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8-14th…A large low pressure system brought scattered showers to the Western half of the nation on Monday. A low pressure system strengthened as it moved off the Northern Rockies and into the Plains. Counter-clockwise flow around this wide system allowed for warm and moist air to pour into the Midwest from the Gulf of Mexico. This created a warm front that stretched from the Northern Plains, into the Great Lakes and Midwest. This system kicked up widespread scattered showers, with periods of heavy rainfall over the Upper Midwest. Most areas saw between 0.50 and 1.0 inches of rain, while Menominee, Wisconsin saw a mid-day total of 1.14 inches of rain. Moisture wrapped well around the back side of this system, which also pulled cooler air in from Canada. This allowed for more rain showers to develop across the Rockies, with high elevation snow showers. Parts of western Montana saw 1 to 2 feet of snow above 6,000 feet. The Central Rockies only saw light flurries with accumulation near 1 inch at high elevations of Utah and Colorado.
Fairly widespread clouds covered much of the northeastern quadrant of the nation Wednesday as a deep low pressure system sat over the Central Appalachians. Wrap around winds associated with this low ushered significant moisture into the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England. This translated into numerous rain showers with periods of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms throughout the day. Daytime heating increased atmospheric instability in the Upper Ohio Valley and the northern Mid-Atlantic, putting these areas at slight risk of severe weather activity with damaging wind, hail, and perhaps some tornadoes. Thus far, two events of quarter sized hail (1.00 inch in diameter) were reported in Randolph and Marion Counties, West Virginia. Flood Watches and Flood Warnings remained in effect for areas of West Virginia through Connecticut and western Massachusetts due to persistent precipitation. Additional on and off showers and thunderstorms developed in parts of the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley. Some rain prompted flash floods. Meanwhile, a large, cold storm system sparked numerous showers around the West. Heavy mountain snow accumulated in the Rockies and Sierra. The West Coast dried out through early Wednesday.
15th-21st…More severe weather developed across the Plains on Friday, as a low pressure system hovered over the Central U.S. Counter-clockwise flow around the system pulled warm and moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico, which produced a warm front that stretched from the Plains to the mid-Mississippi River Valley. At the same time, a cold front developed behind this system, and extended southward into the Southern Plains. The strong surge of moisture in between these two fronts allowed for severe storm development with heavy downpours, strong winds, and large hail. Rainfall totals ranged from 1 to 2 inches across Oklahoma and Missouri, with up to 3 inches in areas of severe thunderstorm development. Tinker, Oklahoma reported a mid-day total of 3.37 inches. Meanwhile, multiple reports of large hail came in from western Arkansas, as well as golf ball size hail reported in Goldthwaite, Texas. The northern side of this system allowed for periods of heavy rainfall to develop across Montana and North Dakota. Rainfall totals ranged from 1.0 to 1.5 inches, with no reports of severe storms.
The Mid-Mississippi River Valley saw another active weather day on Monday. A low pressure system that moved into the Great Lakes continued to push a strong frontal boundary southeastward. The system stretched from the Great Lakes, down the Ohio River Valley, over the Mid-Mississippi River Valley, and into the Southern Plains. Due to warm and moist air feeding this system from the Gulf of Mexico, more severe storms developed just ahead of this front. Rainfall totals ranged from 1 to 2 inches across most of Missouri, Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma. However, heavier rain developed in areas of severe thunderstorms. Blytheville, Arkansas reported a mid-day total of 2.13 inches of rain. Large hail and damaging winds accompanied these storms with quarter sized hail reported in Lake Worth, Texas, and dime to quarter size hail reported in St. James Phelms, Missouri. Montevallo, Missouri saw strong winds with gusts up to 60 and 70 mph, which caused major damage to trees and power lines across the region.
A massive tornado that tore a six-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 116 people as it smashed the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars and leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entire neighborhoods once stood. City Manager Mark Rohr announced the new death toll at a Monday afternoon news conference. He said seven people had been rescued, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he was "optimistic that there are still lives out there to be saved." Search and rescue efforts continued throughout the city of 50,000 about 160 miles south of Kansas City. Much of its south side has been leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 198 mph. Jasper County Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer has estimated about 2,000 buildings were damaged. Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles estimated the damage covered a quarter or more of the city of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City. He said his home was among those destroyed. An unknown number of people were injured, and officials said patients were sent to any nearby hospitals that could take them. Police officers staffed virtually every major intersection Monday as ambulances screamed through the streets. Rescuers involved in a door-to-door searches moved gingerly around downed power lines and jagged debris, while survivors picked through the rubble of their homes,
salvaging clothes, furniture, family photos and financial records, the
air pungent with the smell of gas and smoking embers. Some neighborhoods were completely flattened and the leaves stripped from trees, giving the landscape an apocalyptic aura. In others where structures still stood, families found their belongings jumbled as if someone had picked up their homes and shaken them. A cross stands atop a church that was severely damaged by a tornado in Joplin, Mo., as a severe storm passes overhead Monday, May 23, 2011. A large tornado moved through much of the city Sunday, damaging a hospital, hundreds of homes and businesses and killing at least 89 people.
The strong storm system, associated cold front, and jet stream that brought deadly tornadoes to Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas moved eastward from eastern Kansas into Missouri on Wednesday. This system drew warm, moist air from the south northward, while the jet stream ushered cold air into the nation's mid-section as it streamed in from the southwest. This activity created warm and unstable conditions from parts of eastern Texas and northern Louisiana through the eastern Great Lakes. Atmospheric conditions were favorable for the development of severe weather with severe thunderstorms, potentially deadly tornadoes, large hail, and damaging wind. Strong thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, hail, high wind, and tornadoes formed ahead of the cold front in parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Meanwhile, numerous bands of showers, heavy rainfall, and thunderstorms developed to the north of this low and to the north of another associated front stalled in the Ohio Valley, from Nebraska through Michigan. The Storm Prediction Center put areas from northern Louisiana through the eastern Great Lakes at slight risk of severe weather development. Areas from southern Arkansas and northern Mississippi across much of the Mid-Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Valleys were placed at moderate risk. A high risk statement remained in effect for parts of northeastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, western and central Kentucky, and southern Indiana through the afternoon into the early night. A major tornado outbreak was anticipated over portions of the Mid-Mississippi and lower Ohio Valleys.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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