Invest now to improve tornado warnings; an early start to hurricane season?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 04:24 PM GMT on Μάιος 27, 2011

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The Atlantic hurricane season officially begin on Wednesday, June 1, and recent computer model runs predict that we may have some early-season action in the Central Caribbean Sea to coincide with the start of this year's season. The GFS, NOGAPS, and ECMWF models have all indicated in some of their recent runs that a tropical disturbance may form between Jamaica and Central America sometime in the May 31 - June 2 time frame, as a lobe of the Eastern Pacific Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) pushes across Central America into the Caribbean. Up until now, wind shear has been too high to allow tropical storm formation in the Caribbean, due to the presence of the Subtropical Jet Stream. However, this jet is expected to push northwards over Cuba over the coming week, allowing a region of low wind shear to develop over most of the Caribbean. Water temperatures in the Central Caribbean are about 1°C above average, 29°C, which is plenty warm enough to support development of a tropical storm. The main impediment to development will probably be lack of spin, as we don't have any African tropical waves that are expected to enter the Caribbean Sea next week, to help get things spinning. Stay tuned.


Figure 1. Satellite image of Typhoon Songda.

Typhoon Songda heads for Okinawa and Japan
Typhoon Songda brushed the Philippines yesterday, bringing heavy rains that killed at least two people. Fortunately, the brunt of this year's first Category 5 storm missed the islands, and Songda has weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Songda is turning northwards and will threaten the island of Okinawa on Saturday. Sea surface temperatures decline rapidly north of the Philippines, and Songda is expected to weaken significantly before reaching Okinawa, where sea surface temperatures are approximately 26°C. Wind shear will also increase to high levels by Saturday, and Songda should be at most a Category 2 typhoon by the time it reaches Okinawa. On Sunday,

Invest now for better tornado warnings
National Weather Service forecasters issued a tornado warning 24 minutes in advance of the Joplin, Missouri tornado this.week, which is now being blamed for at least 132 deaths--the deadliest U.S. tornado since at least 1947. However, we can do better, and the National Weather Service Employees Organization (NWSEO) put out a press release on May 23, arguing that investments in weather service forecasting technology are needed to reduce loss of life in future violent tornadoes:

"The 24-minute lead time is a great improvement over the average lead time of 13 minutes for tornado warnings. The meteorologists in the Springfield Weather Forecast Office are commended for their lifesaving work," said Dan Sobien, NWSEO President. "But in our age of advanced technology and communication, when new radars and modeling opportunities exist that can provide more lead time to get people out of the path of a storm, hundreds of people do not have to die because of a tornado event."

Sobien says the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes are examples of how the government's neglect to invest in NWS related infrastructure over the last 10 to 15 years has failed to provide the tools necessary to protect lives and property. He says that the tools forecasters use to issue tornado warnings are woefully inadequate and that the technology exists to provide lead times so far in advance of the storm that it would make the need for tornado warnings as we know them obsolete. "The much touted Doppler Weather Radar, also known as the Weather Service Radar or WSR-88D, was developed in 1988. Since that time, technological advances, including phased array radars developed by the Department of Defense, have been shown to increase the current lead time on tornado warnings by almost 50 percent."

"The much touted Warn on Forecast process utilizes Meso-scale modeling and has the potential to let forecasters know hours in advance where a thunderstorm would form and if it is likely to contain strong winds, hail, or even a tornado. With adequate staffing, local National Weather Service forecasters who understand local terrain and the model output, could be embedded with emergency managers and decision makers. In the event of a storm, the forecaster could provide emergency managers with the tornado track with some margin of error and people in the way of the storm could be evacuated hours before the tornado hits. This technology is being developed and tested right now, however without funding it will never be available."

"The art and science of severe weather warnings made considerable progress during the 1980s and 90s, going from almost zero lead time to average of about 13 minutes for tornado warnings. However, in recent years, that progress has stalled, even while the technological advancements have accelerated. If the country made the type of investment in the National Weather Service that it did in the 1980s, scenes like the ones in Missouri this week and in Alabama and Mississippi last month could be a thing of the past."

