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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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: 31456
Insane tornado footage as it enters West Liberty O_O
Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:


Yes, apparently spotted by dual-pol. I so wish I could get on their weather chat right now :(


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.
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Link

Reportedly West Liberty video.
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TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

Very tight rotation now along Polk/Haralson Co., GA line. New #tornado warning for part of far W #Atlanta metro
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
BTI up to 5 now.


TORNADO WARNING
GAC143-223-233-030200-
/O.NEW.KFFC.TO.W.0017.120303T0114Z-120303T0200Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PEACHTREE CITY GA
814 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PEACHTREE CITY HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN HARALSON COUNTY IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA
NORTHWESTERN PAULDING COUNTY IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA
SOUTHERN POLK COUNTY IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA

* UNTIL 900 PM EST

* AT 809 PM EST...DOPPLER RADAR CONFIRMED A TORNADO 17 MILES
SOUTHWEST OF ROCKMART...MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.

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

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1100 PM EST FRIDAY EVENING
FOR NORTHERN GEORGIA. A TORNADO WATCH ALSO REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL
100 AM EST SATURDAY MORNING FOR NORTHWESTERN GEORGIA.

&&

LAT...LON 3406 8490 3388 8488 3377 8532 3395 8536
TIME...MOT...LOC 0114Z 258DEG 35KT 3388 8523
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting KeyWestSun:

Thanks. And thanks to everyone else for the feedback. Wasn't trying to stir things up or argue. Just trying to learn and was not aware of all these factors.


Not a problem! We all learn from each other

And today this site has been unbelievably friendly compared to the other main weather event we like to track :p
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Short video of the tornado--or rapidly rotating wall cloud--said to be from West Liberty this evening. Incredible video whatever/wherever it is (though it certainly sounds like Eastern Kentucky)...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13457
So far this outbreak has produced 79 reported tornadoes
May 22, 2011, the day of the Joplin tornado, produced 75 confirmed tornadoes
April 27, 2011, the day of the Tuscaloosa tornado, produced 292 confirmed tornadoes
Just some numbers to ponder...
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7613
SVR T-STORM WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 715 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 715 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING PEACHTREE CITY GA - KFFC 814 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING HUNTSVILLE AL - KHUN 713 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG SC - KGSP 813 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 711 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 810 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
1444. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting washingtonian115:
I have relatives that live in Atlanta.Please tell me this cell is weakning.

I can tell you that it is strengthening.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31456
Quoting FLtoUT:
Link

My sister and her kids live in Marietta, the northern part. Really not digging this


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.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Someone tweeted this: Ambulances are pouring out of west liberty kentucky I am 20 minutes from downtown
Pleas don't let this be like another Joplin.Just a sad situaion occuring.And I have family members in the path of these storms.
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1440. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting Patrap:
Midland WR-100 NOAA Weather Alert Radio With Tone Alert



I love mine. I have a Midland where I can program only surrounding counties. That way I don't get awakened by threats too far away from me to matter.
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1437. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
I have relatives that live in Atlanta.Please tell me this cell is weakning.
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Someone tweeted this: Ambulances are pouring out of west liberty kentucky I am 20 minutes from downtown
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1432. Patrap
Atlanta Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Type
Base Reflectivity 0.50° Elevation
Range
124 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting KeyWestSun:

DBZ's coming down a tad. Not so intense and high of cloud tops on some of these things as daytime heating is all but gone.


Dewpoints remain in the 60s through much of the areas under watches and warnings and this isn't a MCS/squall line event, no drying evident in advance of the storms, most of them are discreet and able to draw in all available moisture and heating. These will continue well into the evening.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting Tazmanian:




that is not ture at all this be come it is night time dos not mean storms this stop this like that yes if it ture that the high risk been downgraded too MDT we can still have a lot of strong tonados has there is still a lot of warm aire still in place from day time hetaing


the scariest weather event I've ever been through...including hurricanes Hugo and Isabel...was a night time tornado outbreak...
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Quoting KeyWestSun:
It's the second the of March, not late April or May. The sun is not as strong and sets much earlier.




its dos not matter


has long has you have the right set up like too night you can get strong nado going overe night
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Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:


Yes, apparently spotted by dual-pol. I so wish I could get on their weather chat right now :(
Lol it was spotted by radar? Nvm then.
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1427. Patrap

Charleston Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Type
Base Reflectivity 0.50° Elevation
Range
124 NMI
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting KeyWestSun:

What time was that issued at?

About two hours ago, but it doesn't expire for another two hours.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31456
1425. Patrap
Midland WR-100 NOAA Weather Alert Radio With Tone Alert

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Local news is saying there is a tornado on the ground.


Yes, apparently spotted by dual-pol. I so wish I could get on their weather chat right now :(
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Heading to Atlanta.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1422. FLtoUT
Link

My sister and her kids live in Marietta, the northern part. Really not digging this
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Quoting Tazmanian:




that is not ture at all this be come it is night time dos not mean storms this stop this like that yes if it ture that the high risk been downgraded too MDT we can still have a lot of strong tonados has there is still a lot of warm aire still in place from day time hetaing

This is imporant to remember...
It is a major misconception that thunderstorms just die after nightfall... A Moderate Risk still means we can and probably will see strong tornadoes
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7613
Jeff did his usual great job...and pitched the idea that everyone should have a NOAA weather radio with a tone alert...
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

What time was that issued at?
Not to long ago and its for tonight.
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1417. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
SOME DISCRETE SUPER CELLS STILL POSS CENTRAL NORTHERN AL AND CENTRAL NORTH WESTERN GA
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 709 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 709 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 707 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 706 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 805 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING HUNTSVILLE AL - KHUN 704 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 703 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 758 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Well see. You obviously live very close to me.


