Tornadoes pound North Carolina and Virginia, killing 25

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

Share this Blog
4
+

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

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 260 - 210

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6Blog Index

260. jdboyer89
1:21 AM GMT on April 19, 2011
"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."

A correction is necessary. A photojournalist atop the RBC Plaza was pointing his camera to the southwest, then south. This corresponds to the path of the tornado as it approached from Holly Springs and passed over Interstate 40 at the South Saunders Street exit. The tornado is wrapped in rain, and visible briefly as it passed just to the southeast of the BB&T Tower. It then continued through the east and northeast side of the city.
Member Since: February 8, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
259. sunlinepr
7:44 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9874
258. aspectre
2:48 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
NEW BLOG
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
257. IKE
2:39 PM GMT on April 18, 2011

Quoting DestinJeff:


"Rut-roh."

It is nice to be away from the blog for awhile, then come back and still see the bickering, etc. There's no place like home.
Ain't love great?
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
256. AussieStorm
2:20 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting fireflymom:
Nice link Aussie, thank you.

your welcome
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
255. AussieStorm
2:20 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Sky News Newsdesk Via Reuters:
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission monitoring nuclear plant in Virginia following power loss during tornado.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
254. fireflymom
2:19 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Nice link Aussie, thank you.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 592
253. AussieStorm
2:14 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting fireflymom:

I don't think that there has been a great deal of research into fault lines down under as Quakes are a rarity especially in the Queensland area, their last Quake of note was in 1939.

on the link i posted at the bottom of that post, click one of the Australian Quakes, then click under change background, click Geological faults then click go, and you will see this.




Green lines are fault lines.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
252. AussieStorm
2:10 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting Tazmanian:





was that long post needed plzs next time post links


NO

Take post 238 as an example.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
251. jeffs713
2:09 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting uptxcoast:


Yep, one of those events that you see people saying "It never flooded here before....."

Get your flood insurance now....

Exactly. When my wife and I bought our house, she didn't think we would need flood insurance, since we are technically outside of a 500-year floodplain. (our property is within the 500-year floodplain, but our house itself is not). I eventually convinced her to get it, since we have two storm sewer inlets on our curb, and in Houston, pretty much EVERYTHING is in a 500-year floodplain, regardless of what the maps say.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
250. fireflymom
2:06 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
"Yep, one of those events that you see people saying "It never flooded here before....."

Get your flood insurance now...."
Sounds like Houston.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 592
249. fireflymom
2:06 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting ILwthrfan:


Is there no fault line in that area?

I don't think that there has been a great deal of research into fault lines down under as Quakes are a rarity especially in the Queensland area, their last Quake of note was in 1939.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 592
248. uptxcoast
2:05 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting jeffs713:

Can this La Nina end a bit faster, so the atmosphere will adjust and give us some rain?

I have a distinct feeling that our YTD rainfall will be close to average by September or October... I just fear how we will get to average. History says that we will get our average in one very large rain event, which quite frankly... scares me.


Yep, one of those events that you see people saying "It never flooded here before....."

Get your flood insurance now....
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 235
247. jeffs713
2:04 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting DestinJeff:


"Rut-roh."

It is nice to be away from the blog for awhile, then come back and still see the bickering, etc. There's no place like home.

*clicking my heels together*
There's no place like home
There's no place like home
There's no place like home...

Nope, didn't work.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
246. Tazmanian
2:03 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting AussieStorm:



Date: 16/04/2011 UTC:05:31:18 Lat: -20.085 Long: 147.7644 Depth:7 Mag:5.3


16/04/2011 07:06:52 -20.1698 147.6792 0 4.1


16/04/2011 13:06:44 -20.1911 147.6921 0 3.2


16/04/2011 15:33:19 -20.1284 147.7587 4 3.4


17/04/2011 01:35:55 -20.1737 147.6676 0 3.2


17/04/2011 18:41:20 -19.8029 113.5252 30 5.3

More info can be found here on Australia Earthquakes.





was that long post needed plzs next time post links
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115379
245. AussieStorm
2:02 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting ILwthrfan:


Is there no fault line in that area?

we have fault lines.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
244. Orcasystems
2:00 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Complete Update





Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
242. ILwthrfan
1:59 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting fireflymom:
Those Australian Earthquakes are in an area that has not had a history of Earthquakes.


Is there no fault line in that area?
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1535
241. fireflymom
1:55 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Those Australian Earthquakes are in an area that has not had a history of Earthquakes.
Member Since: June 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 592
240. jeffs713
1:51 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting uptxcoast:


The drought in Texas stretches across the state.
According to the National Weather Service, the period between Feb. 1 and now is the second driest on record for the city of Houston. Will be 90 Degrees by Wednesday....
Link

Can this La Nina end a bit faster, so the atmosphere will adjust and give us some rain?

I have a distinct feeling that our YTD rainfall will be close to average by September or October... I just fear how we will get to average. History says that we will get our average in one very large rain event, which quite frankly... scares me.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
239. uptxcoast
1:42 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting jeffs713:

Not with that cap.



Notice the HUGE jump in temp, and HUGE drop in dewpoints at 850mb. THAT is an incredible cap, and is whats killing our rain chances.

And yes, the temp at 850mb is the same as it is on the ground.

And at 740mb, the relative humidity is a whopping 9%.

I don't know of any storms, hurricanes included, that can handle that kind of dryness.


