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 1900hurricane:
If there is a high risk in or close to the North Texas area either Friday or Saturday, I'll probably be chasing. I really can't go any further than that though, due to my classes as well all of the hours I put in for work. I've chased a tornado north of Fort Worth on a high risk day last year, so I know I can get that far, but probably not much further than that.

Good luck if you do go chasing
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 7766
another area with large hail

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIDLAND/ODESSA TX
704 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIDLAND HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
WESTERN LOVING COUNTY IN WEST TEXAS...
NORTHWESTERN REEVES COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TEXAS...
NORTHEASTERN CULBERSON COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST TEXAS...

* UNTIL 800 PM CDT

* AT 700 PM CDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS DETECTED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING BASEBALL SIZE HAIL...AND
DESTRUCTIVE WINDS IN EXCESS OF 70 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR
ORLA...OR 22 MILES NORTHWEST OF MENTONE...MOVING EAST AT 15 MPH.

* THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WILL AFFECT THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...
NORTHWESTERN REEVES COUNTY...
WESTERN LOVING COUNTY...
NORTHERN REEVES COUNTY...
CENTRAL LOVING COUNTY...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

THIS STORM HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING VERY LARGE HAIL. IF YOU ARE IN
THE PATH OF THIS STORM... TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO PROTECT LIFE AND
PROPERTY.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 100 AM CDT
TUESDAY MORNING FOR SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO AND SOUTHWESTERN TEXAS.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What is the NWS doing? That storm near Childress really needs a warning.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
If there is a high risk in or close to the North Texas area either Friday or Saturday, I'll probably be chasing. I really can't go any further than that though, due to my classes as well all of the hours I put in for work. I've chased a tornado north of Fort Worth on a high risk day last year, so I know I can get that far, but probably not much further than that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting BahaHurican:
Meaning? I thought the tornado was SE of that.


If you look at the cell, when it hit it, it Like at the city haha
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
301. TropicalAnalystwx13
12:05 AM GMT on April 10, 2012
Quoting Doppler22:


Yeah i agree... i think it could be just as bad as the early March outbreak... Just instead of Dallas its gonna be OKC

Do you mean the early April outbreak?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
300. Doppler22
12:03 AM GMT on April 10, 2012
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Saturday could be quite the outbreak. Would not be out of the question for high risk that day.


Yeah i agree... i think it could be just as bad as the early March outbreak... Just instead of Dallas its gonna be OKC
Member Since: February 13, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 3626
299. TropicalAnalystwx13
12:01 AM GMT on April 10, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



the new GFS came in weaker.
it might not be as bad.

It came in slightly weaker. There's still going to be the potential for a sizable outbreak of Severe Weather. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Moderate risk out of either Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or all. Saturday seems the most likely for it though.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
298. Doppler22
12:01 AM GMT on April 10, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
Not to mention grumbling and whining... and numerous pics of fish.


Haha thanks for stealing my picture thing :) just kidding
Member Since: February 13, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 3626
297. Chucktown
12:00 AM GMT on April 10, 2012
Some serious hail in OK.

Link
Member Since: August 27, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1713
296. GeorgiaStormz
12:00 AM GMT on April 10, 2012
Quoting ILwthrfan:
Should be a tornado warning for this storm. Very strong rotation. Just northeast of Childress, TX







even had a hook.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9718
295. Jedkins01
11:59 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting ILwthrfan:
Should be a tornado warning for this storm. Very strong rotation. Just northeast of Childress, TX









WHAT! How does that storm not have a warning, that has got to be the strongest, organized rotation signature that I've seen not containing a warning, that's very strange...
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7233
294. KoritheMan
11:59 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting ILwthrfan:
Should be a tornado warning for this storm. Very strong rotation.







Agreed.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 550 Comments: 19798
293. KoritheMan
11:57 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
Looks like mainly farmland... at least not major urban area like OK City so far.


It's nothing they're not used to up there.
Member Since: March 7, 2007 Posts: 550 Comments: 19798
292. ILwthrfan
11:56 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Should be a tornado warning for this storm. Very strong rotation. Just northeast of Childress, TX





Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1436
291. Jedkins01
11:54 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting MTWX:


Let's see how good you guys are... Here are a couple images from my personal collection... Which ones are tornadoes and which are not.







