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This is Getting Repetitive
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 09:36
20110419_severeThe death toll from last weeks' severe weather outbreak has grown to at least 45. The storm continued across the south and dealt its worst blow to North Carolina. As of today, 25 tornadoes have been confirmed, with five of those being EF3. Many of the tornadoes were long tracked causing damage across wide areas, and prompting over 100 reports. At first, it seemed like the number of tornadoes might have been much higher, but NWS investigations showed that many of the damage reports came from the same tornadoes.

A small part of the east coast, mostly parts of North Carolina and small adjacent areas, was upgraded to a High risk for severe weather last Saturday. I can't be sure, but I think that is the first instance of a High risk this year.

Another potential severe weather outbreak is in store today. Much of Indiana, parts of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, most of Arkansas, and a small section of eastern Oklahoma are in a Moderate area for severe weather as of the 7:30 a.m. Outlook update. Once again, we have a front row seat. Local weather forecasts have us pretty much riding the rail between a moderate and slight risk. The local Forecast Discussion has the terminator between severe and not-so-severe exactly one community to our south. We're most likely to see severe hail, but we're also in the fifteen-percent wind area, and within the two to five-percent area for tornadoes. And, again, a PSWO has been issued. Full text below.

20110413_LOT_anybriefSomewhere along the way I lost a post. The Chicago NWS Office posted a multimedia discussion explaining why we didn't get a more widespread severe outbreak on April 10. Although Wisconsin did get hammered with a record (or near record) tornado outbreak, the severe weather for northern Illinois never really happened. I wanted to post the briefing because it provides an interesting insight into how forecasts evolve and how meteorologists think. If you don't care to watch the briefing, I'll sum up: Weather is really really hard to forecast, all the ingredients have to be just right, and while some might say the meteorologists goofed it, it's more apt to say we dodged a bullet. Personally, I'd rather have a forecast for severe weather when none materializes than the other way around.
PUBLIC SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK 
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0437 AM CDT TUE APR 19 2011

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS EXPECTED OVER PARTS OF THE OZARKS...THE LOWER AND MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI VALLEYS...AND THE LOWER OHIO VALLEY LATER TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT...

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF TORNADOES...DAMAGING WINDS...AND LARGE HAIL FROM THE OZARKS INTO PARTS OF MISSISSIPPI AND LOWER OHIO VALLEYS LATER TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT.

THE AREAS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACTIVITY INCLUDE

NORTHERN AND WESTERN ARKANSAS
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN INDIANA
WESTERN AND NORTHERN KENTUCKY
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN MISSOURI
WESTERN OHIO
EASTERN OKLAHOMA
NORTHWEST TENNESSEE

ELSEWHERE...SURROUNDING THE AREA OF GREATEST RISK...SEVERE STORMS ALSO MAY OCCUR FROM EASTERN PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHERN PLAINS NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE LOWER GREAT LAKES

A POTENT JET STREAM DISTURBANCE NOW OVER THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES WILL CONTINUE EAST ACROSS THE SOUTHERN PLAINS TODAY...BEFORE TURNING NORTHEAST ACROSS THE MID MISSISSIPPI AND LOWER OHIO VALLEYS TONIGHT AND EARLY WEDNESDAY. AT THE SAME TIME...AN ATTENDANT SURFACE LOW AND COLD FRONT WILL TRACK FROM SOUTHEAST KANSAS THIS MORNING TO NORTHERN OHIO BY DAWN WEDNESDAY.

AHEAD OF THE LOW...A BROAD CURRENT OF WARM...SOUTHERLY FLOW ALREADY IN PLACE OVER THE SOUTH CENTRAL STATES WILL STRENGTHEN AND SPREAD MOISTURE EAST-NORTHEAST ACROSS THE OHIO VALLEY...BENEATH FAST SOUTHWESTERLY JET STREAM WINDS.

AS THE JET STREAM IMPULSE AND SURFACE LOW CONTINUE EASTWARD...AND AS DAYTIME HEATING FURTHER DESTABILIZES THE REGION...POWERFUL THUNDERSTORMS APPEAR LIKELY THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING ALONG AND AHEAD OF THE COLD FRONT...AND AHEAD OF THE SURFACE LOW.

CONDITIONS INITIALLY WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR INDIVIDUAL SUPERCELL STORMS WITH TORNADOES...LARGE HAIL...AND DAMAGING WINDS. WITH TIME...HOWEVER...THE STORMS SHOULD MERGE INTO EXTENSIVE BAND OR INTO SEVERAL LARGE CLUSTERS. THESE COULD PRODUCE MORE WIDESPREAD WIND DAMAGE...IN ADDITION TO A CONTINUING RISK FOR ISOLATEDTORNADOES AND HAIL...THROUGH EARLY WEDNESDAY.
 
