Massive tornado outbreak kills 202; 100-year flood coming on Mississippi River

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:49 PM GMT on April 28, 2011

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A stunning tornado outbreak of incredible violence has left at least 202 dead across the Eastern U.S.; injuries probably number over a thousand, with 600 injured in the town of Tuscaloosa alone. The tornadoes carved huge swaths of damage, completely flattening large sections of many towns, and damage from the storms is likely to be the greatest in history for any tornado outbreak. Hardest hit was Alabama, with at least 149 dead; at least 36 were killed in neighboring Mississippi. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 160 preliminary reports of tornadoes between 8am EDT yesterday and 8am EDT today. At least 11 of these tornadoes were killer tornadoes; deaths occurred in six states. Damage from some of these storms appeared to be at least EF-4, and it is likely that there were multiple violent EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes. The death toll makes the April 27 - 28 outbreak the third deadliest tornado outbreak of the past 50 years, behind the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak (315 killed) and the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak (256 killed.)


Figure 1. Damage in Birmingham, Alabama from last night's tornado. Image posted to twitter.


Figure 2. Damage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama from last night's tornado. Image posted to twitter, photographer unknown.


Figure 3. Radar reflectivity image of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado.

The 3-day total of preliminary tornado reports from this outbreak is 278, close to the 323 preliminary tornado reports logged during the massive April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak. That outbreak has 155 confirmed tornadoes so far, making it the largest April tornado outbreak on record. It is unprecedented to have two such massive tornado outbreaks occur so close together. According to a list of tornado outbreaks maintained by Wikipedia, only two other tornado outbreaks have had as many as 150 twisters--the May 2004 outbreak (385), and the May 2003 outbreak (401).


Figure 4. Satellite image of last night's storm at 8:15pm EDT April 27, 2011. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.

Tornado outbreak winding down today
Tornado warnings continue to be issued this morning along the cold front now pushing towards the Atlantic coast, and a tornado was reported at 7:35am EDT in McBee, South Carolina. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed a large swath of the coast, from Florida to Vermont, in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather. The high instability and high wind shear that triggered so many killer tornadoes yesterday is gone, and we should see only a few weak tornadoes today. No severe storms are predicted for Friday. Saturday has a slight risk of severe weather over Oklahoma and Texas.


Figure 5. Severe weather threat for Thursday, April 28, 2011.


Figure 6. Remarkable video of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama yesterday. Fast forward to minute four to see the worst of the storm.


Figure 8. Tornado near Empire, Alabama, moving rapidly down a hill.

Unprecedented flooding predicted on Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
This week's storm system, in combination with heavy rains earlier this month, have pushed the Ohio River and Mississippi River to near-record levels near their confluence. The Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois is expected to crest at 60.5 feet on May 1. This would exceed 100-year flood stage, and be the highest flood in history, besting the 59.5' mark of 1937. Heavy rains of 10 - 15 inches have inundated the region over the past few days, and one levee breach at Black River levee near Poplar Bluff, Missouri, has resulted in the evacuation of over 500 homes. Poplar Bluff has received 15.45" of rain since Friday morning. The greatest rain gauge-measured precipitation from the storm occurred in Springdale, Arkansas, where 19.70" inches has fallen since Friday morning.


Figure 9. The latest River Flood Outlook from NOAA shows major flooding is occurring over many of the nation's major rivers.

Record 100+ year flood expected on Mississippi River
Snow melt from this winter's record snow pack across the Upper Mississippi River has formed a pulse of flood waters that is moving downstream on the Mississippi, and is currently located in Iowa. When this floodwater pulse moves south of Cairo, Illinois over the next two weeks, it will join with the record water flow coming out of the Ohio River, and create the highest flood heights ever recorded on the Mississippi, according to the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service. Along a 400-mile stretch of the Mississippi, from Cairo to Natchez, Mississippi the Mississippi is expected to experience the highest flood heights since records began 100 or more years ago, at 5 of the 10 gauges on the river along this stretch. The records are predicted to begin to fall on May 3 at New Madrid, and progress downstream to Natchez by May 20. Areas that are not protected by levees can expect extensive damage from the flooding, and it is possible that the Army Corps of Engineers will have to intentionally dynamite a levee at Birds Point and New Madrid, Missouri to protect the town of Cairo from flooding.

