High risk of a major tornado outbreak today; 13 dead from Leap Day outbreak

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:14 PM GMT on March 02, 2012

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A powerful spring storm system is gathering strength over Missouri this morning, and will track northeastward into Southern Michigan tonight. The atmosphere in the storm's warm sector, south of the the warm front and east of the cold front, is very unstable, thanks to a flow of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico at the surface, and very cold, dry air aloft. A powerful jet stream with winds winds aloft blowing at 150 mph will interact with this unstable air, and the strong change of wind speed and direction with height (wind shear) associated with this jet will impart a strong twisting motion to updrafts that from in this afternoon's thunderstorms along the cold front. These are ideal conditions for tornado formation, and a large tornado outbreak with damaging long-track tornadoes is likely late this afternoon in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed Central Kentucky, Northern Tennessee, and a small portion of Southern Indiana in their "High Risk" area for severe weather Friday afternoon and evening, and is warning of the possibility of long-track significant tornadoes. While the conditions are not as dangerous as those we saw in 2011 during the May 21 - 25 Joplin, Missouri and late April Southeast U.S. tornado outbreaks, the potential exists for a punishing tornado assault with many more strong and violent tornadoes than occurred during the Leap Day outbreak. A number of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds have already formed this morning along the storm's warm front, in Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. Consult our Severe Weather Page and Interactive Tornado Page to follow the storms.


Figure 1. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed Central Kentucky, Northern Tennessee, and a small portion of Southern Indiana in their "High Risk" area for severe weather Friday afternoon. This is highest level of alert.


Figure 2. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is calling for a 30% chance of tornadoes today within 25 miles of each point in the pink shaded area. Within the hatched area, there is a 10% or greater probability of strong EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes, or violent EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes within 25 miles of a point.

Leap Day tornado outbreak death toll hits 13
The cleanup continues today from the round of deadly tornadoes that pounded the Midwest on Leap Day, killing thirteen people. The outbreak began on February 28, when nine confirmed tornadoes touched down. A pair of EF-2 tornadoes hit Buffalo, Missouri and Harveyville, Kansas, with each twister causing one death. Also on that day, a weak EF-0 tornado moved over open fields near Gandy, Nebraska--the first February tornado in Nebraska since record keeping began in 1950. The outbreak continued on Leap Day, February 29, with 27 more confirmed tornadoes. Hardest hit was Harrisburg, Illinois, where a violent EF-4 tornado with 180 mph killed six, injured approximately 100, and damaged 200 homes and 25 businesses. The tornado cut a path 26.5 miles long and 275 yards wide across the town, according to the NWS damage survey. The only EF-3 tornado of the outbreak hit Asherville, Missouri that day, killing one person. The other deadly tornadoes of the outbreak included an EF-2 tornado that killed one person in Cassville, MO; an EF-2 that killed two in Monterey, Tennessee, and an EF-1 that killed one person in Smithville, Tennessee. An EF-2 tornado also plowed through downtown Branson, Missouri on Leap Day, injuring 33 people. An NWS storm survey found the tornado was 400 yards wide and carved a path 22 miles long. Overall, damage from the two-day tornado outbreak will run in the hundreds of millions, and could add up to the first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2012 in the U.S. The 36 confirmed tornadoes from the outbreak make it the second largest February tornado outbreak since record keeping began in 1950. The biggest February tornado outbreak occurred on February 5 - 6, 2008, when 92 tornadoes touched down.


Figure 3. Damage at the Branson, Missouri Hilton after the Leap Day tornado. The tornado blew out or cracked windows in 219 of the hotel rooms in the 12-story/295 room Hilton Branson Convention Center, and extensively damaged three of Branson’s 50 plus theatres--Americana Theater, Branson Variety Theater and Dick Clarks’ American Bandstand Theater. Image credit: BransonRecovery Facebook page.

Portlight disaster relief charity responds to the Harrisburg, Illinois tornado
Portlight has a seasoned veteran from last year's tornado recovery efforts in Harrisburg, IL, and is looking for more people to volunteer their time. They are teaming with another disaster recovery charity, Team Rubicon, in the effort. As usual, they will be focusing efforts on the unserved, under served and forgotten. Please visit the Portlight Disaster Relief blog to learn more. Donations are always welcome!


Figure 4. Team Rubicon at work during last year's tornado recovery efforts.

Jeff Masters

HARRISBURG IL (catfish10)
HARRISBURG IL
HARISBURG IL. (catfish10)
Golden circle building
HARISBURG IL.

