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2011 April

Over 300 dead in historic tornado outbreak; one violent EF-5 tornado confirmed

Rescuers sifting through the twisted wreckage of countless towns ravaged by Wednesday's historic tornado outbreak continue to uncover bodies today, and the death toll has swollen to over 300 this morning, and may be as high as 319. Hardest hit was Alabama, with at least 213 dead. Twenty-two of these tornadoes were killer tornadoes; deaths occurred in six states. Damage surveys will take another week to complete, but preliminary surveys indicate that at least one of the tornadoes was an EF-5--the Smithville, Mississippi tornado, which hit at 3:44pm EDT on Wednesday.

JeffMasters, • 3:20 PM GMT on April 29, 2011

Massive tornado outbreak kills 202; 100-year flood coming on Mississippi River

A stunning tornado outbreak of incredible violence has left at least 202 dead across the Eastern U.S.; injuries probably number over a thousand, with 600 injured in the town of Tuscaloosa alone. The tornadoes carved huge swaths of damage, completely flattening large sections of many towns, and damage from the storms is likely to be the greatest in history for any tornado outbreak. Hardest hit was Alabama, with at least 149 dead; at least 36 were killed in neighboring Mississippi. The death toll makes the April 27 - 28 outbreak the third deadliest tornado outbreak of the past 50 years.

JeffMasters, • 1:49 PM GMT on April 28, 2011

Tornadoes, floods, and fires continue to pound U.S.

The nation's unprecedented April tornado-fest continued full force last night, with NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logging 57 tornado reports. The 2-day tornado count from this latest tornado outbreak is already 102. With another "high risk" forecast for tornadoes today, the tornado total for this week's outbreak may rival the April 14 - 16 tornado outbreak (155 confirmed tornadoes) as the greatest April tornado outbreak in history. It is unprecedented to have two such massive tornado outbreaks occur so close together, and the April preliminary tornado count of 654 is truly stunning.

JeffMasters, • 3:13 PM GMT on April 27, 2011

Tornadoes, floods, and fires assault the nation

A 1/2 mile-wide tornado smashed through Vilonia, Arkansas last night, killing four and destroying 50 - 80 houses. The storm system responsible produced 38 suspected tornadoes yesterday, and also dumped 10 - 15 inches of rain over portions of Arkansas and southern Missouri. Flash flooding from the heavy rains killed three people in Arkansas last night. The heavy rains have also resulted in overtopping of the Black River levee near Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and over 500 homes have been evacuated in the town due to fears that the levee might fail. Poplar Bluff has received 12.86" of rain over the past three days.

JeffMasters, • 2:43 PM GMT on April 26, 2011

March is the 13th warmest on record; major tornado outbreak expected

March 2011 was the globe's 13th warmest March on record. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world's 12th largest country, set a new all-time extreme heat record on March 8, 2011, when the temperature hit 39.2°C (102.6°F) at M'Pouya. Congo is the first nation to set an all-time extreme heat or cold record in 2011. For the contiguous U.S., March temperatures were warmer than average, ranking the 39th warmest in the 117-year record. Texas had its driest March on record.

JeffMasters, • 12:30 PM GMT on April 25, 2011

Violent EF-4 tornado causes severe damage at St. Louis' airport

A violent EF-4 tornado ripped through St. Louis near 8pm local time last night, severely damaging Lambert International Airport. The airport, the world's 30th busiest, may be closed for several days. The tornado ripped off the roof from Concourse C, blew out more than half of the windows in the main terminal, and moved an aircraft that was parked at a gate twenty feet. The tornado also passed over nearby residential areas, causing severe damage characteristic of least a strong EF-2 tornado.

JeffMasters, • 3:25 PM GMT on April 23, 2011

Invest 91L more organized, but has little time to develop

Hurricane season is more than a month away, but we have a tropical disturbance (91L) typical of what one might see in June or November. 91L is spinning over the waters a few hundred miles south of Bermuda, and has improved considerably in organization since yesterday, thanks to a drop in wind shear. As 91L moves south today, shear will steadily rise, and the storm likely has only until Friday night before shear grows too high to permit development. NHC is giving 91L a 20% chance of developing into a subtropical or tropical depression, which is a reasonable forecast.

JeffMasters, • 2:31 PM GMT on April 22, 2011

Atlantic tropical disturbance 91L poses little threat

A tropical disturbance (91L) near 24N, 63W, midway between the Virgin Islands and Bermuda, is moving north-northwest at about 8 mph. The system's heavy thunderstorm activity has increased since yesterday, but 91L has an elongated and poorly-organized circulation, thanks to a hefty 80 knots of wind shear. The storm is over waters of 25°C, and these waters will cool to 24°C by Friday as the storm continues to the north-northwest. The high shear and relatively cool water temperatures will make it difficult for 91L to organize into a subtropical depression.

JeffMasters, • 2:15 PM GMT on April 21, 2011

Tornadoes, huge hail pound the Midwest, but bring little Texas drought relief

Severe weather blasted the Midwest again yesterday, with NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logging 32 reports of tornadoes, 399 reports of damaging thunderstorm winds, and 325 instances of large hail (including softball-sized hail of 4.25 - 4.5" diameter in Clarkesville, MO and Stringtown, OK.) Fortunately, no deaths or injuries were reported from yesterday's storms. The storm also brought the heaviest snow so late in the season to Green Bay, Wisconsin--9.9 inches. This brought the seasonal total for Green Bay to 92.4", the third most on record.

