Tag Archives: tornadoes

Midwest tornado outbreak kills at least eight, hundreds injured

Tornado outbreaks in November are not common, particularly in the United States Midwest, but Mother Nature unleashed her fury Sunday destroying entire parts of towns and claiming lives.

Forecasters had warned of a potential severe weather outbreak and it came to fruition by mid-morning. Damaging winds and tornadoes struck a dozen states with Illinois being hardest hit.

The death toll has now reached eight and officials fear it could grow further.   Read the rest of this story with photos and video on Examiner.com

Damaged buildings along Washington Road in the aftermath of a tornado on November 18, 2013 in Washington, Illinois.
An entire neighbourhood is destroyed in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on November 13, 2013 in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Click to view photo slideshow. (Getty Images)

Unusual late September severe weather visits Colorado bringing tornadoes & hail

Severe weather more typical of June than late September hit Colorado yesterday.
Severe weather more typical of June than late September hit Colorado yesterday.

September weather in Colorado is typically tranquil and one of the more pleasant months in the state.  This week however that wasn’t the case, especially yesterday when severe thunderstorms rumbled across the parts of the state.

Tuesday and Wednesday brought heavy rains to parts of the northern Front Range.  The precipitation was welcomed as it provided much-needed relief from the recently dry conditions.

Yesterday in Colorado Springs and La Junta thunderstorms brought hail that accumulated up to 6 inches deep.  Mother Nature however held more surprises as she brought tornadoes to other parts of the state.

Three tornadoes were reported in northeastern Colorado – one each in Adams, Douglas, and Weld counties.  None of the three caused any damage.

A fourth twister however occurred in southern Colorado near Del Norte in Rio Grande County northwest of Alamosa.  Local resident Julie Sauvigne captured amazing video of the tornado as it ripped through her property causing EF0 level damage to her home.

Watch the video below.  Notice how the visible funnel is almost directly above Sauvigne while the circulation on the ground was occurring in a field nearly a mile away!

United States sees record-setting number of billion dollar disasters in 2011

The United States has seen an extraordinary number of billion dollar disasters in 2011.
The United States has seen an extraordinary number of billion dollar disasters in 2011.

According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the U.S. has seen a record number of billion dollar disasters in 2011.  Thus far this year the nation has seen 10 such disasters and with hurricane season far from over, it seems likely the number will grow.

The events range from the Groundhog Day Blizzard to Hurricane Irene’s recent devastating blow to the East Coast.  In all, the disasters represent more than $35 billion in losses and that is no including Irene’s yet to be determined toll.

Below is the list and narrative for each disaster from the NCDC.  For the latest disaster news, be sure to check out the Natural Disasters Examiner.

Hurricane Irene, August 20-29, 2011 While it will take several months to determine an accurate estimate of the damage from Hurricane Irene, there is no question it will rank as the 10th billion-dollar weather event of the year. This 10th U.S. billion-dollar disaster officially breaks the annual record dating back to 1980.

Upper Midwest Flooding, Summer, 2011 Melting of an above-average snow pack across the Northern Rocky Mountains combined with above-average precipitation caused the Missouri and Souris Rivers to swell beyond their banks across the Upper Midwest (MT, ND, SD, NE, IA, KS, MO). An estimated 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Minot, North Dakota due to the record high water level of the Souris River, where 4,000 homes were flooded. Numerous levees were breached along the Missouri River, flooding thousands of acres of farmland. Estimated losses exceed $2.0 billion as the event continues to unfold (as of 8/15). The flooding also stretched into the Canadian Prairies, where property and agriculture losses were expected to surpass $1.0 billion, at least 5 deaths.

Mississippi River flooding, Spring-Summer, 2011 Persistent rainfall (nearly 300 percent normal precipitation amounts in the Ohio Valley) combined with melting snowpack caused historical flooding along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Estimated economic loss ranges from $2.0-4.0 billion; at least 2 deaths. Below are more detailed stats, which are preliminary, as the event continues to unfold (as of 8/15): $500 million to agriculture in Arkansas; $320 million in damage to Memphis, Tennessee; $800 million to agriculture in Mississippi; $317 million to agriculture and property in Missouri’s Birds Point-New Madrid Spillway; $80 million for the first 30 days of flood fighting efforts in Louisiana.

Southern Plains/Southwest Drought, Heatwave, & Wildfires, Spring-Summer, 2011 Drought, heatwave, and wildfires have created major impacts across the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Kansas, and western Arkansas and Louisiana. In Texas and Oklahoma, respectively, 75% and 63% of range and pasture conditions were classified in ‘very poor’ condition as of mid-August. Wildfire fighting/suppression costs for the region are also ~$1 million / day with over 2,000 homes and structures lost. The total direct losses (as of August 15) to agriculture, cattle and structures are well over $5.0 billion; both direct and total economic losses will rise dramatically as the event continues.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, May 22-27, 2011 Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (MO, TX, OK, KS, AR, GA, TN, VA, KY, IN, IL, OH, WI, MN, PA) with an estimated 180 tornadoes and 177 deaths. Notably, an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, MO resulting in at least 141 deaths, making it the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado record keeping began in 1950. Over $4.9 billion insured losses for event; total losses greater than $7.0 billion; 177 deaths.

