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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I haven't seen FL paintd in the green shade for several months now by the CPC.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Look at this! Could be some good news for a drought striken SE.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Quoting Doppler22:
I've heard alot of talk about this weekend's possible severe weather outbreak... Does anybody think it'll be as strong as the one in early March?


i think stronger
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
STORM INIT COMMENCE
<
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54338
I've heard alot of talk about this weekend's possible severe weather outbreak... Does anybody think it'll be as strong as the one in early March?
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Nigel, where do you get your maps??
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Is this the week where we find out which storm name will be retired?.Most likley only Irene thats already a given...
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Quoting nigel20:

the SST's have definitely warm a bit over the past week or two


oh definitley
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting nigel20:

the SST's have definitely warm a bit over the past week or two

One thing I find interesting from your maps is that the water around all the islands (Cuba, Hispaniola, PR, Bahamas) is cooler this year than last year, even though most of it is warmer
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Hey.You missed nothing really yesterday.Their was some good talk about this years upcomming hurricane season for awhile before people started to talk about which news outlet is the least biased...

ok, thanks much
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136
Quoting washingtonian115:
Hey.You missed nothing really yesterday.Their was some good talk about this years upcomming hurricane season for awhile before people started to talk about which news outlet is the least biased...


oops'!
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting weatherh98:


It appears that the Carribean is the only part cooler than lastyear.

the SST's have definitely warm a bit over the past week or two
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136
Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Maybe a few parts in the eastern Caribbean are a little cooler, but as a whole it is quite a bit warmer than last year.


youre probably correct
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting nigel20:

whats up washingtonian115...what did I miss yesterday?
Hey.You missed nothing really yesterday.Their was some good talk about this years upcomming hurricane season for awhile before people started to talk about which news outlet is the least biased...
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Quoting weatherh98:


Look at nigels comment 129

Maybe a few parts in the eastern Caribbean are a little cooler, but as a whole it is quite a bit warmer than last year.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:

the Carribean is warmer than last year and E atl is cooler than last year


Look at nigels comment 129
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
151
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting weatherh98:


It appears that the Carribean is the only part cooler than lastyear.

the Carribean is warmer than last year and E atl is cooler than last year
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 12147
Quoting washingtonian115:
I take it you live in Virginia?

whats up washingtonian115...what did I miss yesterday?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136

SEL1

URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 151
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
230 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

SOUTH CENTRAL KANSAS
NORTHWEST OKLAHOMA

EFFECTIVE THIS MONDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 230 PM UNTIL 900
PM CDT.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 2.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 50 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 30 MILES WEST NORTHWEST OF
MEDICINE LODGE KANSAS TO 55 MILES SOUTHEAST OF GAGE OKLAHOMA.
FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH
OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU1).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

DISCUSSION...ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO FORM IN THE NEXT
1-2 HOURS OVER EXTREME SOUTHERN KS AND NORTHWEST OK...NEAR WEAK
SURFACE BOUNDARY. MODERATE INSTABILITY AND BACKED LOW LEVEL WINDS
IN VICINITY OF BOUNDARY WILL PROMOTE SUPERCELL STRUCTURES CAPABLE OF
VERY LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS...AND A FEW TORNADOES. THREAT
SHOULD PERSIST FOR A FEW HOURS BEFORE CONVECTIVE MODE TRANSITIONS
INTO MORE OF A HAIL/WIND THREAT.

AVIATION...TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL
SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 2.5 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE
WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO
500. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 30025.


...HART
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting nigel20:
April 8, 2011

April 8, 2012


It appears that the Carribean is the only part cooler than lastyear.
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Three days in a row of significant severe weather for major cities like, OKC, Wichita, Topeka, Woodward, Tulsa and Wichita Falls. Could get pretty nasty.
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the storm in the panhandle of tx appears to have split, new storms should begin to fire soon in OK and NM

WOUS64 KWNS 091926
WOU1

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WT 151
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
230 PM CDT MON APR 9 2012

TORNADO WATCH 151 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 900 PM CDT FOR THE
FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

KSC007-025-033-100200-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0151.120409T1930Z-120410T0200Z/

KS
. KANSAS COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BARBER CLARK COMANCHE


OKC003-011-043-045-059-093-151-153-100200-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0151.120409T1930Z-120410T0200Z/

OK
. OKLAHOMA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

ALFALFA BLAINE DEWEY
ELLIS HARPER MAJOR
WOODS WOODWARD


ATTN...WFO...DDC...OUN...
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting ScottLincoln:


Even though his studies have been backed up by numerous independent studies, and even the National Academy of Science. Perhaps include some source material for your claims. Until you can do that, I'd suggest leaving the science to the climate scientists.


