Sunday, April 26, 2015

Remembering April 27th, 2014... IT ONLY TAKES ONE.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Watching For Strong To Severe Storms Today (Friday)

12:25 PM Friday Update... Clouds and rain will help keep instability values in check today, but it's southern Arkansas where we need to watch.  While the worst of the thunderstorm activity may end up being over Texas and Louisiana, a few strong to severe storms will move into southern Arkansas and the main threat will be high winds.  A tornado can't be ruled out across that area as well.   Further north, it's heavy rainfall which will end up being a bigger threat.  I'm keeping an eye on the situation for you.

Severe risk today is slight for much of the southwestern half of the state with an "enhanced" risk further south.

The tornado threat is elevated further south as well with small chances north.  This is where more of the surface based instability may develop.
Severe hail will be possible as well.
High winds will be a threat too, especially over far southern Arkansas.

The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) shows between 1-3 inches of rainfall will be possible across much of central and southern Arkansas through 1AM Saturday.  While this may not cause significant flooding, watch for rising water in low lying areas.

Hope for clouds and rain today because if the sun comes out, that's a very bad thing.  The more sunshine we receive, the more the atmosphere will destabilize.  At this time, it appears the worst storms will track through southern Arkansas.  The potential for severe winds (58 mph or greater) is elevated.  It might be a good idea to have your cell phones charged and a flashlight ready to go.  There's also a chance for tornadoes, especially across the far south.

This video goes into timing and specific threats for specific locations.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Severe Weather Possible Friday

Much of the state has a slight risk for severe weather and there's even an "enhanced" risk over southern Arkansas.  Instability values are forecast to increase rapidly across the southern half of the state.  This will lead to thunderstorm development with wind and hail the main threats.  As always, there's the potential for tornadoes, but at this time, it looks low.  The worst of the activity will arrive late in the afternoon into the evening

This video goes over everything you need to know.