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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0.25 visibility here...stupid fog. need to set up a jet engine and blow it away xD
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
GAC057-085-117-227-030415-
/O.NEW.KFFC.SV.W.0045.120303T0330Z-120303T0415Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PEACHTREE CITY GA
1030 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PEACHTREE CITY HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN CHEROKEE COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL GEORGIA
DAWSON COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL GEORGIA
NORTHERN FORSYTH COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL GEORGIA
SOUTHEASTERN PICKENS COUNTY IN NORTH CENTRAL GEORGIA

* UNTIL 1115 PM EST

* AT 1029 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZED HAIL. THIS
STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR WALESKA...MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO BALL
GROUND...NELSON AND DAWSONVILLE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

DOPPLER RADAR HAS INDICATED ROTATION WITHIN THIS STORM. ALTHOUGH
CURRENT DATA DOES NOT INDICATE THE EXISTENCE OF A TORNADO...A TORNADO
MAY STILL DEVELOP. IF A TORNADO IS SPOTTED...ACT QUICKLY AND MOVE TO
A PLACE OF SAFETY INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE...SUCH AS A BASEMENT OR
SMALL INTERIOR ROOM.

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 3456 8421 3432 8398 3423 8455 3440 8459
TIME...MOT...LOC 0331Z 261DEG 34KT 3433 8448

$$
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting emguy:


Heck...I does not matter what EF it was...The point is people are hurt and people have passed away. GOSH! What more do you want? That is Aweful news in itself, being an EF5 doesn't legitimize it!!!

I can tell you I have actually been to West Liberty last year to help out with some flood matters that happenned in the Spring. I have seen that church and can tell you if the tornado on Wednesday that took down that other church was an EF4, than this was likely an EF4 too. That was a large church in West Liberty.

Side note, some of the nicest people I have ever met were in the State of Kentucky...Statewide comment. So when I say the nicest people I ever met in Kentucky were in West Liberty...I'm really sayin' somethin'. My thoughts have been with them all evening.
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.
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Forecast above average temperatures for 6 to 10 days is off the scale.



8 to 14 isn't much better.

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Disregard previous post, found one here.
Link
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Sorry; I updated the comment. It's West Liberty.


I was just messin' with ya. Saw the backgroung matched the earlier post.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:
I'd be careful, some might interpret you injection of this topic into discussions of a severe weather event that has ended yet as trolling.
People might interpret it that way, but people misinterpret a lot of things, don't they? In my opinion, discussing possible causes of the ongoing severe weather event while discussing that ongoing severe weather event is nowhere close to fitting the definition of "trolling". If anyone thinks it is, feel free to WU-mail me and explain why you believe it.

Anyway, we're obviously not going to learn a whole lot about the situation in West Liberty tonight given the lack of communication, the absence of news people, and nightfall. Tomorrow's accounting of today's events is going to be sobering, I think.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Likely a large and damaging tornado on the ground in Alabama right now.


Pretty strong rotation associated with it. A tornado could very well be on the ground.
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1795. emguy
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Still not as bad as I thought it would be. Thats not EF5 damage.


Heck...I does not matter what EF it was...The point is people are hurt and people have passed away. GOSH! What more do you want? That is Aweful news in itself, being an EF5 doesn't legitimize it!!!

I can tell you I have actually been to West Liberty last year to help out with some flood matters that happenned in the Spring. I have seen that church and can tell you if the tornado on Wednesday that took down that other church was an EF4, than this was likely an EF4 too. That was a large church in West Liberty.

Side note, some of the nicest people I have ever met were in the State of Kentucky...Statewide comment. So when I say the nicest people I ever met in Kentucky were in West Liberty...I'm really sayin' somethin'. My thoughts have been with them all evening.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
You know what. We have not heard a single word out of Salyersville. The radar presentation of that storm was even better than West Liberty.
no tweets came up when I searched Salyersville, unlike West Liberty which had hundreds of tweets.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Perhaps so. But without any evidence yet to suggest that they are connected, "no" could be considered an adequate answer. Even after attribution studies, it remains tough to tie any one particular event to long term statistics.

