Tornadoes rip Alabama, Misssissippi; 17 dead in 2-day outbreak

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:51 PM GMT on April 16, 2011

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Dozens of tornadoes and dangerous severe thunderstorms tore through the Southeast U.S. on Friday, bringing a second day of severe weather havoc to the nation. The death toll from the two-day severe blitz now stands at seventeen, with up to 100 people injured and tens of millions of dollars in property damage. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 98 tornado reports yesterday, bringing the two-day total for the outbreak to 120 tornadoes. These preliminary reports are usually a 15% over-count of the actual number of tornadoes, which still means over 100 tornadoes have probably touched down during the past two days. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak hit near Prattville, Alabama at 10:55pm CDT last night, killing three people in a mobile home, and injuring four others. One of the most damaging tornadoes occurred just west of Jackson, Mississippi, when a tornado touched down just south of I-20, crossed the expressway, flipping cars and semis, then plowed through the town of Clinton. At least nine people were injured in Clinton, and extensive damage characteristic of an EF-2 tornado is apparent in damage photos.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image of the Clinton, Mississippi tornado at 10:57am CDT as the twister crossed I-20 and hit the town. Note the classic hook-shaped echo of the parent mesocyclone in the rotating severe thunderstorms that spawned the tornado.


Figure 2. Doppler radar velocity image of the Clinton, Mississippi tornado at 10:57am CDT.

On Thursday, tornadoes and deadly severe thunderstorms tore through Oklahoma and Arkansas, killing at least nine people. A EF-3 tornado hit the small town of Tushka, Oklahoma, population 350, ripping off the roof of the local high school and destroying dozens of buildings in Tushka. Two people were killed and 25 injured. The tornado moved over farmland and dissipated a short time later, but the squall line that spawned the tornado moved into Arkansas overnight, spawning severe thunderstorm winds that killed seven more people.

Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina under the gun today
The action shifts eastwards to southern Virgina and eastern North Carolina and South Carolina today, which NOAA's Storm Prediction Center have placed under its "moderate risk" region for severe weather. This is the same level of risk as we've seen for the past two days for this storm system, and it is very unusual for this portion of the U.S. to experience such a high severe weather risk. Tornado watches have already been posted for portions of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. You can follow today's severe weather using our severe weather page and interactive tornado map. This map now shows links to Youtube storm chaser videos of tornadoes, plus any wunderphotos taken of the storm.


Figure 3. Satellite image from 23:32 UTC (7:32pm CDT) April 15, 2011, showing the strong low pressure system over the middle of the country that brought yesterday's severe weather outbreak. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.


Figure 4. Water vapor satellite image from 23:15 UTC (7:15pm CDT) April 15, 2011, showing a dry, eye-like feature in the strong low pressure system over the middle of the country. This eye-like feature persisted for many hours, but was not visible on infrared or visible satellite images. According to an analysis done by Scott Bachmeier at the University of Wisconsin, the stratosphere, which has very dry air, sunk down to the 600 mb height at the center of the storm, and it is possible that dry air from the stratosphere is responsible for this eye-like feature. This is a different mechanism than how hurricanes develop eyes, and yesterday's storm had only a shallow area of low clouds with light rain near the center--nothing like an eyewall of a hurricane. Image credit: NOAA.


Figure 5. Storm chaser video from Reed Timmer of the Clinton, Mississippi tornado on April 15, 2011. Numerous transformers blow as the tornado wipes out power lines, creating bright blue-green flashes.


Figure 6. Storm chaser video from tornadovideos.net of a huge tornado in Oklahoma during Thursday's outbreak there.

Jeff Masters

Monster Supercell (Californiaboy)
Plowing over the countryside on its way to Madill.
Monster Supercell
Stacked Up (Californiaboy)
Tractor rig picked up and placed on top of the others. Taken 2 miles north of Madill.
Stacked Up
Madill Tornado (Californiaboy)
Taken shortly after 6 p.m. on Hwy 70 looking east. The tornado hit 2 miles north of town.
Madill Tornado

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Quoting aquak9:
Sunrise, hot coffee to ya'll. Can't say "good morning", don't feel too good about it.

