You’ve probably heard about the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the Deep South late Sunday night. The preliminary count from Storm Prediction Center is around 22 twisters.
Some were fairly strong with winds estimated up to 150 mph. The cause was a sharp trough of low pressure moving east from the Plains. Warm and humid air was surging north from the Gulf of Mexico to collide with the colder air in place farther north. As you’ll see in the map below from the Storm Prediction Center from Sunday evening, dew points had climbed to the 60s around part of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama along a warm front where most of the twisters occurred.
Very strong atmospheric winds were moving in from the west. The winds were turning in direction with height, which is another important factor for forming violent tornadoes. We can only hope we d0n’t have as active of a spring as last year for severe weather. Numerous major low pressure systems marched from the Southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic and set up a frequent battleground in that area in late winter and spring 2011.
STRONG SOLAR STORM IMPACTING EARTH
On a different note, a strong solar flare erupted from the sun Sunday evening with possible impacts to aircraft communications near the Earth’s poles. Besides the flare, a Coronal Mass Ejection accompanied this event. A geomagnetic storm is expected to develop around 8 a.m. CST Tuesday, continuing into Wednesday. It could be a moderate intensity (G2).
This may affect power grids, where voltage corrections may be required along with false alarms set off on some protective devices. A few spotty satellite navigation and low-frequency rado navigation problems may also develop.
Finally, high latitude locations could be fortunate enough to have some decent auroras. Let’s hope our skies are fairly clear around here.
This post was written by Tony Schumacher on January 23, 2012