A MASSIVE BLACK CLOUD OF DEATH...
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Parkersburg, Iowa EF5 tornado. The violent wedge twister hit just before 5:00pm and cut a 3/4 mile path of devastation through the southern half of the city. The storm killed 9 and is the last EF5 to occur in Iowa. It was also the first since the twin EF5's of Charles City and Oelwein 40 years earlier (May 15th, 1968). The image below was taken on the east side of Parkersburg with the tornado obliterating the south side of town with 205 mph winds. An eye witness explained it to me as, "a massive black cloud of death".
Chief Deputy Tim Wolthoff of neighboring Grundy County was on duty that day, patrolling the area for storms with his 20-year-old son. He took the images below and watched helplessly as the storm roared into Parkersburg.
He took this video capture inside his squad car with the time stamp visible. Two minutes later it was in Parkersburg at 4:56pm.
Here's his radio dispatch conversation from his squad car as he shoots video of the impending disaster. He specifically notes the tornado "is large" and "headed for town".
The tornado was on the ground for 43 miles with a continuous path of destruction. I arrived in Parkersburg shortly after the storm and was unprepared for the enormity of the damage. The police chief, Chris Luhring later described it to me as "atomic" destruction. The nuclear analogy struck me as fitting, complete devastation as far as I could see. A vivid personal memory was the neon X spray painted on the remains of cars and homes that had been searched and cleared of bodies. The smell of splintered wood and the sound of chain saws permeated the air. Every tree was stripped of its leaves, branches and bark. There were no birds. American flags hung resolute over dozens of destroyed homes. Plows moved debris off the streets and chunks of plywood painted with the name of a street were erected to help residents determine where their home once stood. It chills me to this very day.
10 years later, as the chief meteorologist of KGAN TV in Cedar Rapids, I and meteorologist Nick Stewart did a special on the storm called the Parkersburg EF5 Tornado: in their own words. We won an Emmy for our work and you can watch the video below if you are interested.
Parkersburg before and after the tornado by way of google satellite. Notice all the trees that were decimated.
I will end with this security video of a house being destroyed by the tornado. You can watch it disintegrate before your eyes in a matter of seconds. Hell hath no fury like an EF5 tornado.
Here in the Midwest, we continue to be part of a very stable weather pattern that has effectively shut down precipitation and severe weather. You may recall this years severe weather season got off to a very active and early start across the area. Three significant severe weather events were in the books at the NWS office in Davenport by May 7th. The number of severe weather reports for each event is highlighted in yellow below.
The tornado count in the DVN service area through May 23rd was 49, 13 more than any previous year.
The majority of the tornado reports were associated with the high risk severe weather event of March 31st.
That day 163 tornado reports were logged by SPC
The NWS office in Davenport issued 31 tornado warnings. SPC's high risk assessment was highly warranted!
Through May 23rd 2023, DVN's 190 tornado or thunderstorm warnings were far ahead of the previous high mark of 147 in 2006.
Now the tide has turned and its been well over 2 weeks since a tornado warning has been issued by DVN.
Here's SPC's outlook for the next week. Entering the prime of severe weather season the majority of the nation is quiet. A rarity to be sure.
Going into the holiday weekend temperatures will cool some thanks to the backdoor cold front that passed Wednesday. Even so readings will be pleasant with highs Thursday in the upper 60s NE to mid 70s SW. Friday looks a couple degrees warmer with low 70s NE to upper 70s SW.
CATCH A HOT SUMMER DEAL AT ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE MIDWEST
THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND
The upcoming Memorial Holiday weekend forecast is a sweetheart. I don't think I could draw it up much better. Highs will gradually warm but there remains quite a bit of discrepancy between the EURO and GFS on just how warm. You can see in the meteograms the difference between the two is nearly 10 degrees by the middle of next week. I like a compromise here with an edge towards the warmer EURO with the extremely dry air and soil conditions.
Specifically, for the holiday weekend (north to south) I like 77 to 82 Saturday. 80-85 Sunday and 82-87 Memorial Day. A 90 is possible in the south as early as Tuesday.
Precipitation chances remain dismal. I don's see any threat for the next week and potentially longer. The GFS shows widespread rainfall departures of 2.25 to 2.70" around the Midwest from now through June 9th. That is bothersome, especially if we start hitting highs of 85-90. I'm getting concerned about a hot dry summer.
Well, that's enough for now. Enjoy the spoils of another fine late spring day and roll weather....TS