Moore, OK TornadoMay 21st, 2013 at 9:28 am by Jeremy Wheeler under Weather
It’s been a rough 24 hours for residents of Oklahoma. Yesterday, started out as a nice warm day across parts of the Plains. Then a set of storms formed around 2pm in the afternoon. They rapidly grew and spawned several tornadoes.
One tornado in particular hit Moore, Oklahoma which is just south of Oklahoma City. This tornado destroyed a large part of the town including two schools. The latest official death toll that I saw was 24, but it was still rising. This is going to be the next in a list of historic tornadoes. At this time it looks like it was an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. After looking at the damage, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets classified as an EF-5. The National Weather Service will be out surveying today to determine the ultimate strength of the tornado. That same area had been hit by two other large tornadoes in the last 15 years. The first one was the infamous Oklahoma City tornado in May of 1999. That was one of the strongest tornadoes recorded in the United States. It’s winds were estimated between 300 and 318mph. There was also a lesser known tornado that passed through the region in 2003. Now a 3rd tornado has struck nearly in the same place. There is a great map of the 3 paths of these storms from Steve Baron at KFOR. I won’t post the photo since it is theirs, but here is the link: Oklahoma tornado paths. The radar from yesterday showed some storms blowing up in the mid-afternoon near Newcastle and they quickly developed a classic hook echo.
The red line is the highlight. A hook echo forms when rain literally wraps into and around the storm. Sometimes debris also wraps in. This reflects a lot of energy back to the radar which shows up as a bright spot. Through the afternoon the storms moved northeast and eventually weakened.
The setup out there is different from here. Yesterday they had a cold front slowly move in from the northwest. It was along/ahead of this front where the storms were focused. Today that front is stalled out. So the focus will be more towards southern Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Also, as I mentioned yesterday, they have had strong upper level winds to support the threat for severe weather. We have not. In fact we have weak high pressure just offshore. Although there has been a weak pocket of energy in the mid-levels lately.
From here to there though there has been a decent amount of humidity. Dew points have been in the 60s for three days. This warmth and moisture has led to a good amount of instability. Yesterday we had some real downpours during the midday and early afternoon. We could see the same today.
We’ll see scattered showers with a few thunderstorms from late morning onward. Heavy rain will be the main threat. Highs will be in the low 80s. Tomorrow that little pocket of energy looks to push out. So I only have a slight chance for a shower or storm tomorrow as the high will have a little more influence on our weather. Thursday into Friday a cold front will move into the region. This will produce a higher chance for rain and storms. Luckily that front is expected to clear us out for the weekend. For now we are looking at partly cloudy skies from Saturday through Monday. Lower humidity and highs in the 70s are expected too. That’s a bit of good news after seeing the devastation in Oklahoma.
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler