Massive severe weather outbreak clobbers the southeast

Over the past 24 hours, the southeastern US has been pummeled by a virulent area of low pressure that tapped into both the warmth and moisture of the southeast and the still wintry conditions found in the middle of the country. The tight circulation associated with the low brought tornadoes from Arkansas to Florida. In between, particularly in southern Mississippi and Georgia, they were tragic.

Tornadoes and other strong wind events have killed at least 18 people, most of them in Georgia, particularly near Valdosta. The first deadly tornado of the sequence went through the Hattiesburg area. A recent tweet from the Jackson NWS office highlights the pertinent information from this storm, in which 4 lost their lives.

The hardest hit area was Petal, which is just across the river from Hattiesburg.

In Georgia, the town of Adel sustained a great deal of damage, where 7 people were killed. The initiation of this activity today even looked ominous. I captured a radar signature from early this afternoon.

Thos isolated cells running west to east were all rotating, and would ultimately drop the tornado that would be fatal in Adel. The rest of the line would continue to produce discrete supercells throughout the rest of the day, verifying the SPC’s outlook, putting forth a “high risk” for severe weather.  Florida had never been placed in a high risk before today.

Another startling feature of this storm was just how far to the south supercells appeared. This is obviously an anecdote, but I can’t recall ever seeing supercells as far south as Orlando before. This is because the change in airmass is usually not as severe, thanks to the modifying impact of the surrounding ocean. Not today.  Storms are still raging across the southern portion of the state, and there have been severe reports as far down the Gulf Coast as Bradenton, where there was mobile home damage.

There remains a tornado watch, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Key West as storms continue across the tip of the peninsula. Severe warnings are presently out for West Palm, and winds of 50mph have already been reported in Fort Lauderdale, though those reports haven’t officially been logged by the SPC. Fortunately, this line of storms is the end of it, at least for a while. We do still have the entire spring to look forward to.

(Just before I pressed publish, the severe storms have lead to a warning for Key West, which is another thing I have never seen before)

Weather Wayback: The first taste of winter

Back in November, winter seemed a long way off, with a languid start to the season. The first taste we had of it at Victoria-Weather was with Anthony’s forecast for Idaho Falls, where the first real winter system was getting itself organized. There were a few flurries that developed in eastern Idaho and managed to spread east into the Plains. There was only a dusting early on Thursday the 17th, but the high temperatures both on Thursday and Friday demonstrated that real winter was still a couple of weeks off. Anthony’s forecast was indeed the best of the bunch. How are we doing since then this winter?
Actuals: Thursday, November 17th: Trace of snow, High 41, Low 18
Friday – High 40, Low 15

Grade: B-C

Little Rock, Arkansas to Lawton, Oklahoma

I would definitely say that this short road trip is best taken tomorrow than today, what with severe weather pummeling southern Arkansas tonight, with tornadoes south of Pine Bluff, near El Dorado. Our drive to the relatively calm Oklahoma will take about 6 hours while we cover 419 miles. The drive is not as the crow flies, which is so we can hop on the interstate and travel at a pace of 68.9mph  down I-40.

Low pressure presently causing severe weather in southern Arkansas won’t be getting much weaker overnight, and the center of circulation will track over the state through morning hours. Fortunately, by tomorrow morning the threat for severe storms will have moved on to the Carolinas, but heavy rain will be a strong possibility through Fort Smith, with some lighter showers continuing until we reach the Checotah exit in Oklahoma, just before we cross Lake Eufaula. Rain through central Oklahoma will take it’s time in exiting, but through Oklahoma City and on to Lawton, I suspect we will be in good shape.

Lawton, Oklahoma

Let’s keep this forecast train runnin’ with a trip to Oklahoma for another forecast. Oklahoma is often one of the more interesting places to forecast for. Will it live up to it’s reputation tonight?