Yes I do, in Cobb County, in the Kennesaw area.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting Ameister12:
Possible tornado is now moving into Georgia and could hit the Atlanta, or the northern parts of Atlanta if it stays strong.

Local news is saying there is a tornado on the ground.
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This just bad bad bad.This is a warning sign of things to come this tornado season.The Gulf is warmer than average.Places up north are likley going to continue to get cold shots causing trouble.
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Quoting KeyWestSun:
Not saying tornado threat is over by any means, and not saying that we still won't see very powerful, large, long-lived twisters through the night. Just saying the odds of seeing confirmed EF 3 and 4's will generally begin to decrease now.




we will still likey see very powerful, large, long-lived twisters
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The overall threat is not over, the tornado threat is not lower, and the large tornado threat is not lower.



MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0221
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0541 PM CST FRI MAR 02 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...MUCH OF SRN-CNTRL-NERN AL / W-CNTRL AND NWRN GA /
FAR SERN TN

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 59...61...63...

VALID 022341Z - 030145Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH
59...61...63...CONTINUES.

TORNADIC SUPERCELL POTENTIAL WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE THIS EVENING
AND INTO THE EARLY OVERNIGHT HOURS ACROSS A LARGE PORTION OF AL AND
WRN-NWRN GA.
ASIDE FROM THE THREAT OF TORNADOES /POTENTIALLY
SIGNIFICANT/...SUPERCELLS WILL ALSO POSE AN ACCOMPANYING DMGG
STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS RISK.

23Z SURFACE ANALYSIS SHOWS A LARGE UNIMPEDED WARM/MOIST SECTOR
ACROSS AL AND MOVING INTO WRN PARTS OF GA --AHEAD OF A DRYLINE OVER
NWRN MS. 3 HR CHANGE IN SURFACE TEMP/DEWPOINT SHOW A DECREASE OF
2-7 DEG F AND A 2 DEG F INCREASE...RESPECTIVELY. THE FORECAST
CONTINUED TREND IN LOWERING SURFACE SPREADS AND LESS SUBSTANTIAL
BOUNDARY LAYER MIXING WILL SEEMINGLY PROVE MORE FAVORABLE FOR LOW
LEVEL MESOCYCLONES. SLIGHT IMPROVEMENTS IN THE LOW LEVEL
THERMODYNAMIC PROFILE WILL ACCOMPANY A STRENGTHENING IN THE LLJ
/40-55 KTS/ FROM SWRN AND W-CNTRL AL NEWD INTO NRN GA IN THE NEXT
FEW HOURS. THIS WILL SET THE STAGE FOR A POSSIBLE NOCTURNAL TORNADO
EPISODE FROM CNTRL AND E-CNTRL AL NEWD INTO N-CNTRL GA. THIS
SCENARIO IS AT LEAST SUPPORTED TO A CERTAIN EXTENT BY THE LATEST
STORM-SCALE MODEL ENSEMBLE /SSEO/. AS SUCH...SCATTERED DISCRETE
SUPERCELLS WILL POSE AN ATTENDANT ISOLD TORNADO THREAT --WITH
PERHAPS A FEW STRONG TORNADOES WITH THE MORE INTENSE SUPERCELLS.


..SMITH.. 03/02/2012
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31456
LEXINGTON FIRE DEPT is sending people to West Liberty. Yep, it's that bad. No one still have pictures of damage in that town, because the roads to that town is blocked off. Not even media can get to the town.
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Possible tornado is now moving into Georgia and could hit the Atlanta, or the northern parts of Atlanta if it stays strong.

Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4898
1407. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting KeyWestSun:

If you're trying to tell me these things are as intense as earlier, I'd have to disagree. Plus, new outlook downgraded to Moderate Risk.

Storms die out as nightfall nears...generally.




that is not ture at all this be come it is night time dos not mean storms this stop this like that yes if it ture that the high risk been downgraded too MDT we can still have a lot of strong tonados has there is still a lot of warm aire still in place from day time hetaing
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1405. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549
1404. Patrap

980
WFUS51 KRLX 030105
TORRLX
WVC005-045-030130-
/O.NEW.KRLX.TO.W.0011.120303T0105Z-120303T0130Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON WV
805 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHARLESTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL BOONE COUNTY IN WEST VIRGINIA...
NORTH CENTRAL LOGAN COUNTY IN WEST VIRGINIA...

* UNTIL 830 PM EST

* AT 803 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 17 MILES WEST OF
VAN...OR NEAR LOGAN...MOVING EAST NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
SHARPLES...JEFFREY...PRENTER AND SYLVESTER..

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING
QUARTER SIZE HAIL AND DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT LINE WINDS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
STURDY SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE NEAREST
DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

PLEASE REPORT TORNADOES...HAIL OR STRONG WINDS TO THE NATIONAL
WEATHER SERVICE BY CALLING TOLL FREE...877-633-6772...WHEN YOU CAN DO
SO SAFELY.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT EST SATURDAY MORNING
FOR CENTRAL KENTUCKY AND SOUTHEAST OHIO AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA AND
CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127549

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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.