Storms of the decade: the 2010s (pre-discussion)

Jeff Duda

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I want to start a thread discussing the best storms of the entire 2010s decade. Please submit a nomination or two for the types of high magnitude storms that occurred between 2010 and now that you don't think come around but once every 10 years or so.

Yes, I know the decade is not over yet. We still have the rest of 2018 (and who knows, given what happened in early and late June in WY and MT) and 2019, but there are already some really good possibilities out there.

Once we've gotten 10 or 20 or so nominees, we can put it up to a vote and see which event wins, hopefully by consensus. We can then post this on our social media accounts and let others discuss it. Perhaps a small group of STers can even put together some sort of presentation on this.

To make this competition really something, don't just nominate any old storm, especially if it was an event only you witnessed or something that only held sentimental or personal value to you rather than to the science or the chaser community at large. If we keep the nominations of top-tier quality, then 1) we won't have to sift through 100 nominees and 2) it's more likely that the truly best storms will come through.

By "storms" I mean general events, individual supercells, or individual tornadoes. All count. If there were multiple spectacular supercells or tornadoes in one day/one event, just nominate the event in general and then use the specific supercells or tornadoes as specific points to advocate for the event unless there is otherwise compelling reason to separate the individual events. If we get enough nominees in various categories, we may break it down. But I'd like to keep this pretty broad rather than getting lost in details.

In this first stage, feel free just to list the event and give enough particulars so that folks will know what you're talking about. Later on, you can add radar imagery, photos, videos, NWS assessments, news reports etc. that help advocate for the event.

I'll start by nominating two events:
1) the multi-EF4 cyclic supercell in northeast NE on 16 June 2014. This storm produced FOUR separate EF4 tornadoes with several pairs occurring simultaneously, and I believe there was debate about there having been a third simultaneous tornado at one point. What also made this event so spectacular was that the individual mesocyclones were pretty clearly distinguished on radar...not always easy to see on cyclic storms.

2) What else but the granddaddy of all tornadoes this decade: the 31 May 2013 El Reno tornado. 'Nuff said there.

Lets see what you have!
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Obligatory Campo 5/31/10 nomination. Slow-moving, long-lived and incredibly photogenic in high contrast against a blue sky (depending upon your viewing angle), all the more noteworthy due to it being a mesoscale accident. Given that this occurred at the start of the 2010’s, hopefully we are due for a similar event relatively soon. [emoji57]

I will also nominate Joplin due to its societal impact and relative rarity in size and strength, although not a quality chase event. That was early in the decade too, so let’s hope we are not due for a repeat...

Is the criteria based on quality from a chaser perspective - where non-storm attributes such as road network can come into play - or noteworthiness from a meteorological perspective, or impact (i.e. on the chaser community and/or the public), or some max combination of all of the above? Not that it’s time to vote yet, but it seems El Reno is a clear standout in terms of both meteorology and impact on the chaser community, and although not a “quality” chase event in the traditional sense I’m sure those who were there (I was not) had a dramatic experience they probably would not want to have missed...
 

Mark Blue

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Laramie, WY, June 6, 2018. The narrow corridor of lower end moisture (low 50s dewpoints), a decent veering wind profile and steep mid level lapse rates that worked its way up to an elevation of roughly 7300 feet is simply mind boggling. The photogenic tornadoes it produced can mostly be found under these hashtags #wywx or #laramiewx in social media. The ST thread for this event is located here https://stormtrack.org/community/threads/2018-06-06-event-wy.30261/.

A nice satellite clip of the parent thunderstorms found here. https://twitter.com/weatherdak/status/1004541689984253952?s=21

Since I missed this event, I’ll leave it to those who were there to add additional thoughts. @Verne Carlson @James Hammett I believe you were both there?
 
Oct 10, 2004
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April 27th, 2011 for meteorological exceptionalism and societal impact. Many of the tornadoes were also quite photogenic/spectacular although exceedingly difficult and dangerous to chase.
 

Jeff Duda

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It's difficult to really nominate because of the "obscure" rule that was set. The Rice, TX tornado was every bit as spectacular as Campo, except 400 chasers didn't see Rice. IMO that shouldn't disqualify what was an exceptionally-photogenic tornado in the month of October (not May).
While I don't doubt the significance of the event to you and the few others who saw it, Shane, the issue I take with this event is that since it was documented by so few people it will be tough to have a lot of evidence to use to compare it to some of the other nominees. But it is okay for now to toss its name in the hat.
 

Jeff Duda

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Is the criteria based on quality from a chaser perspective - where non-storm attributes such as road network can come into play - or noteworthiness from a meteorological perspective, or impact (i.e. on the chaser community and/or the public), or some max combination of all of the above? Not that it’s time to vote yet, but it seems El Reno is a clear standout in terms of both meteorology and impact on the chaser community, and although not a “quality” chase event in the traditional sense I’m sure those who were there (I was not) had a dramatic experience they probably would not want to have missed...
I was thinking more along the lines of meteorological significance, but those events correlate strongly with events that were highly photogenic (another desirable quality) and witnessed by large numbers of chasers (or just people overall), so I think it's okay to add such events in.

