Follow-Up On Rice, TX Tornado, a Bomb Cyclone, Gordon Lightfoot

Just to follow up last night’s video and info on the tornado that hit near Rice, TX… As it turns out, the gentleman who shot the video was actually doing his job. His name is Eric Meyers, and he’s the emergency management coordinator for Navarro County. He was trying to get the word out to locals to take shelter and be safe when he found himself in trouble. Here’s an article on his story. Eric tells his story on CNN as well.

The NWS in Dallas-Forth Worth did their damage survey today, and it was determined that tornado was an EF-2 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with estimated max wind speeds of 135 mph. It was quite an impressive autumn twister.

NCEP surface map from GFS Model valid from 2 PM Eastern time today
NCEP surface map from GFS Model valid from 2 PM Eastern time tomorrow

Speaking of impressive, what’s about to occur in the middle of the country is simply spectacular. Just a tremendously dynamic storm system is developing into an atmospheric bomb (which is actually a legitimate term). The two images above are from this morning’s run of the GFS model. The top image is the surface forecast for 2 PM today. The bottom is 24 hours later. Focus in on the pressure of the low. Today we have an elongated 984 mb type storm over the Plains. Tomorrow, we have a raging sub-960 mb storm in Minnesota. The record for barometric low pressure in Minnesota is 962 mb, set in November 1998 at Albert Lea and Austin. This will also likely be one of the strongest non-tropical storms ever recorded in the U.S. According to the NWS in Duluth, MN:

A POWERFUL…RAPIDLY DEEPENING STORM MAY WELL RESULT IN RECORD
LOW PRESSURES…SUGGESTED ON ALL MODELS…AS IT POSITIONS ITSELF
AND REMAINS OVER DULUTH TUESDAY. ALTIMETER SETTINGS EVEN AS LOW AS
28.00 INCHES OF MERCURY…REDUCED TO SEA LEVEL…ARE POSSIBLE.

There have been some model solutions showing 950s with this storm. So this will be interesting to watch and see exactly how powerful this is. Of course, while this may set a record, this is somewhat common for a La Nina year. That previous pressure record in 1998, was a La Nina autumn. The storm most associated with the Great Lakes, the Edmund Fitzgerald storm, occurred in 1975, also an autumn with a strong La Nina in the tropics. Of course, we knew fairly well in advance that this was coming, so Gordon Lightfoot will likely not be penning another song about this storm.

Tuesday's Severe Weather Outlook from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center

In addition to the wind impacts that will occur over a LARGE swath of the Midwest, this storm will also be providing ample opportunity for severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and tornadoes out ahead of it. The Storm Prediction Center has actually outlined a moderate risk area for tomorrow in the Ohio Valley and Midwest. This is a pretty potent looking setup, and there could be quite a bit of significant wind damage from some of the thunderstorms tomorrow. Any time you get a storm as strong as what’s being projected for the Upper Midwest, this is often the result. We’ll see what happens.

A couple miscellaneous links to round things out….

A provocative blog entry from the Capital Weather Gang describing some research about how a loss of Arctic sea ice could lead to harsher winters in the continents.

I’m a much bigger believer in solar power over wind power personally, so it’s interesting and somewhat encouraging to see two projects making news: A massive project off I-15 in Ivanpah, CA…on the way to Vegas. Also, the federal “ok” for the world’s largest solar project off I-10 in Blythe, CA. Solar isn’t perfect by any means, but there is certainly abundant sunshine in the California desert, often times during the hottest times of the year in some of the urban centers. If solar can be made more efficient and cost-effective, to me, it just seems like it makes sense.

Oh, and if you feel like listening to the Gordon Lightfoot song, complete with some cool historic footage, click here.

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