Christmas Tornadoes

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By Stephen Gode on December 25, 2012, 7:25pm Last modified: January 3, 2013, 12:05am

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The examiner reports:

"The tornado outbreak, which also impacted three other states across the South, is the biggest to ever hit on Christmas Day!

Out of more than 30 tornado reports, the NWS has confirmed at least 14 tornadoes, which breaks the previous standing record for tornadoes on Christmas Day of 12 in 1969. Tornado records go as far back as 1950."

Between the winds, thunderstorms, flooding, and wintry weather with at least near blizzard conditions at times and ice, this storm system was deadly with at least several injured, destructive, and damaging. 

Local storm reports in the Lake Charles, LA.

Local storm reports in the New Orleans/Baton Rouge area.

Summary of tornadoes in the Mobile/Pensacola area with damage pictures.

Update Mobile/Pensacola Additional Tornadoes.

Merry Christmas to all! (First day original update:)There is currently a developing low pressure area tracking Northeastward. In the warm sector, there is currently at least a small outbreak of tornadoes occurring near the Gulf Coast, in particularly, southern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and heading into the panhandle of Florida and Georgia tonight. The storm system is drawing ample moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to be sufficient for vigorous thunderstorm development along with enough shear from a strong upper level disturbance, which is becoming negatively tilted, tracking near the Gulf Coast.

In the warm sector, temperatures have reached into the 70's and dewpoints were in the 60's with mid-level CAPE around 1000 J/kg with additional support with strong deep layer shear/effective shear 50-60 knots. Wind profiles show low level jet of 40-50 knots. Fort Worth/Dallas and Corpus Christi, Texas had steep mid-level lapse rates for near 8.2-8.4 C/km from today's 12z soundings. Shear in the area has 90-100 knots at 500 mb (jet) and 120-130 knots at 250 mb. Severe weather parameters are sufficient enough for supercells for the potential of tornadoes (possibility of some strong and long-tracked), damaging wind, and maybe some large hail reports. Some reports of several tornadoes have been already reported to the Storm Prediction Center shown below (updated: day 1 and 2 now). Day two of the severe thunderstorms has much less of a chance of tornadoes, but near the coast of eastern North Carolina there can be still isolated tornadoes and maybe one that could be significant (but very low chance). Thunderstorm activity is starting to push offshore of portions of the Southeast from the cold front swinging through the area.

Update (12/27/12): Severe thunderstorm threat has ended with from the cold front pushing offshore last night. Additional surveys are continuing for possible more reports than shown below (these are filtered storm reports).

Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) Tornado Watch (NWS):

From SPC about this tornado watch:

PROBABILITY TABLE:

PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : 80%

PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 70%

PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : 70%

PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 60%

PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS : 20%

PROB OF 1 OR MORE HAIL EVENTS >= 2 INCHES : 10%

PROB OF 6 OR MORE COMBINED SEVERE HAIL/WIND EVENTS : 90%

EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 1255 PM UNTIL

800 PM CST.

...THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION...

DESTRUCTIVE TORNADOES...LARGE HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER...

THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 75 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE

POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.
This tornado watch has expired.

Other tornado watches and severe thunderstorm watches are issued and additional watches will probably continue through the overnight into tomorrow.

This tornado watch expired by the NWS:

From the SPC about this tornado watch:

PROBABILITY TABLE:

PROB OF 2 OR MORE TORNADOES : 40%

PROB OF 1 OR MORE STRONG /F2-F5/ TORNADOES : 30%

PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE WIND EVENTS : 60%

PROB OF 1 OR MORE WIND EVENTS >= 65 KNOTS : 50%

PROB OF 10 OR MORE SEVERE HAIL EVENTS := 2 INCHES :

EFFECTIVE THIS WEDNESDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON FROM 1010 AM UNTIL

500 PM EST.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 1 INCH IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS

TO 75 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

NOAA infrared imagery (day 2, 12/26/12 1745z):

12/26/12 18z surface analysis (NWS):

The severe weather threat has ended. Always monitor the weather whenever bad weather may threaten. A weather radio can be useful when dangerous weather occurs especially during the night. Be weather ready!

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Stephen Gode

Town: North Haven, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since September 2012.

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