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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1054. hurricanehunter27
11:22 PM GMT on March 02, 2012
Ok the cell has seemed to toned down a bit. It will probably recycle.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
1053. floridaT
11:21 PM GMT on March 02, 2012
what are the tops of these cells does anyone know?
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1073
1052. Patrap
11:20 PM GMT on March 02, 2012
Triple Cannon TVS

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
1051. ScottLincoln
11:20 PM GMT on March 02, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Those TS signatures (as opposed to TVS) may be indicating a widening of the circulation. The terrain in that area will make the tornado very hard to see. And not much light left. Luckily these towns are not particularly large.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Quoting hydrus:
Yep..Just like the massive outbreak last year..All that technology, huge loss of life.
Well a computer is not going to stop 200MPH winds. Tornados that are this strong will kill no matter how advance the warning is, just in lower amounts.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Link
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4948
1048. Patrap

454
WFUS53 KLMK 022317
TORLMK
KYC021-045-079-137-151-022345-
/O.NEW.KLMK.TO.W.0079.120302T2317Z-120302T2345Z/

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

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LOUISVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN BOYLE COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL KENTUCKY...
GARRARD COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL KENTUCKY...
SOUTHWESTERN MADISON COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL KENTUCKY...
NORTHERN CASEY COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL KENTUCKY...
NORTHERN LINCOLN COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL KENTUCKY...

* UNTIL 645 PM EST...

* AT 616 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR ELLISBURG...MOVING EAST AT 70 MPH.

* THIS TORNADIC STORM WILL ALSO IMPACT...
STANFORD...
LANCASTER...
CHICKEN BRISTLE AND TURNERSVILLE...
LOGANTOWN AND GILBERT...
POINT LEAVELL AND HYATTSVILLE...
BUGGYTOWN AND PAINT LICK...

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.

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE...CALL TOLL
FREE AT...1...8 7 7...6 3 3...6 7 7 2...WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY.



LAT...LON 3753 8421 3752 8428 3753 8434 3752 8435
3750 8435 3735 8497 3751 8505 3752 8504
3779 8431
TIME...MOT...LOC 2318Z 248DEG 65KT 3748 8489
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
1047. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53553
1046. hydrus
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Round 5...here we go.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ScottLincoln:


Are you using GR2Analyst? If you turn on the dealiasing algorithm, many pixels will show up that appeared to be not there or were in the middle of the rotation. The dealiasing algorithm is dropping them because it cannot figure out which direction the wind is actually going. Sometimes that is indicative of very fast winds, particularly those changing quickly over short distances where there is not enough neighboring data to help with the correction.

Even with stronger tornadoes near the radar where you have a TS and not a TVS (a highest inbounds/outbounds separated by pixels of lower velocity), you usually dont have "dead" or zero pixels in the middle to make it look like an eye. There usually is at least some movement detected in the center of circulations.
Chill out I was just trying to make a pun.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 516 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 516 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 615 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 513 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING HUNTSVILLE AL - KHUN 514 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MEMPHIS TN - KMEG 513 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING LOUISVILLE KY - KLMK 613 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING TALLAHASSEE FL - KTAE 513 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 512 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING TALLAHASSEE FL - KTAE 511 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 511 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 510 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 610 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 609 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING WILMINGTON OH - KILN 609 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING LOUISVILLE KY - KLMK 606 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
1043. hydrus
Quoting dogsgomoo:


It does seem so crazy doesn't it? All this technology, real time, down to the mile locations, and yet ... people are likely going to die.
Yep..Just like the massive outbreak last year..All that technology, huge loss of life.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
That was some Doppler image. Defined. Hopes and sympathies to all in the storms' paths.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31901
1040. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53553
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Eye don't think so.


Are you using GR2Analyst? If you turn on the dealiasing algorithm, many pixels will show up that appeared to be not there or were in the middle of the rotation. The dealiasing algorithm is dropping them because it cannot figure out which direction the wind is actually going. Sometimes that is indicative of very fast winds, particularly those changing quickly over short distances where there is not enough neighboring data to help with the correction.

Even with stronger tornadoes near the radar where you have a TS and not a TVS (a highest inbounds/outbounds separated by pixels of lower velocity), you usually dont have "dead" or zero pixels in the middle to make it look like an eye. There usually is at least some movement detected in the center of circulations.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

Report: "Significant #damage" in Downtown W. Liberty, KY. Courthouse damaged...people trapped in buildings...injuries.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
LEX18 confirming that West Liberty was hit and "hit hard".
Live Stream out of Lexington
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Tim Johnston Twitter:

West Liberty said to have major damage and possible entrapments
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4948
1035. hydrus
The SPC did a good job pinning this severe weather.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting dogsgomoo:


Thank you. That makes sense.

I was hoping these storms wouldn't track so far into GA. I'm watching the clouds get thick now in Atlanta and still hoping they do their usual evening fizzle


Me too, man, me too. However, as I am in the MDT risk, with 15% and hatched tornado, with 45% wind, I doubt I'll escape easily.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting hydrus:
That is a horrible sight to the trained met.


