First U.S. billion-dollar disaster of 2012: March 2-3 tornado outbreak

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:17 PM GMT on April 09, 2012

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The first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2012 for the U.S. was the March 2 - 3 tornado outbreak in the Midwest and Southeast, said NOAA today. They put the total cost of the tornadoes that killed 41 people in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Alabama at 1.5 billion. Global reinsurance company AON Benfield, in their latest monthly Global Catastrophe Recap Report, put the damage at $2 billion. The outbreak spawned two EF-4 tornadoes, one which devastated Henryville, Indiana, and another that plowed through Crittenden, Kentucky. The two other tornado outbreaks of note that occurred in February and March had damages less than $1 billion: the Leap Day tornadoes in Illinois and surrounding states ($475 million), and the Dexter, Michigan tornado EF-3 tornado of March 15 ($275 million.) I expect that the tornadoes that swept through the Dallas, Texas region last week will likely have a damage tally in the hundreds of millions, but fall short of the billion-dollar mark. In 2011, we already had two billion-dollar weather-related disasters by the first week of April, so we are behind last year's pace. NOAA's National Climatic Data Center logged a record fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011. There has been just one other billion-dollar disaster in the world this year, according to AON Benfield--severe flooding in Australia's New South Wales and Victoria states in late February and early March that caused $1.58 billion in damage. A separate flooding episode in late January and early February caused an additional $920 million in damage in Australia.


Figure 1. A school bus mangled by the EF-4 Henryville, Indiana tornado of March 2, 2012. Image credit: NWS Louisville, Kentucky.



A week for severe severe weather across the Plains and Midwest
Expect severe weather and tornadoes every day this week across the Plains and Midwest U.S., says NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC). A warm, unstable airmass will collide with cold air funneling down from Canada most of the week, creating conditions ripe for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes all week. The main focus of severe weather today will be over Western Oklahoma and portions of the Texas Panhandle, where SPC has issued their lowest highest level of alert, a "Slight Risk."


Figure 2. Severe weather threat for Monday, April 9, 2012.


Video 1. Wunderground tornado expert Dr. Rob Carver alerted me to this remarkable railroad surveillance video recently posted to YouTube that captures a train derailed by a Tornado January 7, 2008 in Harvard, IL. The tornado moved across the Chicago and Northwestern railroad where it blew 12 railroad freight cars off the track. The train was moving at the time the tornado hit it, so as the main engine stopped, the remaining cars on the track continued along it and slammed into the front part of the train. No one was injured, but 500 residents in the nearby unincorporated town of Lawrence were evacuated because of the potential for a hazardous materials situation.

Jeff Masters

tornado damage 3/2/12 (clerese3)
3/2/12 tornado damage to a business I pass on my way to and from work. This was a beautiful brick building.
tornado damage 3/2/12
Franklin Tornado/Mesocyclone (BySurasWeather)
Beginning of Tornado in Franklin, NC. Taken by a local Wal Mart Worker and was uploaded to Weather Channel on March 2, 2012
Franklin Tornado/Mesocyclone
Tornado (JimAtTn)
This picture of a small tornado was taken on Friday March 02, 2012 in southern Lincoln County, Tennessee about 7 miles south of Fayetteville. Photographer: Angela Currey-Echols
Tornado
Lumberton Lightning (TopekaStormChasers)
This pic was taken last night near Lumberton Mississippi
Lumberton Lightning

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Quoting StormTracker2K:


Yeah saw that on TWC this morning. unreal almost the whole US was covered in red dots.
It's Official... Warmest March!



Interesting that S FL and much of TX were not in record breaking territory. In the Bahamas, our March was pretty much average, and not the constantly above average temps of Marches in the last 10 years.
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"The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910"

State of the Climate
Member Since: August 10, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 368
Quoting JeffMasters:
Warmest March in U.S. history

From NOAA:

"Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date."

