Large tornado sweeps through North Dallas

Check out this video, perhaps one of the scariest tornado captures I’ve seen.

A worst case scenario is a large tornado in a populated area, and it is compounded when it moves through at night. This super cell moved through the north Dallas suburbs in a coming together of some of the worst possible circumstances.

It could have been significantly worse though. The storm touched down just 15 miles away from AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Philadelphia Eagles in front of 75,000 people. In fact, despite the strength of the tornado (I’m guessing it will be at least an EF-3), and it’s long track, there were no reports of fatalities, and only 3 serious injuries.

The NWS hasn’t plotted the track anywhere yet, pending storm surveys, but in real time, the Google Maps traffic report was a good proxy for estimating the storm track:

The storm impacted many commercial areas, wrecking, in what I have seen so far, a Home Depot, a Land Cruiser dealership, and the home of the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin.

The damage reports will continue to roll in, and they will likely continue to provide stark imagery. Keep an eye on the NWS Fort Worth office Twitter feed for updates on the storm surveys. As the picture of damage becomes clearer, we will likely appreciate more how lucky we were that it wasn’t worse.

Nestor slides through the Southeast

What would eventually become Tropical Storm Nestor formed late in the week, and dissipated shortly thereafter. It made landfall with a maximum sustained wind speed of 50mph. There was a storm in New England that had stronger winds than that.

Still, Nestor did provide his fair share of problems. When the center of Nestor arrived, it had been preceded by an off center, heavy batch of rain. Nestor is still a little off kilter. Note that his center in this radar image is actually around Tallahasee.

That’s a lot of rain, but certainly by looking at it, you wouldn’t say that it looks like a tropical storm, would you?

The primary impact the storm had, aside from the typical rain that comes with tropical storms, was a bout of tornadoes east of Tampa Bay. You can see where they ended up on the SPC storm reports.

There haven’t been the severe reports today out of the storm, and now that Nestor is on shore, he will continue to fall apart and get shoved back off shore.

Nestor has been pretty unremarkable storm, particularly when taken in contrast to some of the tough storms in recent years and months, but one needs only to look at the video below to understand that tropical features should always be given some respect.

California in flames again

another autumn, another raging inferno in California. The drought ravaged state is once again in the crosshairs — Hold on, what’s that? California isn’t classified as being in a drought any longer?

The Saddle Ridge Fire is burning on the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley, safely ensconced in the “None” range of the drought monitory, as of October 10th. I assure you, a drought didn’t develop in the last few days, either. California had a very wet spring, which has allayed the drought in the area, including the San Fernando Valley.

Wildfires are a natural part of the rebirth of the southern California wilderness. It’s a very dry climate, and even if they are receiving the typical amount of precipitation, and this time of year usually features a few fires, aided by hot, brisk winds out of the Mojave, the so called Santa Ana’s. The Saddle Ridge Fre is dangerous, but it is not atypical.

This is making headlines simply because of the location. With populations growing, particularly on the west coast, these regular occurrences suddenly take on an even more menacing turn, as they start near populated areas with greater frequency, and ravage those same areas that may have been many miles away just a decade or two ago.

California is home to a host of potential disasters, and as the population continues to grow and sprawl, they become more and more likely to become catastrophes.

S(n)o(w) It Begins…

It’s a beautiful day here at VW HQ, temperatures in the low 70s, dew pts in the upper 30s, breeze is a bit stronger than I care to enjoy but I wont complain. Tomorrow looks to be just as enjoyable as well around here. This lovely weather should totally go on for the indefinite future as we head deeper into OctOH MY GOD… checks models

Currently there’s an area of low pressure off the East Coast and over the next couple of days, looks like it will sit just off southern New England and focus a ton of rain right at RI, CT, MA. Strong high pressure sits over Southeast Canada and extends through the Great Lakes all the way down to the TN Valley. What this is doing is causing a blocking pattern and as low pressure ejects out into the Plains late Wednesday into Thursday, it has nowhere to go but basically north-northeast, from eastern KS to MN/WI. Given the cold air that will work its way in on the backside of this system as well, it’s shaping up to possibly produce quite the snowfall from western Nebraska/eastern Wyoming northward through the Dakotas. While it’s a bit early to pin down where the highest snowfall will happen, the Central Dakotas have the highest chance of seeing 6-12″ of snow and combine with winds of 25-35mph. One interesting thing to note is that the top analog to the setup of this system is the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. I’m not going to insinuate that we’re going to have a similar epic snowstorm around here, it’s just something interesting to point out.

