in Ontario) and he was driving to Texas today. Very happy to hear he's just left the warning zone safe and sound.
posted by heatherann at 8:42 PM on April 14, 2012


Ahh, there we go, 2nd tornado warning for Salina. Sirens should start up again.
posted by hellojed at 8:43 PM on April 14, 2012


Yeah, the Turnpike runs south and east of the main section of town.
posted by rewil at 8:43 PM on April 14, 2012


CNN is saying lots of damage at an around Wichita airport.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:46 PM on April 14, 2012


Stay safe, hellojed.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:47 PM on April 14, 2012


Stay safe, hellojed.

Yes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:52 PM on April 14, 2012


some of those people in the Weather Underground blog comments are just creepily giddy about this thing.

agree with this - trying to read around them because there are a few people in there who seem to know what they're talking about, but yes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:53 PM on April 14, 2012


Oh yeah, other than those few, that thread's got the best up to date analysis I can find since there are eyes on basically every storm in the midwest posting there.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:57 PM on April 14, 2012


Grah, satilite readouts are inconsistant. Some are indicating a "hook" that indicates a lot of rotation consistant with a tornado, and other's aren't. Looks like there's a tornado in the cell that's right behind the one going through right now. All we're getting is hail right now, 1st (2nd?) tornado swung south.
posted by hellojed at 8:57 PM on April 14, 2012


Twitter feed for Spotter Network
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:57 PM on April 14, 2012


Yes, hellojed - people in the Weather Underground thread are speculating about that second storm that might be headed for you. Don't go to bed yet.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:01 PM on April 14, 2012


Over 100 tornadoes reported today. Wow.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:05 PM on April 14, 2012


Wichita emergency response is currently untertaking initial assessments of the area. Reports are just coming in now.
posted by rollbiz at 9:14 PM on April 14, 2012


We got some pretty substantial hail a few minutes ago. Now it's just raining with the sirens.

KSN had a field report and showed some damage, a collapsed garage so far.
posted by hellojed at 9:16 PM on April 14, 2012


Should have mentioned this earlier. #ksstorms and #kswx are at least interesting and sometimes useful.

Some early reports from Wichita aren't sounding good at all. A trailer park may have been wiped out.
posted by honestcoyote at 9:19 PM on April 14, 2012


Also: weather channel needs to reconsider music choices for "Local on the 8's" in areas with Tornado warnings.
posted by hellojed at 9:21 PM on April 14, 2012


(Please note that I do not know the area and am relaying significant sounding scanner reports. If I say something that sounds stupid to a local, that's why):

-Highway access to EOC (9th Street on "the freeway") is blocked, due to flooding.

-Checking mobile homes, area of Hawker Beechcraft. Reports of damages/possible "collapses".

-Sounds like east and south sides of Wichita are the most affected.

-Damage on East Funston, includes a car with an entrapped passenger due to debris.

-North of Central on Washington not passable, EMS cannot find a way to access St. Francis.

-Dickinson Cty. confirms a tornado touchdown a few miles out of Solomon.
posted by rollbiz at 9:26 PM on April 14, 2012


As I am mapping the worst hotspots for damage reports in Wichita so far, they seem to run roughly ENE from west of McConnell AFB (around I-35/135 interchange).
posted by rollbiz at 9:38 PM on April 14, 2012


47th and Clifton is a hotspot, which I believe is the trailer park mentioned by honestcoyote above. Command post being set up. Mass casualty response.
posted by rollbiz at 9:41 PM on April 14, 2012


Pinaire is the name of the mobile home park.
posted by rollbiz at 9:43 PM on April 14, 2012


rollbiz: "As I am mapping the worst hotspots for damage reports in Wichita so far, they seem to run roughly ENE from west of McConnell AFB (around I-35/135 interchange)."

