Tornadoes rip the U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:19 PM GMT on March 01, 2007

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March roared in like a lion today across much of the U.S., as a powerful storm system brought heavy snow, flooding, high winds, ice storms, and deadly tornadoes. The Storm Prediction Center placed a large, multi-state area under their highest level of tornado risk today, and we may see the largest tornado outbreak of the year. Dozens of tornadoes have touched down across the Midwest and Southeast in the past 24 hours, and many more will touch down by morning as a powerful cold front sweeps across the Eastern U.S. At least one strong tornado has been confirmed--an EF-3 (Enhanced Fujita Scale 3--winds of 136-165 mph) tornado that hit Howell County, Missouri, killing one person and injuring three at 6:33am Thursday. This tornado had a 15 mile long path up to 1/4 mile wide.


Figure 1. Radar reflectivity image of the Enterprise, AL tornado ten minutes before it hit.


Figure 2. Doppler winds image of the Enterprise, AL tornado ten minutes before it hit.

Another strong or violent tornado hit Enterprise, Alabama at 1:10pm CST today, killing 18 and injuring at least 50. The tornado completely destroyed the football stadium and injured children at the Enterprise High School, which lost a portion of its roof. Radar imagery of the Enterprise storm (Figures 1) shows a classic hook echo characteristic of a strong or violent tornado. The Doppler winds (Figure 2) showed the classic signature of a strong tornado--blue colors right next to red colors, indicating winds moving towards and away from the radar in a tightly rotating storm. I've also saved a radar animation of the tornado as it passed over Enterprise.

Today is an appropriate day to welcome our new featured blogger, Mike Theiss. Mike is a professional weather photographer and storm chaser, and will be sharing his awesome storm photos with us for the coming tornado season. He wasn't able to make it to today's storms, unfortunately, but will be in Tornado Alley for much of the next three months documenting this year's tornado season. He also intercepts all landfalling U.S. hurricanes (check out his amazing Katrina videos), so be sure to tune in this hurricane season to his blog.

My condolences and prayers go out to all those affected by today's storms, particularly those in Enterprise. The March 1, 2007 tornado will scar the memories of those who lived through it for a long time to come.

Jeff Masters

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49. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
8:54 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Tropical Depression 4U
Track and Threat Map

Tropical Depression 5U
Track and Threat Map
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 48 Comments: 43702
48. thunder1
8:49 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Masive blizzard in Iowa,tornados ripping through several cities,earthquake in California,flooding and snow all over in one day. Tradegy today, prayers and best wishes to those in the path.
46. hurricane23
4:12 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
(Enterprise Severe Weather Damage)






Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
45. Skyepony (Mod)
4:04 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
This is out of a corrected article, the link to it says 18.

In the chaotic hours after the storm, reports about the death toll varied widely. At one point, state officials said as many as 18 people were dead. Richardson later said that miscommunication at the scene was to blame.

Their total is down to 7 with 5 of those at the high school.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36167
44. oneshotww
3:50 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Yup, I gotta PAY for the camera equipment and travel somehow!
Member Since: October 12, 2003 Posts: 322 Comments: 1801
42. oneshotww
3:42 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
I feel much better having it. I have to work both jobs tomorrow so I need to get some sleep, can't hardly stay up all night on a tornado watch.
Member Since: October 12, 2003 Posts: 322 Comments: 1801
41. Patrap
3:40 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Tornado Warning Georgia NWS...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
40. Patrap
3:37 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Yes,,that model has LCD lights and tilt or wall Mount too.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
39. Tazmanian
3:35 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
look how long and big this loop eddy is and look how far its gos its all most to the gulf Coast is this good new or bad news?

lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114072
37. oneshotww
3:34 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Pat, on mine LCD tilts up and has buttons that light up when a watch - like tonight - is in effect. Yours too?
Member Since: October 12, 2003 Posts: 322 Comments: 1801
36. oneshotww
3:32 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
ric, yup, "there but for the grace......"
Member Since: October 12, 2003 Posts: 322 Comments: 1801
35. Patrap
3:31 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
7
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
34. ricderr
3:30 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
it's truly amazing..how our lives can go from full tilt to dead stop in just a moment...tragedy strikes that fast...today....we, all that are here...are reading about "the other guy" and many of us truly know how only by grace we're reading this and not "living" it..tomorrow..one or some of us, may be the other guy....these things should remind us...stay safe...stay prepared..and never forget it's more than graphs...radar images and alerts...it's truly people...honestly...chances are...we can't change the weather...we can't save them..but we can lend a hand..grieve with them...and let them know that while we may never know exactly how they are suffering...we can share their burden
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 668 Comments: 20199
33. Patrap
3:18 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Discussion from the NWS ..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
32. oneshotww
2:53 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Just heard about the tornados - how tragic. Those parents must have been horrified to hear about it and then not know if their child was safe and then to find out that so many were killed. I really hate this time year.
Member Since: October 12, 2003 Posts: 322 Comments: 1801
31. mobal
1:58 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
A Tornado hitting one of my childrens schools has always been a fear of mine, God Bless those in Enterprise and Millers Landing...