Saw the big bright moon last night, it was nearly cloudless here in north florida. I hoped the moon would shine bright further north, help folks find their way amidst the darkness and rubble.

Friends here, please come out and greet me this morning. Feeling pretty awful right now.

Just to let you know that you have Friends in all kinds of places.
And they are all feeling some pain this morning.
I'm trying to find out if my niece in Raleigh (shares the same birth date as me) is doing OK this morning.
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Sunrise, hot coffee to ya'll. Can't say "good morning", don't feel too good about it.

Saw the big bright moon last night, it was nearly cloudless here in north florida. I hoped the moon would shine bright further north, help folks find their way amidst the darkness and rubble.

Friends here, please come out and greet me this morning. Feeling pretty awful right now.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25725
Quoting AussieStorm:
Could this be true?
US Govt Caught Hiding Earthquake Data to Discredit Climate Skeptic Expert? Link
its from co2 insanity...doesn't sound like a very credible source

Very little evidence, mostly unsupported claims.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"

So, to answer your question, no its probably not true.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
Could this be true?
US Govt Caught Hiding Earthquake Data to Discredit Climate Skeptic Expert? Link
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Not quite the wording that I'd select for northern Maine in early April... A wet 38 degrees hardly seems tropical



Sunday: Tropical storm conditions possible. Rain and possibly a thunderstorm before 11am, then rain likely. High near 38. South wind 31 to 41 mph becoming west 15 to 20 mph. Winds could gust as high as 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
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Very Sad News Came into the SPC tonight...

Shortly after 7pm, a deadly tornado struck North Carolina adding to the states death total. Actually, it more than tripled. 14 Fatalities came in from Bertie County alone as darkness approached.

The North Carolina Emergency Management declined to give a death total for the state at the moment.

This will go down as one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in North Carolina State History.

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485. xcool
GFDL will be upgraded on May 17

Effective Tuesday, May 17, 2011, beginning with the 1200
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) run, the National Centers for
Environmental Prediction (NCEP) will upgrade the Geophysical
Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) Hurricane Prediction System.
The scientific changes to the model include the following:

- Upgrade Simplified Arakawa-Schubert (SAS) deep convection
parameterization to new version implemented in the NCEP
Global Forecast System (GFS)
- Modify the surface enthalpy exchange coefficient and
dissipative heating effect
- Expand coupled region in the Eastern Atlantic domain
to prevent storms from losing coupling effect with the
ocean due to insufficient overlap with the Western Atlantic
region. The new overlap will be 25 degrees.
- Correct several bugs in the model.

In testing, these improvements resulted in an average reduction
of forecast error of about 20 percent in the Atlantic basin for
the 3 to 5 day forecast period for tests of storms from the 2010
Atlantic hurricane season.

Product Changes:

The following will be added to the GFDL model output GRIB files:

Model-predicted 10 meter winds will be outputted in addition to
the lowest model level 35 meter winds.

The GFDL hurricane model GRIB products are disseminated via the
NCEP and NWS FTP servers and are not available on NOAAPORT or
AWIPS. These changes will result in no change in product
dissemination time. There will be only a minor increase in
product size.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15620
Quoting EYEStoSEA:
well, I'm tired and weary, gonna call it a night, take care DAM :)


'night
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Quoting AussieStorm:

but from what i am reading,,,, if it did no damage then even though it was an EF5 it would be classified as an EF0. that's just mind boggling
I'm sure plenty go unclassified, but what do you want them to do? If its an open field there are literally no options. Radar signature can help you determine where a tornado is, but I don't think its very good at classifying the exact wind speeds. If it was, the damage scale would have already been removed and be replaced by radar techniques.

Obviously they haven't done that yet, so radar is clearly not a very reliable source for determining tornado strength. Meaning when a tornado is in an open field destroying nothing, there is no accurate way to determine its strength. Therefore it gets no rating. Maybe its just me, but my mind isn't too "boggled"
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4357
well, I'm tired and weary, gonna call it a night, take care DAM :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
1984 Carolinas tornado outbreak

"Ultimately this outbreak was responsible for 57 deaths, 1248 injuries, and confirmed tornado damage in 2 counties in Georgia, 8 counties in South Carolina, and 17 counties in North Carolina"

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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


In general, they are, but there are still too many who aren't. In some of the vids I've seen, people are right there driving in it. Glad you escaped the last storms, too.


