Very early this morning the Atlantic’s first tropical storm of the season formed, named Arlene. There was a nice area of convection over the Yucatan Peninsula earlier this week that moved westward into the Bay of Campeche. Air force reconnaissance noted yesterday there were tropical depression strength winds at the surface within that convection but organization was somewhat lacking. Overnight the system became better organized and was later categorized as a tropical storm. Not too early of a start to hurricane season but the latest first of the season tropical cyclone since 2004 when their first storm of the season, Alex, developed on July 31.
Last month there were over 400 tornadoes reported with about 370 of them being confirmed at this point.1 That tops the totals for May 2009 and May 2010. It is also higher than the average number of tornadoes in May over the last 10 years, 298.2 Though it was a far cry from the 542 tornadoes that were confirmed in May 2003.
Right now, as of June 14, we are almost tied for the fifth most deaths in a year from tornadoes. 1925 had 794 deaths, 1936 had 552 deaths, 1917 had 551 deaths, 1927 had 540 deaths, and 1896 had 537 deaths.2 We are at 536 deaths this year from tornadoes. That is over double the total number of tornado deaths in the previous three years combined. Hopefully this month won’t be so bad. Thankfully June is where the tornado activity starts to drop off again.
Background image courtesy of picsneed.co.cc, tornado counts courtesy of SPC
In the last week fifteen states have reported tornadoes. California seems to keep seeing a few tornadoes every now and again over these past couple months. Tornado alley has definitely not been free of tornadoes this year. Well outside of tornado alley, Massachusetts reported 7 tornadoes yesterday, likely some of them were repeats but there will still be at least 2-3 confirmed tornadoes out of all those reports. On average Massachusetts has 3 tornadoes a year1, so they either tied or broke that record with one day’s worth of severe weather activity!
Here are the states reporting tornado activity:
- ALABAMA:1 reported
- CALIFORNIA: 4 reported
- COLORADO: 1 reported
- KANSAS: 6 reported
- LOUISIANA: 3 reported
- MASSACHUSETTS: 7 reported
- MICHIGAN: 5 reported
- MINNESOTA: 3 reported
- MISSISSIPPI: 1 reported
- NEBRASKA: 16 reported
- NORTH DAKOTA: 2 reported
- OHIO: 2 reported
- PENNSYLVANIA: 12 reported
- SOUTH DAKOTA: 7 reported
- WASHINGTON: 2 reported
* Numbers courtesy of SPC
And again the SPC issued a high risk warning for the likelihood of severe weather yesterday but this time it was for where Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois meet. Thankfully Joplin was avoided in this most recent wave but other areas of Missouri weren’t so lucky. Ellsinore, MO in Carter county reported a tornado that was about 1/2 to 3/4 mile wide. Apparently that tornado went through the entire county and moved northeast into Wayne County. Pettis County also saw some pretty extensive damage from the tornadoes reported there. Oddly there were 7 tornadoes reported in California in Glenn and Butte Counties.
The risk for severe weather is much less for today, thankfully, but there is still a chance of some hail and high winds.
Here is a map of the states most recently affected by the tornado outbreak yesterday:
Yesterday the SPC issued a high risk warning for the likelihood of severe weather for Kansas down into Oklahoma ending in northern Texas around the Dallas, TX area. There were 47 tornadoes reported yesterday, mainly in that area. There were four main clusters of tornadoes Central Kansas, Oklahoma near Oklahoma City, Texas near and north of Dallas, and Arkansas between Fayetteville and Little Rock. Thankfully there were fewer deaths and injuries from these tornadoes. Though the damage was pretty extensive in some locations.
Here is a map of the states most recently affected by the tornado outbreak over the last two days (Oklahoma City and Dallas are noted with asterisks):
Information in the above image is courtesy of the SPC.
Another high risk has been issued by the SPC for today. Please pay attention to the weather warnings for your area and take cover as needed.
