Friday, April 29, 2016

More Severe Weather and Flooding Possible

When it rains it pours in so many ways!  We must really watch portions of Arkansas later today (Friday) and even into Saturday for more severe weather and heavy rainfall.   In this video, I go over

  • The storm set-up
  • The severe weather threats later today (Friday)
  • Locations more prone to severe weather
  • Saturday set up
  • Saturday severe weather chances and location

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weekend Weather Woes

There's little doubt this weekend will not be as nice as the last one.  I'll get to that in just a bit, but first I want to address the storm system we dealt with Tuesday night.

I was a bit puzzled by remarks on social media calling it a "bust".  The models and the Storm Prediction Center did a good job nailing the forecast.  Was it great? No.  However, it was a solid forecast.  The SPC issues "severe weather outlooks"...  NOT tornado outlooks. There were more than 500 reports of severe weather directly over the risk areas outlined.   If there was one part of the forecast a bit off the mark, it was the tornado aspect.   There were not as many and they were not as strong as some of the data indicated.  

It makes me sick to think there are some who are disappointed at the lack of tornadoes over the plains.  Not all, but some give the impression they are rooting for tornadoes.  They typically qualify it saying something like, "well, I don't want it to hit anything." Well, many do.   Nevermind the devastation they cause, if you ever meet someone directly affected by losing a loved one, you will change your mind.

As far as the forecast in Arkansas, I think it panned out quite well.  We had strong to severe thunderstorms over western Arkansas and they decreased significantly as they moved east.

Now onto Friday and Saturday.  Rain will be the big weather story Friday with areas of rain and some of it could be heavy.  A frontal boundary will creep to the north, but stay south of us most of the day.  Due to this, the severe potential at that point in time will be quite low.  The front will lift north later Friday night and Saturday placing Arkansas in the "warm sector" as the storm system rolls out of the plains into the mid-south.  There's a chance we could destabilize enough for strong to severe thunderstorms Saturday afternoon and evening.  Most of the activity should exit by Sunday and that's the pick day of the weekend.  Once again, if there's a severe threat, at this time it appears to be Saturday.  If we get a break in the rain and clear out, we could be looking at a few rough storms.  The greatest chance for that will be across central and southern Arkansas.  This is still subject to change and we'll fine tune the details as we get closer.

The map Friday morning indicates the front barely moving over far southern Arkansas.  As long as we stay north of the boundary, the severe threat will be low and rain will be the biggest issue.

By Saturday morning, that front moves north as low pressure forms in the plains.  This puts much of Arkansas in the warm sector.  We'll see how much we destabilize.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of Arkansas in a risk area for severe weather.  This could be placed a bit further north in future outlooks.

Rainfall amounts Friday will be heaviest across the south half of the state with up to 2'' possible.

When all is said and done, total amounts Friday and Saturday could add up to a few inches with the heaviest south and lightest north.

Remembering April 27th, 2014

It's a day we will never forget and it's one we hope future generations will always remember. We lost 16 of our fellow Arkansans to one of the strongest tornadoes ever to hit the state.  We remember this day for the obvious reasons, but from a meteorological perspective I want to focus on the fact that it "ONLY TAKES ONE."  It only takes one storm and it only takes one tornado to wipe out communities, destroy lives, and destroy property.

It was an extremely quiet severe weather season with only 1 tornado in 2014 prior to April 27th.  As a matter of fact, we had more tornadoes the first 2 weeks in October of 2014 than we did the entire spring of 2014.

The ingredients were there for a massive outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes that day.  Many tornado warnings were issued across much of Arkansas and the highest level of severe weather risk was put in place by the meteorologists at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK.

But by the end of the day, there was only 1 storm which produced tornadoes in Arkansas.  The same supercell thunderstorm put down its first tornado near the Saline/Pulaski county line and tracked on the ground for almost 40 miles.  It then lifted off the ground and would touch down again 4 more times.

In the calm and quiet studio at Channel 7, we were looking at a horrific signiture on radar, a huge debris ball.  While it was peaceful in the weather center, Ned, Barry, and I knew it was hell on the ground and lives were being lost.  There was nothing anyone could do and all we could do was urge everyone to take cover.  With each radar scan, there was hope it would go away, but it only got stronger.

We quickly began to realize it was happening all over again.  The tornado was on the same track as the one which hit Vilonia almost exactly 3 years prior.

That night, I was extremely proud of everyone at Channel 7.  Both those behind and in front of the camera put together incredible coverage.  I'm even more proud of the way Arkansans responded to the disaster.  Within 3 hours of the first tornado warning, we launched the "Spirit of Arkansas Tornado Relief Drive" to help the Arkansas Red Cross respond.  Because of you, we were able to give victims almost 250 thousand dollars in relief assistance.

Recently, I was asked give a presentation at the National Severe Storms and Doppler Radar Conference in Des Moines, Iowa.  Below is a recorded version of that presentation PLUS some of our coverage that night on Channel 7.  Also below are radar images from that storm.  The National Weather Service in North Little Rock plotted all the survey information along the track and you can check that out on the map too.

Radar image at 7:06PM

7:10PM Debris ball appears on radar.

7:15PM radar image

7:20PM radar image

7:24PM radar image

7:29PM radar image

7:34PM radar image

7:38PM radar image

7:43PM radar image

7:48PM radar image

7:52PM radar image