Tag Archives: Tornado Outbreak

NOAA releases statistics highlighting devastating April tornado outbreak

Tornado Tracks: April 24th through the 29th, 2011. (NOAA)
Tornado Tracks: April 24th through the 29th, 2011. (NOAA) Click the image for a larger view.

The devastating tornado outbreak that struck across the southern United States last month continues to be analyzed by the National Weather Service.  At latest county 326 people were killed and as many as 305 tornadoes resulted in in the outbreak.

What follows is NOAA’s latest update on the events:

From NOAA:

NOAA’s preliminary estimate is that there were 305 tornadoes during the entire outbreak from 8:00 a.m. EDT April 25 to 8:00 a.m. April 28, 2011. NWS created a table to provide clearer insight into the preliminary number of tornadoes. Each of the three categories in the table below has different levels of confidence/accuracy.

  • Eyewitness Reports are the least accurate/reliable because long-lived tornadoes like those in this outbreak tend to be reported multiple times. This artificially increases the number of tornadoes.
  • NOAA’s Estimate is based on expert analysis of the Eyewitness Reports compared with the details coming out of the Tornadoes Surveyed by NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFO). It is the statistic NWS uses in public announcements since it is the best estimate at the time. The numbers will change (typically down) as WFOs complete their storm surveys.
  • Tornadoes Surveyed by WFOs is the latest confirmed number of tornadoes surveyed by the National Weather Service.
Preliminary Tornado Data Table
Date Eyewitness Reports NOAA’s Estimate Tornadoes Surveyed by WFOs (to date)
25-26 55 40 25
26-27 111 75 42
27-28 268 190 134
Total: 434 305 201

  • The NWS Storm Prediction Center issued severe weather outlooks five days in advance and tornado watches hours in advance.
  • NWS Weather Forecast Offices issued life-saving tornado warnings, with an average lead-time of 24 minutes. NWS issued warnings for more than 90 percent of these tornadoes.
  • NWS decision support for this event has been extensive. NWS Weather Forecast Offices in the affected areas of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia advertised the potential for severe weather in the Tuesday through Wednesday timeframe since late last week. Local offices provided direct decision support services to meet the specific needs of local emergency manager partners and the general public. NWS Weather Forecast Offices issued Hazardous Weather Outlooks up to six days in advance noting the greater threat of strong, long-track tornadoes was expected.
  • The largest previous number of tornadoes on record in one event occurred from April 3-4, 1974, with 148 tornadoes.
  • NOAA will conduct a detailed analysis of tornado numbers using all available data to make any final determinations about records.  This typically takes months to complete.

There were approximately 326 fatalities during the entire outbreak from April 25 to April 28.

There were approximately 309 fatalities during the 24-hour-period from 8:00 a.m. April 27 to 8:00 a.m. April 28. This is currently the fifth deadliest day of tornadoes on record.

  • The Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado during the April 2011 event caused at least 65 fatalities. This tornado had a maximum width of 1.5 miles and a track 80 miles long
    • These are the most fatalities from a single tornado in the United States since May 25, 1955, when 80 people were killed in a tornado in southern Kansas with 75 of those deaths in Udall, Kansas.
    • The deadliest single tornado on record in the United States was the Tri-State tornado (Mo., Ill., Ind.) on March 18, 1925, when 695 died.

According to National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office Storm Survey teams, there were 24+ killer tornadoes in six states–Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia–that caused an estimated 326 fatalities.

The National Weather Service Storm Survey teams have upgraded to EF-5 the tornado that hit Neshoba, Kemper, Winston, Noxubee Counties in Mississippi.  The Weather Service has documented three (3) EF-5 tornadoes in this outbreak.

EF-5 Tornado Locations

  • Northern Mississippi/Eastern Arkansas
    • Smithville in Monroe County
  • Mississippi (NEWLY UPGRADED TO EF-5 FROM E-4)
  • Northern/Central Alabama (WFO Birmingham Warning Area):
    • Hackleburg in Marion County

The following are the tornado fatality breakdowns by state:

  • 4 – Arkansas
  • 35 – Mississippi
  • 236 – Alabama
  • 31 – Tennessee
  • 5 – Virginia
  • 15 – Georgia

Note:  All numbers are based on combined NOAA and historical research records and current fatality estimates. The historical research records extend back to 1680.