Even if an event occurred in a poor road network, that doesn't mean it might not have been meteorologically significant. However, when it comes time to get serious about voting, if you advocate for such an event you will want to have objective data ready to present (e.g., radar imagery).
 
Aug 9, 2012
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I agree with both of Jeff's nominations at the top....I might add in June 17 2010 in Minnesota and May 22 2010 in South Dakota. June 17 2010 in Minnesota was a tornado outbreak that encompassed a majority of the state, but I'd really hone in on the southern supercell that tracked from Northern Iowa into Southern Minnesota near Albert Lea producing at least 8-10 tornadoes including several large EF3 rated tornadoes and an EF4 that narrowly missed the city of Albert Lea. In addition to a barrage of tornadoes, the storm structure was frequently quite awesome as well.

May 22, 2010 in South Dakota was the infamous Bowdle wedge day. A cyclic supercell formed SW of Java, SD and within an hour of going up went tornado warned producing several tornadoes including a nearly 3/4 mile wide EF-4 wedge shaped tornado that just nearly missed the small town of Bowdle to the NW. Additional tornadoes formed after this monster tornado including a couple of EF2's near Ipswitch to just NW of Aberdeen, SD.

I might add in May 24, 2011 as well. The Oklahoma City area isn't a stranger to tornadoes or even high end tornado events (several occurred 2 years later in 2013). However the event in 2011 struck me as particularly intense due to the numbers of significant and even violent tornadoes within a couple counties of the OKC area (2 EF4, 2 EF3, 1 EF5). The most intense of these being the EF5 tornado that passed near Binger and El Reno, Oklahoma producing a record wind gust at the El Reno mesonet of 151 mph. There was debate later on about the intensity of some of the EF4 tornadoes (IE Washington/Goldsby) as to whether they were flirting with EF5 based on the damage, however ultimately the ratings were left at high end EF4. Many chasers caught incredible photos and video this day and while this event was embedded in a string of what seemed like never ending high end days in 2011, I think this particular one stands out.

I could probably keep going on, but that's what I've got for now.
 
I had to think about this for awhile before deciding.

I agree the Pilger event is a top 5 but it had little impact on humanity / society and most people have never heard of it. Even though there were some very impressive radar signatures, the storm did not produce an EF5 and the impact was unimpressive.

1: El Reno is the top event in my opinion as it had it all including scientific significance, damage / fatality history (unfortunately) and highly visual aspects. It was also covered extensively as a live event by the media.

2: The Moore FE5 tornado of 2013. It had scientific / historical significance because it was the third supercell to produce a violent tornado over almost the exact same path. The radar presentation was textbook perfect and the live coverage / images were spellbinding. It had a major social impact by initiating a very strong national discussion over school safety and the city had to consider incentives for people to move there.

moore-ok-noaa.jpg
 
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Since nobody else has mentioned it, I'll throw Chapman 5/25/16 into the nomination pool. While DDC did have quantity on its side, it's not uncommon for cyclic storms to drop multiple tornadoes in succession. For a storm to stay on the ground for 90 minutes like Chapman did is something I don't know if we'll see anytime soon. I think there will be more opportunities for DDC style cyclic storms than there are Chapmans, IMO. Especially over relatively open terrain like it was and being able to create EF4 DIs without hitting any populated areas.

I have to second Ethan's nomination for 5/24/11. 3 violent tornadoes within 50 miles of each other and I believe at least two of them were on the ground concurrently, if not all three at one point.
 
Dec 8, 2003
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There were certainly some spectacular events over the last 9 seasons. So spectacular that this many posts in, still nobody has even nominated or mentioned Bennington, Canadian or Simla, and I agree with everything said so far.

The May 28, 2013 Bennington KS EF4 wedge just sat there in one place forever. True, much of that time it was rain-wrapped, but geez, after close to an hour I got bored with it and left the area while it was still ongoing. I know there was also "Bennington 2", but I don't know enough about that one to comment further.

Canadian, TX, May 27, 2015 was no wedge but also remained nearly stationary and produced a tornado for close to an hour.

Then there was Simla CO on June 4, 2015. In a picture frame on my coffee table right in front of me I have my motel room receipt from the room where I woke up that morning in Limon, along with the restaurant receipt for the steak I enjoyed afterward. Simla featured a very photogenic tornado that lasted for a half hour, followed by twin tornadoes, one cyclonic and one anticyclonic, that kept at it, off and on, for about another 45 minutes.
 

Mark Blue

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Then there was Simla CO on June 4, 2015. In a picture frame on my coffee table right in front of me I have my motel room receipt from the room where I woke up that morning in Limon, along with the restaurant receipt for the steak I enjoyed afterward. Simla featured a very photogenic tornado that lasted for a half hour, followed by twin tornadoes, one cyclonic and one anticyclonic, that kept at it, off and on, for about another 45 minutes.
Not to add too much chatter but this has been in the forefront of my mind. I knew someone like you would nominate it, just like Bowdle, Joplin, and 5/24/11, all events I chased and am glad they’ve been included. Thanks Bob!
 