The first one looks as though a wedge tornado is on the horizon partially obscured by rain, the second photo looks as though it may contain a highly obscured tornado beneath the dark outflow boundary and back round of heavy precip. But if there is a tornado present its unfairly hidden from my view, so that being said I'm going with no.

As far as the last picture goes, I highly doubt a tornado is present unless its hidden behind those trees, but if there is one there it is not visible, at least from what I see. It doesn't look like a tornado would be present beneath that cloud anyway based on the formation. It just looks like typical cloud formations found beneath outflow boundaries, not a meso.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7233
290. hurricanehunter27
11:53 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



the new GFS came in weaker.
it might not be as bad.
Really? Well see if it keeps it next run.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
289. GeorgiaStormz
11:51 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting Ameister12:

OKC should be fine tonight, but there in trouble on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.



the new GFS came in weaker.
it might not be as bad.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9718
288. Jedkins01
11:48 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting Floodman:


Seen a lot of tornados, have you?


Actually, I have seen 3 with my own eyes, but being a weather freak since as young as I can remember I've also studied countless photographs and video footage of tornadoes, well more than enough to recognize them properly.

Those 2 photos just seemed questionable. Again, I didn't say they were for sure, pictures are much harder to judge than video evidence.

Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7233
287. hurricanehunter27
11:47 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting Ameister12:

OKC should be fine tonight, but there in trouble on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Saturday could be quite the outbreak. Would not be out of the question for high risk that day.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
286. Ameister12
11:45 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
Looks like mainly farmland... at least not major urban area like OK City so far.

OKC should be fine tonight, but there in trouble on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4888
285. BahaHurican
11:45 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting weatherh98:
Woodward Got swallowed
Meaning? I thought the tornado was SE of that.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21194
284. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:44 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
latest and possible final vis still image

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53286
283. weatherh98
11:44 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
A line is starting to form. Tornado threat should diminish.


Hail threat is still there
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
282. BahaHurican
11:44 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Looks like mainly farmland... at least not major urban area like OK City so far.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21194
281. weatherh98
11:43 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Woodward Got swallowed
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6461
280. hurricanehunter27
11:41 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
A line is starting to form. Tornado threat should diminish.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
279. MAweatherboy1
11:31 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
New warning, same storm

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
629 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN WOODWARD COUNTY IN NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA...
NORTH CENTRAL DEWEY COUNTY IN NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 700 PM CDT

* AT 628 PM CDT...RADAR AND STORM SPOTTERS OBSERVED A TORNADO NEAR
MUTUAL. THE TORNADO WAS MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
TALOGA...MUTUAL AND CESTOS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO THREAT...THIS STORM LIKELY CONTAINS
DAMAGING HAIL TO THE SIZE OF BASEBALLS OR LARGER.

GET IN...GET DOWN...AND COVER UP. LEAVE MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES.
TAKE COVER NOW IN A STORM SHELTER OR AN INTERIOR ROOM OF A STURDY
BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND WINDOWS.

&&

LAT...LON 3630 9914 3605 9883 3595 9915 3619 9931
TIME...MOT...LOC 2328Z 321DEG 22KT 3619 9918

$$

WR
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7567
278. Patrap
11:30 PM GMT on April 09, 2012

372
WFUS54 KOUN 092329
TOROUN
OKC043-153-100000-
/O.NEW.KOUN.TO.W.0008.120409T2329Z-120410T0000Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
629 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN NORMAN HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN WOODWARD COUNTY IN NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA...
NORTH CENTRAL DEWEY COUNTY IN NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA...

* UNTIL 700 PM CDT

* AT 628 PM CDT...RADAR AND STORM SPOTTERS OBSERVED A TORNADO NEAR
MUTUAL. THE TORNADO WAS MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 25 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
TALOGA...MUTUAL AND CESTOS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO THREAT...THIS STORM LIKELY CONTAINS
DAMAGING HAIL TO THE SIZE OF BASEBALLS OR LARGER.

