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 nigel20:

Those SST's are extremely warm and the TCHP is generally higher when compared to last year



April 8 2011:



April 8 2012:

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

Those SST's are extremely warm and the TCHP is generally higher when compared to last year
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
403. wxmod
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Sir, your facts are mixed up. The peninsula on the left hand side is Korea. That is nowhere NEAR the size of the USA. And Gobi desert dust storms happen all the time, so it isn't smog or anything...


You can go to the NASA website and measure it. It is over two satellite passes across (the USA is 2 satellite passes across), composed of gobi dust and coal pollution from China. It is very different than any dust storm ever seen on planet Earth. It is unprecedented.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

starting sunday april 15th 30 days from epac start date
i will be posting my full tropical blog
and start to activly watch east pacific for dev of Tropical Cyclones
the epac should run high if in fact the atlantic is to be low
so things should start up in the epac over the next couple of weeks
I see 20 or more storms for epac this season
half of which will become canes
if it plays out that way
as always we watch and see

I think those are good numbers keeper..especially if we do get an el nino
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting PedleyCA:


This is all we got to work with.
give it another 15 days or so takes time for it to show
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting wxmod:
This is my favorite satellite photo ever. All I can do is look on in amazement! This swirl is as big as the whole USA. Is this Jupiter? No. What should we call this new weather pattern never before seen on planet Earth?



Sir, your facts are mixed up. The peninsula on the left hand side is Korea. That is nowhere NEAR the size of the USA. And Gobi desert dust storms happen all the time, so it isn't smog or anything...
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This is all we got to work with.
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397. wxmod
This is my favorite satellite photo ever. All I can do is look on in amazement! This swirl is as big as the whole USA. Is this Jupiter? No. What should we call this new weather pattern never before seen on planet Earth?

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Quoting caneswatch:
We know you're hiding Grothar!

he can't even remember who he is
he is looking at that going who's grothar
give him five minutes or so and then he will realize o ya thats right thats me
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827


16-10-6 EPAC
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Quoting BahaHurican:
Looking at post 388, I'm struck by the considerably warmer EPac waters. Given waters that warm by 10 Apr, I would not be at all surprised to see our first significant system over there before June. Should be quite interesting to see how quickly we get a monsoonal trough going down that way.... haven't given much attention to the Colombian low of late.

starting sunday april 15th 30 days from epac start date
i will be posting my full tropical blog
and start to activly watch east pacific for dev of Tropical Cyclones
the epac should run high if in fact the atlantic is to be low
so things should start up in the epac over the next couple of weeks
I see 20 or more storms for epac this season
half of which will become canes
if it plays out that way
as always we watch and see
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
We know you're hiding Grothar!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Looking at post 388, I'm struck by the considerably warmer EPac waters. Given waters that warm by 10 Apr, I would not be at all surprised to see our first significant system over there before June. Should be quite interesting to see how quickly we get a monsoonal trough going down that way.... haven't given much attention to the Colombian low of late.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
doing ok just chillin watchin the clouds
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Look at the difference since March 30
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
naw i think it was pineapples or watermelons or about that size anyway


I think we need to stick with softball size as a maximum for now.
How ya doing Keep....
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/2012/04/10/m arch-2012-and-last-12-months-were-warmest-on-recor d-in-u-s/

March 2012 and Last 12 Months Were Warmest On Record in U.S.

Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal

blogs.agu.org

The 12-month period (April 2011-March 2012), which includes the second hottest summer (June-August) and fourth warmest winter (December-February), was thewarmest such period for the contiguous United States. Twenty-eight states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional eleven state...



wow!
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
This is the part of the tornado warning that always kills me:
IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN THE PATH OF A TORNADO... SEEK SAFETY IN A CULVERT...DITCH... OR A LOW LYING AREA AWAY FROM YOUR VEHICLE. LIE FLAT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

I know the ditch is a last resort, but this phrasing is better:
IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE... SEEK SHELTER IN A NEARBY REINFORCED BUILDING. AS A LAST RESORT... SEEK SHELTER IN A CULVERT... DITCH OR LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.



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Quoting PedleyCA:

Maybe it was a large bird that the hail took out of the sky.
naw i think it was pineapples or watermelons or about that size anyway
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
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381. wxmod
Huge Gobi Dust and Chinese pollution vortex today.

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?

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Quoting aspectre:
310 Neapolitan: Here's a short but nice video of some baseball-sized hail shot a little while ago near Woodward.
317 TropicalAnalystwx13: There was a report from there that the hail was so large that it went through a garage roof, through the car's hood in the garage, and destroyed the car's muffler.

Did you notice the size of that huge*whatever (toward the left at ~15seconds) that plummeted outta the sky into the river?

* Appears to be at least goose-sized.

Maybe it was a large bird that the hail took out of the sky.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/2012/04/10/m arch-2012-and-last-12-months-were-warmest-on-recor d-in-u-s/

March 2012 and Last 12 Months Were Warmest On Record in U.S.

Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal

blogs.agu.org

The 12-month period (April 2011-March 2012), which includes the second hottest summer (June-August) and fourth warmest winter (December-February), was thewarmest such period for the contiguous United States. Twenty-eight states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional eleven state...


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It's dead!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
I realized the blog doesn't have boots on the ground up that way
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539


Interesting looking cell west of me, it has showed weak rotation at times earlier.
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this is what I'm talkin about,

good weather reporting folks, this sure beats all the blah, blah, blah, about GW!

Ya, ALL keep up the great work, like I said, your all awesome!
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Doing well, nigel. Hope all is well with you too!