"I am very proud of my co-workers at the National Weather Service this tornado season. They saved many lives and having been there myself, I can assure you, they feel personally about every lost life," said Sobien. "I know that budgets are tight and there are many priorities, but if you put investing in the National Weather Service up to a vote today in tornado alley, I think the approval would be a landslide."


I wholeheartedly agree with this view--investments in better tornado forecasts and tornado observing technology will potentially give us a huge return in lives saved. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday or Tuesday with a new post.


Jeff Masters

Tornado Power (Betty2)
Sunday, LaCrosse, WI a tornado hit. This is a photo of a 2x4 board that slammed through a tire.. and, freaky, but it left the air in the tire! Photo was taken by my neighbor, Lori Hines, Gays Mills WI.
Tornado Power
25 May, (rdjgonzo)
May 25, 2011 at 7:10pm. Picture taken from Bartlett (Shelby County) TN.
25 May,
What A Storm (llpj04)
What A Storm

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Quoting GoldCoast2011:


That's what I'm saying, name me someone else in here, that knows more about the tropics then Levi does?


Not to offend anyone's Met. education, but... In order to prepare the tidbits, he has to consider sat. weather info. and dynamics, studiy each model, see the similarities and differences, consider any other met. tools, get to conclusions, create the animations and explain them, post them in his Youtube site and update his WU blog... and that dedication and effort is shared as info to us...
I really appreciate that effort......

Bedtime, good night all
Member Since: Αύγουστος 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
Quoting eyestalker:

stormtop


...anyways, I don't think this system gets pulled northeast at all really. I see more of a 2005 arlene setup.
Do you think the GOM is a possibility?
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Ok. Thanks. So if it would get to my west it could pull the moisture up from the Caribbean to here? I think.
Yup, unfortunately, it doesn't look like that is being forecast by the models at this time.
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Quoting sunlinepr:

After Dr. JMasters, Levi is second to him....
I mean, in meteorological knowledge and dedication to the blog, you know ;)


I'm just sayin', there's more than meets the eye.
Member Since: Οκτώβριος 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting GoldCoast2011:


What do you mean? He should replace StormW, I'd think.


I wouldn't mention that name on here.
Member Since: Οκτώβριος 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting caneswatch:


There's more than meets the eye ;)

After Dr. JMasters, Levi is second to him....
I mean, in meteorological knowledge and dedication to the blog..
Member Since: Αύγουστος 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
2377. xcool
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2376. Levi32
0z NOGAPS ringing in with sub-1000mb pressures, but overall not too strong, lifting northeast over Cuba by Day 7:

Member Since: Νοέμβριος 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Ah ok. Thanks for explaining that. I'm trying to get to know how to read these models better. Good to compare what y'all are saying with what I'm seeing. :) From what I could tell from that run is it looks like the NE Caribbean and the SE U.S. will be getting a good amount of rain anyway, if nothing tropical. And for some reason it shows the precip stopping at the TX border. Would someone please remove the "Do Not Disturb" sign from Texas? Thank you. Lol.


MOST OF THE OUTLOOKS BEYOND SON 2011 SHOW EQUAL CHANCES (EC)BECAUSE OF A LACK OF CLIMATE SIGNALS,EXCEPT FOR ENHANCED CHANCES OF BELOW MEDIAN PRECIPITATION IN THE SOUTHEAST DUE TO LONG TERM TRENDS IN JFM AND FMA
2012.


Modified Comment: Looks like the Temps will be above average and our rain chances on the Below side...the worst side. Oy.


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Quoting GoldCoast2011:
This area of disturb weather in the Carib. is getting clobbered by a lot of dry, stable air hitting it from the north. Thought, bloggers, will it survive it? I wouldn't think so.


The AOI in the SW Caribbean is south of the Sub-Tropical jet, it's getting clobbered by moisture at the moment.
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Quoting GoldCoast2011:
Alright, I need to ask this question: But, why hasn't Dr. Masters made Levi a featured blogger on this website, as of yet? I mean, geeze, are you kidding me, the kid is a sheer genius on here when it comes to the field of tropical meteorology, I mean, wow, I would know, I've been following him since last year, =).


