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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Prayers for folks in Yorkville, GA.
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1503. hydrus
Thank yall for kind words..McMinnville is o.k. I think, but people right down the road from me are not. Spencer and Sparta may have trouble. They said the storm that hit them was violent...And still going too.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22646
My friend has kin in WEST LIBERTY, and I was fortunate enough to go there on vacation with him and his parents when I was around 14 years old (1971?). His uncle had a funeral parlor there, not far from the courthouse. Appreciate any info y'all can provide, as I'm relaying it on...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It should pass north of Atlanta if you want good news. :)
Area it will hit is still extremely populated. Red TVS, very very strong rotation.
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TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

Report of structural #damage to a building in Murphy, NC.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 175
1499. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
NEW WARNING AREA

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56089
1498. pottery
Quoting hydrus:
Yes..Got any red..he he..

Good to see you are keeping your spirits up.
But keep an eye on the sky....
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

Could be...but definitely looking less organized. Good...I need a breather and to stretch. Been too tense here!!

Actually it restrengthened and has probably never been stronger, so no breather for you!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1496. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
1495. Patrap
Wu mail presslord.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
Quoting ScottLincoln:


That may be the way it was worded, but again, tornadoes are not "spotted" by doppler radar. Doppler radar provides data regarding things that are associated with tornadoes, like possible debris, rotation, rotating rand bands and RFDs that appear as hooks, etc.

Even though radar doesn't exactly spot tornadoes, it can provide enough data - sometimes - to have a near certainty of a tornado. As I said before...

Certain correlation coefficient data can indicate lofted debris in some situations that, as long as the radar is providing good data, can make you have near certainty of a tornado.

Just back, but it seems you have been here all day with really good input. I thank you for that! :)
Member Since: August 31, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 438
Quoting washingtonian115:
Then i have to call down their and tell them to take shelter.I can just pray now.

It should pass north of Atlanta if you want good news. :)
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
So many bad tornadoes today that I forgot Henryville got hit hard earlier today.
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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PEACHTREE CITY GA
832 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

GAC143-223-233-030200-
/O.CON.KFFC.TO.W.0017.000000T0000Z-120303T0200Z/
POLK GA-PAULDING GA-HARALSON GA-
832 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM EST FOR
NORTHEASTERN HARALSON...WEST CENTRAL PAULDING AND SOUTHEASTERN POLK
COUNTIES...

AT 828 PM EST...DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO SHOW DEBRIS FROM A
CONFIRMED TORNADO. THIS TORNADO WAS LOCATED JUST NORTHEAST OF EUBANK
LAKE...MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.

OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
ROCKMART...YORKVILLE AND BRASWELL.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND LIFE THREATENING SITUATION. THIS
STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING STRONG TO VIOLENT TORNADOES. IF YOU ARE
IN THE PATH OF THIS TORNADO...TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY!

IF YOU SEE WIND DAMAGE...HAIL OR FLOODING...WAIT UNTIL THE STORM HAS
PASSED...AND THEN CALL THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TOLL FREE AT 1 8
6 6 7 6 3 4 4 6 6. YOU CAN ALSO TWEET YOUR REPORT USING HASHTAG GAWX.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Where are you guys getting the high resolution wind field imagery from? Looking at the base radial on the WU site is, um, like trying to watch an old black and white VHF TV out in the middle of nowhere.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

I can tell you that it is strengthening.
Then i have to call down their and tell them to take shelter.I can just pray now.
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Intense Tornado Vortex Signature (TVS) with this Georgia storm.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
1486. Middy83
That West Liberty tornado video on TWC was HUGE!
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1485. hydrus
Quoting pottery:

Stay Safe there....
Yes..Got any red..he he..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 22646
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

You guys see what I mean? =P

I do actually :) Imagine being under that.
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1483. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56089
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
I just saw the West Liberty tornado video on TWC... Incredible, and that doesn't even start to describe it
Quoting ncstorm:
the tornado that TWC just showed has a face in the clouds..no lie! that scared the mess out of me!

You guys see what I mean? =P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
I just saw the West Liberty tornado video on TWC... Incredible, and that doesn't even start to describe it
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Actually NWS is treating it as a confirmed tornado by radar.


That may be the way it was worded, but again, tornadoes are not "spotted" by doppler radar. Doppler radar provides data regarding things that are associated with tornadoes, like possible debris, rotation, rotating rand bands and RFDs that appear as hooks, etc.

Even though radar doesn't exactly spot tornadoes, it can provide enough data - sometimes - to have a near certainty of a tornado. As I said before...
Certain correlation coefficient data can indicate lofted debris in some situations that, as long as the radar is providing good data, can make you have near certainty of a tornado.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CrazyDuke:
The signature on the Atlanta cell appears to be shrinking and weak. ...roping out?