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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Joplin hospital on May 22. I would have rated it a high-end EF3 or low-end EF4 just judging by one building.



but when you look around:



Never, ever try to judge a tornado's intensity off of one building.
I remember some of us calling the Joplin tornado an EF-5 right after it happened based on a handful of the images coming out (http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comm ent.html?entrynum=1806, comments 982 onward).

Anyway, as TA13 says, a new blog entry is up.
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NEW BLOG
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

Exactly. And being that hospitals often have extremely strict building codes, it's no wonder the structural component of the building is still intact.


Well, that's part of it, but the hospital did not receive even close to the full strength of the tornado, it was right on the edge of destruction, if you see a wider view just on the other side of the hospital there are lots of trees that received little damage. Furthermore the the hospital is a lot more messed up than it appears.


Trust me, you are not safe even in a sold concrete building during an EF4 EF5 impact. I saw the image of a neighborhood in northern Alabama that had EF5 impact, their were very sold new homes that were supposedly tornado resistant that got straight out wiped clean off the ground, the tornado appeared to even have dug into the ground as well...
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2100. hydrus
Quoting tampahurricane:
I would not call the videos exciting, peoples homes and lives were destroyed in them.
It taxes satisfactory verbal description what they are going through.. Pain, that cant be imagined, only felt by those who are actually suffering.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Ga tornado may be f2 or f3 in some spots:



I feel bad for the folks that tornado hit, but boy am I glad it missed me by a few miles. The hail, albeit penny to quarter sized, was enough for me. Prayers to all!
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
2088 MAweatherboy1 "How are videos of EF3-EF5 tornadoes completely destroying entire towns boring and pointless?"

Too many of those videos are of some media "star" standing in front of an "iconic" landmark* "reporting" on the devastation around them, with nary a camera movement that'll take that "reporter" out of the center or near center of the shot.
Sorry, a reporter should never be the centerpiece of news stories. Given my druthers, any "reporter" who appeared in a disaster video would immediately have Dorothy's house dropped on them.

* eg GoldenCircle shopping mall for Wednesday; Harveyville K-12 school for Friday
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Joplin hospital on May 22. I would have rated it a high-end EF3 or low-end EF4 just judging by one building.



but when you look around:



Never, ever try to judge a tornado's intensity off of one building.
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2094. emguy
Quoting SPLbeater:


those few houses in the background with only moderate roof damage and minor wall damage isnt high end EF3 i would say. some trees still standing and not uprooted...looks sort of like the Sanford/Raleigh tornado last april. IMO
You can't base a tornadoes intensity off of one photo. Also, you're not familiar with the perspective of which it was taken or the path. Familiarity with the structures also helps. Based on what I've seen in photos and video so far, and my familiarity with West Liberty...I'm expecting the officials on the ground who survey this will say had EF4 damage in the area.
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Quoting SPLbeater:


those few houses in the background with only moderate roof damage and minor wall damage isnt high end EF3 i would say. some trees still standing and not uprooted...looks sort of like the Sanford/Raleigh tornado last april. IMO


Not true, it's entirely possible that the scope of the main winds simply just didn't effect them as much of the rest of the houses. Remember, size of the tornado doesn't always mean intensity, as you could have a half mile EF-1 and a quarter mile EF4. Other pictures available indicate at least moderate EF3.
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Read about that earlier. I was wondering if they had any new info.

Kinda gives new life to Dorothy and Oz....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22081
I would not call the videos exciting, peoples homes and lives were destroyed in them.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Doubt it's EF2 damage. High end EF3 to low end EF4 judging by the scope of the damage.


those few houses in the background with only moderate roof damage and minor wall damage isnt high end EF3 i would say. some trees still standing and not uprooted...looks sort of like the Sanford/Raleigh tornado last april. IMO
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Quoting SPLbeater:


high end EF2 to low end EF3


Doubt it's EF2 damage. High end EF3 to low end EF4 judging by the scope of the damage.
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Quoting Globe199:
It's remarkable how some of the most boring and pointless videos come out of the most exciting weather.

How are videos of EF3-EF5 tornadoes completely destroying entire towns boring and pointless?
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Just outside downtown West Liberty... just stunning.



high end EF2 to low end EF3
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2086. JeffM
WOW!!