Yeah, thanks for asking
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
sudden death if trap outside with no place of shelter in hail baseball size or larger your skull would likly be fracture in several places which would cause damage to the brain and likly death as a result from several impact points about the head
I hope people that were affected have good health insurance..
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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIDLAND/ODESSA TX
813 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIDLAND HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
SOUTHEASTERN LOVING COUNTY IN WEST TEXAS...
WESTERN WARD COUNTY IN WEST TEXAS...
CENTRAL REEVES COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TEXAS...

* UNTIL 915 PM CDT

* AT 809 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING VERY LARGE AND DESTRUCTIVE
HAIL UP TO THE SIZE OF BASEBALLS...AND DESTRUCTIVE WINDS IN EXCESS
OF 70 MPH.
THIS STORM WAS LOCATED 7 MILES SOUTH OF MENTONE...
MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL AFFECT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...
PECOS...
BARSTOW...
U.S. HIGHWAY 285 SOUTH OF STATE HIGHWAY 302...
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451
WFUS54 KMAF 100128
TORMAF
TXC389-475-100200-
/O.NEW.KMAF.TO.W.0006.120410T0128Z-120410T0200Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIDLAND/ODESSA TX
828 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIDLAND HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
WEST CENTRAL WARD COUNTY IN WEST TEXAS...
CENTRAL REEVES COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TEXAS...

* UNTIL 900 PM CDT

* AT 826 PM CDT...TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS REPORTED A FUNNEL CLOUD 7
MILES NORTH OF PECOS...MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 20 MPH.

* THE TORNADO WILL AFFECT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...
PECOS...
BARSTOW...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A TORNADO MAY FORM AT ANY TIME... TAKE COVER NOW. ABANDON MOBILE
HOMES AND VEHICLES FOR MORE SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. AVOID WINDOWS.

TORNADOES AT NIGHT ARE ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU
SEE OR HEAR THE TORNADO...IT MAY BE TOO LATE. TAKE COVER NOW.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 100 AM CDT
TUESDAY MORNING FOR SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO AND SOUTHWESTERN TEXAS.



LAT...LON 3149 10327 3129 10349 3151 10362 3157 10353
TIME...MOT...LOC 0128Z 313DEG 19KT 3150 10353
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Quoting BahaHurican:
I dunno, I was thinking somehow the EF5s would be like many cat5s... able to wind up to greater wind speeds because they r smaller.

but we do get large cat 5s as well...Katrina, Mitch, Gilbert..etc
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIDLAND/ODESSA TX
823 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

TXC389-475-100130-
/O.CON.KMAF.TO.W.0005.000000T0000Z-120410T0130Z/
WARD TX-REEVES TX-
823 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 830 PM CDT FOR CENTRAL
REEVES AND WEST CENTRAL WARD COUNTIES...

AT 815 PM CDT...TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS 12 MILES NORTHWEST OF PECOS
ON U.S. HIGHWAY 285 REPORTED A WALL CLOUD WITH ROTATION. A TORNADO
MAY FORM AT ANY TIME.

AT 818 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS CONTINUED TO
DETECT A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO LOCATED
12 MILES NORTHWEST OF PECOS...MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 15 MPH.

SOME LOCATIONS AFFECTED BY THE TORNADO INCLUDE...PECOS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A TORNADO MAY FORM AT ANY TIME... TAKE COVER NOW. ABANDON MOBILE
HOMES AND VEHICLES FOR MORE SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. AVOID WINDOWS.

IF YOU ARE CAUGHT OUTSIDE... SEEK SHELTER IN A NEARBY REINFORCED
BUILDING. AS A LAST RESORT... SEEK SHELTER IN A CULVERT... DITCH OR
LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 100 AM CDT
TUESDAY MORNING FOR SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO AND SOUTHWESTERN TEXAS.

&&

LAT...LON 3161 10364 3152 10336 3133 10355 3153 10371
TIME...MOT...LOC 0120Z 292DEG 15KT 3155 10359

$$
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
well if i knew that i would be very rich


LOADED
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting Ameister12:

That storm should have been tornado warned a while ago. It had some very strong rotation when it was north east of Childress, but wasn't tornado warned.


You're right, however the pros must see something that shows it's not worthy of a tornado warning.
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Not sure what's holding up the NWS on issuing a tornado warning for this cell:


That storm should have been tornado warned a while ago. It had some very strong rotation when it was north east of Childress, but wasn't tornado warned.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5070
Quoting washingtonian115:
I would hate to be outside in those.Wow.
sudden death if trap outside with no place of shelter in hail baseball size or larger your skull would likly be fracture in several places which would cause damage to the brain and likly death as a result from several impact points about the head
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54827
Not sure what's holding up the NWS on issuing a tornado warning for this cell:

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Quoting nigel20:

Good evening Mississippiwx...how are you?


Doing well, nigel. Hope all is well with you too!
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Quoting MississippiWx:
Evening, everyone. Hope you all are well. Looks like a nasty evening/night in the Southern Plains.

As a side note, our lack of winter has really excited the mosquito population in South Mississippi. They are bigger and in greater numbers than ever. I hope the rest of ya aren't having to deal with it. I'm dead serious when I say we get attacked in the middle of the day in an open field. Hoping we don't see a resurgence of West Nile/other diseases because of the greater numbers of mosquitoes.

Good evening Mississippiwx...how are you?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8311
I dunno, I was thinking somehow the EF5s would be like many cat5s... able to wind up to greater wind speeds because they r smaller.

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Interesting signature southeast of Childress. It's not tornado warned, but it sure looks like a debris ball...a hook at the least:

Edit: Ball signature is gone, but not the hook.

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More hail pictures in Oklahoma. This one is really spiky.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 5070

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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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