Give me a hurricane any day...
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 482 Comments: 5329
30. palmettobug53
1:39 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
An awful day. My heart goes out to all those affected by today's events.

We're still under a tornado watch but things look fairly quiet here in Charleston. Looks like most of the more severe weather is to our west.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 229 Comments: 24593
28. hurricane23
1:30 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Indeed a terrible situation has been unfolding all afternoon with tornados left and right my condolences and sincerest prayers go out to those familys in harms way.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13597
25. Tazmanian
1:21 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Tornado kills 18 in Alabama; 15 at high school
POSTED: 8:15 p.m. EST, March 1, 2007
Story Highlights• NEW: Eighteen people reported dead in southern Alabama
• Fifteen died at Enterprise High School
• Meteorologist: System could spawn up to 50 twisters
• Severe storms hit Missouri, Arkansas and Kansas

Adjust font size:
ENTERPRISE, Alabama (CNN) -- Tornadoes tore through southern Alabama Thursday killing at least 18 people, 15 at Enterprise High School, emergency officials said.

"Kids are walking around dazed, cut," said Laren Allgood, a reporter for the Enterprise Ledger.

"We ask that you continue to pray for our students," Bob Ferris, Assistant Superintendent, said at an evening news conference.

Tornado confirmed
"There is no question this was a tornado," said Dennis Feltgen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Students at Enterprise High School were taking cover in the hallways when it was hit. (Watch scenes of destruction )

"The whole building just collapsed on everybody," said Chase Baldwin, a student at the school. "A bunch of people were trapped under cinder blocks, and people had their heads cut open."

CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, in the area to cover a military story, said Enterprise is reeling from "utter devastation" as anguished parents rushed to the town's severely damaged high school.

"[There are] vehicles flipped over, houses gone. This huge brick and steel building [was] torn apart by the power of the storm," McIntrye said.

"You can see the grief on the faces of the people who come here," he added. "I saw one student walking away, being comforted by another student."

It's still unclear if students are trapped inside, McIntyre said.

Allgood said the sprawling high school "looked like a bomb dropped on [it.] All the school buses are demolished."

Allgood said alarms alerted the town's 20,000 residents before the tornado hit. "We knew to take cover."

The National Weather Service reported a swath of damage about 200 yards wide in Enterprise.

"I heard rumbling," said Walt Thornton, who works at the Enterprise Municipal Airport. "I looked up to the southwest and saw ... a huge tornado going on in the valley behind some of our hangars."

He estimated the funnel cloud was "probably a quarter mile from me." Thornton said it did not hit the airport.

A tornado was also reported in nearby Abbeville, in Henry County, Alabama, a spokesman for the Abbeville Police Department said.

"We had one residence that was struck, no reports of injuries," said public information officer Chad Sowell. About half a mile away, 10 miles west of Abbeville, an 18-wheeler was overturned on State Highway 10 and the driver was trapped, he said.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley ordered the state's National Guard to send a contingent of 140 troops, including medics, MPs and roving security patrols from Mobile to Enterprise. Their primary mission is security.

The National Guard has three CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters, as well as an engineering unit on standby if needed for search and rescue or debris removal.

In addition, at least two UH-1 "Huey" medevac helicopters were sent from nearby Fort Rucker to the high school.

Riley also declared a state of emergency in the area.

President Bush was briefed on the storm while in New Orleans Thursday afternoon and again when he boarded Air Force One for the return flight to Washington. He telephoned both Riley and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt en route.

"The president is deeply saddened to hear of the loss of life," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "He is thinking about the families of the victims and the citizens of the states, and the administration stands ready to help."

One death in Missouri blamed on system
Earlier Thursday, a suspected tornado touched down at least twice in southern Missouri, leaving one person dead and four injured, according to Susie Stonner of the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.

Dennis Crider, a journalist for the West Plains Quill, told CNN the fatality was a 7-year-old girl in the small community of Caulfield. Three of the injured were her father, mother and a brother, Crider quoted the Howell County sheriff as saying.

A gas station in Caulfield, about 15 miles west of West Plains, was destroyed by the storm, according to the assistant manager of a neighboring station.