Nope, it was just cycling. New frame shows a sudden resurgence in intensity.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
1477. Patrap
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

You always have to watch storms on the end of a line like this... They like to spin up little hooks and consequently tornadoes


Lotsa Mojo down here, tropical almost..so that Front is gonna Hit NOLA/Baton Rouge round Midnight, but them discreet single fast mover will be the ones to watch as you say.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
Quoting CrazyDuke:
The signature on the Atlanta cell appears to be shrinking and weak. ...roping out?
Actually it seems to be getting a better shape to it. New frame shows very strong rotation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tough day here in Indiana, working the State of Indiana Emergency Operations Center, Just had a breather to log in.

I want to thank Tampaspin for the phone call, I wasn't near the TV only radio.
Thanks to all the bloggers in this thread with their post for the last few days, your all the greatest!

Presslord, I will get with you in a day or two reference your needs.

trunkmonkey!
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TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

Confirmed #tornado now in Haralson County, GA moving ENE toward Paulding County. Take cover in Rockmart, Dallas, GA!
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 175
Have reports of damage from a tornado warned storm that went just South of me. I'm in Hattiesburg, reports of damage are about 10 miles south of here from Purvis. Storm with strong rotation went through about 45 minutes ago...reports of widespread power outages in the town as well.

Rotation as it went south of me:

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The signature on the Atlanta cell appears to be shrinking and weak. ...roping out?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I am an a complete AWE as to what is going on today. I can not even believe it during this time of year. This is just incredible and goes to show Mother Nature is something beyond any man could ever come close to interpreting completely.

Now as an Avid weather fanatic, this is unbelievable and amazing. However, my prayers goes out to the families and friends affected but this weather anomaly.
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Quoting Patrap:

Southern trailing storms ramping up seems



You always have to watch storms on the end of a line like this... They like to spin up little hooks and consequently tornadoes
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Does anyone has the video of the West Liberty tornado?
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1468. Patrap
* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN BELL COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST KENTUCKY...
SOUTHERN HARLAN COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST KENTUCKY...

* UNTIL 845 PM EST

* AT 820 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR MELDRUM...OR NEAR MIDDLESBORO...AND MOVING
EAST AT 75 MPH.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
1467. Patrap
174
WFUS53 KJKL 030122
TORJKL
KYC013-095-030145-
/O.NEW.KJKL.TO.W.0039.120303T0122Z-120303T0145Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE JACKSON KY
822 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN JACKSON KY HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN BELL COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST KENTUCKY...
SOUTHERN HARLAN COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST KENTUCKY...

* UNTIL 845 PM EST

* AT 820 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR MELDRUM...OR NEAR MIDDLESBORO...AND MOVING
EAST AT 75 MPH.

* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL BE NEAR...
CUBAGE...ALVA...PATHFORK AND INSULL AROUND 830 PM EST.
HENSLEY STORE...PEEPACE STORE...MARTINS FORK AND LIGGETT AROUND 835
PM EST.
SMITH...CRANKS...MARTINS FORK LAKE AND FLAGLER AROUND 840 PM EST.

OTHER LOCATIONS IMPACTED BY THIS DANGEROUS STORM INCLUDE CREECH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME...A VEHICLE OR
OUTDOORS...MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.



LAT...LON 3671 8381 3690 8292 3687 8291 3684 8301
3685 8307 3678 8313 3675 8312 3674 8314
3670 8333 3666 8342 3666 8353 3662 8364
3658 8369 3658 8377
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
1466. Patrap
Charleston Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Type
Base Reflectivity 0.50° Elevation
Range
124 NMI


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
1465. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This Georgia cell is getting scary..


New frame shows some weakening.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 822 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 722 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 721 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 721 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 821 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 820 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 719 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 718 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
FLASH FLOOD WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 816 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 175
1462. Patrap

Southern trailing storms ramping up seems


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
1461. FLtoUT
Quoting atmosweather:


Tell them to be on high alert and listen to all official updates! I'm in Tucker near 285...bracing for some wildness in a little bit.


Yeah she went to her basement, I'm her official updater apparently, hah. Good luck to you and everyone else in front of this cell
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Holy freaking crap!
omg!
WTF?!

The Weather Channel just showed video of the West Liberty tornado..I-I've never seen anything like that. It was massive. It looked bigger than Tuscaloosa.

I can't believe what I just saw.

West Liberty tornado no doubt an EF 5. It probably was at least as strong as the Tuscaloosa tornado.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Tornadoes are not "spotted" by any radar, dual-pol or otherwise. But dual-pol radars can provide much more information that can increase confidence that a tornado may be on the ground. Certain correlation coefficient data can indicate lofted debris in some situations that, as long as the radar is providing good data, can make you have near certainty of a tornado.

But radar is still just a remote sensing tool and will still have limitations. Still need real people to actually spot tornadoes.
Actually NWS is treating it as a confirmed tornado by radar.
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This Georgia cell is getting scary..

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833
1456. Patrap

Charleston Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Type
Base Reflectivity 0.50° Elevation
Range
124 NMI



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129853
1455. Skyepony (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Holy freaking crap!
omg!
WTF?!

The Weather Channel just showed video of the West Liberty tornado..I-I've never seen anything like that. It was massive. It looked bigger than Tuscaloosa.

I can't believe what I just saw.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32833

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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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