Baby Girl Found Alone In Field 10 Miles From Family’s Home After Tornado

Link
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It's remarkable how some of the most boring and pointless videos come out of the most exciting weather.
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Warnings for the week
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2083. redux
Quoting WxGeekVA:
I'm Attending Skywarn spotter training at the University of Maryland today. Just in time for the spring severe weather season too!


i was there when an ef4 tornado hit. took some cars and threw them over an 8 story dorm.

it hit right after 5....when the person who would hit the siren got off work.

i was in the library at the time, i will never forget the utterly ODD sensation it felt like afterwards. i didnt know at the time a tornado had touched down, but the pressure felt very very unusual.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I believe both of them were EF4's, and high-end ones at that.
I haven't seen enough pictures/details to make a good judgements, but EF4 sounds good to me so far.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8007
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These videos found here.

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Nite Aussie.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
I think both West Liberty and Saylersville tornado is either EF3 or EF4. I don't think we had EF5 from this outbreak, IMO.

I believe both of them were EF4's, and high-end ones at that.
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2076. Patrap
Never has this page been this Long.

Absolutely incredible.

Dupage Severe Weather Warnings page

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
2075. hydrus
Quoting AussieStorm:
Anyways, it's after 3am here. Take care and stay safe. Make sure your NOAA WX radio is on and have your actions plans ready to go into action if needed.
Goodnight
G,nite Aussie.
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I think both West Liberty and Saylersville tornado is either EF3 or EF4. I don't think we had EF5 from this outbreak, IMO.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8007
Anyways, it's after 3am here. Take care and stay safe. Make sure your NOAA WX radio is on and have your actions plans ready to go into action if needed.
Goodnight
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
Quoting AussieStorm:

WOAH!!! softball size is massive. I've only experienced golfball size. I could not imagine the sound a softball size hail stone would sound hitting the ground let alone anything else.
I've heard baseball-size stones; they sound sort of like this: f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-F-F-F-F-WAPPPP!!!
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Just outside downtown West Liberty... just stunning.

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Previous post titled:

RAW Tornado Damage - West Liberty, Kentucky 3-2-2012 Video 3
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Just saw picture of damages just outside downtown West Liberty... unbelieveable. The damage to downtown doesn't do justice to this tornado as the picture I'm about to upload is easily EF4 damage.
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Just took a look at the map for Saylersville and West Liberty. I didn't realize they were in the mountainous eastern part of KY....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22081
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:



HAIL SIZE (in.) OBJECT ANALOG REPORTED
.50 Marble, moth ball
.75 Penny
.88 Nickel
1.00 Quarter
1.25 Half dollar
1.50 Walnut, ping pong
1.75 Golf ball
2.00 Hen egg
2.50 Tennis ball
2.75 Baseball
3.00 Tea cup
4.00 Grapefruit
4.50 Softball



Link
Quoting hydrus:

WOAH!!! softball size is massive. I've only experienced golfball size. I could not imagine the sound a softball size hail stone would sound hitting the ground let alone anything else.
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935
2062. hydrus
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0659 AM CST SAT MAR 03 2012

VALID 031300Z - 041200Z

...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS TODAY INTO EARLY TONIGHT FOR
THE NE GULF COAST AND SE ATLANTIC COAST...

...NE GULF/SE ATLANTIC COAST THROUGH THIS EVENING...
AN INITIAL MIDLEVEL TROUGH IS MOVING NEWD TOWARD SW QUEBEC AS AN
UPSTREAM WAVE BEGINS TO AMPLIFY OVER THE SRN PLAINS. THE SRN PLAINS
TROUGH WILL PIVOT EWD TO MS/AL BY EARLY SUNDAY...AND A SECONDARY
SURFACE WAVE IS FORECAST TO DEVELOP ALONG THE SLOW-MOVING FRONT NEAR
THE NE GULF COAST THIS EVENING...AND MOVE OFF SE ATLANTIC COAST
WHILE DEEPENING OVERNIGHT. IN THE MEANTIME...THE EFFECTIVE
FRONT/COMPOSITE OUTFLOW FROM OVERNIGHT CONVECTION WILL SAG SEWD
ACROSS AL/GA/SC WITH SOME ASSOCIATED CONVECTION. ADDITIONAL
PRE-FRONTAL CONVECTION WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE IN
COVERAGE/INTENSITY FROM THE FL PANHANDLE NEWD ACROSS SRN GA THROUGH
THE DAY. WEAK-MODERATE INSTABILITY IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP IN
ADVANCE OF THESE STORMS AS DAYTIME HEATING WARMS THE BOUNDARY LAYER
AND DEWPOINTS ARE MAINTAINED IN THE UPPER 60S.