Southeast/Ohio Valley/Midwest Tornadoes, April 25-30, 2011 Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (AL, AR, LA, MS, GA, TN, VA, KY, IL, MO, OH, TX, OK) with an estimated 305 tornadoes and 327 deaths. Of those fatalities, 240 occurred in Alabama. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak, an EF-5, hit northern Alabama, killing 78 people. Several major metropolitan areas were directly impacted by strong tornadoes including Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville in Alabama and Chattanooga, Tennessee, causing the estimated damage costs to soar. Over $6.6 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $9.0 billion; 327 deaths.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 14-16, 2011 Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (OK, TX, AR, MS, AL, GA, NC, SC, VA, PA) with an estimated 160 tornadoes. Despite the large overall number of tornadoes, few were classified as intense, with just 14 EF-3, and no EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes identified. Over $1.4 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $2.0 billion; 38 deaths [22 of which were in North Carolina].

Southeast/Midwest Tornadoes, April 8-11, 2011 Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (NC, SC, TN, AL, TX, OK, KS, IA, WI) with an estimated 59 tornadoes. Over $1.5 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $2.2 billion; numerous injuries, 0 deaths.

Midwest/Southeast Tornadoes, April 4-5, 2011 Outbreak of tornadoes over central and southern states (KS, MO, IA, IL, WI, KY, GA, TN, NC, SC) with an estimated 46 tornadoes. Over $1.6 billion insured losses; total losses greater than $2.3 billion; 9 deaths.

Groundhog Day Blizzard, Jan 29-Feb 3, 2011 Large winter storm impacting many central, eastern and northeastern states. The city of Chicago was brought to a virtual standstill as between 1 and 2 feet of snow fell over the area. Insured losses greater than $1.1 billion; total losses greater than $2.0 billion; 36 deaths.

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.

Do you know what to do when severe weather strikes? Learn how to protect you and your family:

Three-day severe weather outbreak kills dozens across nation’s south

Debris is scattered through Sanford, North Carolina in the wake of one of dozens of tornadoes that truck in the past three days. (Yfrog / SanfordHerald http://yfrog.com/h4rystdj)
Debris is scattered through Sanford, North Carolina in the wake of one of dozens of tornadoes that truck in the past three days. View more images in the slideshow below. (Yfrog / SanfordHerald http://yfrog.com/h4rystdj)

One series of storms moved across the southeastern United States over a period of three days and wreaked havoc along the way.  In their wake more than three dozen people are dead from the severe weather that brought tornadoes, hail and wind.

On Thursday Oklahoma and Arkansas were the first to experience the severe weather that spawned a line of storms hundreds of miles long.  Nine lives were lost in those two states between tornadoes and deadly winds.

Friday the storms moved to the east and visited their destruction on Mississippi and Alabama.  Seven fatalities were recorded including a mother and two of her children.

Mother Nature was not done yet and created an amazing display of storms as the weather system continued on its deadly path on Saturday.  The Carolinas and Virginia were next on the hit list where as many as two dozen people have been killed.

The most destructive tornado struck near Sanford, North Carolina with dozens of homes and businesses reduced to rubble.  A Lowe’s Home Improvement store suffered a direct strike collapsing the front half of the store.  Miraculously no one was killed in the structure.

An untold number of homes and businesses have been destroyed in the severe weather outbreak.  Trees and power lines were toppled and hundreds of injuries recorded.

Slideshow: Severe weather outbreak kills dozens, destroys homes and businessesThe death toll from the three-day severe weather outbreak continues to climb with some accounts pegging the number at 45 or more.  The Storm Prediction Center recorded 230 reports of tornadoes over the period and the event is by far the most extensive and deadly weather event thus far in 2011.

For more on this story visit the Natural Disasters Examiner.

Do you know what to do to protect yourself and your family when severe weather strikes?  The same type of events that struck in recent days can and do occur in Colorado.  Check out our Severe Weather Awareness series for more:

Severe weather tears across the south, nine killed

The town of Tushka, Oklahoma saw extensive damage Thursday night when a tornado struck claiming at least two lives. (Twitpic / snickeraddict15 - http://twitpic.com/4l42do)
The town of Tushka, Oklahoma saw extensive damage Thursday night when a tornado struck claiming at least two lives. (Twitpic / snickeraddict15 - http://twitpic.com/4l42do)

Two days of severe weather have spawned more than two dozen tornadoes, dropped softball size hail and unleashed damaging winds.  The storms which have affected five states turned deadly and claimed the lives of nine people.