It does seem so crazy doesn't it? All this technology, real time, down to the mile locations, and yet ... people are likely going to die.
Member Since: March 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 316
1032. redux
Quoting KeyWestSun:
The debris ball generally would be in front of the counterclockwise circulation of the tornado, so in this case directly to the east and then wrapping around to the northeast of the apparent vortex.


thank you. : (
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
2256 WEST LIBERTY MORGAN KY 3791 8327 STATE POLICE REPORTS TORNADO ON THE GROUND JUST WEST OF WEST LIBERTY. (JKL)
2258 WEST LIBERTY MORGAN KY 3791 8327 TORNADO ON THE GROUND IN WEST LIBERTY. (JKL)
2301 WEST LIBERTY MORGAN KY 3791 8327 OFFICERS IN VEHICLE HIT BY TORNADO. (JKL)
Member Since: July 7, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 33
1030. Patrap

092
WFUS53 KLMK 022313
TORLMK
KYC079-151-022345-
/O.NEW.KLMK.TO.W.0078.120302T2313Z-120302T2345Z/

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

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LOUISVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN GARRARD COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL KENTUCKY...
SOUTHERN MADISON COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL KENTUCKY...

* UNTIL 645 PM EST...

* AT 612 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR WALLACETON...MOVING EAST AT 65 MPH.

* THIS TORNADIC STORM WILL ALSO IMPACT...
BOBTOWN AND KINGSTON...
PANOLA AND COMBS...

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.

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE...CALL TOLL
FREE AT...1...8 7 7...6 3 3...6 7 7 2...WHEN YOU CAN DO SO SAFELY.



LAT...LON 3773 8409 3767 8409 3764 8412 3758 8409
3756 8409 3756 8414 3754 8418 3752 8445
3761 8448 3780 8407 3778 8410 3777 8408
3775 8407
TIME...MOT...LOC 2313Z 248DEG 56KT 3760 8433
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
1029. hydrus
Quoting Ameister12:
All we can do is pray for these poor people in West Liberty.
That is a horrible sight to the trained met.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
STILL GOING!
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31901
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

It's neither, a debris ball indicates exactly where the tornado is at.


Thank you. That makes sense.

I was hoping these storms wouldn't track so far into GA. I'm watching the clouds get thick now in Atlanta and still hoping they do their usual evening fizzle
Member Since: March 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 316
Look at that debris ball! West Liberty obviously got hit by a major tornado. Blaine needs to take cover NOW!
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4948
1024. Patrap
Jackson
NEXRAD Radar
Type Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity 3.35° Elevation
Range
124 NMI

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
Quoting ScottLincoln:


I think that may have been a figment of the dealias failures dropping pixels of velocity.
Eye don't think so.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
Now to wait to hear from West Liberty. :(
Member Since: June 1, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 886
Quoting ScottLincoln:


I think that may have been a figment of the dealias failures dropping pixels of velocity.

That's a good one! Anyway, best intentions of working this afternoon went by the wayside with this incredible tornado outbreak today.
Will have to check back later. Thanks for all the great info and images.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's surreal.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4948
1018. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
Quoting redux:


right, but is the debris ball the location of the funnel? where in relation to the funnel cloud does the debris ball typically form?


It's kind of hard to tell, but from my experience, the debris ball is usually right below or behind the tornado, it's on it's "right" (or east) side.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting RTSplayer:
The west liberty storm briefly had an EYE on base velocity on radar.


I think that may have been a figment of the dealias failures dropping pixels of velocity.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Quoting dogsgomoo:


Hi, is it usually ahead of or behind the actual funnel cloud?

What a crazy day.

It's neither, a debris ball indicates exactly where the tornado is at.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31901
This storm could be remembered as one of the strongest ever.
Still going with this fantastic radar presentation.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3842
1013. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
Quoting redux:


right, but is the debris ball the location of the funnel? where in relation to the funnel cloud does the debris ball typically form?


A debris ball, as long as it is a real debris ball caused by lofted debris coated in rain, will appear nearly symmetrical over the center of the circulation on the lowest tilts. Sometimes there can be other explanation for a high reflectivity maxima near the rotation center, but many times it can be indicative of a tornado (on the ground or a tornado that was just on the ground) which has caused enough damage to loft substantial debris skyward.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
1010. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:

No, it's the debris formed by the tornado. Basically, a debris cloud on Doppler Radar means that a tornado is on the ground and causing damage.


Hi, is it usually ahead of or behind the actual funnel cloud?

What a crazy day.

/Edit. Things are moving so fast... Someone already asked and answered.
Member Since: March 4, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 316
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 603 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 603 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 503 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 502 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 502 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 601 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING LOUISVILLE KY - KLMK 601 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING NEW ORLEANS LA - KLIX 459 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING LOUISVILLE KY - KLMK 458 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING SHREVEPORT LA - KSHV 458 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 457 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 557 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 557 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MEMPHIS TN - KMEG 457 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 557 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 557 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 457 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING LOUISVILLE KY - KLMK 456 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING HUNTSVILLE AL - KHUN 455 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 159
Law enforcement report #tornado on the ground near West Liberty. An EF2 tornado hit there on Wednesday. #KYwx [via Twitter]

Per TWC_Shawn

Insanity.
Member Since: September 8, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 8
1005. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
1004. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 170 Comments: 53553

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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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