"It's like a war zone down there," said Delora Murta. (Gallery)

She said the roof and the back wall of the other gas station is gone and two huge trees nearby were uprooted. An antique store and restaurant across the road also suffered some damage, Murta said.

The station has been owned by the same family for three generations.

"I never thought [that] I'd see it blown down, no," owner Peggy Jarvis said as she surveyed the damage. "When I heard it was flattened and blown away, I couldn't believe it."

Volatile system formed quickly
"We had a spotter who watched [the tornado] form and dissipate in 10 minutes," said West Plains Emergency Management Coordinator Kent Edge.

The storm that spurred the twister moved northeastward at about 40 mph toward Ozark, in southeastern Alabama.

"We've got some lines down -- that means we're going to have a problem with traffic -- and we also have debris down and we don't know all the damage that may be in low-lying areas of the city," said Ozark Police Deputy Chief Myron Williams.

Schools there dismissed at 1 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), but there were still some students at three schools, Williams said.

The storm system hit northern Arkansas Thursday morning, where forecasters warned officials in Fulton County, on the Missouri border, to watch out for tornadoes.

But after the storm passed, leaving pea- to marble-size hail covering the ground, no damage was reported and officials don't believe a tornado touched down.

"It looked awful," said Fulton County Emergency Management Coordinator Al Roork. "But we just had hail and rain."

In the city of Moberly in north-central Missouri, a possible tornado blew a tractor-trailer truck on its side, slightly injuring the driver. It also tore the roof off of one business and damaged a hangar at the regional airport and a plane inside it, according to Sgt. Kevin Palmatory of Moberly Police.

Wednesday night, suspected tornadoes tore through eastern Kansas, south of Kansas City. Heavy damage was reported in Linn County, on the Missouri border.

Aerial video from CNN affiliate KSHB-TV showed residents Thursday picking through what was left of their homes. The remains of a residence and a business on one rural road looked like a giant steamroller had come through, leaving flattened splinters behind.

"We have a lot of structural damage in rural areas of the county ... (but) no serious injuries and no deaths," Linn County Sheriff Marvin Stites told CNN's "American Morning."

There are still widespread power outages, Stites said, due to downed power lines an electrical substation that was destroyed.

Of the county's 12,000 residents, though, few people have been displaced.

"We're still small enough that neighbor takes care of neighbor," the sheriff said.

Severe weather forecast throughout region
A system of super cells, capable of producing tornados, headed across southern Missouri, northern Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Dozens of counties in those states were under tornado warnings.

"Don't try to outrun this storm," said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers warned. "If you get into it and you can see it and you're close enough to it, you're not going to be able to get out of the way. Take cover now."

Myers predicted between 30 and 50 tornadoes could be spawned by the storm system.

In western Georgia, southwest of Atlanta, Coweta County Emergency Management Agency Director Eddie Ball said a National Weather Service statement on the dangerous system set to move through the region described it as the "worst storms we have seen in this area in over 10 years."

On the north side of the storm, blizzard-like conditions and heavy snow were hitting the states in the path of the system.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.


more news from cnn
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114072
24. Tazmanian
1:17 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
hey dr m what is friday blog going to be about well it be the about the sea temps like you siad in your last blog or have you put that off in tell next week?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114072
23. eaglesrock
1:16 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Wow...this might be the worst severe outbreak this year if the summer doesn't bring much.
22. Tazmanian
12:40 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
ooops sorry
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114072
21. Tazmanian
12:40 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Tornadoes kill 13 in Alabama; Mo. girl By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 50 minutes ago



ENTERPRISE, Ala. - An apparent tornado struck a high school Thursday, trapping students under rubble and killing at least thirteen people, emergency officials said.

ADVERTISEMENT

State emergency management spokeswoman Yasamie Richardson said the fatalities "are in relation to the high school but whether they are all students or some students and teachers we're not sure."

More than 40 people were brought in to an Enterprise hospital, and damaged homes and one death were reported in west Alabama as a violent storm front crossed the state.

The same system was blamed for a tornado that killed a 7-year-old girl in Missouri.

Martha Rodriquez, a 15-year-old sophomore, said she had left the school about five minutes before the storm hit. When she returned, a hall at the school had collapsed, she said. She did not know if anyone was hurt.

"The stadium was destroyed and there were cars tipped over in the parking lot and trees were ripped out. There were trees and wood everywhere. It was just horrible," she said. In southern Missouri, Howell County Sheriff Robbie Crites identified the young victim as Elizabeth Croney. Her mother, father and two brothers were injured when a tornado hit their mobile home in a rural wooded area near West Plains, Crites said.