Jeff Masters
Prolly balanced in our hemisphere by one of the coldest Marchs on record for much of Europe, IIRC... didn't they have snow in Rome etc?
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Quoting JeffMasters:
Warmest March in U.S. history

From NOAA:

"Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date."

Jeff Masters




Didn't see that one coming :P
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting Jedkins01:
Those 2 pictures posted on this blog that say they are tornadoes sure don't look like tornadoes to me. If I named cloud formations like that to be tornadoes every time I saw them I would see 100 tornadoes a year here during the wet season months...


I mean I realize they are pictures and the views are somewhat limited, so its hard to judge. But still, do we have confirmation they are tornadoes? They look very "non-tornado" like. They seem more to be general cloud formations seen with strong to severe thunderstorms.


Seen a lot of tornados, have you?
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Quoting JeffMasters:
Warmest March in U.S. history

From NOAA:

"Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date."

Jeff Masters


Yeah saw that on TWC this morning. unreal almost the whole US was covered in red dots.
It's Official... Warmest March!



Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
50. JeffMasters (Admin)
Warmest March in U.S. history

From NOAA:

"Of the more than 1,400 months that have passed since the U.S. record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012. There were 21 instances of the nighttime temperatures being as warm, or warmer, than the existing record daytime temperature for a given date."

Jeff Masters
Quoting BahaHurican:
Hmmm. We've gone from 90 degree high on Friday - well above average - to 82 yesterday, which is actually slightly below average.

On a TC note, I'm wondering if there'll continue to be a low level of instability this year. That IMO would justify below average forecasts. Unless we see an early transition to el nino [as in JJA] I can still see neutral conditions prevailing.


Most models are bringing us into El-Nino. Even dr Gray's team at Colorado State is leaning toward the Euro and CFS2 models. I mean we are at nuetral now and the warming has just begun across the Pacific.
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Hmmm. We've gone from 90 degree high on Friday - well above average - to 82 yesterday, which is actually slightly below average.

On a TC note, I'm wondering if there'll continue to be a low level of instability this year. That IMO would justify below average forecasts. Unless we see an early transition to el nino [as in JJA] I can still see neutral conditions prevailing.
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Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:
Monthly Ocean Briefing April 2012







Nino 3.4 now at -.03. As i stated above La-Nina is gone and El-nino is not that far behind. Could have El-Nino sometime in the next 6 to 8 weeks maybe sooner if the SOI values keeps crashing.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting dabirds:
All those early tomato planters up here may be regretting it this week, frost warnings for midweek, some of that early corn may also be in danger. With all those warm early temps lots of people forgot last frost date avg is Apr 10 - 15 in C IL. Moisture not bad in SouthCentral IL, but wouldn't hurt for those blues in #5 to grow to the east, but we'll take the greens.


possible frost coming to the SE, it is supposed to get down to 36F at my house.
Then the 80s return in advance of the next system.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
Monthly Ocean Briefing April 2012





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New GFS coming in.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9737
All those early tomato planters up here may be regretting it this week, frost warnings for midweek, some of that early corn may also be in danger. With all those warm early temps lots of people forgot last frost date avg is Apr 10 - 15 in C IL. Moisture not bad in SouthCentral IL, but wouldn't hurt for those blues in #5 to grow to the east, but we'll take the greens.
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Quoting weatherh98:


Then these people need to update their map.


Temperatures can vary over short distances even in the same urban areas, and frequently fluctuate throughout the course the a day. Even though water temps are more stable than air temps, I'd imagine you can even feel a difference in water temps over a short distance at the same location, thus a 2F difference for the Galveston area is probably not significant.
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Quoting StormTracker2K:
PR just can't catch a break with the rain. I know some people there in San Juan and they said this is the rainiest Winter & Sping that they can remember.



Be glad, everything survives and thrives on water, everything grows, greens, and flourishes
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Almost looks like three separate lows with this next event..
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PR just can't catch a break with the rain. I know some people there in San Juan and they said this is the rainiest Winter & Sping that they can remember.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Everybody must start thinking GeoDesign

More here


"Man may perish by his own explosive and insidious inventions. For an adjustment to them
he leaves himself precious little time, and progressively less as his technological wizardry
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It will have to be through design more subtly considered and circumspect, through more
cautious planning in advance."

