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The Lebanon, MO Tornado November 10th, 1995

9:14 pm in Severe Storms, Storm Summaries, The Ozarks by Ted Keller

Storm-Relative Velocity Showing the Couplet Near Lebanon at About 5 pm

This was an interesting storm for several reasons. 

First, it was a November tornado.  Actually, we shouldn’t be that surprised at this because the Ozarks have always had a significant “second season” of tornadoes which peaks in November and December, especially when it comes to outbreaks of tornadoes. 

November, and all of the months of winter too, are considered to be the “cool season” with regard to tornado development.  Most people don’t think of this period as being a particularly threatening time for tornadoes.  But the fact is that when tornado conditions develop during the cool season, the tornado threat is just as real as anything in the heart of May!

Cool season tornadoes are dangerous for reasons beyond just public apathy.  Because the length of daylight is very short, it is likely that cool season tornadoes will be nocturnal. (occurring at night)  Now, they may simply be late afternoon or evening storms which are nocturnal because of the time of year.  Or they may be storms which develop after the late news or worse after the majority of people of gone to bed.  Such overnight storms are often aided by the natural strong jet stream patterns found during the cool season which can force tornadic conditions anytime , not necessarily favoring the peak heating of late afternoon and evening.  This tornado touched down before sunset.

In the writing of this report, I requested the radar data archive for this date.  It showed a broken line of storms, many of which were taking on supercell characteristics.   I recorded a loop of these storms in the 5 o’clock hour.  The green triangle is a “scit” where the computer has tagged tight rotation in a storm.  It lasts for two frames or about eight minutes as it zips across south Lebanon.  This tornado tore apart Tracker Marine in Lebanon, throwing boats everywhere.  It crossed I-44 and did other damage to homes.

What I really find quite interesting in this post analysis of the event is the intensity of a storm immediately to the southwest of the Lebanon storm, also shown in the radar loop.  This storm had a more persistent and stronger rotation couplet associated with it reaching a peak near Twin Bridges south of Lebanon at around 5:24 pm!  Yet there were no tornado reports with this storm.  A curiosity.

One last note: this tornado occurred ahead of a powerful cold front!  I distinctly remember working this night and while trying to stay ahead of  the tornado warnings, I glanced over into eastern Kansas and saw what sure looked like a signature of snow on radar there!  In fact, it was snow and the area received a light accumulation of snow later that night and early in the morning!

Severe Weather Update

12:35 pm in Extreme Weather, Severe Storms, The Ozarks by Ted Keller

Radar at 1:25 pm

Good news, the tornado threat, what there was, has lessened but a severe thunderstorm watch may be in the works for this afternoon.

Morning storms have changed the environment across much of the Ozarks to lessen the tornado threat. The 5% area ala the SPC is now in Kansas. There is still a marginal (2%) threat for the area.

The storms in question are now approaching Vernon and St Clair counties. This area is under a flash flood warning from morning storms and this additional rainfall could lead to some high water in spots.

A severe thunderstorm watch may be hoisted for a large portion of southwest Missouri shortly as this storm area continues to move ESE. Large hail and isolated severe wind gusts are the main threat.

Be sure to watch for updates on KOLR News at 5, 6 & 10 and Ozarks Fox News at 9 pm tonight for the latest!

Severe Storms Tonight?

9:54 am in Forecast Discussion, Severe Storms by Ted Keller


Severe Storms for Friday

The jet stream is increasing out over the Great Plains and this will help to drive organized severe storms eastward today from Kansas into Missouri.  Some of these storms could be severe by the time they reach the Ozarks later tonight.

The SPC has a slight risk of severe storms in an area just northwest and north of Springfield. 

The overall wind shear is favorable for supercell thunderstorms out west in Kansas.  While a warm air cap is always a concern, the forcing involved with the front and jet stream should be enough to overcome the cap in at least a few areas. 

The storms east of Springfield in Howell, Shannon and Dent Counties will continue to move east.  Meanwhile, showers and storms are developing near the approaching system in Kansas and this will continue to grow into the slight risk area today.