WIND PROFILES ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN SOMEWHAT UNIDIRECTIONAL THROUGH
TODAY IN THE N FL/S GA WARM SECTOR...WITH SUFFICIENT DEEP-LAYER BULK
SHEAR TO MAINTAIN SUPERCELL STRUCTURES. ADDITIONALLY...MODEST
LOW-LEVEL HODOGRAPH CURVATURE /AS EVIDENCED BY EFFECTIVE SRH NEAR
250 M2 PER S2/ AND A MOIST LOW-LEVEL ENVIRONMENT...WILL SUPPORT THE
RISK FOR A FEW TORNADOES TODAY IN THE SLIGHT RISK AREA. DAMAGING
WINDS AND ISOLATED LARGE HAIL WILL ALSO BE POSSIBLE WITH THE
STRONGER STORMS THROUGH THE AFTERNOON. BY LATER TODAY INTO
TONIGHT...THE THREAT WILL GRADUALLY TRANSITION MORE TO HEAVY
CONVECTIVE RAINFALL ALONG THE SLOW-MOVING FRONT...IMMEDIATELY IN
ADVANCE OF THE DEVELOPING SURFACE WAVE.
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962

WFUS52 KTAE 031559

TORTAE

GAC027-185-031630-

/O.NEW.KTAE.TO.W.0026.120303T1559Z-120303T1630Z/



BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED

TORNADO WARNING

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL

1059 AM EST SAT MAR 3 2012



THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TALLAHASSEE HAS ISSUED A



* TORNADO WARNING FOR...

CENTRAL BROOKS COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL GEORGIA...

NORTHWESTERN LOWNDES COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL GEORGIA...



* UNTIL 1130 AM EST



* AT 1056 AM EST...A DEVELOPING TORNADO HAS BEEN DETECTED BY THE

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE 20 MILES SOUTHWEST OF HAHIRA...OR NEAR

DIXIE...MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.



* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO

MORVEN...I-75 AT EXIT 22 AND I-75 AT EXIT 29.



PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...



TAKE COVER NOW! LEAVE MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES FOR SAFER STRUCTURES.

MOVE TO A HALLWAY OR CLOSET ON THE LOWEST FLOOR AWAY FROM WINDOWS AND

OUTSIDE WALLS.



A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE WARNED AREA. IF A TORNADO

IS SPOTTED...ACT QUICKLY AND MOVE TO A PLACE OF SAFETY IN A STURDY

STRUCTURE...SUCH AS A SMALL INTERIOR ROOM.
&&
LAT...LON 3103 8337 3086 8331 3080 8365 3090 8369

TIME...MOT...LOC 1559Z 252DEG 33KT 3086 8363
$$
22-BARRY
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2059. hydrus
Quoting AussieStorm:
After tennis ball and baseball size hail, what's the next step up, softball size hail?
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2058. Patrap
And If I may add one more note..were extremely proud to have Team Rubicon working with us as they did Last April and May.

Please take the time to review their site.

teamrubiconusa.org

Mission
Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with medical professionals to rapidly deploy emergency response teams into crisis situations.

Vision
A new paradigm in disaster response that recognizes and harnesses the skills of military veterans; offering them a chance to continue their service by helping and empowering those afflicted by disasters, and also themselves.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
Quoting AussieStorm:
After tennis ball and baseball size hail, what's the next step up, softball size hail?



HAIL SIZE (in.) OBJECT ANALOG REPORTED
.50 Marble, moth ball
.75 Penny
.88 Nickel
1.00 Quarter
1.25 Half dollar
1.50 Walnut, ping pong
1.75 Golf ball
2.00 Hen egg
2.50 Tennis ball
2.75 Baseball
3.00 Tea cup
4.00 Grapefruit
4.50 Softball



Link
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
How is TC Irina forecast to strengthen for the next day or 2? It looks like it's very near landfall.
May just skirt the coast. I haven't checked forecast maps. IIRC, that part of the E African coast may also be something like the Everglades [though I may be thinking of an area further south].
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22081
2055. Patrap



I want to thank everyone Helping Portlight and other relief Agencies in the aftermath of yesterdays, tragic events.
Were all Human and in these times we need to show our Humanity in a way that is pro-active and with directed purpose.
Many, many lost all and the road back to any normality seems far off. Know that we @ Portlight/Team Rubicon will be doing what we can to the best of our abilities.
With Hard work, and a dedication to mission statement, we intend to make a difference, and I know we will.

People helping people.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128259
After tennis ball and baseball size hail, what's the next step up, softball size hail?
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15935

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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.