The EF-3 tornado blew at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour (225 kilometres per hour), toppling thousands of trees, injuring 11 people, and knocking out power to tens of thousands.
At least 230 homes were damaged by the tornado, including one that collapsed.
Although the storm system’s characteristics were more subtle from a satellite perspective, they provided at least one early indication that the squall line had a good possibility of unleashing devastating weather.
Cloud temperature data above was acquired around 45 minutes before the tornado touched down using the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on the GOES-R satellite.
Red indicates warmer air, whereas blue indicates cooler air.
“Observe the plumes of warm air downwind of updrafts—the chilly overshooting cloud tops,” said NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Kristopher Bedka.
“What we refer to as’ above-anvil cirrus plumes’ (AACPs) are cirrus clouds that have been pumped into the stratosphere.”
The troposphere, the barrier between the troposphere and the stratosphere, is where the majority of thunderstorms develop.
When powerful storms approach the troposphere, their tops flatten down, resembling an anvil.
Cirrus plumes above the anvil arise when exceptionally strong updrafts penetrate the troposphere and draw cirrus cloud tops into the stratosphere.
Cirrus plumes are often warmer than the underlying anvil clouds due to the increasing height of the air in the stratosphere.
“While detecting an AACP does not guarantee the presence of a tornado or other severe weather, as demonstrated by the Naperville event, our analysis of over 400 of these events observed by either GOES-14 or GOES-16 revealed that approximately three-quarters of the time, these
“Cirrus plumes are frequently observed atop the world’s most powerful storms, and studying them can provide critical lead time that can save lives and property.”
Joshua Stevens created NASA Earth Observatory photos using GOES 16 imagery provided by NOAA and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS).