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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Unfortunately, there will be more.


632
NWUS52 KRAH 162353
LSRRAH

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RALEIGH NC
753 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011

.TIME... ...EVENT... ...CITY LOCATION... ...LAT.LON

.DATE... ....MAG.... ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE.

..REMARKS..

0405 PM TORNADO 2 ENE RALEIGH 35.82N 78.60W
04/16/2011 WAKE NC EMERGENCY MNGR

*** 3 FATAL *** MOBILES HOMES DESTROYED NEAR BRENTWOOD
DR IN RALEIGH.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
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It seems that every season, as improvements are made in the warning systems and time management for tornado warnings, that we sadly focus on another part of the US that has been destroyed by an act of mother nature. For all those who are here witnessing what has happened, prayers go out to those who are dealing with the aftermath of the tornadoes.

Now we all, Patrick, must band together once more and help those affected by this sad act of nature.
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This may and most likely will go down as the most studied,filmed,outbreak to date.

The Warning lead time alone will have most likely saved Hundreds.
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Patrap, last night they were talking about on StormChasers, about the Greensburg Tornado. How ironic, sadly, it is that we are talking now about the Raleigh tornado today.
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Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Looks like today did warrant the high risk after all, dang, sad stuff...
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6867
.."Something wicked come this way"

A Sad day indeed,,and tonight still brings more.
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Lot of pictures from NC tornadoes.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Tornado strike in Windsor, VA about 15 minutes ago.
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Washington115.....be alert

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329. beell
And the professional version of the warm sector. Saw this late.

click for discussion
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15339
Geeez....this thing needs to move on out to sea, keeps climbing NE

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Live TV Coverage
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Take care VaBeach, godspeed
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.
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College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings
Note: This page will reload every 2 minutes. Warnings are listed with the most recent first.
NEW!! Click on the station ID to bring up list of recent severe weather statements.


TORNADO WARNING WAKEFIELD VA - KAKQ 729 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
FLASH FLOOD WARNING STATE COLLEGE PA - KCTP 727 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING WAKEFIELD VA - KAKQ 725 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING WAKEFIELD VA - KAKQ 719 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING NEWPORT/MOREHEAD CITY NC - KMHX 716 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC - KLWX 714 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING WILMINGTON NC - KILM 713 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING WAKEFIELD VA - KAKQ 712 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011
TORNADO WARNING NEWPORT/MOREHEAD CITY NC - KMHX 707 PM EDT SAT
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There it goes! its coming, im outta here folks
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5697
is smithfield, va gonna take a direct hit?....:|
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Quoting beell:


Do you see the hook S of the marker?


sorry meant isn't... don't know why.
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319. beell
Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


This is tornado warned somehow... but its right at me this time...


Do you see the hook S of the marker?
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15339
318. beell
Best guess at 23Z warm sector. Still quite a bit of real estate.

Photobucket

Link
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15339


This isn't tornado warned somehow... but its right at me this time...
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5697
Quoting cat5hurricane:

63 just jumped to 72, Taz. I think a hundo at this point is looking pretty good, sad to say.



wow
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Sun is slowly starting to go down on an impressive line of storms:

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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Yeah, you were one of the first on this morning after Doc wrote the blog. I tell ya, even after posting those high risk maps and discussions before, I didn't think we see the size and number of tornadoes and the associated damage that we have been seeing.

Hard to believe the Tornado report almost outnumber the wind reports 63 to 72, respectively.


Yes, but I didnt imagine this....this system had been unreal
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Yep, I'd say they would both qualify if you ask me. Either way, each outbreak and event is another learning experience whether it's for the professionals at the NWS and/or the amateur bloggers like myself and many of the bloggers here.



yup
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County just went under tornado warning.
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1449
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Hey EYES, bad scene around here. I am lucky, only 25 mi. west of Raleigh.


Thank goodness....lucky just like me yesterday
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On a good note, No fatalities at the Lowes. this was confirmed by Sanford Police Department. Unfortunately, that is not the case elsewhere.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting Tazmanian:



they could have put a high out for friday lol 100 nado where report we are now up too 63 nado


Today was a PDS and high risk because of strong, large, and long track tornadoes. Unusual for this part of the country, last outbreak like this was in '84.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:
Just got back in town and online...I can't believe what I'm reading ...my goodness.....knew it looked like it could build earlier..



Hey EYES, bad scene around here. I am lucky, only 25 mi. west of Raleigh.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting cat5hurricane:
The NWS sure nailed it. Props to them. Their current and previous severe weather outlook earlier today painting the High Risk areas across the piedmont into the coastal and tidewater regions of North Carolina turned out to be very well warranted.

Click Image for Link and Larger Image:



they could have put a high out for friday lol 100 nado where report we are now up too 63 nado
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Just got back in town and online...I can't believe what I'm reading ...my goodness.....knew it looked like it could build earlier..

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299. beell
Same cell in 292-with another following.
Screen capture is a little stale by now. Both are looking stronger in real-time. Hopefully, both will slip over to the north of the boundary and start to unwind.

Photobucket
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15339
do we know if the cell that bypassed wakefield was producing, bc it just went over colonial williamsburg and busch gardens williamsburg...if it was producing, that would be horrible...
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Just was put under a tornado warning here!
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5697
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Oh my, the aerial views of the damage at Lowes is amazing. They were just live over it and active rescue going on.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
292. beell
Nearing Windsor-Bertie County, NC

Photobucket
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15339
291. beell
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Helicity values are quite high:



Truly insane, 1900.

In fact when you get right up in the boundary intersection I don't even think the RUC can resolve the correct value. Needless to say they are high!
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 137 Comments: 15339

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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.