Tornadoes pound North Carolina and Virginia, killing 25

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:45 PM GMT on April 17, 2011

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In a stunning display of violence, dozens of tornadoes rampaged through North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday, killing at least 25 people, injuring at least 130, and damaging or destroying at least 450 homes and businesses. Hardest hit in yesterday's outbreak was the the town of Askewville in northeast North Carolina, where a violent tornado that was likely at least an EF-3 ripped homes off their foundations and killed eleven people. Also hard-hit was the Raleigh area, where a mile-wide EF-3 tornado with 140 - 150 mph winds roared through the downtown region, killing five people. The 22 deaths in North Carolina made yesterday's outbreak the deadliest day for tornadoes in the state since 1984, when the infamous March 28 tornado outbreak killed 57 people and injured 1248.


Figure 1. Viewer-uploaded photo sent to WRAL of the Raleigh tornado shortly before it leveled a Lowes store in Sanford, NC.


Figure 2. Radar reflectivity loop of the Raleigh, North Carolina tornado at 3:59pm EDT as the twister passed through downtown. Note the classic hook-shaped echo of the parent mesocyclone in the rotating severe thunderstorms that spawned the tornado.


Figure 3. Doppler radar velocity image of the Raleigh, North Carolina tornado at 3:59pm EDT.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 105 tornado reports on Saturday, 113 on Friday, and 23 on Thursday, bringing the 3-day total to 241 twisters. These preliminary tornado reports are typically an over-count of about 15%, so the 3-day April 14 - 16 2011 tornado outbreak likely will end up with 200 - 210 confirmed tornadoes. This is a huge number of tornadoes; an average April typically has just 150 tornadoes across the entire U.S.

On Thursday, the first day of this remarkable outbreak, 23 tornadoes and numerous deadly severe thunderstorms tore through Oklahoma and Arkansas, killing at least nine people. An 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 Thursday night, spawning severe thunderstorm winds that killed seven more people. The outbreak ramped up significantly on Friday, with 113 tornado reports. The deadliest tornado of the day an EF-3 twister that hit Prattville, Alabama at 10:55pm CDT, killing three people in a mobile home, and injuring four others. One of the most damaging tornadoes occurred just west of Jackson, Mississippi, when an EF-3 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 Malaco Records, one of the top Blues/Gospel/Soul labels in the country, was destroyed by the tornado.


Figure 4. Satellite image from 21:40 UTC (5:40pm EDT) April 16, 2011, showing the strong low pressure system that brought yesterday's severe weather outbreak. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

WRAL has an impressive time lapse animation from a skycam on a tall skyscraper in Raleigh showing what at the time was believed to be a rain-wrapped Raleigh tornado moving through downtown, but was actually just a thunderstorm downdraft.

Wikipedia has a nice summary of the tornado outbreak.

Jeff Masters

Northeast Raleigh Tornado (CaryWeatherman)
Tornado moved from 440 Beltline in NNW direction towards 540 Beltline severly damaged homes along Skycrest, New Hope, and Buffalo Road. Large Utility lines down, large trees down, overturned vehicles, flattened and severely damaged homes are prevalent in affected areas.
Northeast Raleigh Tornado
Uprooted (CaryWeatherman)
Tornado damage and downed trees NE Raleigh
Uprooted
Projectile (CaryWeatherman)
The tornado took a tree trunk and used it as a missile through the attic of this house in NE Raleigh.
Projectile

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209. cre13
I'm in NE NC and had a really exciting Saturday night. While I didn't experience a tornado (thankfully), we did have 3 tornado warnings in my town over the course of an hour. It was both scary and exciting! This type of severe weather is not common around here. It happens very rarely. What an impressive show nature put on for us though! The lightening show was incredible!
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Good morning all. Looks to be a beautiful day here in the Valley of the Shenandoah. Lost 2 to high water and ignorance and a number of agricultural buildings and a house trailer to a rare EF-1 'nado. Fortunately people who lived in trailer were away.
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Quoting sunlinepr:


3 Big Waves over Africa



Damn really wish the Nrl Monterey site was up right now, then i could get a real color scale on the ir image.

I swear Nrl Monterey is one of the least reliable weather websites, it's down or has some sort of glitch once a week, which too bad because it's a really good website for satellite images.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9824
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
We are doom.


Yes, lol...what a difference a day makes....we know this won't last long.....I couldn't sleep, so I got online, was gonna read back through the blog and see how our bloggers faired in the bad weather. All ok, I'm hoping.
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Quoting TexasGulf:
Quoting StAugustineFL:

What I don't understand is how grass with roots a couple of inches deep can remain intact while buildings are leveled. Can someone explain?


When I lived North of Topeka, Kansas an F-2 tornado ran through the field behind my house. It 1/2 destroyed a neighbors house, lifted part of my roof and set it back down after twisting the outer walls, etc... It also sucked the telephone poles out of the ground like soda straws.

