Yesterdays Thunderstorm, EAS Activated, Little Rain

On May 26 2011 strong thunderstorms pushed through the area causing a few tress as well as power lines to come down. There where NO Severe thunderstorm Warnings issued for Muscogee or Harris counties, but special weather statements were issued at 4:56 pm EDT.
Across the river in Alabama, Russell county had severe thunderstorm warnings issued, as well as special weather statements.
At 4:51 PM EDT wind speeds recorded at Columbus airport were 30mph with Gusts as high as 49mph. A severe thunderstorm warning is issued for winds of 58mph or higher and/or a thunderstorm contains hail three-quarter inches or larger.

So, why did we in parts of Harris county hear the Tornado [Emergency Alert System / EAS] sirens go off in Muscogee county around 5 PM ? As mentioned above, the national weather service issued a special weather statement for this storm for strong winds. However the winds did not meet warning criteria and as far as I know, No hail was reported. Someone jumped the gun on this one, and that sucks. The boy who cried wolf comes to mind. When the wolf really showed, no one payed attention.

I did manage to capture this radar image as the sirens were sounding. Maybe this is why they went ahead with them. This is a possible radar indicated tornado, or at the least rotation within a severe thunderstorm at 4:58 PM EDT.

And here is a radar image as the storms moved through the area showing Severe Thunderstorm boxes in Russell county Alabama and north of the local area. If you look close, you can see red tornado warning boxes in north Georgia which I mentioned in yesterdays post as a possibility.


Total amount of rain from this storm, a dismal 0.21 inches recorded at the Columbus airport and a little more than that here at my house in Cataula 0.24 inches. Not a drought buster by any means.

Here are a couple storm damage pics from The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer


Severe Weather Outlook for Thursday May 26 2011

Tornadoes are not in the forecast for the local area. The biggest threats this go around will be strong possibly damaging winds, hail and frequent lightning.

The latest run at this time of BUFKIT models indicate the roughest weather for the local area will be 4 thru 8 PM EDT. This is the best chance at seeing damaging severe weather. However, there is a chance before and after this time period for potential isolated severe storms. Still can’t rule out a rouge supercell passing through the area, or a squall line forming.

Areas to our east look to be in for a rough ride as well. Day time heating will help destabilize the atmosphere a bit more and the storms should gain some strength as they head towards Macon.

North towards Atlanta, strong winds and hail look to be the biggest threat. An isolated tornado can’t be ruled out at this time in northern Georgia.



Severe Drought returns to Georgia

The last mention of drought here at Cataula Georgia Weather was on May 5 2011. It was a little blurb, much like rain around here in the past months. Here’s a little of what I said:

I suspect before long I’ll begin doing Drought reports again. The last was on November 14, 2010, and since then things looked pretty good. But as a local meteorologist points out, “we are running over 4 inches below average for this point in the year”. Expect localized drought conditions to worsen as we move into the summer months, save something from the tropics as mentioned in other posts.

While we are not yet in meteorological summer, the temps are on the way up and rain continues to be absent in the local area. Things look like they’ll change sometime next week, possibly severe, but the big question remains; how much rain will fall ?

As you can see from this graphic from the Drought Monitor Archives, 2 weeks makes a big difference. Some areas of the southeast are experiencing an Extreme drought and without appreciable rain these areas will creep farther north into the local area.

While we need the rain, we don’t need the amount that has caused flooding to our west in Mississippi and other areas. At the same time, the flooding is localized and many areas to our west need rain as they too are experiencing drought conditions. Have a look at this graphic from the Climate Prediction Center showing how much rain is needed in drought stricken areas of the U.S..
Notice the local area needs 6 to 9 inches of rain, pushing 9 to 12 inches just across the river in Alabama and to our south, to return conditions to near normal.

For the months of June, July and August, we have an equal chance of rain. This will mostly be in the form of afternoon and evening summer type showers and thunderstorms. Some of these will produce heavy rain at times as they do, but with few and far between will provide little relief from the drought. The exception will be a tropical system. Speaking of which, Hurricane season begins June 1st.

While we have an equal chance of rain through June, July and August, the temperatures will be above normal for these months.

With little rain and hot temperatures forecast for the coming months we can expect drought conditions to worsen, if this holds true. This will mean water restrictions will once again be instated. I have noticed through the years this usually doesn’t happen until areas to our north in the Atlanta area experience severe to extreme drought conditions.

As mentioned earlier, hurricane season begins June June 1st. The Climate Prediction Center & the National Hurricane Center released the seasonal outlook May 19, 2011. The forecast is for an above normal hurricane season for the Atlantic basin, and below normal for the Eastern Pacific.

For the Atlantic: 12 to 18 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which: 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including: 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher)

For the Pacific: 9 to 15 named storms, which includes 5 to 8 hurricanes, of which 1 to 3 are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

My prediction is for 5-6 of these storms to make landfall on the east coast or gulf coast. 3 will be major hurricanes. We shall see.