UPDATE: Death toll from horrific EF-5 Joplin, Missouri tornado climbs to 132
In a tornado season that has already been one the worst on record, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is warning a violent and intense tornado outbreak will unfold across the Southern Plains Tuesday afternoon and evening.
SPC placed much of Central and Eastern Oklahoma, Northern Texas and portions of Southern and Eastern Kansas under a moderate to rare high risk for severe weather including violent, long-tracked and large tornadoes.
This is the fourth time this year SPC has placed a high risk for severe storms across parts of the United States with all previous three high risk days resulting in hundreds of reports of severe weather and tornadoes including deaths and injuries.
Previous high risk days so far this year
• Apr. 16: “Carolina Outbreak” (69 tornadoes-32 in NC…13 in VA…26 killed)
• Apr. 26: “Mid-South Outbreak” (56 tornadoes-1 killed in AR)
• Apr. 27: “Southeast Outbreak” (232 tornadoes-315 killed)
With the issuance of a high risk, this is the closest you get to anyone forecasting a 100% chance for a tornado.
The Storm Prediction Center placed the threat of tornadoes at a high probability of 45%, something they only do once every five to 10 years. The last time they issued such a tornado probability was on the most recent high risk day, right before the historic and deadly tornado outbreak on April 27th that produced over 200 tornadoes across the South and killed over 300 people.
Weather Channel’s Dr. Forbes, who developed a rating scale to determine the probability of a tornado for a certain area gave much of North and Central Oklahoma and South and Central Kansas on a scale from one to 10, a nine, indicating a high probability of a tornado in the area.
A very strong upper level storm system is expected to move quickly over the region through Tuesday night.
As it does so, it will encounter a very moist and unstable airmass in place, resulting in an eruption of severe storms and tornadoes.
The threat for tornadoes will be enhanced by very strong wind shear aloft or a rapid change of winds with height at all levels that will support long-tracked, large and violent tornadoes.
In addition, very large hail and damaging winds over 60 and 70 mph will also be likely.
Cities under extremely dangerous tornado threat Tuesday afternoon and evening include Oklahoma City and Tulsa in Oklahoma, Wichita, Kansas and Witchita Falls, Texas.
The tornado threat is expected to increase rapidly by 3 pm CDT and continue into the evening with dozens of tornadoes possibly touching down.
Everyone within the high severe weather threat areas are strongly advised to monitor the latest weather development and to be prepared to take cover in case your area is threatened. (Click to see current Tornado Warnings and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings)
The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, in a rare move is advising people to avoid driving in and around the Oklahoma City metro area or on Interstate 35 near the city due to the high threat for severe weather and tornadoes.
This severe weather and tornado outbreak, not as intense, is expected to shift to the east on Wednesday, affecting the Ohio Valley and Mid South including parts of West and North Mississippi.
This is already the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1953 with nearly 500 deaths.
Just over this past weekend, tornadoes have been responsible for killing at least 121 people across three states including two in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one in Reading, Kansas and at least 118 in Joplin, Missouri.
The Joplin tornado is going down as the deadliest United States tornado since offical records began back in 1950.
The month of May is historically the most active month for tornadoes in the United States.