And the wrath of tornadoes continued this past weekend for the Midwest U.S. Just last night there was a pretty significant tornado outbreak in and around Joplin, MO. There were reports of a mile wide tornado affecting the area bringing damage equivalent to a possible EF-4 or EF-5 tornado. There were 51 tornadoes reported yesterday, 13 of those were in Missouri alone. 51 tornadoes is almost 40 percent of the total amount of tornadoes reported so far this month!
If you look back and my previous blog posts specifically this post (http://weatherarc.com/blog/2011/05/05/800-tornadoes-reported-april-2011/) you will see Missouri already saw 30 tornadoes last month. If you add on this months total that brings the current count of reported tornadoes to 45! On average Missouri has 30 tornadoes a year.1 So if most of the tornadoes reported do verify this will go down as one of the more active months for Missouri.
Here is a map of the tornado counts so far this month. Joplin, MO is denoted with an asterisk on the map.
Since I last posted something the water levels have dropped in many of the areas that were affected by the flooding. Many of those areas are still experiencing moderate flooding along the rivers and waterways. Only twenty four streamflow gauges are recording major flooding conditions now, a drop from forty May 10. Based on the forecasts it looks like most locations will see a drop in water levels over the next week, definitely a welcome sight. However Devils Lake in North Dakota, Vicksburg in Mississippi, and Natchez in Mississippi will see likely see a slow increase in water levels over the next week.
Here are current water heights at a bunch of streamflow gauges across the U.S.
|Location||State||River Height 5/19/11 (feet)||Record Height (feet)||Forecast for the next week|
|Mississippi River Near Greenville||Arkansas||63.65||65.4||Slow decrease|
|Mississippi River Near Arkansas City||Arkansas||52.35||59.2||Slow decrease|
|White River at Clarendon||Arkansas||33.97||43.3||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|White River at Des Arc||Arkansas||28.44||37.3||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|White River Above Augusta||Arkansas||N/A||41||Very slowly decreasing|
|Mississippi River at Osceola||Arkansas||40.38||50.9||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Little Wabash River at Carmi||Illinois||29.4||38.4||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Patoka River at Princeton||Indiana||19.04||24.44||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Ohio River at Paducah||Kentucky||42.96||60.6||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Ohio River at Smithland Lock and Dam||Kentucky||41.75||51.4||Slow decrease|
|Mississippi River at Baton Rouge||Louisiana||44.75||47.3||fairly steady|
|Mississippi River at Natchez||Mississippi||61.86||58||Slow increase|
|Mississippi River at Vicksburg||Mississippi||56.95||56.2||Slow increase|
|Mississippi River at Caruthersville||Missouri||40.79||46||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Mississippi River at New Madrid||Missouri||40.73||48||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Ohio River at Cairo||Missouri||51.14||59.5||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|North Platte River||Nebraska||7.1||6.7||Slow increase|
|Lake Champlain at Rouses Point||New York||102.59||102.1||Modest increase in near future|
|Lake Champlain Near Whitehall||New York||102.6||103||Slowly decreasing|
|Sheyanne River at West Fargo Diversion||North Dakota||20.75||28.8||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Devils Lake||North Dakota||1454.05||1452.1||Slow increase|
|Souris River Near Foxholm||North Dakota||15.98||17.2||Slow increase|
|James River Near Yankton||South Dakota||16.33||24.3||Slowly decreasing|
|James River Near Mitchell||South Dakota||21.45||25.3||Very slowly decreasing|
|James River at Huron||South Dakota||15.99||21.3||Slowly decreasing|
|James River Near Ashton||South Dakota||20.54||26||Slowly decreasing|
|James River Near Columbia||South Dakota||18.04||19.8||Slowly decreasing|
|Mississippi River at Memphis||Tennessee||42.05||Unknown||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Mississippi River at Tiptonville||Tennessee||41.43||47.8||Continued drop in water levels over the next week|
|Lake Champlain at Burlington||Vermont||102.67||101.9||fairly steady|
The flooding this season has been extensive. Right now forty streamflow gauges across the U.S. are recording major flooding conditions. In a bunch of these locations water levels of the local rivers have already exceeded the previous records. Thankfully some locations along the Ohio River are already starting to see a drop in water levels. However as you move farther south towards the Mississippi River the water levels are just starting to crest. Even further south of that into Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi water levels are forecast to rise and in some locations possibly rise to record levels.