The Mississippi River at New Madrid, MO, about 40 miles downstream of the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, is currently at 44', the 3rd highest flood in history. The river is predicted to crest on Tuesday very near the all-time record height of 48 feet. The NWS warns that at this height, "Large amounts of property damage can be expected. Evacuation of many homes and businesses becomes necessary." Previous record heights at this location:

(1) 48.00 ft on 02/03/1937
(2) 44.60 ft on 04/09/1913
(3) 43.60 ft on 04/04/1975
(4) 43.50 ft on 02/16/1950
(5) 42.94 ft on 03/17/1997

The timing of the floods crests will depend upon a complex mix a factors, including how much rain falls over the next month, the possible influence of southerly winds holding up the floodwater pulses, the potential opening of flood control structures and reduction of flows from flood control reservoirs, and potential levee failures (no levee has failed on the Lower Mississippi south of the Ohio River junction since 1950, however.) The Mississippi River is expected to crest at 17 feet at New Orleans on May 22, three feet below the top of the levees. This would likely require opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway 28 miles upstream from New Orleans, to relieve pressure on the city's levees. Opening the spillway drains 250,000 cubic feet per second of flow into Lake Pontchartrain.

Helping out tornado victims
For those who want to lend a helping hand to those impacted by the widespread destruction this month's severe weather has brought, stop by the portlight.org blog.

Related post: Are tornadoes getting stronger and more frequent? The answer is--we don't know.

Jeff Masters

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am looking for word too this one

Tanner area wish was rated EF4 for now

but look at this


11 deaths – Catastrophic damage in the area with many well-constructed houses flattened or blown away and hundreds of others damaged or destroyed. A large cargo container was thrown over 600 yards (560 m). Many people were injured. Survey incomplete - may have been EF5.
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Quoting IFuSAYso:


the stats don't meet in the middle either. this has been a blog discussion for over a week now.
I guess it wouldn't hurt to mention that there is a large amount of uncertainty in this research, largely because of the scarcity and inherent speculative nature of data prior to the satellite era. As a corollary, our sample size is relatively low, as well.

Basically, there is evidence for either side.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



ok


lmao
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Alabama Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Straight-line Winds

Emergency Declared April 27, 2011 (EM-3319) [ En Español ]



News Releases

* Apr 27, 2011: Federal Aid Programs For State Of Alabama Emergency
* Apr 27, 2011: President Declares Emergency For Alabama

* [ More News
* Region IV News
* All FEMA News
* RSS Feed icon RSS Feed ]

Resources

* Individual Assistance FOIA
* Hazards: Thunderstorms
* The Three-Step Process To Disaster Assistance
* Alabama Office of the Governor
* Alabama Emergency Management

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KoritheMan:

I actually don't think there's a positive correlation between an active severe weather season and an active Atlantic hurricane season. I've studied this topic a bit, and that's the conclusion I've come to.
The closest I've seen from stuff posted here is that la nina may be related to both upswings in severe wx in the US and increased TC formation in the ATL basin. But even that hasn't been strongly correlated from what I've seen. There seems to be a lot of natural variation from la nina to la nina.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20686
Quoting MrMixon:


Ah, have patience... 'tis the curse of the living encyclopedia. It squirms and wriggles for a while before it settles into a comfortable position. And even then, it may move now and again.

But it beats buying a new set of Britannica's every year...

:)



ok
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Currently watching a massive light show out to my west in the gulf of Mexico, the temperature is 79 and the dew point 74. Today by far has been the most hot and humid day Ive ever seen even for Central Florida in April since Ive been living here. We had a high of 94. Today would definitely make people believe in Global Warming here haha.

Also, lapse rates are steep and the PWAT is around 2 inches. I'm hoping these storms hold together because its going to be dry for about a week after. If they hold they will probably dump 1 to 2 inches due to very high moisture and cold air aloft.

I'm just glad I'm getting to watch strong storms without having to worry about a tornadic threat, the sounding shows a very unlikely tornado chance tonight, an isolated damaging wind gust and hail possible be we get so many of those events in the summer so just a nice storm, as long as it makes it to me :)
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Quoting KoritheMan:

I actually don't think there's a positive correlation between an active severe weather season and an active Atlantic hurricane season. I've studied this topic a bit, and that's the conclusion I've come to.


the stats don't meet in the middle either. this has been a blog discussion for over a week now.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i am geting so sick of Wikipedia 1st they had 5 confrom EF4 nados now its back down too 3 am geting sick of this


Ah, have patience... 'tis the curse of the living encyclopedia. It squirms and wriggles for a while before it settles into a comfortable position. And even then, it may move now and again.

But it beats buying a new set of Britannica's every year...

