PDS Tornados in the Plains, Flood Waters Rise in Midwest

What is a PDS Tornado Watch, you ask?  I (Monica) did not know either.  It is a Particularly Dangerous Situation” tornado watch — a rare severe event which, according to the National Weather Service, means that “long-lived intense tornadoes are likely” and they are issued “when in the opinion of the forecaster, the likelihood of significant events is boosted by very volatile atmospheric conditions.”  The weather forecasts in the southern Plain states on Sunday into Monday were ominous and the storm cells spawned approximately twenty tornados that damaged buildings and produced heavy rain, but there were no severe injuries, prompting some people on Tuesday to declare the storms a “bust.”Meanwhile, torrential rain and flooding pounded the region on Tuesday as the storms made their way east into Missouri and Illinois and Indiana overnight, and today the eastern part of the country will begin to be impacted.

  • On Monday there were, according to CNN, at least 19 tornadoes that swept through central Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas, while Accuweather had the tornado number at two dozen.
  • Some school districts in Oklahoma canceled classes Monday, and Tinker Air Force Base relocated several planes to other military installations in anticipation of storm damage, while state workers in several Oklahoma counties were sent home early.
  • On Tuesday flash floods caused numerous problems in Tulsa and Oklahoma City prompting road closures, including portions of Interstate 40 and swift-water rescues, and in southern Kansas as well.

The St. Louis airport was shut down for a time on Tuesday night, according to The Weather Channel, as a large tornado was reported west of the city.

Why This Matters:  Any storm this serious in which no one is injured is not a bust, it’s a great day.  And people who think tornadoes and hurricanes are the “real deal” should be aware that actually flash flooding and storm surge are just as dangerous or more so than high winds.  As if we needed more evidence that our storms are getting stronger and more dangerous and much more disruptive.  Fortunately, the most severe tornados his sparsely populated areas.  But to those who lost homes and valuables, the fact that there was not more damage is small consolation.  Good for all the weather forecasters — public and private — for spreading the word, and kudos to the people in those communities who took the PDS warnings seriously. As we head into hurricane season on June 1, and with these severe storms now heading east, we need to take those warnings seriously because there will be more severe storms this year and beyond. 

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