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WeatherInsights®: The Weather Channel Blog

November 15, 2006
NOVEMBER 15 STRIKES AGAIN
Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist

That's a combo of the titles of two entries I posted last November, "November Strikes Again" and "November 15."

November 15 is notorious for the major severe weather outbreaks that occurred in back-to-back-to-back years in the late 1980s (1987, 1988, and 1989), culminating with the Huntsville, Alabama tornado.

Then, in 2005 on the anniversary date, came another big outbreak which included the F4 tornado in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Now in 2006: another November 15, another round of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

Tomorrow, should I begin composing the blog entry for November 15, 2007? Will next year make for another trifecta?

Of course, although it's no accident that the 15th has been active -- mid-November is squarely part of the tornado "second season" -- it's also to some extent just coincidence that this particular date is the one on which these outbreaks keep happening as opposed to, say, the 14th.

Per a blog entry Dr. Forbes wrote at this time last year, since the early 1990s a number of large multi-day events have also occurred just after November 20 (1992, 2001, 2004) as well as one earlier in the month (Nov. 9-12, 2002).

Generally at this time of year they take place, like today, in the southern tier of states near the Gulf Coast (the so-called "Dixie Alley"), although in recent years vicious tornadoes have also struck farther north as was the case with the Van Wert, Ohio tornado in '02 and the deadly one near Evansville, Indiana in November '05.

Today's outbreak could have been even worse in terms of overall intensity and geographical scope if things had been just a little different; there were some limiting factors that appear to have kept it from quite being in the league of most of the ones mentioned above, but enough atmospheric ingredients did come together to bring destruction.

There's already been confirmation of a tornado of F3 intensity near Sumrall, Mississippi during the wee hours this morning (below is a radar image at 2:35 am CST, around the time the twister was spawned by the supercell circled in yellow), and assessments elsewhere across the South are ongoing to determine how many damage reports were associated with tornadoes vs. straight-line winds.

Some of the areas in southern Mississippi which got hit, by the way, also experienced intense winds as Hurricane Katrina moved inland, and speaking of places affected by Katrina, Gulfport received more than 7" of rain today.

On the backside of the low pressure system which triggered the thunderstorms, strong winds buffeted Texas and Oklahoma.


MEANWHILE, IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST ...

Yet another storm! In addition to the extreme wind gusts in coastal and mountain locations noted above, it caused power outages in Portland; in Washington, disruption of ferry service on a couple of routes and closure of the Hood Canal bridge for awhile; strong winds and choppy water on the Puget Sound; and enough rain for Seattle to break its November monthly rainfall record -- and we're only halfway through the month! This means that two of the city's wettest six months on record have occurred during 2006:

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE, WA
800 PM PST WED NOV 15 2006

...SEATTLE BREAKS ALL-TIME WETTEST NOVEMBER RECORD TODAY...

SEATAC AIRPORT HAS RECORDED 11.63 INCHES OF PRECIPITATION FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER AS OF 8 PM TODAY. NOVEMBER 2006 IS NOW THE WETTEST NOVEMBER IN SEATTLE HISTORY. NOVEMBER 2006 IS ALSO NUMBER 6 ON THE ALL-TIME WETTEST MONTH LIST.

1. 15.33 INCHES ( DEC 1933 ) **
2. 12.92 INCHES ( JAN 1953 )
3. 11.85 INCHES ( DEC 1979 )
4. 11.80 INCHES ( DEC 1897 ) **
5. 11.65 INCHES ( JAN 2006 )
6. 11.63 INCHES ( NOV 2006 11/15 8PM PST)

** RECORDS FROM THE FEDERAL BUILDING IN DOWNTOWN SEATTLE


AND A TSUNAMI IN CALIFORNIA!

Last but not least, to add insult to injury, a tsunami hit the West Coast of the U.S. today. That's right, a tsunami. Although at most locations around the Pacific Ocean the 8.3 earthquake near Japan resulted in only a negligible rise in water level, apparently Crescent City, California was one of the exceptions to that, with a surge of water reportedly as high as 6' which destroyed docks and knocked boats loose. Check out the trace of the water level there and notice how erratic it suddenly became ...


Crescent City was the site of a deadly tsunami in 1964 which was caused by the extreme (magnitude 9.2) Alaska earthquake.