:)
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Taz, I think we are more likely to pass that 1974 outbreak in terms of fatalities than in terms of # of tornadoes. I'm wondering about the long-track cell we followed in here last night, and whether it lasted long enough on the ground as a tornado to be considered a genuine Tri-Stater.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20686
Taz is always a "statistics' kinda guy....all good.
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Quoting Tazmanian:
i am geting so sick of Wikipedia 1st they had 5 confrom EF4 nados now its back down too 3 am geting sick of this

Patience taz...patience


Lol, don't worry in a few days they'll have it all sorted out
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Quoting HawkPhotographyDOTus:


the current activity with tornado's
I actually don't think there's a positive correlation between an active severe weather season and an active Atlantic hurricane season. I've studied this topic a bit, and that's the conclusion I've come to.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
Speculation is all well and good, but absolute statements such as the one he made should be backed up with scientific fact.

EDIT: I'm keeping this post up here for anyone else to see, but I see now that Hawk actually gave reasons for his statement.


i agree
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Quoting HawkPhotographyDOTus:


its spelled "final".
Isn't that the way he spelled it???

LOL

Quoting HawkPhotographyDOTus:



pretty much, just given how active last year was, the massive heat in Europe, and the current activity with tornado's... I'm excited to see what the season brings. I'm a bit or a weather junkie here in the Margate, fl area (just north of fort lauderdale) and I'm hoping to be able to bring some really cool weather photos to the site this year.
Ah, Margate, home of the bestest Winn Dixie in the Broward County area... lol

Let's hope that all the excitement and cool wx photos are not of some hurricane that hit u guys [and most likely us in the Bahamas before or after].... Good 2 have u in the blog...
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20686
i hate too say things like this


but in oder too pass the super outbark of 1974


we need


at lest 25 Confirmed EF4 and at lest 7 EF5
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Quoting IFuSAYso:


speculation, lol.
Speculation is all well and good, but absolute statements such as the one he made should be backed up with scientific fact.

EDIT: I'm keeping this post up here for anyone else to see, but I see now that Hawk actually gave reasons for his statement.
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Quoting IFuSAYso:
Just FYI, if you are in a FEMA declared area, even if you have insurance, apply for FEMA assistance. Fema varies disaster to disaster due to the individual states declaration (some states reimburse generators and gas, some dont), just like NC declared, if you file for assistance and qualify, you can get unemployment.


Fema only covers real property and emergency housing, the personal property and ads are agreed by the state.
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Quoting spathy:
I am so glad my home is concrete block construction.
Too bad the roof isnt.
Hurricanes I can deal with(hopefully not out of necessity).
I could never imagine going through the hell that we saw yesterday.
I have just been shaking my head,wincing at the images,putting my hand to my chest.
And praying over and over again the past hours.
I decided on Cypress Logs when my home was built. No 2x4 is coming through that.
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Quoting MTWX:

it is Smithville and it is about 20 miles north of me. Preliminary estimate rate that one as a strong EF4 possibly EF-5


MSWX...did you get any damage? I have family in N Ms and Tn area...we all were very lucky, very little damage...trees and such
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Just FYI, if you are in a FEMA declared area, even if you have insurance, apply for FEMA assistance. Fema varies disaster to disaster due to the individual states declaration (some states reimburse generators and gas, some dont), just like NC declared, if you file for assistance and qualify, you can get unemployment.
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Based on what?

Quoting IFuSAYso:


speculation, lol.


pretty much, just given how active last year was, the massive heat in Europe, and the current activity with tornado's... I'm excited to see what the season brings. I'm a bit or a weather junkie here in the Margate, fl area (just north of fort lauderdale) and I'm hoping to be able to bring some really cool weather photos to the site this year.
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ahhhhhhhhhhhh make up your mine



Link
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Quoting BahaHurican:
@ 541. Ossqss... Say, r u doing the forecast competition again this year?

Some of this imagery from the various tornadoes is reminding me of imagery I've seen of post Camille, Andrew, and Katrina. What's scary for me is in Camille and Katrina it was the water that did the damage. It's hard for me to imagine wind so powerful that it did in a few minutes what takes the sea a couple of hours to do...




I agree.
I was looking at a vid earlier that showed a steel railroad bridge destroyed by the wind.
But close to that, there are trees still standing....
And in the same video, areas of forest are damaged, but not destroyed.
Nature keeps surprising me.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



sorry i try my best not evere one is %100 in spelling


Ah, you may not be 100% in spelling, but you sure are 100% in posting relative and informative info!

And with that... Carry on.
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i am geting so sick of Wikipedia 1st they had 5 confrom EF4 nados now its back down too 3 am geting sick of this
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@ 541. Ossqss... Say, r u doing the forecast competition again this year?