I'd be careful, some might interpret you injection of this topic into discussions of a severe weather event that has ended yet as trolling.


any person who talks about climate change crap more then weather earns their spot on my ignore list, because i HATE climate talk.

thats what Ricky Rood is for.
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
1791. ncstorm
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1790. skook



West Liberty

Link
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SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
926 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012

ALC001-021-047-105-030400-
/O.CON.KBMX.TO.W.0025.000000T0000Z-120303T0400Z/
CHILTON AL-DALLAS AL-PERRY AL-AUTAUGA AL-
926 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR NORTHWESTERN AUTAUGA...
EAST CENTRAL PERRY...NORTH CENTRAL DALLAS AND SOUTHWESTERN CHILTON
COUNTIES UNTIL 1000 PM CST...

AT 921 PM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO ALONG WITH A
POSSIBLE DEBRIS SIGNATURE
. THIS DANGEROUS STORM WAS LOCATED 6 MILES
WEST OF PAUL M GRIST STATE PARK...OR 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF VALLEY
GRANDE...MOVING EAST AT 50 MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
PAUL M GRIST STATE PARK...PARNELL...PLECHER...VIDA JUNCTION...
BILLINGSLEY...POOLES CROSSROADS...BARRETT CREEK...VALLEY CREEK
JUNCTION...PLANTERSVILLE AND DAWSON MILL.

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

LAT...LON 3279 8673 3257 8665 3249 8710 3263 8716
TIME...MOT...LOC 0326Z 250DEG 45KT 3260 8702
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Anyone have news coverage from the area from post 1781. ?
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Quoting ChillinInTheKeys:
Neo, Where's that?
Sorry; I updated the comment. It's West Liberty.
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Saw this tweet: Downtown West Liberty reported as "gone" and "many bodies dug out" reported by local media.


Yet we are apparently seeing pictures of downtown West Liberty that are showing it as "not gone?" Suppose other areas could easily be worse. And we hope the rest of the tweet is exaggerated, as well.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Ok, found a picture that shows "massive" damage.


That flatten building was probably a sturdy brick building. I'd say that's EF3-EF4 type damage IMO.
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Quoting BobWallace:


There's a difference between "Can we leave this discussion for later?" and "No.".


Perhaps so. But without any evidence yet to suggest that they are connected, "no" could be considered an adequate answer. Even after attribution studies, it remains tough to tie any one particular event to long term statistics.

I'd be careful, some might interpret you injection of this topic into discussions of a severe weather event that has not ended yet as trolling.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:


I blame them for drinking 3 cokes, and likely not sleeping tonight. :D


gee i really would like to go git a fifth one but my grandfather is so not happy with the way i drink them :D

typical, so not bad lol
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
Quoting redux:
twc just showed a very strong signature in alabama.


Might be hints of a debris ball with that storm. Very strong rotation with it, as you said.

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You know what. We have not heard a single word out of Salyersville. The radar presentation of that storm was even better than West Liberty.
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Nea, Where's that?
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Likely a large and damaging tornado on the ground in Alabama right now.

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Ok, found a picture that shows "massive" damage.

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Quoting SPLbeater:
i blame these storms today for me drinking 4 sunkists in 4 hours


I blame them for drinking 3 cokes, and likely not sleeping tonight. :D
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting ScottLincoln:


We don't even have the info yet to determine how many tornadoes, how many hail tracks, and how strong these storms were. The storms are not even over. We are not even near a point where we could begin to do attribution studies for this significant weather event to long term climatic changes. Nor is this a proper time to begin those discussions, in my opinion.


There's a difference between "Can we leave this discussion for later?" and "No.".
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1775. redux
twc just showed a very strong signature in alabama.
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Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:


I'm not trying to argue with you, just trying to understand. I haven't even studied meteorology yet, hope to do so in college. Trying to learn as much as I can!!! I always heard that radar can't "spot" tornadoes, but the way it was worded makes it seem as if this dual-pol is so awesome, that they can see the tornado now.


Dual-pol is great. Many more features and tools, and will help increase our confidence in tornadic activity, hail sizes, and rainfall rates in the future. But it still is, and still will be, a remote sensing tool which can never fully replace ground truth.

The bottom line is that they are doing the right thing by saying... we see what is likely a debris signature on radar, we see very strong rotation, the atmosphere is very conducive to tornadic activity, thus we likely have a tornado on the ground right now that may already be causing damage even if it is not spotted.