Ongoing (preliminary) List of Tornadoes by EF Rating (EF0 to EF5):
EF-5 3
EF-4 11
EF-3 21
EF-2 47
EF-1 62
EF-0 57
Total: 201

The South tries to recover amongst devastation of 2nd deadliest tornado outbreak on record

Damage from an EF5 tornado that struck Smithville, Miss., on April 27, 2011.
Damage from an EF5 tornado that struck Smithville, Miss., on April 27, 2011. Click the image for a slideshow of the devastation. (NWS)

With entire towns reduced to rubble and damage spread across seven states, people in the southeastern United States began the long task of recovery.  The tornadoes that struck this past week claimed 341 lives and achieved the unwanted status as the 2nd deadliest single-day tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

President Barack Obama toured the devastated city of Tuscaloosa in Alabama yesterday saying, “I have never seen devastation like this. It is heartbreaking.”

The National Weather Service received 211 tornado reports during the outbreak, a number that will be reduced once duplicates are removed.  No matter the number of twisters, the results were nothing short of devastating.

One tornado that struck near Smithville, Mississippi has received an EF-5 rating – the highest possible.  Meteorologists estimate that twister packed winds of 205mph.  A tornado in Georgia was rated an EF-4 and at least five EF-3 tornadoes struck Alabama.  Weather service officials say they expect more twisters could receive the highest rating as they continue their investigation.

With 341 lives confirmed lost and the number expected to continue to grow, the outbreak ranks as the 2nd deadliest single-day outbreak on record.  It surpassed the “Super Outbreak” of 1974 and a 1932 outbreak in the Deep South.

Some are speculating the toll will grow enough for the event to become the worst in history, a truly nightmare scenario.  The Tri-State tornado on March 18, 1925 claimed the lives of 747 people.  One tornado alone in that outbreak tracked 234 miles across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Slideshow: DigitalGlobe, NASA and Geoeye satellites provide view of tornado devastation
Slideshow: DigitalGlobe, NASA and Geoeye satellites provide view of tornado devastation

Obama has promised to speed federal aid to the region as governor’s in the hardest hit states declared states of emergency. “We can’t bring those who’ve been lost back. They’re alongside God at this point … but the property damage, which is obviously extensive, that’s something we can do something about,” the president said.

Damage estimates continue but an untold number of homes have been destroyed, certainly a number in the thousands.  Insured losses could reach between $2 billion and $5 billion which would push the disaster into the top 10 list of most expensive natural disasters in US history.

We are providing complete coverage of the tornado outbreak on Examiner.com.  Please visit the following links for more information.

Photo slideshows:

Related stories:

Disaster strikes: Worst tornado outbreak in more than 30 years hits the South

A tornado is seen ripping through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. View more images in the slideshow below.
A tornado is seen ripping through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. View more images in the slideshow below. (Credit: yfrog / bamawx)

A virtually unrivaled severe weather outbreak hit the southern United States yesterday bringing death and destruction.  The death toll from the event continues to climb and now ranks as the second worst since 1950.

The evaluation on the number of tornadoes and their power has begun by the National Weather Service.  The Storm Prediction Center recorded 164 reports but a number of those will be eliminated as duplicates of the same twisters.

Harold Brooks, a meteorologist with the SPC, told the Associated Press that he believed as many as 60 reports may be attributed to a single long-track tornado.  He further said that some may have achieved the EF-5 rating, the highest possible that generates winds in excess of 200mph.

Recovery efforts across the nation’s South continue as resources continue to arrive.  The Red Cross and other relief agencies were sending personnel from across the nation to help with search and rescue and to help with the distribution of water, food and other necessities.

  • Check out images and video of the tornadoes below

More than 1 million people were still without power this evening in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.  The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant west of Huntsville lost power from the storms but was able to safely shut down.

Alabama announced 11 more fatalities bringing the state’s losses to at least 195.  Overall at least 284 people across six states were killed making the disaster one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.  Only the “Super Outbreak” of 1974 caused more deaths.

Photo slideshow - Death and destruction in Alabama in the wake of tornado outbreak.
Photo slideshow - Death and destruction in Alabama in the wake of tornado outbreak.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said, “I don’t know how anyone survived.”  The mayor toured his city by helicopter and was stunned by the devastation. “We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map,”Maddox said.

States of emergency were declared in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia.  President Barack Obama announced that he would speed federal aid to the disaster stricken region and would visit Alabama personally on Friday.

For complete coverage of the tornado outbreak, please visit the Natural Disasters Examiner.

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