November 26, 2001

Star City, AR Tornado

Chase Account by: Scott Blair

Chase Team: Scott Blair, Jason Politte, Blake Michaleski.
Arkansas was the target for another fall chase on the evening of Monday, November 26. Strong dynamics were once again in place across the Southeast half of the state. Jason Politte, Blake Michaleski, and I decided to target Pine Bluff, AR. We hoped for a few isolated supercells to fire ahead of a squall line.

We arrived in PBF around 12:30pm and stopped at the local Taco Bell. After a quick lunch, we downloaded some data off the laptop. Shortly after, a tornado watch was issued for generally South Arkansas and North Louisiana. The warm front had already lifted north of PBF by 1pm with a T/Td at 68/63. However, the highest instability was still located around the AR/LA border and a strong cap was in place.

*** Stopped for data in Pine Bluff, AR with a mostly cloudy sky ***

Supercells quickly developed across Central and Northern Louisiana by mid afternoon. We located a landline for data at the Holiday Inn Express. The strong cap was weakening but still held over most of Arkansas. By 4pm, a couple supercells finally developed across South Arkansas. Considering nightfall was nearing and the cells were located in tree land, we decided to hold off a tad longer in PBF.

*** Severe storm northeast of Pine Bluff, AR ***

Around 5:30pm, we decided to target a severe storm near Sheridan, AR. As we departed, new severe storms caught our attention to the south of PBF. With these moving into a more chase-friendly area and into our original target area, we turned back around to PBF. The new storm presented a significant amount of cg lightning and a well formed updraft. After a few minutes, the storm appeared to weaken. This was confirmed with a nowcast update from Dave Lewison and Philip Flory. Dave and Philip did an excellent job throughout the evening. Their assistance likely contributed to our success later on.

At 6:14pm, NWS LIT issued a tornado warning for Lincoln County in SE AR. This supercell was well ahead of the squall line and showed obvious signs of rotation on radar. We headed south from Hwy79 to Hwy65 (SE of PBF). We neared Moscow, AR around 6:40pm and encountered intense precip and wind. A few small pieces of hail joined the mix shortly after.


***Tornado is backlit by lightning just NE of Star City, AR***
Nowcast updates described strong rotation a few miles SE of Grady, AR or about eight miles NE of Star City, AR. At 6:50pm, a tornado warning was issued for SE Jefferson County. The warning and nowcast updates confirmed numerous damage reports out of Star City. We quickly stopped near Tamo, AR as the rain significantly lessened. As soon as we pulled over, lightning backlit a large wedge-shaped object to the SSE of our location. After a few more flashes, it was obvious a tornado was on the ground about 3-4 miles south of Tamo or in the path of Grady, AR. The tornado remained on the ground for two minutes before lifting. The large and very low hanging meso continued towards Grady but never visually touched back down.

Road options were terrible and the squall line was rapidly overtaking the isolated storms. We decided to call off the chase around 8pm. NWS LIT survey concluded that this was a F2 tornado with a path length of 10.5 miles and 150 yards wide.


SPC Mesoscale Discussions

SPC MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 2288 FOR ARK-LA-TEX AREA CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM POTENTIAL... VALID 261815Z - 262100Z THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP BY 2100Z AND RAPIDLY BECOME SEVERE FROM NORTHEAST TEXAS INTO SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS. A TORNADO WATCH WILL LIKELY BE REQUIRED IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF HOURS.
LAST VAD WIND/PROFILER DATA INDICATES 35-45 850 MB JET HAS SHIFTED EAST AND CURRENTLY EXTENDS FROM EAST TEXAS INTO CENTRAL ARKANSAS. LITTLE ROCK WSR-88D HODOGRAPH SUPPORTS POTENTIAL FOR TORNADIC SUPERCELLS WITH 0-6 KM SHEAR OF 60 KNOTS AND ESTIMATED 0-3 KM STORM RELATIVE HELICITY AROUND 350 M2/S2. GIVEN RAPID LOW LEVEL MOISTURE RETURN/DESTABILIZATION UNDERWAY...MODERATE INSTABILITY WITH MLCAPE OF 1000-2000 J/KG SHOULD REACH CENTRAL/SOUTHERN ARKANSAS BY LATE AFTERNOON.
VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY INDICATES CU DEVELOPING JUST NORTH OF DALLAS AREA IN CLEAR SLOT ALONG ADVANCING DRYLINE. PRESENT INDICATIONS ARE THAT INITIATION WILL EITHER OCCUR ALONG DRYLINE IN NORTHEAST TEXAS OR IN PERSISTENT BAND OF CONVECTION FROM 50 N CLL TO 40 E PRX. WITH WEAK CONVECTIVE INHIBITION...DEVELOPMENT SHOULD OCCUR IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF HOURS. ..CRAVEN.. 11/26/01

SPC MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 2293 FOR NERN AR...W TN THROUGH EXTREME NRN MS CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 827... VALID 270046Z - 270300Z A FEW SUPERCELLS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING ISOLATED TORNADOES ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS.
SURFACE ANALYSIS SHOWS A WARM FRONT EXTENDING FROM WRN TN SWWD THROUGH S CNTRL AR INTO NERN TX WHERE IT MERGES WITH AN EWD MOVING COLD FRONT. WARM...MOIST AIR S OF THIS BOUNDARY WILL CONTINUE LIFTING NWD THROUGH THE EVENING. SO DESPITE LOSS OF HEATING... INSTABILITY SHOULD REMAIN SUFFICIENT FOR SEVERE STORMS NEXT FEW HOURS. A FEW SUPERCELLS CONTINUE ALONG AND E OF PRE-FRONTAL SQUALL LINE THAT EXTENDS FROM SERN AR SWWD INTO NERN TX. LOW LEVEL SHEAR PROFILES SHOULD CONTINUE TO IMPROVE THIS EVENING AS LOW LEVEL JET INTENSIFIES. THREAT MAY INCREASE NEXT FEW HOURS OVER THE NRN PORTIONS OF WW 827 AS ATMOSPHERE DESTABILIZES NWD IN ASSOCIATION WITH LOW LEVEL THETA-E ADVECTION. ..DIAL.. 11/27/01

SPC MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 2295 FOR SERN AR...NRN LA THROUGH WRN/CNTRL MS CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 828... VALID 270155Z - 270400Z THREAT FOR ISOLATED TORNADOES WILL CONTINUE NEXT FEW HOURS WITH GREATEST THREAT EXPECTED FROM NRN LA...SERN AR INTO NWRN MS.
LINE OF SCATTERED STORMS INCLUDING A FEW SUPERCELLS CONTINUE FROM ERN AR SWWD THROUGH NWRN LA. MANY OF THE MORE ISOLATED STORMS EAST OF THE LINE HAVE EITHER DISSIPATED OR HAVE BEEN OVERTAKEN BY THE LINE. HOWEVER...ISOLATED DISCRETE CELLS CONTINUE AHEAD OF THE LINE. GREATEST THREAT APPEARS TO BE FROM NERN LA NEWD THROUGH SERN AR AND NWRN MS WHERE BEST COMBINATION OF INSTABILITY AND LOW-LEVEL SHEAR EXISTS ALONG AND JUST W OF LOW LEVEL JET AXIS. STORM RELATIVE HELICITIES IN THIS REGION RANGE FROM 250 TO NEAR 300 M2/S2 BASED ON STORM MOTION OF 225 DEGREES AT 25 TO 30 KT. ..DIAL.. 11/27/01