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PICKING UP THE PIECES

A much improved brand of weather was found around the Midwest Wednesday, following Tuesday's volatile severe weather. Below you can see all the NWS reports from the day which include tornadoes, damaging winds, and hail. Iowa was clearly the epicenter of the event.

Greenfield, Iowa continues to reel from a devastating tornado that claimed the lives of 5 and injured 35 more. That came despite warnings issued 46 minutes before the storm arrived. Part of the reason was the vicious intensity of the vortex. The National Science Foundation funds the Doppler on Wheels program, which does extensive research on tornadoes by employing mobile radars to measure winds inside the tornadic mesocyclone.


The DOW team focused on the Greenfield tornado measured preliminary winds of 250 mph with the possibility that some may have reached as high as 290, at 144 feet above ground. Their assessment was that the storm was very intense and tight. It exhibited extreme multi-vortex circulation. If the 290 mph speed is verified, it would be in the top tier of radar measured violent tornadoes. Only Bridge Creek 1999, El Reno 2011, and El Reno 2013 measured higher Doppler wind speeds. So far, the NWS in Des Moines has classified the storm as EF3, which means damage consistent with winds under 165 mph. They continue to gather evidence and I think there is a strong possibility it's upgraded to EF4 status based on DOW data and damage I've seen.

Since modern day tornado records began in 1950, the Greenfield, tornado with 5 deaths is tied for the 6th deadliest Iowa twister. Charles City still holds the #1 spot with 13 deaths in 1968. Here's a list.


Oct. 14, 1966: 1:55 p.m. 6 dead; 172 injured. An F-5 tornado 1,000 yards wide struck Belmond, where about 600 homes and 75 businesses were destroyed or damaged.

May 15, 1968: 3:10 p.m. 13 dead; 450 injured. The F-5 funnel 600 yards wide passed through Charles City, destroying 337 homes, damaging 1,500.

May 15, 1968: 3:57 p.m. 5 dead; 156 injured. Homes were leveled and swept away by the F-5 tornado 500 yards wide at Oelwein and Maynard, Fayette County.

Sept. 16, 1978: 7:25 p.m. 6 dead; 45 injured. The F-3 tornado 200 yards wide killed a father and daughter in a trailer south of Laurel; south of Grinnell, four died at a truck stop.

June 28, 1979: 6:02 p.m. 3 dead; 26 injured. At least 110 homes and the middle school were destroyed in Manson by an F-4 tornado 333 yards wide that stayed on the ground for 10.8 miles.

May 25, 2008: 3:30 p.m. 9 deaths; 50 injured. An E-5 tornado 1,235 yards wide struck Parkersburg and New Hartford, causing $75 million in property damage along its 40 mile path.

June 11, 2008: 5:36 p.m. 4 deaths; 48 injured. An F-3 tornado 440 yards wide struck Blencoe and Moorhead along its 7.5 mile path.

March 5, 2022: 4:26 p.m. 7 deaths; 48 injured. An F-4 tornado 800 yards wide struck near Winterset, Iowa along its nearly 70 mile path.


Source: The Tornado Project of St. Johnsbury, Vt.; The National Climactic Data Center


Locally, the NWS indicates several swaths of damaging winds that impacted eastern Iowa and NW Illinois. Atkins, Iowa reported a 100 mph wind gust. Ironically, during the derecho of 2020, they measured a 226 mph gust, the strongest wind ever measured in Iowa outside a tornado. Balltown, Iowa, racked up a gust of 92 mph Tuesday.

Here are some of the higher gusts reported from around my area thanks to the NWS.


The quiet weather of Wednesday will last another day before a new round of showers and thunderstorms arrives. I'll have more in that part of the weather story below. Meantime, get your friends and family together and enjoy the summer specials at my AIRBNB outside Galena.


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THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND...

Thursday, still under the influence of high pressure, we are in for a beautiful day. Expect full sunshine and with light southerly winds, highs will climb back into the mid to upper 70s. A good drying day.


Late Thursday night, more likely Friday, rain is back in the forecast as the pattern turns active going into the holiday weekend. A front marches across the region Friday, acting on a rapid return of moisture. CAPE should reach at least 1,000 j/kg. It's possible a few strong storms could form, especially if the front slows some as the EURO indicates. Either way, scattered showers and storms appear likely and with abundant moisture, some heavy rains are possible where thunderstorms can fire. It should be a mild, somewhat muggy day with highs in the low to mid 70s, perhaps upper 70s far south. SPC has posted a slight severe weather risk for areas near and east of the Mississippi Friday.


Saturday continues to look pleasant with the return of sunshine and dry weather. Highs will reach the low to mid 70s.


Late Saturday night and Sunday, another disturbance rounds the bend, instigating showers and storms. There are some model discrepancies as to how the upper air energy is handled, which impacts the duration of precipitation and temperatures Sunday and Memorial Day. I think the EURO's further north solution makes the most sense. Thus, I expect periods of showers and storms Sunday, along with highs in the upper 60s north to the mid 70s south. The rain departs early Sunday evening and while spotty showers are possible Monday, mixed clouds and sun should allow temperatures to reach the upper 60s to low 70s. Refinements are likely in the next 24–48 hours as model consistency improves.


As for rainfall, it has the potential to add up, but again the timing and track will play a role as to how heavy it ends up. As it stands now, another 1 to perhaps 2 inches plus of rain is showing up on the EURO and GFS. Take a look.


The EURO

The GFS

No matter how you slice it, we are going to have to dodge some raindrops over the holiday weekend. On the bright side, you don't have to shovel it. On our last big holiday, January 1st, we were staring at 2 major snow storms that dumped up to 25 inches of snow over 5 days. What a fond memory. Have a sensational day and roll weather...TS

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