Some of this imagery from the various tornadoes is reminding me of imagery I've seen of post Camille, Andrew, and Katrina. What's scary for me is in Camille and Katrina it was the water that did the damage. It's hard for me to imagine wind so powerful that it did in a few minutes what takes the sea a couple of hours to do...



Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20686
Good evening...

I friend of mine's Mom in Jasper, AL had the only trailer left standing in the trailer park..fortunately she took refuge elsewhere
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you're still our sweetest, taz, no matter how you spell.

Never give up.

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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


That's for sure.....me included....hi, Taz :)



hi EYES
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Quoting Tazmanian:



sorry i try my best not evere one is %100 in spelling

Your doing good, Taz.
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flsky, u have mail.
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570. MTWX
Quoting emcf30:


Hey Eyes, Is that near the Alabama line?

it is Smithville and it is about 20 miles north of me. Preliminary estimate rate that one as a strong EF4 possibly EF-5
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Quoting Tazmanian:



sorry i try my best not evere one is %100 in spelling


its all good my friend, i understand that we have our moments. I just hate to let someone keep making a mistake that they might not be aware of.

I'm hoping this front holds together for some decent weather in the South Florida area, opinions?
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Quoting Tazmanian:



sorry i try my best not evere one is %100 in spelling


That's for sure.....me included....hi, Taz :)
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Strong thunderstorms coming onshore around Tampa. Penny size hail, gusty winds, and continuous lightning can be expected per the SPS released by NWS TBW
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Quoting KoritheMan:

Based on what?


speculation, lol.
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Quoting HawkPhotographyDOTus:


its spelled "final".

truly a crazy weather week.... hurricane season is gonna be crazy!



sorry i try my best not evere one is %100 in spelling
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Quoting HawkPhotographyDOTus:

hurricane season is gonna be crazy!
Based on what?
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Quoting flsky:
I've always wondered what it would feel like to be the one house left intact in a tornado-destroyed neighborhood....


most state guilt.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



fianl


its spelled "final".

truly a crazy weather week.... hurricane season is gonna be crazy!
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I wonder why the local governments don't contract out the timber companies to come clear the fallen trees from storms. I bet they would be willing to do it for cheap considering they would make a profit from the wood and then it wouldn't be wasted either.
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Quoting emcf30:


Hey Eyes, Is that near the Alabama line?


Yes, up in the NE corner near the Ala line
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Quoting EYEStoSEA:


Hello emc...Smithfield is a little SE of Tupelo


Hey Eyes, Is that near the Alabama line?
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting emcf30:






Smithville, Ms


Hello emc...Smithfield is a little SE of Tupelo
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Quoting emcf30:


(Smithville, Mississippi) – National Weather Service officials were surveying damage from tornadoes across the Southeast on Thursday. One of the first damage ratings to be released came from Smithville, Mississippi.

The Monroe County storm had a path length of 2.82 miles, was 1/2 mile wide one point and caused at least 13 deaths with 40 injuries. Dozens of newly constructed two story brick homes were leveled, businesses destroyed and trees were debarked. It’s believed the twister’s peak wind was 190 miles per hour which rates it as an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fajita Scale.



ok then it looks like fianl report
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Quoting jeffs713:

Ladies and Gentlemen...

That path is likely from an EF5. Houses leveled, nothing left but a slab.


Thats what I thought it would be but they rated it a EF4
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting Tazmanian:



is that fianl or are they still looking in too it


(Smithville, Mississippi) – National Weather Service officials were surveying damage from tornadoes across the Southeast on Thursday. One of the first damage ratings to be released came from Smithville, Mississippi.

The Monroe County storm had a path length of 2.82 miles, was 1/2 mile wide one point and caused at least 13 deaths with 40 injuries. Dozens of newly constructed two story brick homes were leveled, businesses destroyed and trees were debarked. It’s believed the twister’s peak wind was 190 miles per hour which rates it as an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fajita Scale.
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting flsky:
I've always wondered what it would feel like to be the one house left intact in a tornado-destroyed neighborhood....



what?
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553. flsky
I've always wondered what it would feel like to be the one house left intact in a tornado-destroyed neighborhood....
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1720
Quoting emcf30:
*** 13 FATAL, 40 INJ *** DOZENS OF NEWLY CONSTRUCTED TWO STORY FULLY BRICK HOMES LEVELED. TREES DEBARKED. PROFESSIONAL BUILDINGS DESTROYED. ESTIMATED WINDS 190 MPH. 1/2 (MEG)

Smithville, MS Rated as EF4 by NWS



is that fianl or are they still looking in too it
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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.

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