In my back yard, we had an empty plastic child's wading pool sitting on the ground next to one of those large wooden swing sets with fort, slide, etc... . The swing set was carried about 100 feet to the North and dropped in not very good shape. A smoker on my back deck became air born and part of it was never seen again. The child's plastic "empty" swimming pool never moved. From the grass under it, you could see it didn't move even an inch.

That's why they say to lie down flat (if there is no other cover) or find a small depression or ditch to lie in. The winds directly at the surface are the lowest. You want to present the lowest, least exposed target to the wind.


One thing that determines what and how a tornado affects something is the aerodynamics that play out.

For example, just about everyone has bent a card a little in the middle, set it on a table, and blew on it really hard. Instead of flying off the table, it "flaps" for a short distance. Another example is setting a fan on the floor face up and then putting a balloon or a beachball over it. Instead of flying up and off, the aerodynamics cause the items to "wobble" within the stream of the wind from the fan.

Depending on the direction of the wind, the strength, and the shape of the object you can get some rather odd behavior from major wind based storms (like hurricanes and tornadoes). For example, a car pointed directly into the wind from a tornado is unlikely to move very much or be lifted away. This is due to the airfoil of the car being designed to increase downward pressure on the car at higher speeds for better handling.

You can also get patterns of constructive and destructive interference, where a home gets completely obliterated while another house next to it barely gets scratched.

There are also other effects that can happen to yield what appears to be weird results.
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Quoting Gearsts:
WOW looks SEXY


3 Big Waves over Africa



Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9824
We are doom.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


here is a nice shot


Yes, that is a nice shot...kinda relaxing to watch ;)
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here is a nice shot
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54452
Quoting BahaHurican:
JRRP... isn't it a bit early to be seeing that kind of action over the continent? Seems pretty far north.

But then again, it IS after April 15....


It's about the time of year to start seeing rain in the Sahel.

The first dekad data of the year is out for the intertropical front (northern edge of the ITCZ), and it's more or less near it's climatological position, or slightly south of.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
JRRP... isn't it a bit early to be seeing that kind of action over the continent? Seems pretty far north.

But then again, it IS after April 15....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
Quoting atmoaggie:
Ehh, obs don't support it yet...

But it is all I can come up with as to why radars in the SE and south tend to show a lot more clutter about this time of day and clear out at ~8 am.

And you can see it ahead of a passing cold front in the evening and not behind.

Austin's dewpoint was 59 F an hour ago, and air temp 76 F. Waiting for a fresh ob...


I have an uneducated theory atmo... Is it temperature inversion? Much like what happens over a lake at night? I know that sound travels much farther as it bounces off the inversion and stays close to the ground. Could that be happening to the radar to some extent as well?
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Quoting JRRP:
WOW looks SEXY
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1804
194. JRRP
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5985
Quoting PlazaRed:


You got it made now, Senor!
Rain clouds in the air, heat in the sea, warmth in the bones and one hell of a season to look forward to in those balmy climes?

Here at the bottom westerly end of Europe we have winds, and fog in the Canary Islands, endless blue skies and about 30/c in the mountains of Grazalema, Cadiz, days and days of high winds and just on time rain, of all things forecast for ''Semana Santas'' processions.

We can only offer our sincere condolences to all those people in the USA who have been so tragically affected by the untimely storms you have had recently.
Man, how can u have rain for Semana Santas.... [though we r getting a slight chance of it for the first time in weeks here....] Hope it doesn't literally rain on the parade....

Quoting StAugustineFL:


What I don't understand is how grass with roots a couple of inches deep can remain intact while buildings are leveled. Can someone explain?
It's the profile. Grass is low profile, while the house is high profile by comparison. The bushes get left; the 100 ft "mighty" oaks get leveled.

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
43 days remain
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54452
191. JRRP



UKMO
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5985
Quoting StAugustineFL:

What I don't understand is how grass with roots a couple of inches deep can remain intact while buildings are leveled. Can someone explain?


When I lived North of Topeka, Kansas an F-2 tornado ran through the field behind my house. It 1/2 destroyed a neighbors house, lifted part of my roof and set it back down after twisting the outer walls, etc... It also sucked the telephone poles out of the ground like soda straws.

In my back yard, we had an empty plastic child's wading pool sitting on the ground next to one of those large wooden swing sets with fort, slide, etc... . The swing set was carried about 100 feet to the North and dropped in not very good shape. A smoker on my back deck became air born and part of it was never seen again. The child's plastic "empty" swimming pool never moved. From the grass under it, you could see it didn't move even an inch.

That's why they say to lie down flat (if there is no other cover) or find a small depression or ditch to lie in. The winds directly at the surface are the lowest. You want to present the lowest, least exposed target to the wind.
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187. beell
Never really read much on clutter caused by the dome. But then, I never went looking!

Refraction clutter will always be most noticeable at lower elevation angles. But that may also apply to some kinda differential between the dome and the enviroment.

I'll sleep on it!
G'nite, atmo.