GET IN...GET DOWN...AND COVER UP. LEAVE MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES.
TAKE COVER NOW IN A STORM SHELTER OR AN INTERIOR ROOM OF A STURDY
BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM DOORS AND WINDOWS.



LAT...LON 3630 9914 3605 9883 3595 9915 3619 9931
TIME...MOT...LOC 2328Z 321DEG 22KT 3619 9918
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
277. GeorgiaStormz
11:30 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
WOUS64 KWNS 092325
WOU4

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WT 154
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
630 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

TORNADO WATCH 154 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 200 AM CDT FOR THE
FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

OKC009-011-015-031-033-039-043-045-055-057-065-075 -093-129-141-
149-153-100700-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0154.120409T2330Z-120410T0700Z/

OK
. OKLAHOMA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BECKHAM BLAINE CADDO
COMANCHE COTTON CUSTER
DEWEY ELLIS GREER
HARMON JACKSON KIOWA
MAJOR ROGER MILLS TILLMAN
WASHITA WOODWARD


TXC155-197-485-487-100700-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0154.120409T2330Z-120410T0700Z/

TX
. TEXAS COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

FOARD HARDEMAN WICHITA
WILBARGER


ATTN...WFO...OUN...



Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9718
276. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:30 PM GMT on April 09, 2012


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53286
275. TropicalAnalystwx13
11:28 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Tornado on the ground again...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
274. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:27 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53286
273. Ameister12
11:26 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Severe damage in Woodward from very large hail, possibly more than softball size hail.
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4888
272. TropicalAnalystwx13
11:21 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
This is right about at the heart of yesterday's moderate risk area, right?

Yes, nearly.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
271. MAweatherboy1
11:20 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting BahaHurican:
This is right about at the heart of yesterday's moderate risk area, right?

I think so... I guess they should've kept the mod. risk
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7567
270. Patrap
11:19 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings


Note: This page will reload every 2 minutes. Warnings are listed with the most recent first.

Click on the station ID to bring up list of recent severe weather statements.

SVR T-STORM WARNING MIDLAND/ODESSA TX - KMAF 512 PM MDT MON APR 9 2012

SVR T-STORM WARNING LUBBOCK TX - KLUB 606 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

SVR T-STORM WARNING AMARILLO TX - KAMA 604 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

SVR T-STORM WARNING NORMAN OK - KOUN 600 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

SVR T-STORM WARNING LUBBOCK TX - KLUB 550 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

TORNADO WARNING NORMAN OK - KOUN 550 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127377
269. BahaHurican
11:19 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
This is right about at the heart of yesterday's moderate risk area, right?
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21194
268. MAweatherboy1
11:18 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
The northern storm currently over Woodward may need a tornado warning
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7567
267. TropicalAnalystwx13
11:16 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Wish this tornado would either stay one shape or just dissipate. :P
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
266. BahaHurican
11:16 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Lots and lots of complaining...
Not to mention grumbling and whining... and numerous pics of fish.
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21194
265. MAweatherboy1
11:15 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
There is a wedge on the ground.

That's always a bad sign
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 82 Comments: 7567
264. hurricanehunter27
11:15 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Tornado on the ground. Its very narrow but could grow with the large wall cloud.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
263. nigel20
11:12 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting Ameister12:
Large tornado on the ground 5 miles east of Sharon with a lot of debris. Mutual take cover now!

is the debris from man made structures or trees?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 7766
262. GeoffreyWPB
11:12 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting Ameister12:

KFOR.com


Live Coverage from KFOR
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10932
261. hurricanehunter27
11:11 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Woodward needs look out. Storm to the north looks dangerous.
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841
260. TropicalAnalystwx13
11:09 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
There is a wedge on the ground.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
259. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
11:09 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 168 Comments: 53286
258. Ameister12
11:06 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Where did you get that info?

KFOR.com
Member Since: August 9, 2009 Posts: 10 Comments: 4888
257. TropicalAnalystwx13
11:06 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
This wall cloud is ridiculous.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 112 Comments: 31343
256. hurricanehunter27
11:06 PM GMT on April 09, 2012
Quoting Ameister12:
Large tornado on the ground 5 miles east of Sharon with a lot of debris. Mutual take cover now!
Where did you get that info?
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3841

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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.