But even if those indicators make a radar operator 95%+ confident, it still is not spotted nor confirmed 100% by radar. Most of the time the radar beam is overshooting the actual tornado, and most of the time the tornado is smaller than 1 radar pixel.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Over 100.


In comparison, the April 1974 outbreak was 148 confirmed.
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Quoting BobWallace:
RE: Is climate change playing a role in this tornado outbreak?



Please explain the science behind your so-certain answer.

This is definitely NOT the time or place. If y'all want to head over to the Climate Change blog and talk about it there, go right ahead and do so.
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i blame these storms today for me drinking 4 sunkists in 4 hours
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4481
West Liberty--

Uh-oh

Uh-oh
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

This is definitely NOT the time or place. If y'all want to head over to the Climate Change blog and talk about it there, go right ahead and do so.
Why's that? Is it okay for us to talk about every single aspect of today's severe weather outbreak except for its possible causes?
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Quoting Ameister12:
This is what's left of the West Liberty Christian Church. It's almost unrecognizable.
Still not as bad as I thought it would be. Thats not EF5 damage.
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1758. BobWallace 10:14 PM EST on March 02, 2012

Let it rest till outbreak over!!!
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I seriously hope some of you guys aren't trying to start a climate change argument while we have tornadoes on the ground. May not be as bad as earlier, but come on...You have 6 months out of the year to debate that on here.
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This is what's left of the West Liberty Christian Church. It's almost unrecognizable.
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Quoting BobWallace:
RE: Is climate change playing a role in this tornado outbreak?



Please explain the science behind your so-certain answer.


We don't even have the info yet to determine how many tornadoes, how many hail tracks, and how strong these storms were. The storms are not even over. We are not even near a point where we could begin to do attribution studies for this significant weather event to long term climatic changes. Nor is this a proper time to begin those discussions, in my opinion.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Saw this tweet: Downtown West Liberty reported as "gone" and "many bodies dug out" reported by local media.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


You are probably referring to me. And again, coming as someone from the NWS who has been through warning training and has used radar data to analyze easily 100+ cases, I can tell you that radar does not spot tornadoes. At best, you can use information things that the radar detects to compile a confidence level that a tornado exists.

To repeat...
If radar data is good data, it can see strong winds that are consistent with a strong mesocyclone or, in some cases, the actual tornadic circulation. These winds are not necessarily the tornado, but are indicative of the circulation that can help cause the tornado, or may be winds rotating around a tornadic circulation and are caused by it.
Even with dual pol, the radar is not really spotting a tornado. It is detecting a distribution of targets that are varying in sizes and shapes, and if they vary to a certain extent, it can be consistent with debris lifted into the storm.
Radar is a remote sensing tool, it can lie to you.

When you merge all of the radar information together, still the best you can get is that a tornado is very likely on the ground, and perhaps that it is very likely a strong tornado. It certainly would be wise in those situations to convey that information to the public, which is why the NWS is using that information in a tornado warning statement.


I'm not trying to argue with you, just trying to understand. I haven't even studied meteorology yet, hope to do so in college. Trying to learn as much as I can!!! I always heard that radar can't "spot" tornadoes, but the way it was worded makes it seem as if this dual-pol is so awesome, that they can see the tornado now.
Member Since: January 30, 2012 Posts: 10 Comments: 224
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Cant really tell from that but I thought the town would be completely leveled. Not as bad as I thought (As far as I can tell from this Image.)

It's only a small portion of the town. There will likely be more pictures showing much more severe damage from the tornado.
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I don't think this is the worst of the tornado. I think worst of the damages is few blocks over.
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RE: Is climate change playing a role in this tornado outbreak?

Quoting Chapelhill:

No.


Please explain the science behind your so-certain answer.
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1747:

Can you try that again, the first image didn't post properly.
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


Actually, not quite as bad as I expected. But that is just one part of town.
...as I was thinkin too.
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.
Member Since: September 28, 2002 Posts: 5 Comments: 3190
Quoting Bluestorm5:
Finally a good picture of downtown West Liberty... oh my god.


Definitely not the worst of it.
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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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