Monday, May 23, 2011

5/23 - 11am CDT - Destruction in Joplin / Today's Chase in OK

The US just can't catch a break from horrendous tornado destruction this year. Last night a very powerful wedge tornado tore through the town on Joplin, Missouri leaving nearly 40% of the town destroyed and 89 dead as of this writing. Many are calling this tornado, which also ripped through a hospital in Joplin, an EF4 tornado. While no official designation will be given to this twister until the National Weather Service completes a survey of the damage, the look of the destruction on TV and online suggests an EF4-like tornado. The pictures coming in look just like Tuscaloosa, which was hit by a similar tornado on April 27th. We were not in Joplin last night because it was too far away from our starting location in Amarillo where we picked up our new tour guests. We also usually don't chase in that area because of the increased vegetation and topography issues. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

This morning we're in Oklahoma getting into position for what could be another active day. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Moderate Risk for severe weather across much of Oklahoma and unfortunately the hard-hit Joplin area in Missouri. A 10% tornado risk accompanies this severe weather outlook, which you'll find below. Dew points in the upper 60's to near 70 will be more than enough for storm development this afternoon and east surface winds coupled with southwest winds aloft should enhance wind shear. The surface area of low pressure we're watching along the Oklahoma/Kansas border may be dropping south and west this afternoon, so we'll have to follow the good surface winds as they move.

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