Moore tornado worse than May 1999; showers and thundestorms split Minn. today

I was selected to be a member of the NOAA tornado assessment team for the Oklahoma City tornado in May 1999. Several meteorologists were immersed in the evaluation of the forecast, the warnings and the response. I use some of the lessons learned in my presentations. Chief among them: PAY ATTENTION when warnings are issued!

Two main teachable moments from Moore in 1999:

-Have a plan for the extraordinary event – timing is not always convenient.

-Share the word that severe weather is approaching.

NOAA Weather Radio has been around for 40 years,yet few take advantage of the 24 hour a day warning service. The latest trend is for a warning app on a cell phone. But many homes, businesses and schools should have a NOAA Weather Radio in place.

Information on NOAA weather radio can be found here.

With regard to yesterday’s devastating tornado in Moore: Weather officials estimated the strength of the storm to be an F4 or F5 on the Fujita Scale–the highest rating a tornado can achieve. The National Weather Service said it packed winds of up to 200 mph.

The NWS in Norman, Okla., said the tornado was on the ground for approximately 40 minutes, and a tornado warning was in effect for 16 minutes before the twister developed.

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A listing of the SPC storm reports can be found here.

In Minnesota

More rain for portions of Minnesota is on tap for the next 24 hours. Heavy rains have fallen, particularly in southeast Minnesota the past week.

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A frontal boundary is likely to extend west to east through central Minnesota this afternoon. The contrast in air masses should be the focus for storm development today.

Forecast maximum temperatures today from the NWS.

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The NAM predicts this band of showers through central Minnesota this afternoon.

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NAM rainfall ending at 7 p.m. CDT today.

Source:NOAA/College of DuPage

Severe storms are not expected in our neck of the woods today, but the Storm Prediction Center is focused on large hail and destructive winds in east Texas and into Arkansas in the next 24 hours.

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The weather pattern dries out in the upper Midwest for Thursday and Friday. We’ll take a look at the upcoming holiday weekend weather in the afternoon blog.

Craig Edwards

  • http://KitchenPantryScientist.com Liz Heinecke

    With new severe weather warning systems and longer lead times, why are kids in MN still sent to hallways, rather than school basements? I realize that not all schools have basements, but my kids in Edina are sent to hallways for tornado drills, even though their school has a basement.

  • AB

    be sure to check the batteries in the weather radio too. A dead backup battery won’t help when the power is out. I replaced it when I replaced the smoke detector batteries this spring.

  • JP

    I think a blog article on your most favored smart phone weather warning apps (and why) would be good.

  • Craig

    A smart phone app for weather makes complete sense. It is an alternative way to receive warnings particularly when you are mobile.

    Service tracks where you are and sends you the warning.

    Multiple sources of weather information during severe are strongly encouraged.

    As always, pass the information forward when storms are in your vicinity.

    Ask your cell phone provider about weather apps.

    Craig

  • JP

    “Ask your cell phone provider?” Surely you jest. I don’t mean to sound negative, but aren’t you the ones who are thinking of weather and how it impacts the public the most? The advantage of a good push-based smart phone app is that you always know it’s working if other push-based apps are working. Only thing is, the cell phone network may be down at the most needed moment, so you can’t totally rely on the app.

    I have a NOAA weather radio, but I’m never sure it’s going to work when I need it most. Call me paranoid, but “Test alerts are sent weekly by the NWS around 1 p.m. CDT on Wednesdays” also doesn’t cut it. What is the likelihood that I will be at the radio listening every Wednesday at 1:00? What if I miss this week? There could be a dozen tornadoes before the next test alert. The problem with a weather radio county alert is that the radio sits around a long time doing nothing and then is supposed to perform 100% reliably at the most urgent possible time. How about suggesting more frequent NWS tests, at least during tornado season?