There's more than meets the eye ;)
Member Since: Οκτώβριος 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
The reason moisture is having a hard time reaching Texas is due to the flow around the upper level low that will be in the NW Gulf. The positioning of this low will determine how much moisture you will get there.


Ok. Thanks. So if it would get to my west it could pull the moisture up from the Caribbean to here? I think.
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Seems poised to make some substantial gains tonight and early morning. I am wondering if the little insignificant T-Wave provided more than previously thought?
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Hey Trauma. Yeah looks like the night shift is gearing up for another season here. Hopefully any of the bad ones will be fishes. And donuts would be divine right about now! :)


Howdy Maam.....They're Krispy Kreme.....Fresh!!
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Quoting traumaboyy:
Well Here we go again....Good morning Night Shift...Hopefully look foreward to an exciting, interesting season of FISH STORMS!!

Coffee and Donuts are ready!!


Hey Trauma. Yeah looks like the night shift is gearing up for another season here. Hopefully any of the bad ones will be fishes. And donuts would be divine right about now! :)
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Ah ok. Thanks for explaining that. I'm trying to get to know how to read these models better. Good to compare what y'all are saying with what I'm seeing. :) From what I could tell from that run is it looks like the NE Caribbean and the SE U.S. will be getting a good amount of rain anyway, if nothing tropical. And for some reason it shows the precip stopping at the TX border. Would someone please remove the "Do Not Disturb" sign from Texas? Thank you. Lol.


That would be a big change as repeatedly rain chances are proven false or insignificant for the SE. Although welcome, I doubt the validity.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
morning VFJ



keep hes not JFV
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2365. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting GoldCoast2011:
Good morning, bloggers, =).
morning VFJ
Member Since: Ιούλιος 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting AtHomeInTX:


Ah ok. Thanks for explaining that. I'm trying to get to know how to read these models better. Good to compare what y'all are saying with what I'm seeing. :) From what I could tell from that run is it looks like the NE Caribbean and the SE U.S. will be getting a good amount of rain anyway, if nothing tropical. And for some reason it shows the precip stopping at the TX border. Would someone please remove the "Do Not Disturb" sign from Texas? Thank you. Lol.
The reason moisture is having a hard time reaching Texas is due to the flow around the upper level low that will be in the NW Gulf. The positioning of this low will determine how much moisture you will get there.
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Quoting Levi32:


Yeah, the Benguela Current turns into the South Equatorial Current within the Gulf of Guinea.


Originates off the Cape of Good Hope and journey's along the coast bringing cool water to the Tropics.

Oh how the world works together to help create this weather phenomena. Endlessly fascinating.
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Quoting SouthDadeFish:
Doesn't show as favorable an upper air pattern as the most recent runs in the NW Carib.


Ah ok. Thanks for explaining that. I'm trying to get to know how to read these models better. Good to compare what y'all are saying with what I'm seeing. :) From what I could tell from that run is it looks like the NE Caribbean and the SE U.S. will be getting a good amount of rain anyway, if nothing tropical. And for some reason it shows the precip stopping at the TX border. Would someone please remove the "Do Not Disturb" sign from Texas? Thank you. Lol.
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Quoting GoldCoast2011:


It's alright, no worries, and thank you.




and your welcome
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2360. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
2011 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic

East Pacific

Central Pacific

West Pacific
91W.INVEST
90W.INVEST

Indian Ocean

Southern Hemisphere
Member Since: Ιούλιος 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
1008MB is expected to be added to the next update, this map is 2 hrs old.

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Quoting GoldCoast2011:


I am not, Tazmanian. My real name is Jacob, nice to meet you.



nic too meet you and welcome too the blogs



i this wanted too make sure lol
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Well Here we go again....Good morning Night Shift...Hopefully look foreward to an exciting, interesting season of FISH STORMS!!

Coffee and Donuts are ready!!
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What effect will have the infusion of dry air from GOM to the NW boundary of the low?

