Saturday, May 9, 2015

Very Big Severe Weather Day In Plains Today. Again.

A tornado menaces a North Texas industrial park
on Friday. Photo by CW Marconi  
Severe weather continues on and on in the southern Plains, and today will be another day of torrential downpours, huge hail and tornadoes.

The epicenter of the severe weather has been pretty steadfast in torturing Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Today will be the third or fourth day in a row with scary weather.

The biggest threat for tornadoes and severe storms this afternoon looks to be in the western halves of Kansas and Oklahoma, and in central Texas. 

It's good that the largest threat of tornadoes is in relatively lightly populated areas, there's still a threat in big cities like Dallas-Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and Wichita, so be on the lookout for that.

Today's rough weather isn't a totally classic severe storm set up. It's kind of messy. There's been repeated rounds of storms and heavy rainfall in the region, as I've noted. That complicates the perfect setup you need for big tornadoes, and also makes forecasting them a challenge.

There's a chance of long lived, strong tornadoes today, but it's not a sure bet. Let's hope any tornadoes that do form are brief and hit open areas. You never can tell.

Flooding is an even bigger and more widespread threat, especially in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and western Arkansas today and tomorrow.

Oklahoma City has already received record rainfall this week, and more is due. The saturated ground can't handle it anymore.

This unusually torrentially wet severe weather outbreak caused one particularly tragic death the other day.  An Oklahoma City woman wisely went to her underground storm shelter when tornado warnings sounded. But the horrifically heavy rain sent floods pouring into the shelter. She couldn't escape and drowned, leaving behind five children.

The severe weather will finally get on the move Sunday, raising the risk of tornadoes, high winds, big hail and torrential rain in the Mississippi Valley and points nearby. Iowa, Illinos, eastern Texas and Arkansas appear to be under the greatest threat on Sunday.

There's extreme weather elsewhere, too. Early season Tropical Storm Ana is swirling around just off the coast of the Carolinas with top sustained winds around 60 mph.

As I noted the other day, this is quite early in the season for a tropical storm, but not unprecedented. Ana will come ashore in the Carolinas, and bring the area torrential rains, gusty winds and beach erosion today and tomorrow.

Winter has made a return to places like the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, where winter storm warnings, of all things, are up this weekend. These areas could get six to 12 inches of snow, locally more, propelled by winds of up to 60 mph.

Near blizzard conditions are forecast in these areas. Yuck!!

As always, the severe weather has yielded some pretty incredible videos taken by people taking risky chances.

Here's a fascinating multi-vortex tornado near Denton, Texas on Thursday. You can see the funnels with the main tornado circulation circulating around like participants in a Big Texas Square Dance:

Here's a view of a tornado, or at least a tornado circulation, as seen by videographer Chris Mance from a storm shelter in Norman, Oklahoma.

 Judging from the strength of the wind, I'm impressed by the construction of the house you see in the video. It appears to suffer relatively minor damage:

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