April 13-15 2012: Major Severe Weather Outbreak Strikes The US Plains
RedOrbit.com Meteorologist Joshua Kelly
This major outbreak started on Friday afternoon in the southern plains from Texas and mostly Oklahoma. Reports on this day included tornadoes and large hail throughout the region.
One of the bigger tornadoes of the day struck in and near Norman, Oklahoma. There was also a tornado reported in California on this day near the city of Yuba City.
The National Weather Service reports that there was very large hail near the size of 3 inches found in Beckham, Oklahoma. This size hail is very dangerous and can lead to structural damage and also vehicle windshields being broken out. It is very important to be cautious and take cover when large hail is forecast.
The National Weather Service also reported a wind gust as high as 70 mph near the city of Coopertown.
As we can see Friday was a smaller day in this massive breakout of severe weather. As forecasted many days in advance by the SPC in Norman Oklahoma, things were only getting started. Saturday proved to be a tragic day with loss of life and tornado reports well over 100.
Saturday April 14 will probably be a day many will not forget. Early estimations by the National Weather Service have it documented as being a day in which we had near 126 tornadoes in all. These tornadoes formed a line from Oklahoma northward into Kansas and Nebraska and then eastward into southern Iowa.
A few tornadoes to point out happen to be the one in Woodward, Oklahoma as this one was responsible for the loss of life as it moved through in the overnight hours.
This brings up an important point to make. Tornadoes at night are deadly. First of all, it is impossible for a person to see them coming. Something that you can do to help save your life is to make sure to have access to a NOAA Radio and also the local news on your alarm clock or radio in the house. Take them and place them beside your bed so that you can hear these alarms and alerts being passed on as this will help give you and your family time to take cover.
The second tornado of note occurred in Iowa. This tornado has been confirmed by the National Weather Service as being a strong EF-2 tornado which created widespread damage and destroyed a large portion of the city of Thurman, Iowa.
Having well over 100 tornado reports on the day this lead to large amounts of damage and will take time to get this part of the country back up and on its feet.
Also on Saturday we had reports of large hail again in the size of 4.5 inches near the town of Randolph, Kansas. This size hail is around the same size as softballs — imagine softballs falling from the sky at very high speeds. This is very dangerous and can be life threating. This is why the National Weather service and meteorologists always inform the public to take cover during severe weather because things like this can and will occur.
Saturday also saw a wind speed of 97 mph which was measured by a weather station at the local airport of Oskaloosa, Iowa. These wind speeds are very dangerous as they can take large objects and toss them into the air and even create wide amounts of structural damage to buildings.
Saturday will be going down as one of the larger outbreaks we have seen in a very long time. The good thing was that people were given days of notice by the National Weather Service that this event was going to occur.
This severe weather outbreak didn’t end there – it carried on to Sunday April 15 – with reports again of tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds.
The tornado count for Sunday was by far smaller than Saturday with an estimated 9 tornadoes to hit the mid-section of the United States. The tornadoes struck in Oklahoma, Nebraska and this time extended into Minnesota and one in South Dakota.
Sunday also saw reports of very large hail. An estimated report from the National Weather Service showed hail the size of 1.75 inches which occurred in many places on the day. Wind reports also came in from various places throughout the region with one of the strongest happening to be near St. Charles county Missouri with a speed of 65 mph.
So after three days of these types of storms hitting the United States one may ask is it possible for this to occur yet another day. The short answer is yes. Until this system exits the United States, expect the possibility to exist for more severe weather.
Today the SPC has posted the potential for thunderstorms along the frontal boundary from the Gulf Coast northeastward into the Ohio River valley. If you are living in any of these areas please be on the lookout for severe weather and make sure to take cover when warned to do so.
What made this storm system so strong? What happened with this system was that we saw all of our ingredients come together on Saturday from the warm moist Gulf air moving into the Plains from the Gulf of Mexico. Also, the dry air from the southwest was able to get into the system in the mid-levels and the cold air from the Rockies was in place also during this time.
As the severe weather season continues to move forward, it is very important to pay close attention to your local news stations and NOAA weather radios for all the latest information in regards to any other severe weather events. This is already a warmer than normal Spring across large portions of the country so this severe weather season has the potential to be very long.
Be careful and be ready.