More Moderate and PSWO
Friday, 15 April 2011 12:30
The south has been, and will continue to be, hammered by severe weather lately. Moderate risk areas have been delineated on the Severe Outlook maps for several days. The mid-day Second Day Outlook update just increased a slight area to moderate for tomorrow. Today is at least the second day in a row that the NWS has issued PSWOs.

The latest reports state that at least nine people died overnight in severe storms that struck parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas. The severe weather is continuing east today with tornadoes and severe hail and wind in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama so far.

We are under a Wind Advisory until 9:00 p.m. tonight. High winds are expected to continue throughout the day tomorrow. We are expecting rain and possible embedded thunderstorms tonight, but fortunately the mention of severe weather has disappeared from the forecast for our area.

The forecast continues to be typical April, with temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s. Chances for rain and thunderstorms return Monday night into Tuesday along with a warm up into the mid 70s.
 
More Moderate
Monday, 11 April 2011 11:29
The "doom and gloom" scenario fortunately never materialized... for us. I haven't seen too much about the storms last night, which is probably a good thing. At least one significant tornado tore through parts of Wisconsin causing some major damage.

Early in the day a Tornado Watch was issued for small parts of Iowa, Minnesota, most of Wisconsin, and a small section of Michigan's UP. This watch was labeled a PDS - Particularly Dangerous Situation. The radar looked horrifying, with Storm and Tornado Warnings moving across Wisconsin. A few hours later, a Tornado Watch was issued for most of Illinois, ending just a couple of counties to our west. Storms initially struggled to take shape, but eventually a broken line of strong to severe storms formed and headed our way. A few warnings popped up, but I saw little in the way of storm reports. I fully expected a Mesoscale Discussion concerning our area, and it eventually arrived but not before the storms reached the end of the watch area. The MD suggested a watch was possible, but none was ever issued. A Special Weather Statement was issued for our county and town as the storms approached. They quickly passed with less than a quarter inch of rain and a few gusty winds. Fully AFTER the storms passed over, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for our county , including our town, and all counties to our south and east.

The storm system continued east overnight with a gradual die-down in intensity, but things are ramping up this morning. Almost the entire eastern half of the country, from Louisiana and Arkansas to Vermont and New Hampshire was in a slight area for severe storms this morning. Only Rhode Island and Florida are not at least partly in the slight designation. This morning's 11:30 a.m. Outlook Update upgraded parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky to a moderate area, making three days in a row when a moderate area for risk appeared on the Outlook maps, AND another PSWO was issued! There have been so many PSWOs issued this year that I have already lost track. I'm starting to wonder if the criteria for issuing a PSWO has changed recently. From my experience, it seems like the forecasters are being a bit liberal issuing these outlooks.

The forecast for the next few days calls for perfect early-spring weather, with seasonable temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Chances for rain and possibly thunderstorms return late in the week.
 
Will It or Won't It?
Sunday, 10 April 2011 09:37
20110410_severeWe are still expecting a possible severe threat later today, but according to this morning's forecast discussion, the threat appears significantly lower than it has in the past few days. Strong, possibly long-lived tornadoes are still possible over most of Wisconsin and small sections of Minnesota, Iowa, and northwest Illinois. The moderate area for severe weather has bounced around a bit, too. It originally was located over the Iowa-Illinois-Wisconsin intersection. Then, it moved a bit east to just over the Illinois-Indiana border. This morning's Outlook moved it a little north to encompass most of Wisconsin and quite a bit west to include only the far northwest corner of Illinois. The "doom and gloom" forecasts of the last few days have been replaced with "we still think it's going to be rough, but maybe not so bad" ways of thinking. Only time will tell. However, a Public Severe Weather Outlook has been issued, the full text of which is included below.

Along with the potential severe storms, we are expecting near record warmth with a forecast high of 87 degrees today, with strong southerly winds. The forecast discussion hinted at the possibility of a Wind Advisory, but none has been issued yet.

The Chicago NWS office also issued a report about the rarity of outlining a Moderate Risk for Severe Storms three days out. "Since 2000, only 9 Day 3 Moderate Risk outlooks have been issued since the SPC, which highlights just how rare this occurrence is." Read the report here.

