Dangerous "Texas Hooker" Storm Threatening Midwest Has Claws

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 20 2014 6:28 PM

Dangerous "Texas Hooker" Storm Threatening Midwest Has Claws

An intensifying storm meteorologists are calling a “Texas Hooker” is pushing through the Midwest on Thursday, bringing a litany of extreme weather in its wake.

The storm system is already responsible for near-blizzard conditions in Minnesota and Iowa, strong winds across much of the country’s midsection, and at least two tornadoes in Illinois.


The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded the risk of severe weather across an area that includes parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and says the storm packs a ”widespread damaging wind risk” with a few more tornadoes possible by late Thursday. The SPC is also providing up to the minute tracking of severe weather caused by the storm.

As of early evening, tornado warnings—localized alerts that indicate a tornado has been spotted or is imminent—were becoming more prevalent between Memphis and Chicago.

Also happening via the same storm system—what else?—more winter. A Thursday evening headline from the National Weather Service in Minneapolis warned:

Conditions are deteriorating rapidly with heavy snow and a few thunderstorms. A few locations in northwest Wisconsin could see up to 16 inches by the time the snow ends on Friday.

Winds are expected to gust up to 60 miles per hour in Chicago on Thursday night as the storm pushes east, a result of the close juxtaposition of the storm’s intense low pressure center and the cold, dense, Arctic high pressure immediately behind it. The clash had already triggered a powerful line of thunderstorms that was expected to produce a sweeping swath of intense winds eventually stretching from New Orleans to New Jersey.

But as of Thursday evening, a radar loop showed the storm was still taking shape:

Intense thunderstorms merged with near-blizzard conditions over the Midwest on Thursday.

Image by the National Weather Service.

A remarkable temperature contrast had developed across the Midwest as of Thursday afternoon, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s from Missouri across the Southeast states, and near-blizzard conditions in some cases just one state away.

On the warm side of the storm, records toppled. Early on Thursday, Atlanta broke a 124-year-old record with an exceptionally warm morning low temperature of 59 degrees—a sharp contrast to the sub-freezing weather of the last several weeks. The National Weather Service confirmed that Charlotte, N.C.—just days ago buried under a blanket of snow and ice—recorded its warmest ever Feb. 20, with a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. New York City’s high temperature hit a balmy 51 degrees on Thursday, its warmest reading in nearly three weeks.

As of about 4 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, weather reports showed an intense storm system centered over Iowa. Temperatures are in red, dewpoints are in green, visibility (in miles) is in pink, and wind gusts (in mph) are in black.

Image by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

However, the warmth will not last.

Starting Friday, the storm’s intense cold could affect much of the Eastern part of the country via strong winds and a renewed blast of Arctic air.

As the storm retreats into Canada, the weather see-saw will tilt back toward Antarctica-lite for the East. The storm’s intense winds will usher in an extended period of extremely cold air over much of the eastern United States, culminating in a return of polar vortex-like frigidity by the middle of next week. The National Weather Service in Chicago says next week’s multiday cold air may be so extreme that morning lows could be “threatening records.”

As of Thursday, forecast models didn’t anticipate the coldest air extending as far into the Deep South as recent cold air outbreaks. Still, the forecast was enough to push commodity trading of natural gas prices to a five-year high on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Prices Thursday were down slightly.

Get ready for another round of Arctic cold air, America.

Image by NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

It’s enough to want to crawl under a rock and hibernate.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate’s Future Tense. Follow him on Twitter.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.