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Quoting Jedkins01:
Those 2 pictures posted on this blog that say they are tornadoes sure don't look like tornadoes to me. If I named cloud formations like that to be tornadoes every time I saw them I would see 100 tornadoes a year here during the wet season months...


I mean I realize they are pictures and the views are somewhat limited, so its hard to judge. But still, do we have confirmation they are tornadoes? They look very "non-tornado" like. They seem more to be general cloud formations seen with strong to severe thunderstorms.
Dunno about the second one, but the first one is supposed to be the funnel from the Franklin tornado BEFORE it touched down. I imagine that one was checked.
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The CFS.v2 ensemble mean (black dashed line) predicts El Niño conditions to develop during JJA 2012.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Looks like the CPC is expecting the rain to begin shuting off over the TX coastal Plain over to LA. Well see as the models show a lot of rain over those areas come early next week.



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33. MTWX
Quoting Jedkins01:
Those 2 pictures posted on this blog that say they are tornadoes sure don't look like tornadoes to me. If I named cloud formations like that to be tornadoes every time I saw them I would see 100 tornadoes a year here during the wet season months...


I mean I realize they are pictures and the views are somewhat limited, so its hard to judge. But still, do we have confirmation they are tornadoes? They look very "non-tornado" like. They seem more to be general cloud formations seen with strong to severe thunderstorms.

I was thinking the same thing... The lightning picture is awesome though!!
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
A transition from La Nina ENSO-neutral is underway.*

The latest weekly SST departures are:
(Nino 4) -0.4C
(Nino 3.4) -0.3C
(Nino 3 ) 0.3C
(Nino 1&2) 0.5C

Positive subsurface anomalies were evident from March-July 2011. Negative anomalies developed in late July 2011. Since January 2012, the negative anomalies have weakened considerably and anomalies are now near zero.

Link
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Those 2 pictures posted on this blog that say they are tornadoes sure don't look like tornadoes to me. If I named cloud formations like that to be tornadoes every time I saw them I would see 100 tornadoes a year here during the wet season months...


I mean I realize they are pictures and the views are somewhat limited, so its hard to judge. But still, do we have confirmation they are tornadoes? They look very "non-tornado" like. They seem more to be general cloud formations seen with strong to severe thunderstorms.
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Blog updateLink
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
BBL... going to look for a late breakfast.
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The cities of Wichita Falls, TX, Wichita, KS and Oklahoma City, OK are in for 3 straight days of severe weather if this holds...

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Gulf SST updated map.

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Quoting weatherh98:
I went overto one of the other blogs on wundeground.... Completely different set of users.
Yeah. A lot of the different blogs cater to different interests. Some of the regular bloggers here keep their own blogs with a completely different crowd of folks than come on the Doc's blog.
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For all you Solar enthusiasts
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Morning all. Easter weekend is still on for me this a.m..... LOVE Easter Monday... one of the few Mondays of the year one can really appreciate...lol

The wx imagery attached to the blog today is phenomenal, Doc. Thanks for sharing.

I'm here half-wishing for some phenomenal imagery of my own, but not willing to go through the wx to get it... lol
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Food supply out west gonna take a hit

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Quoting swampdooogggg:

Red Flag warnings in Northern Illinois are up because of a combination of very low RH, gusty southwest winds, and warm temperatures today.


Again, not much moisture in the ground here at all, it will not take much to pole vault us into the conditions we were experiencing last year.
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Quoting ILwthrfan:
Good morning folks!

I have a bad feeling about the possible drought set up that is currently in place across the upper Midwest. We are needing a pattern change pretty quickly across Illinois and Indiana and points northwestward. Just in my local area rivers and ponds are again dropping to levels we saw at the end of last summer.



Almost every system that has went through the area so far to date this season has literary evaporated as they progress across the Mississippi River.