It’s been unseasonably warm through a good portion of the Eastern US, and the last few days over the Central US, but this system looks like it’s going to give at least a few states in the Northern US a rude awakening that Winter isn’t as far off as we’d like to think it is.

September Forecaster of the Month

We didn’t really do a lot of forecasting this month, as most of our attention was tied to the dangerous and persistent tropical season. Dorian and Imelda took a lot of our attention, but when we were, albeit briefly, focused on the Mainland, it was WeatherNation who snuck in for a victory.

OutletMonth wins
National Weather Service0.2
The Weather Channel

Month winsyear wins
The Weather Channel11.7
National Weather Service0.27.48

Storms will blossom very quickly in the Upper Midwest

There is an enhanced risk for severe weather today in Minnesota, though at present, the radar is pretty sparse, save for a few showers in northern Minnesota and the first severe storm in northwest Iowa.

This radar imagery is from about 4:15. Here is a look at the HRRR forecast radar for about 630 this evening.

It looks as though the guidance is a little behind schedule, but the most important thing to note, will be how fast this line develops. This is the forecast radar 45 minutes later, or 715.

This looks like a strong line from Mankato to Storm Lake. Note the distinct blobs within the line. The threat for tornadoes and large hail is real tonight, and it is evidenced by the depiction of discrete cells within this line.

Eventually, and only within another 45 minutes, the storm will metastasize into a line. It will still be strong, and straight line winds will be added to the mix of threats.

This is the epitome of the “pay attention to the skies” days in southeast Minnesota and northern Iowa. Strong, dangerous storms are likely tonight, and they are likely to develop rapidly. It is possible that strong storms can develop and produce tornadoes even between radar scans with rapid development such as this.

Stay alert, heed local warnings, and listen to your gut. If it seems dangerous, take shelter, even if a warning has not yet been issued.

*Even as I was writing this, a tornado watch was issued for the region*

Imelda stalks where Harvey still haunts

Meteorologists everywhere feel a twinge of guilt and pain every time severe weather targets life and property. We all love the weather, but when it turns ugly, it hurts a little differently, like we have somehow been betrayed. It’s worse when the bad weather is somewhat unanticipated.

Imelda was never anticipated to be a strong storm, in terms of central pressure, or wind speed, and it wasn’t anticipated, originally, to linger very long. Eventually, the storm did slow down and tracked over the same tract of land for about 48 hours. The result is images that resemble those from Hurricane Harvey, particularly between Houston and Beaumont.

Here is a look at the heaviest rain of the past 24 hours. There is a swath from the Woodlands in the east Houston metro to Beaumont that saw 10+ inches of rain today. Over the course of the storm, that same area saw close to 2 feet.

I’ve underlined Houston and Beaumont on the map which should show you something else from a couple of different perspectives. Either you will see this map, depending on your perspective. Either you will note that the is a lot of rain for a very large area, or you will note that this is actually a lot less rain than the area saw with Harvey. Both conclusions are true, and should be telling.

Even though there is quantitatively less rain from Imelda, there was a lot of rain for a very large area IT was disruptive, deadly, destructive and evocative of the all time crisis that Harvey brought. This should underscore just what a nightmare Harvey was, but also sound an alarm about the eminent threat of any tropical feature. Just because Imelda’s torrential rain affected a smaller footprint doesn’t mean it wasn’t a major catastrophe. Imelda didn’t bring 5 feet o rain, but 2 is still pretty overwhelming.

August forecaster of the Month (and a recap of the nasty weather in South Dakota)

Before we begin, I want to highlight just what a miserable several days it’s been in southeastern South Dakota. Three EF-2 tornadoes embedded in a strong squall line tore through the south side of Sioux Falls, the state’s largest city Tuesday night. The massive devastation goes to prove, once again, that these strong squall events should be taken very seriously, because these tornadoes were so quick and briefly on the ground, they were over almost as soon as they were detected on radar.