The drought in Texas stretches across the state.
According to the National Weather Service, the period between Feb. 1 and now is the second driest on record for the city of Houston. Will be 90 Degrees by Wednesday....
Link
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 235
238. ILwthrfan
1:32 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
April 17th, 2011



April 17th, 2010



April 17th, 2011



April 17th, 2010



The open Atlantic and Central Carribean cetainly are cooler than last season, but the Gulf of Mexico is running away from what it was last season and to add fuel to the fire, Southern Florida is expecting low 90's for the next 7 days. Gulf Temps are going to soar.
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1535
237. AussieStorm
1:30 PM GMT on April 18, 2011

L = 90W
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
236. AussieStorm
1:12 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting RastaSteve:
I wonder how this past weekend's outbreak stacks up compared to other outbreaks in history?

Some may remember this, It was a year before I was born...

The Super Outbreak is the largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period. From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 US states, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York; and the Canadian province of Ontario. It extensively damaged approximately 900 square miles (1,440 square kilometers) along a total combined path length of 2,600 miles (4,160 km).

The Super Outbreak of tornadoes of 3-4 April 1974 remains the most outstanding severe convective weather episode of record in the continental United States. The outbreak far surpassed previous and succeeding events in severity, longevity and extent.


Larger Image

Date of tornado outbreak: April 3-4, 1974
Duration(1): ~18 hours
Maximum rated tornado(2): F5 tornado
Tornadoes caused: 148 confirmed (Most ever in a single-day outbreak)
Damages: $3.5 billion (2005 dollars)
Fatalities: 315-330
Areas affected: Most of central and eastern North America

(1) Time from first tornado to last tornado
(2) Most severe tornado damage
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
235. IKE
1:06 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
What's that on the latest ECMWF heading for south Florida?

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/p120i00.gif


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
234. AussieStorm
1:04 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
Did anyone notice the two earthquakes off both coasts of Australia?

Magnitude 5.2 - QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - 2011 April 16 05:31:19 UTC

Magnitude 5.2 - NORTHWEST OF AUSTRALIA - 2011 April 17 18:41:19 UTC

There's also a video circulating on the internet of one tornado growing two revolving funnel clouds which both become tornadoes touching the ground.



Date: 16/04/2011 UTC:05:31:18 Lat: -20.085 Long: 147.7644 Depth:7 Mag:5.3


16/04/2011 07:06:52 -20.1698 147.6792 0 4.1


16/04/2011 13:06:44 -20.1911 147.6921 0 3.2


16/04/2011 15:33:19 -20.1284 147.7587 4 3.4


17/04/2011 01:35:55 -20.1737 147.6676 0 3.2


17/04/2011 18:41:20 -19.8029 113.5252 30 5.3

More info can be found here on Australia Earthquakes.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15962
232. jeffs713
1:01 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting IKE:
No rain in Houston's forecast from NWS for the next 7 days. Getting close to afternoon thundershower time as the most likely relief....if any.

Not with that cap.



Notice the HUGE jump in temp, and HUGE drop in dewpoints at 850mb. THAT is an incredible cap, and is whats killing our rain chances.

And yes, the temp at 850mb is the same as it is on the ground.

And at 740mb, the relative humidity is a whopping 9%.

I don't know of any storms, hurricanes included, that can handle that kind of dryness.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
230. jeffs713
12:58 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting RastaSteve:


Keep your fingers crossed that some of these convective complexes work your way once they develope over the Hill Country.

I just read the NWS forecast for Houston (which covers through Saturday), and also looked at the forecast soundings. The cap weakens a bit Wednesday, but not by much. Anything that tries to pop will get choked off once it hits 800-850mb. The air column goes from rather moist to bone dry. The cap has been killing us for the past couple of months, since all the storm systems keep on staying to our north, and driving warm air at the mid-level right over us. Stuff will pop to our north, and to our east no problem. Just not over us.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
229. IKE
12:58 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
No rain in Houston's forecast from NWS for the next 7 days. Getting close to afternoon thundershower time as the most likely relief....if any.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
226. jeffs713
12:52 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting RastaSteve:
HPC folks are expecting lots of much needed rain for C and N TX.

http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/p120i12.gif

And in related news, Houston barely gets a drop. Again.

$%^*(&# You, atmospheric cap!

Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5890
224. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:37 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
mod risk for day two
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
223. IKE
12:37 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
5 day QPF...dry as a bone here....


Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
222. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:36 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting RastaSteve:
Crazy how the worst of this tornado outbreak wasn't even in OK or Kansas as some thought. I knew the worst would be Friday and then Saturday as the deeper moisture was east of the Miss River.
that has passed now we await the next round

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
220. IKE
12:32 PM GMT on April 18, 2011

Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
chill out take a pill relax
I know someone he can get a pill from....

"""I happen to be recording it. That's even better isn't it?"""

"""Oh....a 1/2 a mile"""

"""I'd say it's coming straight toward me."""

"""There goes a roof off of a house"""

Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37860
218. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:23 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Quoting RastaSteve:


I was shocked at what he said and reposted it to the blog later that day. If someone called me that we would be having a square off.
chill out take a pill relax
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
216. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:19 PM GMT on April 18, 2011
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
212. sailingallover
11:44 AM GMT on April 18, 2011
Trough does have potential for something..probably Sub Tropical as Levis says. Lots of convection at the apex at 25N 57W. hooked low level vorticity and a High to the NE reinforcing the east side SE winds and soon a High to the NW reinforcing the NE flow should help release what heat is available. There was one STS that formed right there and head right for the islands one year right about no I believe.

http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/tropic2/real-time/wind main.php?&basin=europe&sat=wm7&prod=vor&zoom=&time =

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/tatl/loop-rgb.h tml
Member Since: September 1, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1007
211. aspectre
11:12 AM GMT on April 18, 2011
Have any waves traveling from under Africa's armpit ever become a tropical cyclone?
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860

Viewing: 260 - 210

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6Blog Index

Top of Page

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.

Local Weather

Overcast
44 °F
Overcast