Two EF-5 tornadoes confirmed from last week's outbreak; record Ohio River flood

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:23 PM GMT on May 02, 2011

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Damage surveys and the hunt for missing victims continues today in the areas devastated by last week's historic tornado outbreak. With the death toll in the 340 - 350 range, the April 25 - 28 tornado outbreak has surpassed the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak (315 killed) as the deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak of the past 50 years. Hardest hit was Alabama, with 249 deaths; Tennessee and Mississippi had 34 deaths each, and deaths were also reported in Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana, and Ontario, Canada. Twenty-eight separate tornadoes killed people. According wunderground's weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, in his post The World's Deadliest Tornadoes, only the death toll of the great Tri-State tornado outbreak of 1925 (747 killed) and the 1936 Tupelo-Gainsville tornado outbreak (454 killed) were greater. These outbreaks both occurred during an era before Doppler radar and tornado warnings. Had last week's outbreak occurred back in those days, I expect the death toll would have been in the thousands. The National Weather Service provided warning times of 15 - 30 minutes for all of last week's killer storms, allowing time for most people to get to safe shelters.


Figure 1. MODIS satellite image from NASA's Aqua satellite taken on Friday, April 29, 2011, showing the damage paths of three of Wednesday's tornadoes in Alabama.


Figure 2. Damage paths of Wednesday's tornadoes as compiled by the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama.

Damage surveys will continue for another week, so it is uncertain exactly how many tornadoes were spawned in last week's outbreak. The confirmed count is already at 146, which would make it the 4th largest tornado outbreak in history. The total is likely to surpass the 155 confirmed tornadoes logged during the April 14 - 16, 2011 tornado outbreak. 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). So, remarkably, two of the top four outbreaks in history occurred within two weeks of each other. In addition, the period from 8am April 27 - 8am April 28 during last week's outbreak has a good chance of breaking the record for most tornadoes in a 24-hour period, which is currently 148 (set in the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak.)

Two EF-5 tornadoes confirmed
Damage surveys have confirmed that last week's April 25 - 28 outbreak spawned at least eleven violent EF-4 tornadoes (winds 166 - 200 mph) and two EF-5 tornadoes (winds greater than 200 mph.) This is only the 5th time since tornado ratings began in 1950 that two top-end tornadoes have occurred on the same day. The last time was on March 13, 1990 in Kansas. An EF-5 with 205 mph winds hit Smithville, Mississippi at 3:44pm EDT on Wednesday. The tornado's path was only 3 miles long, but was 1/2 miles wide and did extreme damage. Fifteen were killed, 40 injured, and 166 buildings destroyed. Some well-built modern 2-story homes that were bolted to their foundations were completely destroyed, leaving only the foundation. This type of damage is characteristic of an EF-5 tornado with 205 mph winds. The Smithville tornado is the first EF-5 tornado in Mississippi since the Candlestick Park tornado of March 3, 1966. The other EF-5 tornado of the day, the Hackleburg tornado, touched down in Northwest Alabama in Marion County at 3pm CDT, and devastated the towns of Phil Campbell and Hackleburg. This tornado killed at least 25 people. Meteorologist Gary Dobbs, with WAAY-TV since 1984, spotted this tornado from his car and was unable to get to his storm shelter. While his house was destroyed around him, Dobbs was thrown 40 feet from the house. The door of the storm shelter blew off, and none of the friends therein were seriously injured. Dobbs required hospitalization. One other tornado that may get an EF-5 rating is the violent Tuscaloosa/Birmingham tornado, which killed at least 66 people and injured over 1000. It was the deadliest tornado in the U.S. since 1955, when 80 people died in Udall, Kansas. This tornado had a path length of 80.3 miles, and has been preliminarily rated at high-end EF-4 with 190 mph winds. The Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado is likely to be the most expensive tornado of all-time, and damage from the April 25 - 28 outbreak is likely rank as the most expensive tornado outbreak in history. Insured damages have been rated at $2 - $5 billion, and uninsured losses will be several billion more. The previous most expensive tornado outbreak in history was the $3.5 billion price tag, in 2005 dollars, of the April 3 - 4, 1974 Super Outbreak .


Figure 3. Radar reflectivity image of the Hackleburg, Alabama tornado of April 27, 2011, a few minutes after it devastated the town of Hackleburg, Alabama (white cross at center of image.) The Hackleburg tornado was rated an EF-5 with greater than 200 mph winds.


Figure 4. Remarkable video of the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Beginning at about 2:30 into the video, one can see the ominous mini-vorticies and cloud of debris that encircled the tornado.