After all the excitement later today, things should get much calmer with seasonable temperatures, slight chances for rain on Monday, and then a drying out period until later in the week when more rain is forecast.
PUBLIC SEVERE WEATHER OUTLOOK NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK 0413 AM CDT SUN APR 10 2011

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS EXPECTED OVER PARTS OF THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY FROM MID TO LATE AFTERNOON THROUGH EARLY THIS EVENING...
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A FEW STRONG TORNADOES OVER PARTS OF THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY FROM THE MID-LATE AFTERNOON INTO THE EARLY EVENING HOURS
THE AREAS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACTIVITY INCLUDE
NORTHEASTERN IOWA EXTREME NORTHWEST ILLINOIS WESTERN UPPER MICHIGAN SMALL PART OF EAST-CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA MUCH OF WISCONSIN
ELSEWHERE...SEVERE STORMS ARE ALSO POSSIBLE FROM THE CENTRAL AND UPPER GREAT LAKES REGION SOUTHWEST INTO THE EASTERN PARTS OF THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PLAINS.
...KEY WEATHER PLAYERS... A POTENT STORM SYSTEM OVER THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ROCKIES IS EXPECTED TO MOVE EAST INTO THE GREAT LAKES...MIDWEST AND PLAINS STATES THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT. AHEAD OF THIS FEATURE...WARM AND MOIST AIR WILL STREAM NORTHWARD AHEAD OF A COLD FRONT... RESULTING IN SEASONABLY STRONG INSTABILITY NEEDED TO SUPPORT SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS.
...TIMING... THUNDERSTORMS OBSERVED DURING THE PRE-DAWN HOURS FROM THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY INTO THE CENTRAL GREAT LAKES REGION WILL CONTINUE TO ADVANCE EAST-NORTHEAST THROUGH THE MORNING HOURS.
ATTENTION WILL THEN TURN TO A POTENTIALLY ACTIVE AFTERNOON AND EVENING ACROSS THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGION. AS MORNING CLOUDS DISSOLVE...THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WILL LIKELY DEVELOP FROM NORTHWEST WISCONSIN...EAST-CENTRAL/SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA AND NORTHEASTERN IOWA IN THE 200-400 PM PERIOD. THE STORMS WILL THEN DEVELOP/MOVE THROUGHOUT MUCH OF WISCONSIN...WESTERN UPPER MICHIGAN AND NORTHWESTERN ILLINOIS THROUGH EARLY EVENING.
...IMPACTS... MORNING THUNDERSTORMS COULD BRIEFLY ACHIEVE STRENGTH TO PRODUCE LARGE HAIL...BUT HIGHER-IMPACT SEVERE WEATHER WILL BE ASSOCIATED WITH AFTERNOON/EVENING STORMS.
THUNDERSTORMS THAT DEVELOP LATER TODAY WILL LIKELY GROW INTO SUPERCELLS WITH THREATS FOR A FEW STRONG TORNADOES...PARTICULARLY ACROSS THE MODERATE RISK AREA. ADDITIONALLY...VERY LARGE HAIL...GREATER THAN HEN EGG SIZE...WILL BE LIKELY ALONG WITH DAMAGING WIND GUSTS.
STATE AND LOCAL EMERGENCY MANAGERS ARE MONITORING THIS DEVELOPING SITUATION. THOSE IN THE THREATENED AREA ARE URGED TO REVIEW SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY RULES AND TO LISTEN TO RADIO...TELEVISION...AND NOAA WEATHER RADIO FOR POSSIBLE WATCHES...WARNINGS...AND STATEMENTS LATER TODAY.
 
Here It Comes
Saturday, 09 April 2011 09:08
20110409_day1otlk_1300For the past couple of days, reports have been discussing the potential for a "widespread and significant" severe event tomorrow night. Every report has been careful to state that any slight deviation from the expected situation could affect the location, time, and severity of the event. Three days out the confidence was enough to warrant a "moderate" risk area. The NWS even issued a special discussion on NOAA weather radio yesterday, two days before the expected severe weather. I've noticed special radio reports ON the day of expected severe weather, but I cannot remember ever noticing such a report TWO DAYS ahead of time.

20110409_day1otlk_1300Today we are nestled in between two separate areas of slight areas for severe weather. Currently, northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and western Wisconsin are in a moderate area, mostly for hail. The NWS actually has us just on the border of thunderstorm potential, but inside a five-percent area for severe weather. The Weather Channel has our location under the "red zone" for severe weather tonight. Most forecasts suggest that although storms are possible over the entire area all day, there is only a slight chance (twenty percent). Potential increases overnight, but mostly for areas to the north.

After the big event tomorrow evening/overnight, precipitation potential drops off until later in the week. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid 70s today, and reaching into the low 80s tomorrow before dropping back to more seasonal mid 50s to low 60s throughout the remainder of the week.
 
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