Yesterday a massive line of storms stretching from northern Kansas down to southern Oklahoma struck.  The town of Tushka, Oklahoma took a direct strike from the storm destroying many homes and as many as five school buildings.  Two elderly women were killed.

Early this morning the same storm system moved to the east bringing powerful winds to 80mph.  Seven people were killed including a six-year-old boy and an 18-month-old girl.  The boy’s life was claimed when a tree six feet in diameter fell on the family home.

Today the severe weather has continued as the storms continue their terrifying rampage.  More than 40 tornadoes have been reported, most in Mississippi and Alabama, and as of this writing they continue their movement east.

Extensive damage has been seen in both states.  In Talladega, Alabama, NASCAR officials were warning fans to be ready to evacuate as the racetrack is under a tornado watch until 9:00pm.  With tens of thousands of fans on site, officials prepared evacuation routes should the need arise.

Below is video from storm chasers as one tornado crosses a highway in Jackson, Mississippi.

Ranking the top 10 Colorado weather events of the past 10 years

The March 2003 blizzard that buried Thornton in snow was ranked as the top weather event of the past 10 years. (ThorntonWeather.com)
The March 2003 blizzard that buried Thornton in snow was ranked as the top weather event of the past 10 years. (ThorntonWeather.com)

There is a lot that can be said about the weather in Colorado but ‘boring’ is not usually a term associated with it.  Anyone who has lived in the Centennial State for very long quickly experiences a weather-related event that will give them memories for a lifetime. 

From major snowstorms and blizzards to tornadoes, wildfires, scorching heat and damaging hail storms Colorado weather can and does bring it all to the table.  The Denver office of the National Weather Service has released a list of what local meteorologists rank as the top 10 weather events of the past 10 years.

For some it may be a blizzard that buried the Mile High City in a heavy blanket of snow and brought everything to a standstill.  Others will remember the heavy smoke from fires burning in the mountains destroying hundreds of thousands of acres.  The tragedy tornadoes bring to Colorado in terms of destruction and loss of life may be what others remember.

Over the past 10 years many memorable weather events have occurred that fully display the sheer variety of weather Colorado receives.  A team of meteorologists serving Colorado analyzed these events and ranked them based on meteorological intensity and their human and economic impact.

Continue reading Ranking the top 10 Colorado weather events of the past 10 years

Tornado chasing becomes new vacation of choice for thrillseekers

"Tornado tourism" is becoming a quickly growing industry as folks look for alternatives to a trip to the beach. (ThorntonWeather.com)
"Tornado tourism" is becoming a quickly growing industry as folks look for alternatives to a trip to the beach. Check out the slideshow below to see what a one week tour yielded this past summer. (ThorntonWeather.com)

While many might view a tornado something to flee from, an increasing number of vacationers are flocking to the Great Plains for the chance to get up close and personal with a twister.  A new study shows that storm chasing tours are becoming a vacation of choice for not only many Americans but also visitors from overseas. 

A University of Missouri research team found that interest in tornado chasing is being fed by popular television shows like the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers.  Further, thanks to the power of the Internet, live video streams by storm chasers showing tornadoes as they rip across the landscape have skyrocketed in popularity. 

Tornado Alley stretches across the nation’s midsection and is a unique location as most of the world’s tornadoes occur in this broad swath from South Dakota to Texas.  Tour operators like Silver Lining Tours have capitalized on tourists seeking something more adventurous than a day at the beach.  

Researchers Sonja Wilhelm Stanis and Carla Barbieri said that while the majority of participants in these tours were American, there was an international flavor to them as well. “While more than half of the surveyed travelers lived in North America, 11 percent came from Australia and nearly a third traveled from Europe to get a close encounter with a tornado.”

Storm chasing tours take to the Great Plains on the hunt for tonradoes. This past summer as part of our work with Examiner.com, we rode along on a seven day tornado chasing tour that covered more than 3,000 miles.  Among the 18 tourists were five British citizens, three of whom have been on multiple storm chasing tours in the United States. 

Demographics for the group ran the entire gamut from married couples to singles aged from 25 to 55.  Their backgrounds were as varied as one would expect at any vacation destination with blue collar workers and urban professionals all among the participants. 

The study found that most that chose this high-risk activity were satisfied with the experience, even if they did not see a tornado.  One-third of them saw a tornado while 50% saw funnel clouds.  The vast majority, 95%, at least saw a “significant atmospheric event.” 

View the slideshow for images of what it is like on a storm chasing tour.  Also be sure to check out this video shot by ThorntonWeather.com of the Campo, Colorado tornado.

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