UPDATE NOON EST 11/16:

Although for the most part things calmed down a bit overnight, with no additional tornadoes being reported after last evening, ingredients came together again for an intense supercell over eastern North Carolina shortly before sunrise, where unfortunately people have been killed by a tornado that struck near Riegelwood, which is just west of Wilmington. The number of reported fatalities has been rising by the hour.

The supercell was at the southern tip of a large area of showers and thunderstorms moving up into the mid-Atlantic region, sort of like a "tail-end Charlie" that storm chasers refer to, although typically one of those is at the end of a more discrete line (either solid or broken) of intense thunderstorms, not a more amorphous blob of precipitation like this morning (the heavier rain embedded within notwithstanding).

But the idea is the same: warm, moist, unstable air flowing into the southern end of the activity unimpeded on the heels of a strong low-level jet, in this case sweeping in right off the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream.

You can see on this regional radar how the tornado-producing storm was the strongest one around, in fact the only one anywhere within the weather system at the time capable of producing a tornado -- but all it takes is one in the wrong place at the wrong time to result in tragedy.


Here's a close-up:


Posted at 11:58 pm ET
Comments on this entry (12)
wow alot of bad weather! my concern is for the poor people involved.
Posted by Anonymous | January 13, 2009
Recent high winds may have weakened a tower crane that collapsed on the 16th in Bellevue Wa.
Posted by fuel driver | November 18, 2006
You failed to mention the confirmed F2 tornado that struck Montgomery, Alabama, this past Wednesday, the 15th, as well.
Posted by Anonymous | November 17, 2006
As a Lilapsophobic in the middle of "Dixie Alley", I dread November 15 as much as a superstitious person would a Friday the 13th.
Posted by Ricardo | November 17, 2006
Doctor, Your article reminded me of another date that had some real similar coincidences for volitle weather, Jan. 15, but it could be more like the particular focal mechanism,s just happened to get energized on the same calender date, not to say that other dates are not mere coincidences but synchronized events.
Posted by bry | November 16, 2006
Wow! November 15th is bad (in coincidence). Also, the year 2006 has been bad by the killer tornadoes that have occurred. Many tornadoes this year have killed more than three people (like Newbern, Gallatin, Bradford, and Riegelville). So November 15th, and 2006 are bad.
Posted by Anonymous | November 16, 2006
I live near Philadelphia and I, too, will be affected. It is just after 4:30 11/16 and rain is occuring. To my west, Strong t-storms are hitting areas like Redding,Baltimore, D.C., etc. All these events are occuring and I don't understand what the dynamics are for tornadoes to occur - they are different from the spring/ summer that for November. It's chaotic...
Posted by Jaron | November 16, 2006
That hook echo was really obvious looking. I can understand why November is the second tornado season. Whether it is Fall to Winter or Winter to Spring, the battle between warm and cold air must be intense. I noticed warnings and watches got out in plenty of time. It's too bad people don't take watches and warnings very seriously. I think for Christmas, people should consider giving a NOAA weather radio alarm to their loved ones.
Posted by Michael Amato | November 16, 2006
The public can help storm victims by purchasing a copy of the Storms of 2006 Charity DVD, available at www.stormsof2006.org - 100% of the profits of this DVD will go to storm victims largely through the American Red Cross. This DVD includes the combined efforts of over 50 storm chasers bringing you the most intense storms and tornadoes of the year. Runlength is a full 2 hours - only $24.95
Posted by Verne Carlson | November 16, 2006
Sorry I've been missing with the blog entries! We are installing new hardware to our PC and its taken a while to get it working right.
Posted by Veronica | November 16, 2006
I have have herd Da Ja Vu, in weather before but this is rediculis mother nature just love to press the rewind button, tell mother nature to press the forward button,tronados, tropical force winds and tidal waves ? Mother Nature Give Us a Break.(please)
Posted by Hanna | November 16, 2006
i dont know how im supposed to get home tonight since the severe flood watch and hurricane winds im afraid the parkways are going to be havoic for the ny lonigisland area.. its seems like the weather is going to worsen.... its going to be halvoic for the roads tonight.....
Posted by chris sciurba | November 16, 2006

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