That corresponds closely to what the radar was showing as the storm passed Wichita.
posted by wierdo at 9:44 PM on April 14, 2012


Tornado just popped up northwest of Lincoln, NE, but is heading northeast so hopefully they're safe. What worries me is this stuff tracking towards Omaha as the night goes on.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:44 PM on April 14, 2012


Er. Tornado not confirmed near Lincoln? It's a warning, though.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:47 PM on April 14, 2012


That Salina storm still looks ugly on Radarsope.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:49 PM on April 14, 2012


Yeah, third tornado is heading this way, east of Brookville. Confirmed on the ground too. This is gettin pretty old.
posted by hellojed at 9:49 PM on April 14, 2012


I'm in VA and I want to hide in the bathroom, on the floor, under a blanket (tornadoes are fucking terrifying)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:52 PM on April 14, 2012


Ugh, sorry.

-Fuselage from Spirit Aero-

-Injured from Pinaire trailer park-

-"Quiet, I hear a voice"-
posted by rollbiz at 9:53 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tornado warning in northwest Texas now.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:02 PM on April 14, 2012


sirens went off twice in lincoln. i want to go to SLEEP
posted by camdan at 10:11 PM on April 14, 2012


The streets in south witchita are apparently bumper to bumper with people looking at damage
posted by hellojed at 10:11 PM on April 14, 2012


Latest warning for Salina just expired. Looks like the rest of it is just squall lines and rain. I'm going to bed. Goodnight metafilter
posted by hellojed at 10:24 PM on April 14, 2012


Yikes, there's a tornado in Woodward, OK and they are having trouble sounding the sirens.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:25 PM on April 14, 2012


Glad you're safe hellojed!
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:25 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sounds like Woodward was hit bad.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:35 PM on April 14, 2012


Yes, the local news is reporting at least one apartment complex was hit and there are people trapped in their homes.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:36 PM on April 14, 2012


This sucks; the main line of the storms is still to the west of Woodward, so even though the circulation has passed, the rescuers are going to get hit with high winds and possibly hail.
KWTV is reporting it was a 1/4 mile wide tornado.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:40 PM on April 14, 2012


Live Streaming coverage from Oklahoma City, OK
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:45 PM on April 14, 2012


They showed video on KOCO with a lightning shot that lit up the Woodward tornado; it looked horrifying.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:48 PM on April 14, 2012


I think this is probably the video.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:50 PM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's it. Night tornados are a special form of hell.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:53 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


NYTimes: Tornadoes and Storms Hit Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:31 PM on April 14, 2012


That's it. Night tornados are a special form of hell.
Yes, this. It's one of the reasons that the southern states often have terrible fatality rates (in comparison to the Plains), because the tornadoes in those areas often form at night.

Tonight was Woodward High's prom. KOCO is reporting that the kids are safe though, so that's a relief.

One thing we look at to get an idea of wind shear (which causes storms to rotate and produce tornadoes) is a parameter called Storm Relative Helicity. Looking at that parameter in the lowest 3 km of the atmosphere, 250 meters squared per second squared is favorable for tornadoes. Tonight, there is a large area of 500-800 m^2/s^2. Uggh.

The current tornado watch that stretched from northwestern Oklahoma up to the Kansas-Nebraska border, expires at 2 AM. The Storm Prediction Center just reissued it, reconfiguring the counties a bit so it now goes from southwestern Oklahoma up through Kansas and into far northwestern Missouri. Until 6 AM CDT. It's going to be a very long night.
posted by weathergal at 11:55 PM on April 14, 2012


brief recap of today, new comment thread at WUnderground
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:12 AM on April 15, 2012


Ugh. 4 fatalities reported in the Woodward area so far. Hopefully the numbers don't go higher, given that the sirens never went off.
posted by wierdo at 12:26 AM on April 15, 2012


I recommend Intellicast.com which has excellent regional radar loops and other great maps. As of 2:30AM, it looks like the Kansas supercell is headed northeast, to eastern Iowa. I hope the night took a lot of energy out of it, it's going to hit me in a few hours.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:39 AM on April 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Forecast vs. "hindcast" for Saturday's storms.

Not bad.
posted by rewil at 2:14 PM on April 16, 2012


Indeed. Amazingly, there were weather weenies on weather weenie forums who were complaining about a "bust" at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. It was even more ridiculous than usual.
posted by wierdo at 2:53 PM on April 16, 2012


« Older Each bite brought a delicate balance between pleas...  |  One hundred years ago, a netwo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments