Archive for May, 2011

Lucky Shots of Overshooting Towers!

Posted on: May 13th, 2011 by Jonathan Merage 2 Comments

So last week I felt SORELY disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to chase what the forecast models had predicted would be the second real tornado outbreak of the year. Both the long range (GFS) AND medium-short range (NAM) showed the classic signs of a negatively tilted trough & associated jet streak complete with subtropical jet to pull out onto the southern Plains right over deep moisture classic to a healthy May starting Wednesday and moving slowly eastwards into the end of the week.

Unfortunately a business trip to Chicago– starting ON Wednesday and going for a day & a half — was mandatory. I had a sneaking suspicion that Chicago & areas along our flight one way or the other would likely see at least some storms, and thankfully was not disappointed!
While there were no tornadoes or crazy lightning storms to be had (and this system failed to produce any outbreaks at all, thankfully), I did have the great pleasure of photographing a few healthy supercells on the way back home– from 40,000 feet up!! Somewhere over southeastern Nebraska between Lincoln & Hebron spiraling around the core of a large cold-core low a series of cells erupted…

Courtesy of my DROID X!

These failed to produce any tornadoes (at the time at least), but had plenty of awesome classic supercellular structures! Four twisters were reported earlier, but they were all further north along & just north of I-80 between 3-4pm.

Gearing Up for Storm Season 2011

Posted on: May 7th, 2011 by Jonathan Merage No Comments

Greetings! It’s been some time since my last update, and as we have seen this season has already taken off with a truly historic and unprecedented April of consecutive outbreaks with not just record numbers of tornadoes, but of VIOLENT killer tornadoes, as anyone tuned into the news has seen. The latest estimates and figures from NOAA & the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) are stunning: (source link here)

305 separate tornado touchdowns in two waves of outbreaks over a 3-day period.

Two E-F5s, 12 E-F4s, and TWENTY-ONE E-F3 tornadoes!!

Damage paths across long swaths of land from east Texas to Virginia, covering most of the southeast U.S. region known as “Dixie Alley”, an area outside the proverbial & traditional “Tornado Alley” which has seen more deaths per capita than anywhere in the nation.

One particularly violent storm spawned from this monstrous “super-outbreak”, infamously known as the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado, was tracked and covered live by numerous media outlets including The Weather Channel, had a maximum width of 1.5 miles and an astounding 80 MILE path of destruction, very sadly inflicting a confirmed 65 fatalities, a new record from a single tornado since March 1925.

The endless streams of images, videos & dramatic survivor accounts have once again left the nation with a sad, sobering image of what a “Super-Outbreak” looks like, and the ongoing NEED to continue to develop advanced warning systems with which to not just continually warn, but EDUCATE the public. On the positive side, the Storm Prediction Center had issued categorical risks days before the outbreak, clearly highlighting the general areas most at risk, and then worked diligently with the local NWS offices in issuing warnings on some 90% of storms that produced tornadoes with an average lead time of twenty-five minutes.

A few incredible videos that put things in perspective for me on that night:
Tuscaloosa tornado