Two views of the Central TX Radar:


Base Reflectivity @ .50°elevation angle



Base Reflectivity @ 3.5° elevation angle

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186. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
You can always use FNMOC site instead of NRL website
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45638
185. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Jakarta Tropical Cyclone Warning Center
Tropical Cyclone Bulletin
TROPICAL LOW, FORMER ERROL (29U)
9:00 AM WIB April 18 2011
==========================================

At 7:00 am WIB, Tropical Low, Former Errol (1003 hPa) located near 10.2S 123.5E, or 10 NM west southwest of Kupangcand 35 NM northeast of Rote has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The low is reported as moving north northwest at 4 knots.

Forecast and Intensity
========================
24 HRS: 10.8S 121.9E - 30 knots (Tropical Low)
48 HRS: 11.3S 120.2E - 30 knots (Tropical Low)

STRONG WIND WARNING:
For coastal waters BETWEEN TIMOR ISLAND AND ROTE ISLAND

HIGH WAVES WARNING:
For coastal waters TIMOR ISLAND AND ROTE ISLAND

There will be no further warning issued for this system because the system decreased below tropical cyclone severity.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45638
Thanks sun & at. Thought my new computer was bugged!
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Quoting pottery:

Hey Keeper!
I just remembered who it was I met along the way.
A Scoundrel, to be sure!
(but I wont divulge his name...)


Some people are like Slinkies ... Not really good for anything, but you can't help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting beell:
Tonight, I'll say the clutter is due to evaporative cooling in the boundary layer leaving a refractive layer.
Fairly decent T/Td spreads across the landscape.
Hmm, I wonder about the radiative cooling of the radome surface, though.

Possible to have dew on a car, thought the dewpoint was never met.
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Quoting swflurker:
Is the Navy site down? Thanks
Power outage in computer room
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CMC 144 hrs



Ngp 108 hrs



Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9824
179. beell
Tonight, I'll say the clutter is due to evaporative cooling in the boundary layer leaving a refractive layer.
Fairly decent T/Td spreads across the landscape-not just at the surface.

Bunny says "thanks for the avatar, atmo"
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9824
Quoting swflurker:
Is the Navy site down? Thanks


Looks like since this morning...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9824
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
...and I Can't Remember S.... sir

The people who I spoke to said they think the place was well insured.
But they never did find the Locomotive.
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...and I Can't Remember S.... sir
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6049
Is the Navy site down? Thanks
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
whew... I'm glad tings were a bit blurry for Pottery when I was by da jug, and then Pottery n Jug got blurry for me...
CRS

Hey Keeper!
I just remembered who it was I met along the way.
A Scoundrel, to be sure!
(but I wont divulge his name...)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
whew... I'm glad tings were a bit blurry for Pottery when I was by da jug, and then Pottery n Jug got blurry for me...
CRS
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6049
Quoting 1900hurricane:
This is completely unrelated to everything, but it's still pretty cool. Check out the Central Texas Radar:



Are storms developing? Nope, those are bats!!!
them some big bats
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54452
Thank ya'll for a day of friendship and understanding, bats and aliens notwithstanding.

g'night ya'll, go in peace.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 168 Comments: 26074
LOLOL Aquak.
hehehehh

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Quoting 1900hurricane:

Really? Even with the humidity somewhat low?
Ehh, obs don't support it yet...

But it is all I can come up with as to why radars in the SE and south tend to show a lot more clutter about this time of day and clear out at ~8 am.

And you can see it ahead of a passing cold front in the evening and not behind.

Austin's dewpoint was 59 F an hour ago, and air temp 76 F. Waiting for a fresh ob...
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"Holy Smokes Batman",,check out the "Bat radar" over Gotham City....

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Quoting atmoaggie:
And dew. (The change/increase in clutter)

Really? Even with the humidity somewhat low?
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
This is completely unrelated to everything, but it's still pretty cool. Check out the Central Texas Radar:



Are storms developing? Nope, those are bats!!!
And dew. (The change/increase in clutter)
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ENSO, NAO, high dispertion rates and the Mojitoes- err I mean the MJO- that's what happened to the rum.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 168 Comments: 26074
I'm off to bed, but before I go, I see the NCDC is out with the March, 2011, climate report. Not a lot of surprises, really, for those who haven't seen it. Just more warming as usual. Among the highlights:

--The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for March 2011 was the 13th warmest on record at 13.19C (55.78F), which is 0.49C (0.88F) above the 20th century average of 12.7C (54.9F). This was also the 35th consecutive March with global land and ocean temperatures above the 20th century average.

--The March worldwide land surface temperature was 0.83C (1.49F) above the 20th century average of 5.0C (40.8F)—the 12th warmest March on record.

--The March worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.36C (0.65F) above the 20th century average of 15.9C (60.7F)—also the 12th warmest March on record.

--For the year-to-date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 12.73C (54.87F) was the 14th warmest January–March on record. This value is 0.43C (0.77F) above the 20th century average.

--Australia had its wettest and coolest March on record. (Oddly, within the State of Western Australia, the eastern portion had its coolest March on record while its southwest had its warmest.)

--March had the third lowest Antarctic sea ice extent on record, while sea ice extent in the Arctic was the second lowest on record.

As always, there is far more information here.Appropriate tropical weather-related image.
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About

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