The rain bulls-eye will occur over northern and central Missouri.  Storms should show a tendency to fill back to the southwest later this evening and these will be the heaviest the Ozarks see this evening and overnight.

The jet stream is marginal for supercells but a few could develop.  Hail is not a large threat due to high freezing levels but damaging winds are a real possibility with some storms in the risk area.  Tornadoes are not a huge risk but any supercell that does develop will have to be watched.  The greatest risk would be near the Kansas City area and eastern Kansas early this evening.

Minnesota Tornado Throws a Pickup Truck One Half Mile!

2:16 pm in Extreme Weather, In the News, Severe Storms by Ted Keller

Storm Reports of Saturday, August 7, 2010

The National Weather Service has confirmed that the tornado which touched down in North Dakota and traveled east into Wilken County, Minnesota on Saturday was rated a low end EF4.  This means the storm had estimated peak winds of  170-175 mph.

The link to the National Weather Service assessment of the damage.

This was one of several tornadoes which touched down in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin on Saturday evening.

This area was slammed by a violent tornado outbreak on June 17th of this year.  A complete report on that outbreak can be found here.

One tornado on Saturday was caught on tape by a storm chaser crossing a road and then destroying a building.  According to the National Weather Service, about 14 buildings were destroyed by this twister.

VToo.2 Chase Week, Tornado Day! June 10th, 2010

10:18 am in Storm Chase VToo.2, Storm Chasing by Ted Keller

What a crazy day!  I knew the night before that the Storm Predicion Center (SPC) had put out a 10% tornado risk for the day, the highest of our chase week, so I was excited and ready to go.

My chase partner Matt Gingery had caught a head cold and was trying to get better.   During the process of breakfast and video editing which occurs every morning in the motel room, Annette Gaillard from Artbeats, who we are guiding to the storms to get high quality footage, informs us our vehicle has a flat tire!

O.K., I never had to deal with a flat while chasing although it is certainly possible while storm chasing, one of the many things you should consider if you’re thinking about chasing storms.  My first thought was thank goodness if didn’t occur WHILE we were chasing!  The whole process took about an hour to take care of but we had the time since the storm risk was right in our backyard!

When it came down to hitting the road, our initial thought was to head west from Sterling, Colorado closer to where storms were expected to fire.  As we were doing so, the SPC issued a mesoscale discussion for areas back to our east!  Not wanting to miss initiation of storms in extremely unstable air, we backtracked through Sterling and headed for extreme northeastern Colorado instead.  We noticed that the Dominator was holding up out there (one of only a very few who were actually) so we felt like it was a gamble which could pay off.  Besides, how big could Colorado be? We could always race back west if we needed to, right?

Well, that’s exactly what we saw other chasers doing and a quick check of radar revealed why.  Storms were rapidly firing near the Denver area.  But we noticed another lone storm going up just southeast of Limon.  I liked this cell because it was off by itself and on the way to the other storms, a win-win set-up really.  If this storm could take root, we would be one of the few chasers on it and avoiding chaser convergence when possible is a good thing!

The Colorado State Highway patrol officer who pulled us over didn’t care about chaser convergence, he just wanted us to stop taking liberties with the speed limit!  We has a happy guy, which helped us, who also apparently did not have a bad impression of storm chasers.  We got off with a warning and were on our way.

As we were lining ourselves up with the strongest storm, it went tornado-warned!  It was also dumping tennis ball-sized hail.  But as we approached it from due east, it began to fade a bit.  But our visual showed the development of a great cell to the south. As we got closer, a well-defined low-level mesocyclone came into view!  Fortunately, a good state highway allowed us to drive south quickly and get into position.

This mesocyclone produced two very obvious twisters which we recorded.  There could have been smaller ones too.  We got closer to the storm eventually but it never produced as obvious of a tornado. 

We stopped for several more photo opportunities while staying ahead of the storm on highway 36.  At one point while stopping for a photo shoot, we got pelted by by quarter-sized hail blowing horizontal by a 50 plus mph wind.  I got a welt on my side and Annette got several in the arm!  We got out fast enough but in the rush, Annette had dropped her iPhone!  With larger hail possible and the winds increasing, we couldn’t go back to look for it right away; it would have to wait.