I have my doubts on this forecast.



Southeast Texas and Louisiana has certainly see a wet set up so far, but we here in the Midwest haven't been as fortunate. Red flag warnings up everywhere here in Illinois for the week too as the looks of it.


Red Flag warnings in Northern Illinois are up because of a combination of very low RH, gusty southwest winds, and warm temperatures today.
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Good morning folks!

I have a bad feeling about the possible drought set up that is currently in place across the upper Midwest. We are needing a pattern change pretty quickly across Illinois and Indiana and points northwestward. Just in my local area rivers and ponds are again dropping to levels of what were seen at the end of last summer.



Almost every system that has went through the area so far to date this season has literary evaporated as they progress across the Mississippi River.

I have my doubts on this forecast.



Southeast Texas and Louisiana has certainly see a wet set up so far, but we here in the Midwest haven't been as fortunate. Red flag warnings up everywhere here in Illinois for the week too as the looks of it.

Its looking as if we are about to start up yet another cycle...

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Just because there isnt a moderate risk on the SPC map dosent mean anything..look at the Dallas tornado..they only had a 2% tornado risk for that day and a F3 popped up. Weather has a mind of its own despite what computer models say or try to say.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16010
Quoting weatherh98:


Then these people need to update their map.


Water temps vary greatly, it's not a solid portion of the water, it's in spots that are 78 or below. Every spot measured would be different with the currents and what not
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Quoting RitaEvac:
Galveston water temp 78 degrees


Then these people need to update their map.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
I went overto one of the other blogs on wundeground.... Completely different set of users.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Galveston water temp 78 degrees
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there is also a freeze watch in effect for this area as well................................ANZ085-091500-
BALTIMORE CANYON TO HATTERAS CANYON OUT TO 36N 70W TO 34N 71W
500 AM EDT MON APR 9 2012

...GALE WARNING...

.TODAY...W TO NW WINDS 20 TO 30 KT...DIMINISHING TO 15 TO 25 KT.
SEAS 2 TO 5 FT...EXCEPT E OF 1000 FM 5 TO 8 FT. A CHANCE OF
SHOWERS.
.TONIGHT...SW TO W WINDS INCREASING TO 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS
BUILDING TO 5 TO 9 FT...HIGHEST NE. ISOLATED SHOWERS AND TSTMS.
.TUE...SW TO W WINDS 25 TO 35 KT DIMINISHING TO 20 TO 30 KT.
SEAS 4 TO 7 FT...EXCEPT E OF 1000 FM 7 TO 11 FT. SCATTERED
SHOWERS AND TSTMS.
.TUE NIGHT...SW WINDS DIMINISHING TO 15 TO 25 KT...EXCEPT W OF
1000 FM BECOMING NW 10 TO 15 KT. SEAS SUBSIDING TO 4 TO 8
FT...EXCEPT W OF 1000 FM 2 TO 4 FT.
.WED...WINDS BECOMING NW 15 TO 25 KT THROUGHOUT. SEAS BECOMING 4
TO 8 FT THROUGHOUT.
.THU...NW WINDS 15 TO 25 KT. SEAS 4 TO 7 FT...EXCEPT E OF 1000
FM BUILDING TO 7 TO 10 FT.
.FRI...WINDS DIMINISHING TO VARIABLE 5 TO 15 KT. SEAS SUBSIDING
TO 1 TO 3 FT...EXCEPT E OF 1000 FM 3 TO 6 FT.
$$
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Quoting Jax82:
Bone dry for the SE the next few days.

yes not a cloud in the sky, dry as a bone
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Thanks Jeff...
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Quoting MahFL:
Oops Jeff, the MDT has gone, old outdated info.....


The rest is pretty much the same.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Thanks Doc



The moderate risk of severe weather from the SPC.


gotchya
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Thanks Doc

Quoting weatherh98:


MDT??


The moderate risk of severe weather from the SPC.
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Thanks Dr. Masters!
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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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