At 1253AM, CT, Lawton was reporting clear skies with a temperature of 40 degrees.  The clear skies will hold until the early evening on Saturday. There is a virulent perturbation moving into the southeastern US that will bring some severe weather from Louisiana to Georgia. The broader upper trough will be shifting out of the Rockies and generating circulation in the lee of the mountains.
The emerging system will be stronger in a synoptic sense than the smaller one inflicting its wrath on Saturday, but it will really only come together after the center of circulation is on top of Lawton. Most of the rain and thunderstorms will develop in eastern Arkansas and spread east of the Mississippi. Rain showers will wrap around the circulation, leading to stratiform showers in Lawton, rather than heavier downpours or thunderstorms. The swiftly developing feature will move very quickly, with dry air returning to Lawton by Sunday afternoon, though this time, it will be much cooler.
Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, turning to overcast with showers late. High 69, Low 37
Sunday – Rain early, with sun returning in the afternoon, High 61, Low 42

TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 69, Low 37
Sunday – Sun and a few clouds with gusty winds. High 61, Low 44

AW: Tomorrow – Mild with intervals of clouds and sunshine High 66, Low 38
Sunday – Windy with clouds giving way to sun (early rain) High 60, Low 40

NWS: Tomorrow – Partly sunny, (Late rain and thunderstorms) High 63, Low 42
Sunday – A 30 percent chance of showers before noon. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny High 56, Low 40

WB: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy. A chance of rain showers in the afternoon. High 66, Low 41
Sunday – Mostly sunny (early storms) High 58, Low 39

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with scattered showers, High 64, Low 41
Sunday – Partly cloudy (early rain), High 6, Low 41

FIO: Tomorrow – Light rain in the evening. high 61, Low 39
Sunday – Breezy and partly cloudy in the morning. High 59, Low 42

Lawton and the rest of Oklahoma will steer well clear of the nastiest weather this time around. You can see they are between the two systems I referenced at this hour.

Idaho Falls, Idaho to Little Rock, Arkansas

We’re off to Little Rock on a three day trek through some stretches of land that are a bit less traveled. Our drive will cover only 1549 miles, and will last 3 days, but those days will be driven at a pace of 69.1mph, or 552.8mph. OK, yeah, that’s pretty good. Day three will be shorter, which is good, because there might actually be traffic there.

DAY ONE (Saturday)

A broad upper level trough the western part of the country is going to be bringing some moisture to the Rockies, but as it does so, it will be dissipating rather swiftly. Moisture won’t be able to move east beyond the peaks of the Rockies. Fortunately, we will be able to do so. We will see some flurries around Idaho Falls as we leave, and it will be a possibility until we hit Bondurant in Wyoming, on the eastern slope of the Yellowstone mountains. Wyoming will then otherwise remain dry, with some unusually high clouds for this time of year. We’ll make it south of Fort Collins to the town of Johnstown on Saturday night. Lee troughing will be coming to Colorado overnight, with low pressure emerging around Colorado Springs overnight. What will this mean for Sunday and Monday?

DAY TWO (Sunday)
That low developing in southeast Colorado will really take off overnight, and will do a good job of pulling in cool crisp air into the Plains. We’ll cover easter Colorado and most of Kansas under sunny skies with a bit of a chill to the air. We’ll stop for the day in Wichita, where they will be drying out after a bit of early rain.

DAY THREE (Monday)
That dry air will filter into the Ozarks and on to central Arkansas as the low shifts further to the east. There is always a bit of haze in the Ozarks, so as we pass Fort Smith, there may be a bit of visibility restriction, but the rest of the drive to the state capital will be just fine. We’ll arrive in Little Rock with nary a concern.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas, to me, seems like one of the more forgotten states in the union, wedged between Texas and Tennessee, such that it is. It’s naturally beautiful, and on the day of the inauguration of the 45th president, it is home of the 42nd.

At 853AM, CT, Little Rock was reporting a temperature of 57 degrees with overcast skies and a brisk south wind. While there is a sharp trough pivoting through Texas today, the moisture and clouds over central Arkansas are actually being folded into a lobe of instability rotating rapidly around a broader upper level feature in the Midwest, and will shift into the Great Lakes by day’s end.
A developing feature moving out of the Gulf into the Southeast is going to bring strong to severe thunderstorms from Louisiana into Mississippi and Tennessee overnight and into the day tomorrow. The northwestern flank of precipitation will graze southeastern Arkansas, likely leaving Little Rock dry. This is associated with a surface perturbation, however, while a broader upper level feature will move into the region early on Sunday. It is this feature that will make for some steady rain throughout Sunday afternoon.
Tomorrow – Passing clouds, High 66, Low 51
Sunday – Showers, becoming steady in the evening. Getting colder, High 57, low 43