Meanwhile, chaser convergence had definitely increased.  Vortex II and other well-known chasers were in the area.  The mesocyclone was becoming shrouded in rain which very well could have contained a tornado but was nearly impossible to see.  We got some great additional shots of this active storm.

Now, where was Annette’s phone?  We had a fair idea where we stopped and held out hope that we could find it intact.  It could have been rain-soaked or run over by one of the many chasers who pulled over to tape the storm.  It was getting dark and we slowly retraced our steps, eyeing the shoulder of the road carefully.  Suddenly there it was!  Only slightly damp and in a case which protected it from the fall.  This was a great relief to me; losing an expensive phone would have been a disappointing footnote to what was otherwise a great chase day!

It should be noted that this multi-tornado storm occurred on the edge of the lowest probability of tornado occurrence forecast for this day!  If you stayed in the 10% area on this day, you would not have seen a twister!  There was one storm in extreme northern Colorado but to the best of my knowledge, it did not drop a tornado.  This just underscores the difficult nature of storm chasing in general and finding a tornado specifically.  As I like to say, the forecast was executed brilliantly, it’s the weather that decided to do something else!

We had spectacular lightning on the way back to Sterling.  We ate at the Village Inn in town were Reed Timmer and gang along with Tim Marshall and some of the Vortex II folks had stopped to eat as well.  It was the perfect ended to a day which definately had its ups and downs!

VToo.2 Chase Day Two, June 7th, 2010

12:33 pm in Storm Chase VToo.2, Storm Chasing by Ted Keller

On this Monday, we were ready to roll!  All chasers and equipment were in the same vehicle now and the risk for severe storms was good.

The forecasting challenge for this day: how far north should we go?   We felt the whole time that we had to distance ourselves from a warm cap layer in the middle atmosphere which would limit storm development and growth.  The more we looked, the more north we decided to drift, all the while carefully monitoring radar trends.

We found ourselves hanging out just south of Scottsbluff, NE, right in the middle of a tornado watch as it turned out.  It became clear very quickly that storms were firing and becoming severe north of our current position.  This meant traveling into remote areas of the Nebraska panhandle.  We finally settled on a well-developed storm northwest of Torrington, WY as it drifted ESE toward us.

We would have bet money that this storm would go tornado-warned while it was approaching us but it never did.  Instead, it became outflow-dominated and the shelf cloud it produced is shown in my video review of this day.

Our attention then turned to a new storm to the west.  This storm more or less traveled ESE down highway 26 through Henry, Morrill, Mitchell and eventually Scottsbluff, NE.  Got got right to the eastern edge of this storm in Henry and pretty much kept just ahead it, traveling in tandem down highway 26.

After documenting a huge dust roll just northwest of Scottsbluff, we headed into the city.  We actually thought about heading south to a storm we could we on radar and visually.  The our current storm had other ideas!  While navigating through Scottsbluff, the storm suddenly went tornado warned!  We tried to get some visuals on this storm but it looked to us to be a huge severe outflow of damaging winds with little chance of a tornado sighting.

Again, staying just barely ahead of this storm, we left the city heading ESE.  Remember the scene in “Independence Day” when the president’s plane is taking off staying just barely ahead of the blast that the aliens used to destroy Washington D.C.?  This is how we felt! 

By now, chaser convergence was becoming an issue.  Not nearly as bad as more recently documented examples, but it became clear that more chasers and tour groups were on this storm.

So between the storm gust advancing at 70 mph and all of the traffic, it was everything we had to stay safe and ahead of this monster storm.

As it turns out, there were very weak and short-lived tornadoes in this storm.  Several chasers did capture these small funnels.  But staying under or in such storm is beyond what we set out to do on these chases.

It was a rush to be sure and we were on the two most intense storms of the day so we were satisfied with our chase decisions for the day!

Please check out videos of all my chases on this web site and YouTube under WeathermanTed!

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