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 SPLbeater:
is central North Carolina out of tornado danger?


Unlikely for us. The front didn't come north as expected. Just potential strong winds tomorrow morning.
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1353. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
1351. Patrap
Charleston Radar
NEXRAD Radar
Type
Base Reflectivity 0.50 Elevation
Range
124 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
Quoting Speeky:
Any reported EF-4 to EF-5 tornadoes yet?

Looks like we may have a lot


IMO, from what it appears it's possible the West Liberty tornado was an EF-5 from radar estimates. Might have another event going on with multiple EF-5 tornadoes.
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1349. txjac
Quoting hydrus:
Head right at us. McMinnville and Spencer.


I hope that you are posting from your basement!!
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2438
1348. Patrap
College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings


TORNADO WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 742 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 641 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 740 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 636 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
Quoting Speeky:
Any reported EF-4 to EF-5 tornadoes yet?

Looks like we may have a lot

We won't know until tomorrow and next couple of days of how strong these tornadoes were, but the tornado that hit West Liberty sounds like it could have easily been at least EF4.
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1346. hydrus
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
stay safe bro i am right there with ya in spirit
Headed right at us. McMinnville and Spencer.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20321
TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

#Tornado EMERGENCY in Martin Co., KY near Inez headed into Mingo Co., WV
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Quoting Tazmanian:




stop asking that


we wont no in tell the nws do there reorts


And some of them may not even be able to be reached for a few days, let alone rated. Many many tornado tracks for some WFOs.
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is central North Carolina out of tornado danger?
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Quoting interstatelover7165:


I think this describes the current situation.
Cant see the photo.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
1341. redux
re: West Liberty I pulled this from another blog

Anonymous said...

It is true! We have spoken to family-got lucky. Hit in the downtown area. They said court house is gone. Phone lines ,cells etc are all messed up. They have warnings till 9:00. God Bless you all!




http://originalweatherblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/w est-liberty-ky-hit-very-hard-by.html
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TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

Report via NWS & 911 call center: Extensive #damage in Dodsons Branch, TN.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
1339. Speeky
Quoting Tazmanian:




stop asking that


we wont no in tell the nws do there reorts


Ok. Got it.
Member Since: April 10, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 296
Link

I think this describes the current situation.
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Ok one long tracked EF4+ moving through Atlanta would make everything else seem like nothing. Metro Area is 5.2 million people.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 636 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 636 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 636 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 736 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 734 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Quoting Speeky:
Any reported EF-4 to EF-5 tornadoes yet?

Looks like we may have a lot




stop asking that


we wont no in tell the nws do there reorts
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1333. TxKeef
Quoting jamesrainier:


http://kamala.cod.edu/svr/


Thank you!
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Potential tornado hitting South Hattiesburg, MS. That area is populated.
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1331. Speeky
Any reported EF-4 to EF-5 tornadoes yet?

Looks like we may have a lot
Member Since: April 10, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 296
Quoting KeyWestSun:

What's the upside down yellow triangle in your image indicate?
TVS. Tornado Vortex Signature. Yellow means a pretty strong couplet.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Quoting TxKeef:



Link please.


http://kamala.cod.edu/svr/
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Madison, LA 100% severe hail 3.5 inch max. Moving into Mississippi.

Might want to keep an eye on this area see if it strengthens in winds.

Tornado S. of Gadsden, Al, headed to Georgia.

Tornado imminent at Montgomery, Al.

1-2 tornado supercell combo headed near Charleston, WV.

Very strong cell / tornado extreme SW of N. Carolina.

Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Tornado warning in Eastern Alabama, headed for Georgia.





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Quoting TxKeef:
Can someone repost the link that updates every 2 mins with the current warnings?

I seem to have lost it. Thanks in advance.


http://kamala.cod.edu/svr/
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Quoting Neapolitan:
Kentucky Governor Beshear has ordered National Guard troops to rush to West Liberty. "mass casualties"; many people are reported trapped in collapsed buildings in the CBD.
This is just horrible.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:
Headed to Georgia now!!!!







Yep the tornadic cell S of Gadsden could be paying me a visit soon
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Kentucky Governor Beshear has ordered National Guard troops to rush to West Liberty. "mass casualties"; many people are reported trapped in collapsed buildings in the CBD.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
1321. TxKeef
Quoting jamesrainier:
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 633 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING PEACHTREE CITY GA - KFFC 733 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 731 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 630 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012



Link please.
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Per Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear: National Guard on the way to West Liberty
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@hh27 - oh, crap!
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Damn its still going.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Quoting redux:


estimated range?

The tornado was probably a couple hundred yards wide maybe close to a quarter mile wide.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4888
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 633 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING PEACHTREE CITY GA - KFFC 733 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 731 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 630 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Quoting redux:


no...i was wondering more about the distance from the camera to the tornado. sometimes its hard to get a perspective.
oh, I don't know the answer for that. Sorry
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TORNADO WARNING
GAC143-233-030115-
/O.NEW.KFFC.TO.W.0016.120303T0033Z-120303T0115Z/

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

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PEACHTREE CITY HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
HARALSON COUNTY IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA
POLK COUNTY IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA

* UNTIL 815 PM EST

* AT 728 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 28 MILES WEST OF
TALLAPOOSA...MOVING EAST AT 50 MPH.

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

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!

TAKE COVER NOW! TORNADOES AT NIGHT ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. DO NOT
WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE OR HEAR IT COMING...IT MAY BE TOO LATE.

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 3409 8506 3374 8506 3374 8537 3401 8541
TIME...MOT...LOC 0033Z 259DEG 44KT 3381 8570

$$
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Link

Texas Storm chasers.
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1312. redux
Quoting Bluestorm5:
officially won't know for few days and we haven't seen damage pictures yet.... but the radar was showing 200 knots. This is easily EF4+ and very possible it's EF5.


no...i was wondering more about the distance from the camera to the tornado. sometimes its hard to get a perspective.
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1311. TxKeef
Can someone repost the link that updates every 2 mins with the current warnings?

I seem to have lost it. Thanks in advance.
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Quoting Phatkhat:
@1299 - hopefully it will weaken before it gets there. stay safe
This is scary stuff. Its a lone supercell with an area that has had nothing to use up the energy.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
Quoting violet312s:
Sad that we all can sit and watch images of a really bad tornado(s). Warnings go out. But still loss of life. It's like watching a disaster but being unable to do anything about it.

Just glad all those areas did get warned.
You can lead a horse to water...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13442
@1299 - hopefully it will weaken before it gets there. stay safe
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Quoting redux:


estimated range?
officially won't know for few days and we haven't seen damage pictures yet.... but the radar was showing 200 knots. This is easily EF4+ and very possible it's EF5.
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1306. LargoFl
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
OMG I just did a storm track on the AL supercell that heading towards Atlanta. Goes right over my house.
start preparing right now
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 36623
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 728 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 628 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 727 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING SHREVEPORT LA - KSHV 625 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 624 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 724 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 624 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING PEACHTREE CITY GA - KFFC 724 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 624 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 723 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 722 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
FLASH FLOOD WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 722 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 622 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 621 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING TALLAHASSEE FL - KTAE 620 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 619 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 616 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 615 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 715 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 714 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 714 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 711 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 611 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 710 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 710 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Headed to Georgia now!!!!





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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.