Yea, me too, thanks :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


That's a long time ago....and thank goodness people are now much more weather aware.


In general, they are, but there are still too many who aren't. In some of the vids I've seen, people are right there driving in it. Glad you escaped the last storms, too.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Tx EYES. Yes, it is historic. The last such outbreak here was in '84. Same general scenario, but more fatalities then. This one will be worse for structural damage.


That's a long time ago....and thank goodness people are now much more weather aware.
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting EYEStoSEA:


and in NC at that....for Ms not so unusual...was really was a bad system, for sure. Glad you're ok :)


Tx EYES. Yes, it is historic. The last such outbreak here was in '84. Same general scenario, but more fatalities then. This one will be worse for structural damage.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
what do you see here

we have 103 nado today

and 103 nado friday


These are mostly reports of possible tornado damage, not the number of tornadoes sighted.
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.
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Well, young man, obviously I am a "wrong" lady.
No worries. We're all mistaken at times, as you well know. :)
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


but the destruction is what classifies it....

if there is destruction then of course it would get classified.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

I think you're missing the point, ma'am*. What we're saying is, as per the intricacies of the Enhanced Fujita Scale, tornadoes that spend their lifetimes amidst open fields will by default be classified as EF0s, because there's no actual structural damage. Obviously, this means there could be a lot of the stronger tornadoes (EF3 ) missed.

* Sir, maybe? Could have sworn you said you were a girl, though. :P


Well, young man, obviously I am a "wrong" lady.
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492

Quoting EYEStoSEA:


but the destruction is what classifies it....
I think you're missing the point, ma'am*. What we're saying is, as per the intricacies of the Enhanced Fujita Scale, tornadoes that spend their lifetimes amidst open fields will by default be classified as EF0s, because there's no actual structural damage. Obviously, this means there could be a lot of the stronger tornadoes (EF3+) missed.

* Sir, maybe? Could have sworn you said you were a girl, though. :P
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Quoting AussieStorm:

so even if the tornado is extremely violent(EF5), if it does no reported damage, it wouldn't be classified as a EF5 but an EF0.


If you believe the link... yes
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Quoting AussieStorm:

but from what i am reading,,,, if it did no damage then even though it was an EF5 it would be classified as an EF0. that's just mind boggling


but the destruction is what classifies it....
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492

Quoting AussieStorm:

so the number of EF5 and F5 tornado's could be much larger if they did damage.
It's sometimes best not to get hung up on technicalities, but yes. Precisely.
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
I've been through an EF5....believe me, there is tremendous destruction...

but from what i am reading,,,, if it did no damage then even though it was an EF5 it would be classified as an EF0. that's just mind boggling
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Quoting KoritheMan:

In response to your first question, yes it has a radar signature. And yes, I'd imagine the really strong tornadoes can leave behind some noticeable damage even amidst open fields. At its core, the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EFS) is based entirely on structural damage, probably because it was the most pragmatic option.

As to your second question, I honestly have no idea.

so the number of EF5 and F5 tornado's could be much larger if they did damage.
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I've been through an EF5....believe me, there is tremendous destruction...
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
we now have 104 nado reports
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Quoting Orcasystems:


From what it says on the link... EF0

Minor or no damage.

Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over.

Confirmed tornadoes with no reported damage (i.e., those that remain in open fields) are always rated EF0.

so even if the tornado is extremely violent(EF5), if it does no reported damage, it wouldn't be classified as a EF5 but an EF0.
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Quoting AussieStorm:

why can't it, doesn't it have a radar signature, debris ball, ground scrapping?
how many unclassified tornado's are there in any season?
In response to your first question, yes it has a radar signature. And yes, I'd imagine the really strong tornadoes can leave behind some noticeable damage even amidst open fields. At its core, the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EFS) is based entirely on structural damage, probably because it was the most pragmatic option.