Here are current water heights at a bunch of streamflow gauges across the U.S.
|Location||State||River Height 5/10/11 (feet)||Record Height (feet)||Notes|
|Mississippi River Near Greenville||Arkansas||62.05||65.4||Forecast to Rise|
|Mississippi River Near Arkansas City||Arkansas||51.02||59.2||Forecast to Rise|
|White River at Clarendon||Arkansas||37.54||43.3|
|White River at Des Arc||Arkansas||36.4||37.3||Previously exceeded record height|
|White River Above Augusta||Arkansas||36.9||41|
|Mississippi River at Osceola||Arkansas||47.2||50.9|
|Little Wabash River at Carmi||Illinois||35.02||38.4|
|Patoka River at Princeton||Indiana||22.8||24.44||Previously exceeded record height|
|Ohio River at Paducah||Kentucky||53.6||60.6|
|Ohio River at Smithland Lock and Dam||Kentucky||53.2||51.4|
|Mississippi River at Baton Rouge||Louisiana||41.75||47.3||Forecast to Rise|
|Mississippi River at Natchez||Mississippi||57.32||58||Forecast to Rise to record levels|
|Mississippi River at Vicksburg||Mississippi||52.79||56.2||Forecast to Rise to record levels|
|Mississippi River at Caruthersville||Missouri||46.7||46|
|Mississippi River at New Madrid||Missouri||47||48||Previously exceeded record height|
|Ohio River at Cairo||Missouri||57.8||59.5|
|North Platte River||Nebraska||6.52||6.7|
|Lake Champlain at Rouses Point||New York||102.75||102.1|
|Lake Champlain Near Whitehall||New York||103.06||103|
|Sheyanne River at West Fargo Diversion||North Dakota||22.32||28.8|
|Devils Lake||North Dakota||1454.18||1452.1|
|Souris River Near Foxholm||North Dakota||15.1||17.2|
|James River Near Yankton||South Dakota||19||24.3|
|James River Near Mitchell||South Dakota||22.59||25.3|
|James River at Huron||South Dakota||17.85||21.3|
|James River Near Ashton||South Dakota||23.1||26|
|James River Near Columbia||South Dakota||18.75||19.8|
|Mississippi River at Memphis||Tennessee||47.75||Unknown|
|Mississippi River at Tiptonville||Tennessee||47||47.8||Previously exceeded record height|
|Lake Champlain at Burlington||Vermont||102.86||101.9|
Water levels courtesy of USGS and NWS
We had over 850 tornadoes reported last month. Some of the damage and tornado count verification has already been done so the numbers of actual tornadoes that occurred will likely decrease as time progresses. Likely during the severe weather some people reported the same tornado resulting initially in duplicates in the tornado counts.
Even after all the verification is done this past month will likely stand as the most occurring tornadoes in one month for as long as we have had records. May 2003 sets the previous record with 542 tornadoes.1
See the tornado counts for yourself (note these number are preliminary)1:
* There was one tornado reported between May1-2 and it was in Colorado.
1 Tornado counts courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center
And the tornadoes just keep on coming. Over 250 more tornadoes were reported since Monday. Michigan, New York, and Maryland even saw a few tornadoes. Many of the reported tornadoes have yet to be confirmed. Sadly there have already been many fatalities reported from last nights tornado outbreak in the Southeast. Thankfully, though, it looks like the severe weather should finally calm down a bit today into the weekend.
Here is a map of the tornado counts from the past few days:
Outline map courtesy of University of Texas at Austin Library