Unprecedented flooding on Ohio River
Last week's storm system, in combination with heavy rains earlier this month and over past 24 hours, pushed the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois to 60.6 feet at 1am CDT May 1. This is the highest flood in history, besting the 59.5' mark of 1937. Additional heavy rains of 2 - 4 inches are expected over the next five days, and the river is not expected to crest until Wednesday, at a height of 61.5 feet. As the record flood waters from the Ohio River pour into the Mississippi and are joined by melt water from the this winter's record snow pack over the Upper Mississippi, all-time flood heights are likely to be exceeded at many points along a 400-mile stretch of the Mississippi below its confluence with the Ohio. I'll have a more detailed look in my next post.

Jeff Masters

Bartow County Georgia Tornado Damage 10 (marlin01)
April 28th, 2011
Bartow County Georgia Tornado Damage 10

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Quoting hydrus:
God Bless America...I hope they tied one these around his neck before whippin his arse in the drink...


"At least 919,967 people have
been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq
since the U.S. and coalition attacks, based on lowest credible estimates."

Really blessed!
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114. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting beell:


And appearing to remain well above record stage for several days. Probably an easy decision to open the New Madrid Floodway at this point.


I keep seeing the same story.. they were suppose to have discussed it with the public this morning. Don't know what came of that.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37430
113. Skyepony (Mod)
I wondered if NWS was pulling in extra help with the tornado surveys. Looks like they did..

The task is so big, he said, that he is calling fellow meteorologists out of retirement to help, hoping their 30 or 40 years of experience will provide an extra level of expertise.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37430
One million seven hundred and seventy one thousand cubic feet per second. Almost half of the average flow of the Amazon river @ 4.2 Million.

Link




Quoting Skyepony:
Cairo is now expected to crest at 63'.
Member Since: August 27, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 683
Quoting presslord:
Presidential statement just released from the White House:

"Sorry it took me so long to release my birth certificate...I was really busy killing Osama bin Laden..."


LOL! That was priceless...yeah, I'd think the Bin Laden thing might be more important than confirming something that not-delusional Americans already knew. I am happy somebody finally decided to make it a priority and cut the head off the monster. That's where our efforts should have been since 9/11 NOT in Iraq. I hope people really realize that now.
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110. beell
Quoting Skyepony:
Cairo is now expected to crest at 63'.


And appearing to remain well above record stage for several days. Probably an easy decision to open the New Madrid Floodway at this point.
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I hope they sent him over the side tied to a pig, in the dark.
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108. Skyepony (Mod)
Rita~ wish it would rain for Y'all. It starts wearing on people..everything brown, the smoke, trees & plants dying.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37430
107. Skyepony (Mod)
Cairo is now expected to crest at 63'.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37430
Pray for a storm
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Jeff, were not gonna get any rain look like

And you are surprised because... ?

I was excited to see a 40% chance of rain, but knew that the 40% would mean some clouds, maybe a few tantalizing radar returns, and possibly even a few clouds that "look" threatening. But nothing in the way of precip actually falling and being absorbed into the ground in 0.3 seconds.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting alfabob:


Well there are many things that are conspiracies then by that definition (although many are obviously crazy, but for the others..), as long as being labeled a conspiracy theory does not prove that it is incorrect. The last link I added is about how Bush got into office, and combined with the separate under-oath confession of the programmer of the software used in the voting machines; it is really a conspiracy theory.

Being labeled a conspiracy theory does not automatically infer any kind of judgement.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
103. Skyepony (Mod)
LITTLE ROCK — Six Boy Scouts and two adults failed to return as scheduled from a weekend camping trip in southwestern Arkansas. Searchers contacted the group and said Monday that high water had left the eight stranded but safe.

The group from Louisiana is isolated near the Albert Pike Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest, where flash flooding killed 20 campers last June. more..
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37430
Jeff, were not gonna get any rain look like
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Quoting DestinJeff:
I stayed at the Abbottabad Ramada once.


Heck thats nothing, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express and the weather was hot outside
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Quoting alfabob:
2011 should be full of records in almost every aspect of climate and weather. Just wait until summer kicks in.



I hope you're wrong but I've noticed weather anomalies this past year like never before. June last year: we had lightning strikes like crazy, more than I've seen in Michigan (in over 50 years of observing). Last winter, we had several heavy snow storms and near or surpassing record snow accumulation: with more lightning during snow storms than I can remember seeing before. Plants are displaying delayed leaf and blossoming, leaves just appearing on trees these past 2 days and some ornamental flowers like tulips just bloomed this weekend when they normally bloom before April 15th.

Nationally, these weather extremes are more relevant but this does look like a crazy year developing.
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Quoting beell:
I put the bomp
In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp but I have no recollection of putting the ram in the rama lama ding dong

Sounds like a oldie I have heard before or the crazy weather and political events in the past few weeks have taken its toll on your brain. LOL
Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
Beell!!

