April 14 2012 Tornado Outbreak
A significant Tornado Outbreak occurred this past Saturday, April 14th across the Central Plains. April is prime time for Tornadoes in this part of the country, so this event was not unusual. Probably what made this Outbreak so memorable was the advance warning that was provided by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman OK.
The SPC forecasts the potential for Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes out to 8 days in advance. However it is very unusual to actually issue a risk of Severe Thunderstorms beyond about 3-4 days due to the limitations in model accuracy. In the case of 4/14/12 the confidence of the forecasters at the SPC was sufficient to provide a heads up to the Central Plains a week in advance. Following are the forecast made at the SPC for the Tornado Outbreak from a week out up to Saturday April 14th.
Not only was the area highlighted well in advance, but by Thursday a Moderate Risk was issued for the Central Plains and an unprecedented High Risk went out in the initial Day 2 Outlook on Friday morning. This very accurate forecast is a testament to the quality of work done by the SPC, but also to the continuing improvement in the accuracy of the computer models that the forecasters are dependent on.
While the reported storm events are still preliminary, it is of interest to see how organized they were. Supercells which in many cases lasted for several hours were responsible for the majority of particularly the tornado reports. This link to the storm reports on the 14th clearly shows this :
Due to the presence of literally hundreds of chasers and their video equipment, many of the tornadoes already have footage that can be seen on Youtube.com.
There is an excellent site on the SPC home page that archives the pertinent meteorological parameters of April 14th, This can be viewed at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/exper/archive/event.php?date=20120414.
For anyone with an interest in the meteorology of the day, this site provides one stop shopping.