TWC: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy skies during the morning hours will become overcast in the afternoon. A stray severe thunderstorm is possible. High 69, Low 51
Sunday – Thunderstorms likely, especially in the morning…and becoming windy. high 57, Low 52
AW: Tomorrow – Mild with clouds breaking for some sun High 67, Low 51
Sunday – Cooler with periods of rain; breezy in the afternoon High 58, Low 46

NWS: Tomorrow – A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Increasing clouds High 69, low 55
Sunday – Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before noon. Cloudy, High 59, Low, 46

WB: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy, a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. High 64, Low 50
Sunday – Becoming partly sunny in the afternoon. Cooler. Showers and thunderstorms likely in the morning, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 57, Low 46

WN: Tomorrow – Partly cloudy with thunderstorms likely. High 70, Low 55
Sunday – Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms likely, High 59, Low 55

FIO: Tomorrow – Rain in the afternoon and evening. High 67, Low 49
Sunday – Rain in the afternoon and evening. High 58, Low 44

Ouch, those without the full hourly forecast are going to get dinged. It will cool off sharply Sunday night in Little Rock


Life out from under the ice

One section of the country that avoided the nasty weather this weekend was the southeastern United States. High pressure leads to good forecasts, and that was the case for the weekend forecast for Albany, Georgia, where high temperatures fell perfectly in line with what we had to say at Victoria-Weather. If there was an error that everyone had, it was forecast lows that were a shade too warm, but nearly everyone came through with a solid forecast.
Actuals: Saturday – High 78, Low 46
Sunday – High 77, Low 48

Grade: A-C

Flint, Michigan

Today, we’re off to a city that’s been in the news a lot over the last couple years, Flint! Luckily, we’re just focused on water that comes from the sky and not from… other places.

At 1153pm EST, the temperature at Flint, MI was 36 degrees until overcast skies. A mid-level disturbance is shifting through the Great Lakes right now, which has been kicking up some light rain/snow mix over southern WI earlier today before shifting over Lower MI late this evening. This feature will shift out of the area by dawn, but not before possibly bringing some light drizzle to the area. Clouds will linger through much of the day as high pressure moves in, but should clear out some for the evening. Thursday will be a bit warmer and pleasant as high pressure sits over the region, so enjoy the sunshine! Especially since another system looks to move into the area for Friday, kicking off the weekend with rain. Womp womp. So enjoy the next 48 hours!

Wednesday: Possibly morning drizzle, then mostly cloudy. High 42, Low 33.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 46, Low 29.

TWC: Wednesday: Morning fog, slight chance of drizzle, afternoon clouds. High 39, Low 33.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 46, Low 29

AW: Wednesday: Mild with some sun returning after morning fog. High 40, Low 34.
Thursday: Some sun, then clouds and mild. High 42, Low 30.

NWS: Wednesday: A chance of rain/snow early morning, then mostly cloudy. High 38, Low 33.
Thursday: Mostly sunny. High 44, Low 29.

WB: Wednesday: Slight chance of early morning rain/snow mix, then mostly cloudy. High 39, Low 34.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 43, Low 30.

WN: Wednesday: Mostly cloudy. High 37, Low 34.
Thursday: Partly cloudy. High 45, Low 28.

FIO: Wednesday: Light morning rain, then overcast. High 40, Low 33.
Thursday: Partly cloudy, foggy in evening. High 42, Low 31.

There’s a few light rain showers off to the southeast, which could affect the area over the next few hours before sliding on by. Afterwards, a fairly decent couple of days coming up!

Tornado tracks near Dallas

On Sunday, the big worry in the NFL was over the Steelers-Chiefs game in Kansas City. With ice on its way, the league decided to move the start time to later in the day with the hopes that fans could travel safely to and from the game.

On the south end of the storm, and in the other playoff game that day, there were strong thunderstorms, including a few isolated tornadoes. Scariest of them all was the one that went through the DFW metro, damaging homes in Grand Prairie, near Arlington, where the Packers and Cowboys were just finishing their game. Fans were invited to take shelter in the stadium, even if they had already exited after the game concluded.

Fortunately, ATT Stadium, home of the Cowboys, was not directly affected., with Grand Prairie receiving the brunt. Another smaller twister was captured on video and shared by local weatherperson Lauren Talarico

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