When using Dr. Masters' blog, please refrain from posting material not relevant to the discussion of tropical weather, or the topic of the blog entry itself. Please do not engage in personal attacks or bickering. Material not conforming to these standards should be flagged with the button and ignored.

have a fantastic day :)
Member Since: June 17, 2011 Posts: 11 Comments: 6539
Quoting VAstorms:

I think it was February not March. I was in Italy the last 2 weeks of March and it was quite warm.
I take it you live in Virginia?
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Quoting BahaHurican:
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?

I think it was February not March. I was in Italy the last 2 weeks of March and it was quite warm.
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Quoting Skeptic33:


Mann's hockey stick looks small compared to others!


Even though his studies have been backed up by numerous independent studies, and even the National Academy of Science. Perhaps include some source material for your claims. Until you can do that, I'd suggest leaving the science to the climate scientists.
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April 8, 2011

April 8, 2012
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136
Their is a red flag warning for the area due to all the gusty winds and the dry grass.I feel sorry to anyone that didn't take their allergie medicine today.The pollen and dust are blowing everywhere!
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Mann's hockey stick looks small compared to others!
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In an hour or so:


Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0478
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0154 PM CDT MON APR 09 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...ERN PORTIONS OF THE TX/OK PANHANDLES/SWRN KS/WRN OK

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...TORNADO WATCH LIKELY

VALID 091854Z - 092030Z

SLOWLY INCREASING SEVERE/TORNADO POTENTIAL ACROSS THE DISCUSSION
AREA WILL LIKELY WARRANT TORNADO WATCH ISSUANCE IN THE NEXT HOUR OR
SO.

VISIBLE IMAGERY SHOWS CLEARING ACROSS THE ERN TX/OK PANHANDLES AND
INTO WRN OK...WHILE A MID CLOUD DECK CONTINUES EXPANDING FARTHER TO
THE W ACROSS THE TX PANHANDLE. AS A RESULT...APPRECIABLE HEATING
CONTINUES...WITH OBJECTIVE ANALYSES NOW INDICATING ROUGHLY 1500 J/KG
MIXED-LAYER CAPE OVER THE ERN PANHANDLES AND ADJACENT WRN OK/SWRN KS
E OF THE MOISTURE GRADIENT/WEAK DRYLINE.

THE AFOREMENTIONED MID CLOUD DECK LIKELY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE
LEADING EDGE OF ENHANCED LARGE-SCALE ASCENT ASSOCIATED WITH VERY
SUBTLE SHORT-WAVE TROUGHING ALOFT NOW SPREADING INTO THIS AREA.
THUS...EXPECT THAT STORM DEVELOPMENT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY
IMMINENT -- POSSIBLY ARISING FROM WITHIN A NEW CU FIELD NOW
DEVELOPING OVER BEAVER CO OK/CLARK CO KS NEAR THE WELL-DEFINED
SURFACE WARM FRONT.

GREATEST LOW-LEVEL SHEAR -- AND THUS MOST SUBSTANTIAL TORNADO
POTENTIAL -- IS APPARENT NEAR AND TO THE COOL SIDE OF THE WARM
FRONT...BUT WITH LOW CLOUDS -- AND THUS A STABLE BOUNDARY LAYER --
STILL PERSISTENT ACROSS MOST OF WRN KS...THE CORRIDOR OF POTENTIAL
IS FAIRLY NARROW ATTM. S OF THE FRONT...THREATS FOR LARGE HAIL AND
DAMAGING WINDS SHOULD PREDOMINATE...WITH ACTIVITY SPREADING ESEWD
INTO WRN OK THROUGH LATE AFTERNOON.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


what else would that wind gust be doing?
I know that the winds blow..
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Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136
122. MTWX
Quoting aspectre:
60 FormerAussie: ...I was skiing in the Alps at the start of March...Huge amounts of snow remained from earlier, which was fortunate as some days the temperature was topping 60f at well over 7,000 feet ASL...First time I've ever sought shade on a skiing holiday. Six days back to back blue sky :-)

The 2nd worst sunburn (the only other sunburn I remember was as a 5year-old in summertime Tampa) I've gotten has been on a ski slope.
My own fault for skiing in just cutoff jeans and sunglasses, no sunscreen of any type.
Didn't think about how the higher altitude allows more UV to hit up there. Or how the white slopes on all sides reflects UV at ya from all over the place.