As to your second question, I honestly have no idea.
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Hello Taz, at least you dont have to worry about tornadoes in CA....but then....there's those quakes !! :O



so ture
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Hello Taz, at least you dont have to worry about tornadoes in CA....but then....there's those quakes !! :O
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting AussieStorm:

so if a tornado forms and sucks up all the dirt down to bare hard earth and does this for a mile or so, yet causes no damage to any building and vegetation. how can it be classified?


From what it says on the link... EF0

Minor or no damage.

Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over.

Confirmed tornadoes with no reported damage (i.e., those that remain in open fields) are always rated EF0.
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Complete Update





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what do you see here

we have 103 nado today




and 103 nado friday

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Quoting KoritheMan:

It can't.

why can't it, doesn't it have a radar signature, debris ball, ground scrapping?
how many unclassified tornado's are there in any season?
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Quoting AussieStorm:

so if a tornado forms and sucks up all the dirt down to bare hard earth and does this for a mile or so, yet causes no damage to any building and vegetation. how can it be classified?
It can't.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:
Around a dozen large tornadoes, may have been some smaller ones as well. By my count, there were around 95 tornado warnings issued by NWS offices in NC today.




and in NC at that....for Ms not so unusual...was really was a bad system, for sure. Glad you're ok :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
severe weather at my house right now lightning hit a tree and a house with winds gusting to 65 mph with heavy rain.

where is your place?
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Quoting Orcasystems:


As with the Fujita scale, the Enhanced Fujita Scale remains a damage scale and only a proxy for actual wind speeds. While the wind speeds associated with the damage listed have not undergone empirical analysis (e.g., detailed physical or any numerical modelling) owing to excessive cost, the wind speeds were obtained through a process of expert elicitation based on various engineering studies since the 1970s as well as from field experience of meteorologists and engineers. In addition to damage to structures and vegetation, radar data, photogrammetry, and cycloidal marks (ground swirl patterns) may be utilized when available.

Link

so if a tornado forms and sucks up all the dirt down to bare hard earth and does this for a mile or so, yet causes no damage to any building and vegetation. how can it be classified?
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Around a dozen large tornadoes, may have been some smaller ones as well. By my count, there were around 95 tornado warnings issued by NWS offices in NC today.


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Quoting jasonweatherman2010:
severe weather at my house right now lightning hit a tree and a house with winds gusting to 65 mph with heavy rain.


My goodness,Jason, please stay safe!
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492

And it's worth it just to hear you say..


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Quoting AussieStorm:

Houses and other possessions can be replaced, lives can't.


Yep....so true !
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
446. beell
that's my understanding, Aussie.
I did forget about tree damage. That counts.
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16200
Quoting Patrap:
.." It's been a Hard Day's Night "..


and I've been working, like a dog.....lol
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1492
Quoting AussieStorm:

is that right, if a tornado forms and has very violent winds yet does no damage it doesn't get classified on the EF scale?


As with the Fujita scale, the Enhanced Fujita Scale remains a damage scale and only a proxy for actual wind speeds. While the wind speeds associated with the damage listed have not undergone empirical analysis (e.g., detailed physical or any numerical modelling) owing to excessive cost, the wind speeds were obtained through a process of expert elicitation based on various engineering studies since the 1970s as well as from field experience of meteorologists and engineers. In addition to damage to structures and vegetation, radar data, photogrammetry, and cycloidal marks (ground swirl patterns) may be utilized when available.

Link
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


No family member was injured,but my sister-in-law lost her home.....thankfully she was at work...everyone is helping her out....will be ok, thanks :)

Houses and other possessions can be replaced, lives can't.
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Quoting beell:
Climatology of tornadoes is further complicated by misconceptions about the EF scale-which is a damage scale not an intensity scale.

Odd to consider the occasional huge stovepipe tornado that spends its entire life tracking across the wide open spaces of W TX without touching a thing made by man. It receives a report but is not EF classified.

Another problem has to do with classifying path length. Where does one tornado stop and another begin? It all makes me sleepy.

G'Nite all.


is that right, if a tornado forms and has very violent winds yet does no damage it doesn't get classified on the EF scale?
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.." It's been a Hard Day's Night "..
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.