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Todd Lemery

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I believe I heard Roger Hill say that the Chapman tornado presented him with the best chase of his long career. Depending on how someone rates quality chases, it would have to rank up there. I was on my way home that day because my brother “had” to get home. I still throw it in his face
 
I think the May 18, 2013 Rozel, KS tornado needs to be included. Gorgeous EF-4 visible from almost any direction, and (including video captures), probably the most photographed bolt of lightning in history right next to it. From a chase standpoint, hard to beat, and there were lots of chasers on it, so it meets the criteria in that regard, too.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Not to get OT but as this thread makes me look at the decade and I realize just how many stellar events there were, I feel a profound sense of regret over missing more of them than I witnessed - some because they were simply outside of my annual two-week chase vacations, but plenty where I simply blew it on forecast, storm selection, or some other field error... Well, I guess chasing is like baseball where a relatively low success rate in absolute terms is still considered a good batting average.
 
Sep 25, 2006
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I want to nominate the 10/4/13 Wayne, NE tornado. There were other significant tornadoes that day to the east in Iowa that would add to the significance of the day. That being said, I believe the Wayne tornado was the biggest of the day (1.4 miles wide) and also had the biggest societal impact since it hit a pretty good portion of Wayne. Not the prettiest tornado and not a prolific day in terms of video/pictures, but given the time of year (especially for the geographic location) it was quite a unique/rare setup. Throw in the blizzard in western South Dakota from the same system and you can see how impressive the storm system really was.
 
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Apr 23, 2016
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On the topic of prolific events in unusual places during unusual times, I'll toss in 3/02/2012. Again, not a particularly chaseable event, but in terms of how unusual it is for that region to have a sizable outbreak at any time of year, let alone in March, I think it at least deserves a mention. Not to mention I believe this event holds the title for the largest March outbreak on record.
 
Jan 7, 2006
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For sheer rarity of a significant attribute, it's pretty hard to go against Jeff's two picks. In terms of pure chase quality, there are just too many for me to narrow it down to 2-3, so I'll abstain for now.

Since someone mentioned 4 October 2013, I thought it was worth pointing out how impressive that day was in its own right. Two storms with wedges over 1 mi. in width, in the Plains, both easily visible (even if somewhat obscured by rain at times), both during the day and well before sunset. It's not hard to go several years without getting that out of an individual setup in the Plains. To get it in October is rather phenomenal.
 
Nov 13, 2017
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I won't even try and claim that I am unbiased, but the Rochelle-Fairdale tornado on April 9, 2015 deserves some consideration as an individual storm that produced an extremely strong, photogenic, long-track tornado that is as legendary among chasers in this area of the country as many of the strongest and most significant tornadoes in the Southern Plains. Its motion and the stance it took as it seemed to tilt forward as it moved still get to me. If I remember correctly it was the first EF4- or 5-strength tornado in the Chicago warning area since Plainfield.

On the topic of photogenic tornadoes, May 7, 2016 in Wray, Colorado absolutely blows my mind. A quarter mile wide drillbit similar in a lot of ways to Simla with some unbelievable close range footage from a bunch of angles is hard to beat. Just one of many reasons I really hate myself for not chasing in May of 2016.
 

Jeff Duda

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Thanks to all who have contributed their thoughts and opinions so far. I am going to let this initial stage of discussion and nomination thoroughly run its course before moving on to the next step, and I hope that many more weigh in before then.

At this point I am getting the sense that it would probably be better to develop a set of categories (hinted at by @Dan Robinson 's post) to eliminate the difficulty with distinguishing between which qualities make one event better than another. I think the following broad types of categories may work:
-meteorological significance: severe report count extremes, seasonal/geographic/diurnal anomalies etc.
-scientific significance, e.g., measurement extremes
-aesthetic qualities: most photogenic, most thoroughly documented, best available videos
-human impact
-miscellaneous, e.g., unexpected events, overperforming events, events outside the typical tornado alley

Feel free to suggest specific categories as well.
 

Dave C

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The categories identified are a good start. I agree you cannot lump everything together, but everyone can have favorite storms by category and favorite storms within a category.

For me the two most significant categories are 1) best experience, which Dan R. has captured well in his spreadsheet with factors like minutes of goodness, quality of goodness, etc.

2) Most significant meteorologic events, or most perfect hail or tornado machines. These are "perfect" storms (born in "perfect" environments, ultimate power or longevity). Joplin, El Reno, Moore, Vivian hailstone, plenty more...but also Laramie 2018, Campo 2010, and events that are unexpected but in the end, great setups in their way. Maybe some would call these separate categories, but to me they are all the same category- significant because they highlight the environment that made them and showcase the margins that are possible. These are Moore '99 and Jarrell '97 type events that are simply fascinating. To me this second category does not require personal witness to the event, just notable power, features, or rarity that few storms reach.

The other categories to me get lost in the noise to these two. Either I was there and it was amazing for the experience, or the sheer power, perfection, or oddity of a storm I did not witness makes it a 'classic' to read about for all time.

Edited because I forgot what decade we were in, and for clarity. :p
 
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