Some of the worst ones I have had came from the slopes too. What makes those ones even worse is you take the sunburn and compound it with windburn! Get some wicked "Raccoon eyes" too!! LOL!!!
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Quoting washingtonian115:
The winds are very strong today.I recorded a wind gust of 45mph that was blowing.Not sure if that gust will be official on the newscast tonight.


what else would that wind gust be doing?
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731
The winds are very strong today.I recorded a wind gust of 45mph that was blowing.Not sure if that gust will be official on the newscast tonight.
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60 FormerAussie: ...I was skiing in the Alps at the start of March...Huge amounts of snow remained from earlier, which was fortunate as some days the temperature was topping 60f at well over 7,000 feet ASL...First time I've ever sought shade on a skiing holiday. Six days back to back blue sky :-)

The 2nd worst sunburn (the only other sunburn I remember was as a 5year-old in summertime Tampa) I've gotten has been on a ski slope.
My own fault for skiing in just cutoff jeans and sunglasses, no sunscreen of any type.
Just cool enough from movement-generated "wind" that I didn't think about how higher altitude allows more UV to hit up there. Or how the white slopes on all sides reflects UV at ya from all over the place.
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What did I miss on Sunday?
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136
This could be our first named storm of the year but as a STS.

Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
Good day all! Thanks Dr. Masters
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 11 Comments: 8136
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
It should get very active late this week.


Unfortunately, it is that time of the year......
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114. N3EG
Picture 1: Tornado

Pictures 2 and 3: Not tornadoes, at least not until I started spinning in my chair here at work.

I had to tilt my LCD screen to see the top one.
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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.







Top one
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112. MTWX
Correct answer is as follows.

Number 1 is indeed a tornado, though quite rain obscured from my position. This is the EF-5 (EF-4 damage reported at the location in the photo) that went on to level the town of Smithville, MS in the April outbreak last year.

Number 2 was correctly identified by WxGeekVA as straightline 75 mph winds just kicking up large amounts of dust from a gravelpit the storm passed over.

Number 3 is really just an odd cloud formation, no rotation, no hail, nothing.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:
Good Afternoon. Looking so good so far this afternoon for Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle from the radar...A slight risk from SPC seems to have been a good call, for today....Hopefully, it will remain this quiet for the rest of today and the rest of the week...Time will tell.
It should get very active late this week.
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Good Afternoon. Looking so good so far this afternoon for Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle from the radar...A slight risk from SPC seems to have been a good call, for today....Hopefully, it will remain this quiet for the rest of today and the rest of the week...Time will tell.
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Quoting Floodman:


1. Appears to be a tropical rain band
2. Appears to be a wall cloud
3. Does appear to be a tornado

The problem here is that none of those photos shows a debris cloud...


Massive tornado in the background of the first picture. Look closely and you will see it.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
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.







Number one looks for all the world to be Lake Charles Airport
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Quoting LargoFl:
gee in texas this is a big problem, here in florida we WISH we would have this problem, man its sooo dry, we need the rainy season Badly here............FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HOUSTON/GALVESTON, TX
1127 AM CDT MON APR 9 2012


A RIVER FLOOD WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THE TRINITY RIVER.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

PERSONS ARE URGED TO STAY AWAY FROM THE RIVER UNTIL WATER LEVELS RECEDE.

MOTORISTS SHOULD AVOID ANY WATER COVERED ROADS AND FIND AN ALTERNATE ROUTE.

LIVESTOCK AND EQUIPMENT SHOULD REMAIN OUT OF THE FLOOD PLAIN FOR THE NEXT FEW
DAYS.



STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO OR OTHER NEWS SOURCES FOR FURTHER UPDATES.

&&

TXC071-291-101626-
/O.EXT.KHGX.FL.W.0042.000000T0000Z-120411T0300Z/
/LBYT2.2.ER.120331T1545Z.120408T0015Z.120410T1500 Z.NO/
1127 AM CDT MON APR 9 2012

THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR
THE TRINITY RIVER IN LIBERTY
* UNTIL TUESDAY EVENING...OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED.
* AT 1015 AM MONDAY THE STAGE WAS 27.0 FEET
* MODERATE FLOODING IS OCCURRING AND MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 26.0 FEET
* FORECAST...THE RIVER WILL CONTINUE TO FALL TO BELOW FLOOD STAGE BY TOMORROW
LATE MORNING.
* AT 27.0 FEET...MODERATE LOWLAND FLOODING BEGINS AS ROADS INTO SEVERAL OUTLYING
COMMUNITIES ABOVE LIBERTY ARE CLOSED WITH RESIDENTS IN 5 OR 6 SUBDIVISIONS CUT
OFF IF NOT EVACUATED.



&&
FLOOD OBSERVED FORECAST 6 AM
LOCATION STAGE STAGE DAY TIME TUE WED THU FRI

TRINITY RIVER
LIBERTY 26 27.0 MON 10 AM 26.2 24.4 22.2 20.4

$$


Give it time. The models seem to be converging on our next chance of rain but it's not until next week:( The next 4 to 5 weeks will be key to see if we begin to transition into a wetter pattern maybe the wet season.
Member Since: October 26, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 2651
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.







top one only.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9731

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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.