The heaviest damage seemed to occur in one of the main commercial areas of the city, passing through a shopping center and a mall parking lot, and most noticeably tearing to shreds an Advanced Auto Parts. The City of Sioux Falls added this drone footage to their Twitter feed.

While the tornadoes were embedded in a squall line, the squall line was a part of a persistent pattern of wet weather, that brought massive flooding to southeastern South Dakota and southwest Minnesota. Large tracts of I-90 were closed west of Sioux Falls to Mitchell, and many towns, including Madison, were cut off from the outside world by the rising rivers and creeks in the area. Many places received a foot of rain in a 72 hour period, and the region will remain wet this week. Let’s hope for better days soon.

As for the forecasting in the month of October, WeatherNation’s strategy of associating closely with the Weather Service and changing course only when necessary really only works if you find those situations where you can add value on your own. Well, in August, they did. Not only did WeatherNation win the forecasting title, the NWS dropped all the way to third. Congrats to WeatherNation. (Charts below are for daily forecasts)

OutletMonth wins
National Weather Service1.5
The Weather Channel1
OutletMonth winsyear wins
The Weather Channel111.7
National Weather Service1.57.28

Dorian devastates Bahamas, batters East Coast

By now, we’ve all heard the stories of utter devastation for the northern Bahamian islands of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama. The initial storm surge put a lot of Abaco underwater at the initial landfall, and many deaths on the island were the result of drowning during the storm surge, while in this case, the eye’s passage overhead provided a chance for many to get to higher, safer ground.

The storm then sat and spun over the eastern side of Grand Bahama, cutting the largest city, Freeport, off from the rest of the island. The destruction there, thanks to persistent triple digit wind speeds and a very high storm surge, is comprehensive.

Dorian’s slow down fortunately spared the Floridian coast from the worst damage, but the storm spiraled northwards and pummeled Georgia and the Carolinas with rain, storm surge, tornadoes and category 2-3 winds, before it made a brief trek over the Outer Banks, with a landfall at Cape Hatteras. Take a look at the radar imagery to see how close the eye was to Charleston and Wilmington at various points.

Dorian moved away from the Carolina coast and as he weakened, broadened his footprint, meaning more rain and cloud cover further from the center of the storm. A course directly up the Gulf Stream and away from land will allow for maintained intensity until he made another landfall, this time over the weekend in the Canadian Maritimes.

Dorian tracked directly over Halifax, Nova Scotia with hurricane strength winds, and thought it didn’t approach the intensity it had when the storm swept through the Bahamas, he did considerable damage there as well.

The above video provides a good recap of the storms entire course. At least 45 people are confirmed to have died in Dorian’s path, with the majority of the fatalities in the Bahamas, though many more are possible when the affected islands are accessible.

If you can help out and choose to do so, the Red Cross is always accepting donations.

Dorian is a Cat 5, but may spare the coast

Because of the slowed down pace, Dorian was able to deepen further than forecasts originally expected, and has become a Category 5 storm as it bears down on the northern Bahamas. It has developed a well defined eye, as a symbol of it’s strength.

That’s a remarkable satellite image, in all of the worst ways. Dorian is going to prove very dangerous to the northernmost islands of the Bahamas, and it appeared he was on his way to becoming the strongest storm to hit the east coast of Florida since Andrew, but alas, that slow pace may have spared Florida the worst.

The slow pace has allowed Dorian to reach the Gulf Stream as what had been a stout Bermuda high breaks down. Instead of intercepting Florida, Dorian is expected to veer poleward to such a degree that he may not make a continental landfall until Nova Scotia.

The NHC maintains warnings for the northern Bahamas, particularly Great Abaco and Grand Bahama, which look to bear Dorian’s full brunt over the weekend, but at this time, only a tropical storm warning has been issued for a small stretch of Floridian coastline.

Dorian remains a danger, of course. The Bahamas in particular are in imminent danger, and even if the storm stays off shore as is now anticipated, waves of thunderstorms will still sweep from Florida to the Carolinas, with flooding a distinct possibility. There may be some lower end hurricane winds as well, particularly north of Miami, and in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Even with these threats, though, it’s hard not to view the latest forecasts as anything but good news.