JeffMasters, • 12:41 PM GMT on April 20, 2011

Historic 3-day tornado outbreak kills at least 40

Close to 200 tornadoes rampaged across the Midwestern and Southeast U.S. April 14 - 16 in one of the largest tornado outbreaks in history. At least 40 people died in the tornadoes, making it the deadliest tornado outbreak since the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak of February 5 - 6, 2008, which killed 57 people. Severe thunderstorms and flash floods killed at least seven more people in this April's severe weather outbreak. Hardest hit was Bertie Country in northeast North Carolina, where an EF-3 tornado carved a path of destruction 18.8 miles long and 1/2 - 3/4 miles wide, killing 11 people in the town of Colerain.

JeffMasters, • 2:45 PM GMT on April 18, 2011

Tornadoes pound North Carolina and Virginia, killing 25

Dozens of tornadoes rampaged through North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday, killing at least 26 people, injuring more than 100, and devastating thousands of homes and businesses. Hardest hit was the the town of Askewville in northeast North Carolina, where a violent tornado that was likely at least an EF-4 ripped homes off their foundations and killed fourteen people. Also hard-hit was Raleigh, where a mile-wide EF-3 tornado with 140 - 150 mph winds roared through the downtown region, killing five people. The 23 deaths in North Carolina made yesterday's outbreak the deadliest day for tornadoes in the state since 1984.

JeffMasters, • 3:45 PM GMT on April 17, 2011

Tornadoes rip Alabama, Misssissippi; 17 dead in 2-day outbreak

Dozens of tornadoes and dangerous severe thunderstorms tore through the Southeast U.S. on Friday, bringing a second day of severe weather havoc to the nation. The death toll from the two-day severe blitz now stands at seventeen, with up to 100 people injured and tens of millions of dollars in property damage. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center logged 98 tornado reports yesterday, bringing the two-day total for the outbreak to 120 tornadoes. These preliminary reports are usually a 15% over-count of the actual number of tornadoes, which still means over 100 tornadoes have probably touched down during the past two days.

JeffMasters, • 3:51 PM GMT on April 16, 2011

Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms kill nine in OK, AR; more severe weather today

Tornadoes and deadly severe thunderstorms tore through Oklahoma and Arkansas last night, killing at least nine people. The action began Thursday afternoon, when a powerful spring low pressure system intensified over western Kansas. At 6:22pm CDT, storm spotters reported a wide "stovepipe" shaped tornado had touched down in south-central Oklahoma four miles south of Milburn in Johnson County. Huge hailstones up to 4 1/2 inches in diameter--the size of softballs--began pelting the ground. The tornado roared to the northeast, ripping through the small town of Tushka, population 350, at 7:23pm, killing 2 and injuring 25.

JeffMasters, • 1:07 PM GMT on April 15, 2011

Huge sandstorm paralyzes Iraq, Kuwait

A massive sandstorm enveloped Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq today, bringing air traffic to a halt and shutting down oil exports from Kuwait. The sandstorm hit Kuwait City between 5am and 6am local time, and by 6:30am, visibility had plunged to 200 meters (656 feet) at Kuwait airport, under a stiff north wind of 20 mph. The sandstorm hit Basra, Iraq at the same time, dropping visibility to just 50 meters (164 feet) at the airport. The dust storm began on April 12, when the cold front trailing from a low pressure system moving across southern Turkey brought very strong westerly winds to Syria, kicking up massive amounts of dust.

JeffMasters, • 8:58 PM GMT on April 13, 2011

Driest March in Texas history fueling huge fires

Massive fires continue to rage out of control over large areas of Texas today. The 898,000 acres that have burned in the U.S. so far this year is the 3rd highest burned acreage of the past decade. When the remains of Hurricane Alex drenched Texas last June, the welcome rains helped fuel a luxurious growth of vegetation across much of Texas during the summer. However, a very cold and dry winter killed off much of that vegetation, leaving plenty of fuel for this spring's fires. With Texas now experiencing the two highest categories of drought, extreme and exceptional, over 60% of its area, conditions are ripe for a record fire season.

JeffMasters, • 2:59 PM GMT on April 12, 2011

Weekend tornado outbreak causes heavy damage in Virginia, Iowa

Floods, fires, and tornadoes hammered the nation this weekend, a sure sign that April is here. Twin tornadoes touched down in Pulaski, Virginia, Friday night, damaging 450 buildings and injuring eight people. Saturday night, a huge, 3/4 mile-wide tornado plowed through the tiny town of Mapleton, Iowa. The tornado, preliminarily rated as an EF-3 with 136 - 165 mph winds, flattened 20% of the town of 1200 residents and damaged half of the buildings. Fourteen were injured, but miraculously no one died. Severe thunderstorms will bring the threat of damaging winds, large hail, and isolated tornadoes to the Northeast and Southeast today.

JeffMasters, • 2:00 PM GMT on April 11, 2011

Early 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecasts

Forecasts of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season have been issued by CSU and TSR. CSU calls for 16 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 5 intense hurricanes. TSR calls for 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 intense hurricanes.

JeffMasters, • 6:22 AM GMT on April 07, 2011

The global tropical cyclone season of 2010: record inactivity

JeffMasters, • 1:14 AM GMT on April 03, 2011

Jeopardy champion WATSON appointed head of National Academy of Blog Science

Jeopardy champion WATSON--the computer program that earlier this year decisively beat the two all-time human champions of America's favorite game show--has a new challenge. A modified version of WATSON has been appointed to direct a major new scientific organization, the White House announced today. The WATSON spin-off, dubbed HOLMES (short for Highly Objective Lore Machine for Examining Science), will head the newly created National Academy of Blog Science (NABS). The NABS will replace the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as the premier scientific advisory organization in charge of advising Congress on scientific matters.

JeffMasters, • 4:14 AM GMT on April 01, 2011