Thursday, February 04, 2016

Remembering February 5th, 2008

It was "Super Tuesday" as many headed to the polls, then headed for cover as a major tornado outbreak hit the central portion of the country.  Arkansas was in the middle of it.  By the end of the day, an EF4 tornado tracked almost 122 miles continuously through western and northern Arkansas.  It was the longest track in recorded state weather history.  That single tornado claimed 13 lives and according to the tornado history project web site, almost 140 were injured.  A total of 12 twisters tore through Arkansas February 5th, 2008, 14 died, and almost 180 were injured.

It was a day none of us will ever forget.  The next day I was sent to Atkins to look at the damage and it was more heartbreaking than I ever imagined.  I saw homes and lives ripped apart.

Below are radar animations of that day, pictures I took, and some viewer photos as well.  Let's hope we never have anything like this again.

In this radar animation, you will see the supercell in front of the main line which caused the record breaking twister.  This was a text book example of an individual cell in front of the main line rotating.  We always watch those storms closely and now you know why.  As the main squall line moved through Little Rock, an official wind gust of 67 mph was recorded.  That's the 6th strongest on record.

When the main line came through Little Rock, it produced the 6th highest wind gust EVER recorded in Little Rock weather history at 67 mph.  Below is an animation of that line coming through during the evening hours. 


The actual tornado as it hit Atkins sent in from a KATV viewer.
Another shot of the historic tornado as it moved into northern Arkansas.
Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.  This is an aerial view of the boat plant destroyed in Clinton, AR
Track courtesy of the Tornado History Project

This and the following few pictures I took in Atkins the next day.
Atkins, Arkansas
Atkins, Arkansas
Photo from KATV crews the next day in Clinton, Arkansas
Clinton, Arkansas
Mountain View, Arkansas damage

Here's the convective outlook that day ( 2-5-08) issued by the Storm Prediction Center.  High risks are rare!

Why Long Range Forecasting Can Be Like Throwing Darts

Quick post about next week and why long range forecasting is very difficult and sometimes like throwing darts.  The first image is the operational GFS for its morning run on Saturday, January 30th valid for Tuesday, February 9th.  The blue line is the 540 line and a good indicator of the rain/snow line.  See that "U" shape it makes over the west and central portions of the country?  That's telling you there's a trough over that area and cold air is on the move south at the surface.  It develops a wave of low pressure along the boundary in the northern Gulf with precip overrunning to the north over Arkansas in the form of snow. 

Fast forward to the afternoon run of the GFS today (February 4th) valid for the same time period, February 8th.  It has the trough, but instead of it over the west and central portions of the country, it's over the central and east with the coldest air directed into the Great Lakes and Ohio River Valley.  Since we are now on the western side of the trough, it means a cold and mostly dry northerly flow aloft without any storm to deal with.  This post is also a reminder that what the models indicate 7-10 days from now are likely in la-la land.  

I thought it was interesting to show you how much a model can change over the course of a few days and why I don't like jumping on any particular solution.  You look for trends.  I will admit, I did think something would pop for us around Mardi Gras, but all we can hope for are a couple snow flurries or snow showers, especially over northern Arkansas.  This is still several days away and I have seen the models flip quickly in another direction.  But the data is hard to ignore at this point.  

Snow lovers, don't give up!  There's still plenty of winter left and I'm optimistic.  Can anyone calculate how many days until next winter? LOL

GFS run from Saturday morning January 30th valid for late Tuesday, February 8th

Afternoon run of the GFS Thursday valid at the same time, Tuesday February 8th.

February Made Me Shiver With Every Forecast I Delivered

My apologies to one of my favorite songs of all-time, "American Pie" by Don McLean.

It's cold now, but I think it will get even colder next week and with that arctic chill, there MIGHT be a few flakes.  This video goes over that PLUS one more rant about political polls vs computer models.