I KNEW it was you!!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 25763
Quoting kwgirl:
It made me want to sing, or I should say have to sing, in order to get the song out of my head. It did bring a smile:)


Same here.... a "little humor" always works for me...:)
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Quoting beell:


Here ya go, young fella.

Who put the bomp...

I knew it was a song, and even which song, just couldn't understand the context. (the fact that you were putting it out there is what made me smile)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting jeffs713:

I don't know quite what to make of this, but FWIW, it made me smile.
It made me want to sing, or I should say have to sing, in order to get the song out of my head. It did bring a smile:)
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Quoting jeffs713:

I don't know quite what to make of this, but FWIW, it made me smile.


Here ya go, young fella.

Who put the bomp...
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Quoting beell:
I put the bomp
In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp but I have no recollection of putting the ram in the rama lama ding dong

I don't know quite what to make of this, but FWIW, it made me smile.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
I was the stuntronaut for the "moon landings"
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Quoting alfabob:


What conspiracy theory are you talking about? The links I have provided only give direct scientific observations and absolute perspectives into what happened. Unless you're saying that reality has to exactly match what the official story says, but that kind of reality would be kind of weird no? All I'm saying is that there are more important things to be worrying about right now instead of this distraction..
Anything that implies a governmental coverup really, really smells like a "conspiracy theory". Also, I hardly call a paper that relies upon "oral history" as an infalliable truth (see your first link). I'm not saying that there aren't circumstances that don't quite add up. What I'm saying is that its been TEN YEARS, and there is very little that can be done about the whole situation at this point. The best you will get is the feeling of vindication, while the thousands of people who were directly impacted (many by losing family members) will have terrible memories dredged up from the depths of their mind.

So basically, in trade for personal vindication of a few, thousands must suffer the horrors of 9/11 again. Bravo.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting DestinJeff:


I am responsible for Daylight Savings Time.


And you are responsible for the Homer Simpson Hurricane chart. Dont forget that one okay?
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Quoting HurricaneDevo:
I noticed there was a convenient burial at sea.


I hope they flushed twice...
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With people coming out of the woodwork on conspiracy theories (OMG give it a rest!), I would like to help them on their quest to uncover all of the wrongs in the world.

I was the shooter on the grassy knoll.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
Quoting Neapolitan:

Your forgot to mention that the compound is just a mile from the beautiful Abbottabad Golf Club. (Seriously: look at it in Google Maps.)


No... freaking... way....
Member Since: June 20, 2005 Posts: 22 Comments: 1050
God Bless America...I hope they tied one these around his neck before whippin his arse in the drink...
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Quoting fire635:


I dont care who he thinks he is.. all that matters is that he has millions and apparently wants to help. So regardless of who he thinks he is, if he donates money to relief efforts than all he should be getting is a thank you.
+100
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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9715
Oooh,rah
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Semper Fi

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Governor Robert Bently announced Sunday that Alabama has been declared a Category 1 Disaster Area. That puts it on the same level as Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 Terror Attacks.

Two more North Alabama counties have been added to the list of counties that are now declared Federal Disaster Areas. They are Marion and Etowah Counties. Previously, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Lawrence and Marshall Counties were declared Federal Disaster Areas.

WAAY 31 FirstNews asked a FEMA spokesman Sunday just who the agency will be helping. FEMA spokesman Don Bolger said, "The process is very simple. The first thing you need to do is contact your insurance company. FEMA is a supplement to insurance. What I mean by that is, if everything is covered by insurance, you don't need FEMA assistance. We're here in case you're uninsured or under-insured."

FEMA suggests you register a claim as soon as possible, even if your county has not been declared a Federal Disaster Area. The toll-free number is 1-800-621-FEMA. You can also file a claim online by going to www.disasterassistance.gov.


Member Since: August 7, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1933
#70

ROFL. Awesome.
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#70 good one!
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"According to Islamic teachings, the highest honor to be bestowed on the dead is giving the deceased a swift burial, preferably before sunset. "Link

While it does raise suspicions, you have a few choices:

1. Bury him in an unmarked grave (same doubts, different venue)
2. Give him to the local authorities and/or family for a proper burial (he becomes a martyr, with a "gathering point" grave site - tormenting us horribly in death)
3. Just don't announce his death, and act like nothing happened (see: Conspiracy Theory)
4. Bury him at sea. It is one step away from an unmarked grave, BUT it is more honorable than an unmarked grave. Its a decent compromise, as long as they had a cleric there to present proper prayers (and since it was an aircraft carrier, there likely was a cleric there for that purpose)

Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875
I noticed there was a convenient burial at sea.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Your forgot to mention that the compound is just a mile from the beautiful Abbottabad Golf Club. (Seriously: look at it in Google Maps.)

Some of the "reviews" of the golf club are priceless...
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5875

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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.

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