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114072
20. Tazmanian
12:39 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
8? make that 13

Tornadoes kill 13 in Alabama; Mo. girl By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 50 minutes ago



ENTERPRISE, Ala. - An apparent tornado struck a high school Thursday, trapping students under rubble and killing at least thirteen people, emergency officials said.

ADVERTISEMENT

State emergency management spokeswoman Yasamie Richardson said the fatalities "are in relation to the high school but whether they are all students or some students and teachers we're not sure."

More than 40 people were brought in to an Enterprise hospital, and damaged homes and one death were reported in west Alabama as a violent storm front crossed the state.

The same system was blamed for a tornado that killed a 7-year-old girl in Missouri.

Martha Rodriquez, a 15-year-old sophomore, said she had left the school about five minutes before the storm hit. When she returned, a hall at the school had collapsed, she said. She did not know if anyone was hurt.

"The stadium was destroyed and there were cars tipped over in the parking lot and trees were ripped out. There were trees and wood everywhere. It was just horrible," she said. In southern Missouri, Howell County Sheriff Robbie Crites identified the young victim as Elizabeth Croney. Her mother, father and two brothers were injured when a tornado hit their mobile home in a rural wooded area near West Plains, Crites said.

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5089 Comments: 114072
18. Skyepony (Mod)
12:28 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
Looks like one may go just north of Sparta soon.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36167
16. Skyepony (Mod)
12:04 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
GA has some possible tornados traversing it now
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36167
15. kellnerp
12:02 AM GMT on March 02, 2007
My coworker made his way home across snowy Iowa today by teaming up with another 4x4 pickup with a tow chain. They were weaving in and out of stalled cars the whole way. Right here in Indiana as the sun goes down I look out into the very heavy fog at a tree that was topped by a tornado a few years ago.

If history repeats, this kind of weather will make it's way slowly north as we move towards spring.
Member Since: September 1, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 172
14. Skyepony (Mod)
11:40 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
614 PM EST THU MAR 01 2007

..TIME... ...EVENT... ...CITY LOCATION... ...LAT.LON...
..DATE... ....MAG.... ..COUNTY LOCATION..ST.. ...SOURCE....
..REMARKS..

0215 PM TORNADO ENTERPRISE 31.31N 85.85W
03/01/2007 COFFEE AL BROADCAST MEDIA

*** 8 FATAL, 50 INJ *** MSNBC REPORTS EIGHT FATALITIES AT
ENTERPRISE HIGH SCHOOL INCLUDING STUDENTS AND TEACHERS.
PEOPLE STILL REMAIN TRAPPED AT ENTERPRISE HIGH SCHOOL.
HOSPITAL ESTIMATES NOW HAVE APPROXIMATELY 50 PEOPLE
LISTED AS INJURED DUE TO THE TORNADO IN ENTERPRISE, AL.


Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36167
13. MrSnowmiser
11:40 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
Meanwhile, at 6,400', we'll have clear skies and snow on the ground. Frankly, the Wx in CO is often boring.
12. Skyepony (Mod)
11:37 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
SPC storm reports for the day


SPC~ more details here. Up to 9 fatalities reported there.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 156 Comments: 36167
11. franck
11:36 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
Thing about the southern third of Alabama and into the Florida panhandle, and actually all Gulf coastal areas, very little undergound storm shelter because of water table. In the case of Enterprise, kids hid behind wall in school, but wall came down.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
10. Patrap
11:36 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
The storms came fast and furious
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
9. franck
11:32 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
13 and counting in AL today. Not over yet.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
8. Patrap
11:26 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
....The Warning before and after the event..in Ala.......SVR T-STORM WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 124 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING PADUCAH KY - KPAH 122 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING LINCOLN IL - KILX 119 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 117 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING ST LOUIS MO - KLSX 114 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING MOBILE AL - KMOB 111 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING NEW ORLEANS LA - KLIX 110 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING TALLAHASSEE FL - KTAE 109 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING LINCOLN IL - KILX 102 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING LINCOLN IL - KILX 1251 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING TALLAHASSEE FL - KTAE 1247 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
TORNADO WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 1244 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 1240 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 1238 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING LINCOLN IL - KILX 1237 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING TALLAHASSEE FL - KTAE 1236 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 1234 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING HUNTSVILLE AL - KHUN 1229 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
SVR T-STORM WARNING LINCOLN IL - KILX 1228 PM CST THU MAR 1 2007
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
5. Patrap
11:23 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
Warnings were posted and the public reacted well.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715
2. Patrap
11:22 PM GMT on March 01, 2007
Bush has left New Orleans ..Air Force one Neast Bound...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 415 Comments: 125715

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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.