Member Since: Αύγουστος 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9693
the flare ups are due mostly in part to the difluent flow aloft to the aoi's north,any organization will take days and wont happen until sheer relaxes
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Quoting GoldCoast2011:
Alright, I need to ask this question: But, why hasn't Dr. Masters made Levi a featured blogger on this website, as of yet? I mean, geeze, are you kidding me, the kid is a sheer genius on here when it comes to the field of tropical meteorology, I mean, wow, I would know, I've been following him since last year, =).




hello am hunting JFV so i got too ask are you JFV?
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2351. Levi32
Quoting cycleranger:
Don't claim to know much of what I link. Though the South Equatorial Current looks to have an effect on the Gulf.



Results suggest that surface cooling is mostly due to vertical
mixing at the base of the surface mixed layer. At seasonal scale, the timing and distribution of turbulent heat
fluxes in the Gulf of Guinea is strongly correlated with the spatial structure and the time variability of the northern
and southern branches of the South Equatorial Current (SEC), and of the Guinea Current. Through modulation of
the velocity shear at the subsurface, these surface currents are shown to control the vertical turbulent exchanges,
bringing cold and nutrient rich waters to the surface.







Seasonal modes of surface cooling in the Gulf of Guinea





Action:
Quote
| Ignore User


Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 11



Yeah, the Benguela Current turns into the South Equatorial Current within the Gulf of Guinea.
Member Since: Νοέμβριος 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Don't claim to know much of what I link. Though the South Equatorial Current looks to have an effect on the Gulf.



Results suggest that surface cooling is mostly due to vertical
mixing at the base of the surface mixed layer. At seasonal scale, the timing and distribution of turbulent heat
fluxes in the Gulf of Guinea is strongly correlated with the spatial structure and the time variability of the northern
and southern branches of the South Equatorial Current (SEC), and of the Guinea Current. Through modulation of
the velocity shear at the subsurface, these surface currents are shown to control the vertical turbulent exchanges,
bringing cold and nutrient rich waters to the surface.


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Quoting Levi32:


And it still does absolutely nothing with it in terms of strengthening.
Doesn't show as favorable an upper air pattern as the most recent runs in the NW Carib.
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2346. Levi32
Quoting AtHomeInTX:
Looks like the GFS is still holding the low in the Caribbean without much movement the next 6 days. That, at least has been consistent.


And it still does absolutely nothing with it in terms of strengthening.
Member Since: Νοέμβριος 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
Quoting Levi32:
Well, I found data for Grand Cayman from 1973 to present at NCDC, and they want $140 for it lol. What a shame, really.
that's pathetic. Someone should buy the data and repost it for free. put them out of business
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2344. Levi32
Quoting caneswatch:


A surface circulation is forming.


No, not with everybody north of Panama and Costa Rica reporting northeast winds.
Member Since: Νοέμβριος 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
2342. JLPR2
Quoting KoritheMan:
The only two active tropical waves in the basin are quickly approaching the disturbance. This could generate enough instability and lift to potentially trigger a surface low amidst the surface trough:



Was going to ask that XD
------------
I see we got a 1008mb low now.
And it begins...
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Quoting Levi32:


We're going to need to see some difference between the wind at San Andres and the NOAA buoy in the SW Caribbean before we can say a surface circulation is forming.



A surface circulation is forming.
Member Since: Οκτώβριος 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting SouthDadeFish:
This suggests that wind shear isn't as big of a problem as we thought...

Notice that upper level winds are relatively weak directly over the convective complex.


Looking at Satellite would tell me about 15kts.
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2339. Levi32
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Yeah it could put a lot more accuracy into preseason forecasts if they knew what that current was going to do. Is there a lot of data to back up the fact it enhances t-waves?


It's common tropical meteorology. I've seen it written in various textbooks and online courses.
Member Since: Νοέμβριος 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26547
This suggests that wind shear isn't as big of a problem as we thought...

Notice that upper level winds are relatively weak directly over the convective complex.
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Looks like the GFS is still holding the low in the Caribbean without much movement the next 6 days. That, at least has been consistent.
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Quoting Skyepony:


Looking at the animation, looks like it's trying to spin up. If this continues much longer we should see an invest.


These EYES see some spin ~~~~~
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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