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)
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New tornado watch will be issued basically over the same areas currently under a watch in MS/AL. Still a long night to go...

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Sending prayers out to West Liberty and those in that storm's path. It looked brutal. Only daylight will show what is left.

Please donate to that local Red Cross or other local charities. They will need it when the sun comes up.

Same goes for all the communities hit by this outbreak.

Feeling very lucky tonight.
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Wow. I looked in just as the doc posted the blog... and now up to almost 2000 messages....

I'm very sorry to hear about another round of devastating tornados, especially since it seems this evening's storms have impacted areas that got hit in April last year.

Hope you guys in and ahead of this system stay safe!
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These folks are doing a good job. May want to follow if you are in 'Bama.

WSB-TV LIVE

Sorry Georgia Atlanta station
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We have a large, damaging, rain-wrapped tornado on the ground in Coosa county, Alabama.

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I suspect that fooling Mother Nature pales in comparison to making war on her, as we have done.

What do you think fellas? I'm thinking .... Joan Crawford, and wire coat hangers.


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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
AT 1019 PM CST...EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORTED EXTENSIVE DAMAGE FROM
A POSSIBLE TORNADO.

Please post location.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Kathleen, things will likely remain quiet for us. At least insofar as tornadic potential is concerned. At most I'd be concerned with the possibility of briefly damaging wind gusts, and even that seems unlikely.


HI...that is what I am thinking too..of course the winds will bring down limbs and possiblly some trees..and I have LOTS of them around my house!!..lol
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AT 1019 PM CST...EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORTED EXTENSIVE DAMAGE FROM
A POSSIBLE TORNADO.

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Alabama tornado:


No, that looks like a pig that ate Fukushima spinach.
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Quoting AllyBama:
All is still quiet here along the coast..I sure wish the storms would come on through..


Kathleen, things will likely remain quiet for us. At least insofar as tornadic potential is concerned. At most I'd be concerned with the possibility of briefly damaging wind gusts, and even that seems unlikely.
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Might just be me, but these storms in Alabama don't really impress me now. Look like slight risk worthy storms. Hard for me to believe our moderates came from 3-4 supercells in eastern alabama/western georgia

Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
been a long day and night for this guy going to take a break for a hr or so been here since 10 am this morning


Real men don't take breaks, I've been checking storms since 8am EST :D.... take it and enjoy man, you've earned it. thanks for all the pictures/info you rolled.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting Chapelhill:
Where was the pic taken?


The last one was West Liberty, Kentucky.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
1017 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012

ALC121-030427-
/O.CAN.KBMX.TO.W.0027.000000T0000Z-120303T0500Z/
TALLADEGA AL-
1017 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012

...THE TORNADO WARNING FOR EAST CENTRAL TALLADEGA COUNTY IS
CANCELLED...

THE STORM WHICH PROMPTED THE WARNING HAS MOVED OUT OF THE WARNED
AREA.

TO REPORT SEVERE WEATHER...CALL 1-800-856-0758.

LAT...LON 3341 8544 3337 8592 3339 8593 3345 8592
3346 8591 3364 8553
TIME...MOT...LOC 0417Z 253DEG 41KT 3342 8586

$$
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Alabama tornado:
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I'm trying to find up close footage of the Henryville tornado I've seen on TV today. It's very amazing footage.
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All is still quiet here along the coast..I sure wish the storms would come on through..
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RADAR IMAGERY SHOWS AN INTENSE AND LIKELY TORNADIC SUPERCELL
EXHIBITING VELOCITIES SEEMINGLY CONDUCIVE FOR A STRONG TORNADO
--STRADDLING CHILTON AND AUTAUGA COUNTIES IN ALABAMA-- WITH THIS
STORM PROJECTED TO MOVE INTO E-CNTRL AL WITHIN A FAVORABLY
MOIST/UNSTABLE LOW LEVEL AIRMASS. KMXX VAD SHOWS 400-500 0-1 KM SRH
WHICH WILL SUPPORT NOT ONLY SUSTAINING LOW LEVEL MESOCYCLONES BUT
POSE THE RISK FOR MULTIPLE TORNADOES WITH ANY VIGOROUS SUPERCELL
MOVING FROM CNTRL AL EWD INTO WRN GA.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
Where was the pic taken?
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1884. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
been a long day and night for this guy going to take a break for a hr or so been here since 10 am this morning
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 189 Comments: 59031
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yes, it just went tornado warned.
There has been some isolatiion there on the south end of this event. It may continue to propagate into n central GA/ central GA over night.
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The other tornado producing storm:

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Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Also this storm will go into Downtown Atlanta later tonight.
No!!!! I hope that doesn't happen. Last thing we need is a tornado in Atlanta.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
1879. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 189 Comments: 59031
This system really has been an overachiever

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This is a classic circulation.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Getting stronger.
Also this storm will go into Downtown Atlanta later tonight.
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Unbelievable:

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night all :D
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4488
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Getting stronger.

Yes, it just went tornado warned.
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* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHEASTERN CLAY COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
SOUTHWESTERN CLEBURNE COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
NORTHWESTERN RANDOLPH COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
EAST CENTRAL TALLADEGA COUNTY IN EAST CENTRAL ALABAMA...
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

NO! No more!

We've finally made it down to just two tornado warnings after our peak of 31 at one time.
Getting stronger.
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Major damage in Dallas,GA in Paulding County.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Watch this storm starting to get rotation on it.

NO! No more!

We've finally made it down to just two tornado warnings after our peak of 31 at one time.
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N of montgomery. Ouch. classic
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here's the impulse that could trigger round 2 late tomorrow.



Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting Ameister12:

It has been reported that people are trapped in buildings.
Alright I missed that.
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1864. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Finally a good picture of downtown West Liberty... oh my god.



that damage appears to be EF3 or greater
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 189 Comments: 59031
Watch this storm starting to get rotation on it.
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1861. xcool
BYE
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
But what do they mean by that? Could be just a ton of downed trees.

It has been reported that people are trapped in buildings.
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North FL & maybe C FL really need to monitor things tomorrow evening as a dangerous event could re-energize tomorrow night. Not good folks!
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
1858. emguy
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
I was just pointing out the fact that it seems that they may have not been totally destroyed like we previously thought. What happened there was terrible and I don't need you telling me that.


Sorry...maybe I'm a little bit touchy. I spent weeks there and really thought a lot of these folks. It just kinda read that way. This is a close knit town of special folks.

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1857. xcool
LIVE TV http://www.abc3340.com/
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1856. redux
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
But what do they mean by that? Could be just a ton of downed trees.


it looked like it was going to fat girls cafe per Spann
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Quoting Ameister12:
Bellingsley may have taken a direct hit by a major tornado, but there are no reports yet.


Significant damage reported with tornado that has just struck near Billingsley, AL
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Alabama tornado caused damage.

AT 954 PM CST...EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORTED A POSSIBLE TORNADO

WITH SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.
But what do they mean by that? Could be just a ton of downed trees.
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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