A Brief Recap of the May 2019 Severe Outbreak

Just two short weeks ago we posted a blog that looked into the severe weather that occurred on May 20, 2019. Little did we know that this was just the beginning! Over a 12-day period that stretched from May 17 through May 30, more than 285 tornadoes touched down across 22 states. The May storms also included hailstorms (including grapefruit-sized hail in Wellington, Texas!) and frequent heavy rainfall, sometimes at record levels, over areas that were already saturated. This led to extensive flooding and flash flooding, which frequently interfered with emergency efforts related to tornado damage.

Map of tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service between May 17 and May 29, 2019 over the eastern United States and tornadoes confirmed and surveyed by the National Weather Service. Map produced in QGIS with border outlines from the United States Census Bureau. National Weather Service warning outlines available from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet and tornado data available from the National Weather Service. Credit: TheAustinMan
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Great Plains Severe Weather and Tornadoes: May 20, 2019

A storm system moving into the Great Plains this past Monday resulted in an outbreak of severe weather, including flooding and some tornadoes, across portions of Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. Thankfully, none of the reported tornadoes did extensive damage or caused widespread injuries. This was thanks in part to the fact that the tornadic storms did not hit major metropolitan areas, but also largely due to excellent communication of risk and appropriate preparedness actions by the National Weather Service. Let’s take a closer look at how this event unfolded…

Courtesy: KWTV-KOTV.
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Odisha: A Leader in Disaster Preparedness

Tropical Cyclone Fani made landfall in India around 9:30 AM on Friday, May 3 as one of the country’s strongest tropical cyclone in twenty years. Technically Tropical Cyclone Hudhud in October 2014 was somewhat stronger, but Tropical Cyclone Fani was a vastly larger system with a lot more water being carried along with it. At Fani’s peak intensity, maximum sustained wind speeds were around 150 miles per hour with gusts to around 190 miles per hour. Wind speeds were over 124 miles per hour when Fani made landfall in Odisha – home to 46 million people. Approximately 14 districts in Odisha have been affected by Cyclone Fani, over one millions people were evacuated from the storm, and approximately 900 cyclone shelters were set up for those who were displaced.

View of Fani as seen by the Japanese Himawari 8 satellite
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Looking back at U.S. Climate in 2018

Although most people tend to look back and on the past year around the holidays and at the beginning of a New Year, I also like to reflect back once spring has truly sprung. The sun illuminates our days even longer, the world is full of beautiful new blooms, the birds are chirping, and it seems that everything is truly “new” again. So for this week’s blog, I thought that this would be a perfect time to look back at 2018 and really take in all that happened across the U.S. weather-wise.

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Wild Weather Extremes: April 2019 Snow and Severe Weather

When meteorologist educators teach students of all levels, one of the first things we do is to distinguish the difference between weather and climate. Technically speaking, weather is the day-to-day conditions that describe the state of the atmosphere, while climate is an average of weather conditions at a particular place, generally averaged over a 30 year time period. In my classes, I always say that the best way to remember this distinction is that ‘weather impacts your daily life’. Many disruptions to people’s lives were caused as a result of a very dynamic spring weather pattern which has been present over the continental United States for the last few weeks.

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Historic Widespread Flooding to Continue Through May

NOAA issued its annual Spring Outlook (April – June 2019) last Thursday, March 21, 2019 which includes outlooks for temperature, precipitation, and flood risk. As those living in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa are still recovering from recent monumental and devastating flooding, forecasters have declared that above-average spring rain and snow will likely worsen flood conditions through May.

Missouri 111 in Craig, Missouri . Photo courtesy Missouri State Highway Patrol
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Ellicott City’s Hometown Hero: A Story of Resilience in the Wake of Extreme Flash Flooding

Ellicott City, Maryland is a historic town of around 70,000 that was founded by four brothers in 1772 and is home to the Ellicott City Station – the oldest surviving train station in the United States. The landmark Ellicott City Station isn’t the only thing that Ellicott City is known for though. After enduring two historic “1-in-1,000-year” rain events in two years that garnered national headlines, the residents of Ellicott City are becoming known for their resilience, community, and dedication to preserving their home – in spite of all odds. Continue reading “Ellicott City’s Hometown Hero: A Story of Resilience in the Wake of Extreme Flash Flooding”