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High risk of a major tornado outbreak today; 13 dead from Leap Day outbreak

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:14 PM GMT on March 02, 2012

A powerful spring storm system is gathering strength over Missouri this morning, and will track northeastward into Southern Michigan tonight. The atmosphere in the storm's warm sector, south of the the warm front and east of the cold front, is very unstable, thanks to a flow of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico at the surface, and very cold, dry air aloft. A powerful jet stream with winds winds aloft blowing at 150 mph will interact with this unstable air, and the strong change of wind speed and direction with height (wind shear) associated with this jet will impart a strong twisting motion to updrafts that from in this afternoon's thunderstorms along the cold front. These are ideal conditions for tornado formation, and a large tornado outbreak with damaging long-track tornadoes is likely late this afternoon in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed Central Kentucky, Northern Tennessee, and a small portion of Southern Indiana in their "High Risk" area for severe weather Friday afternoon and evening, and is warning of the possibility of long-track significant tornadoes. While the conditions are not as dangerous as those we saw in 2011 during the May 21 - 25 Joplin, Missouri and late April Southeast U.S. tornado outbreaks, the potential exists for a punishing tornado assault with many more strong and violent tornadoes than occurred during the Leap Day outbreak. A number of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds have already formed this morning along the storm's warm front, in Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. Consult our Severe Weather Page and Interactive Tornado Page to follow the storms.


Figure 1. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed Central Kentucky, Northern Tennessee, and a small portion of Southern Indiana in their "High Risk" area for severe weather Friday afternoon. This is highest level of alert.


Figure 2. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center is calling for a 30% chance of tornadoes today within 25 miles of each point in the pink shaded area. Within the hatched area, there is a 10% or greater probability of strong EF-2 and EF-3 tornadoes, or violent EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes within 25 miles of a point.

Leap Day tornado outbreak death toll hits 13
The cleanup continues today from the round of deadly tornadoes that pounded the Midwest on Leap Day, killing thirteen people. The outbreak began on February 28, when nine confirmed tornadoes touched down. A pair of EF-2 tornadoes hit Buffalo, Missouri and Harveyville, Kansas, with each twister causing one death. Also on that day, a weak EF-0 tornado moved over open fields near Gandy, Nebraska--the first February tornado in Nebraska since record keeping began in 1950. The outbreak continued on Leap Day, February 29, with 27 more confirmed tornadoes. Hardest hit was Harrisburg, Illinois, where a violent EF-4 tornado with 180 mph killed six, injured approximately 100, and damaged 200 homes and 25 businesses. The tornado cut a path 26.5 miles long and 275 yards wide across the town, according to the NWS damage survey. The only EF-3 tornado of the outbreak hit Asherville, Missouri that day, killing one person. The other deadly tornadoes of the outbreak included an EF-2 tornado that killed one person in Cassville, MO; an EF-2 that killed two in Monterey, Tennessee, and an EF-1 that killed one person in Smithville, Tennessee. An EF-2 tornado also plowed through downtown Branson, Missouri on Leap Day, injuring 33 people. An NWS storm survey found the tornado was 400 yards wide and carved a path 22 miles long. Overall, damage from the two-day tornado outbreak will run in the hundreds of millions, and could add up to the first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2012 in the U.S. The 36 confirmed tornadoes from the outbreak make it the second largest February tornado outbreak since record keeping began in 1950. The biggest February tornado outbreak occurred on February 5 - 6, 2008, when 92 tornadoes touched down.


Figure 3. Damage at the Branson, Missouri Hilton after the Leap Day tornado. The tornado blew out or cracked windows in 219 of the hotel rooms in the 12-story/295 room Hilton Branson Convention Center, and extensively damaged three of Branson’s 50 plus theatres--Americana Theater, Branson Variety Theater and Dick Clarks’ American Bandstand Theater. Image credit: BransonRecovery Facebook page.

Portlight disaster relief charity responds to the Harrisburg, Illinois tornado
Portlight has a seasoned veteran from last year's tornado recovery efforts in Harrisburg, IL, and is looking for more people to volunteer their time. They are teaming with another disaster recovery charity, Team Rubicon, in the effort. As usual, they will be focusing efforts on the unserved, under served and forgotten. Please visit the Portlight Disaster Relief blog to learn more. Donations are always welcome!


Figure 4. Team Rubicon at work during last year's tornado recovery efforts.

Jeff Masters

HARRISBURG IL (catfish10)
HARRISBURG IL
HARISBURG IL. (catfish10)
Golden circle building
HARISBURG IL.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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1404. Patrap

980
WFUS51 KRLX 030105
TORRLX
WVC005-045-030130-
/O.NEW.KRLX.TO.W.0011.120303T0105Z-120303T0130Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON WV
805 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHARLESTON HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
CENTRAL BOONE COUNTY IN WEST VIRGINIA...
NORTH CENTRAL LOGAN COUNTY IN WEST VIRGINIA...

* UNTIL 830 PM EST

* AT 803 PM EST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO 17 MILES WEST OF
VAN...OR NEAR LOGAN...MOVING EAST NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
SHARPLES...JEFFREY...PRENTER AND SYLVESTER..

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING
QUARTER SIZE HAIL AND DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT LINE WINDS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
STURDY SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE NEAREST
DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

PLEASE REPORT TORNADOES...HAIL OR STRONG WINDS TO THE NATIONAL
WEATHER SERVICE BY CALLING TOLL FREE...877-633-6772...WHEN YOU CAN DO
SO SAFELY.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT EST SATURDAY MORNING
FOR CENTRAL KENTUCKY AND SOUTHEAST OHIO AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA AND
CENTRAL WEST VIRGINIA.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Birmingham!

OMG

60dbz plus cell headed that way.

There's still a lot of 65 to 70dbz cells in Mississippi and Alabama.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:
Just got this thing tracked, Right over my house. This is serious stuff!!! 2" hail reported in this storm.
Well see. You obviously live very close to me.
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

If you're trying to tell me these things are as intense as earlier, I'd have to disagree. Plus, new outlook downgraded to Moderate Risk.

Storms die out as nightfall nears...generally.
That's because that area wasn't expected to be as strong as Kentucky storms. In fact, Moderate Risk expended in that area. High Risk was never issued there.
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Just got this thing tracked, Right over my house. This is serious stuff!!! 2" hail reported in this storm.
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1398. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
STORMS NOW COMMENCE WEAKENING
SOME DISCRETE CELLS MAY STILL POSE A DANGER
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Me 2. It seems to be getting stronger to.

Tornado should be on the ground.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Aw come on, Mother Nature?!?! Today is March 2nd and it's still winter!!!
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He sketching what he's going to say on WHAS tv. I don't think they realize at least one person still has their microphone turned on.
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1394. pottery
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
With 78 reported tornadoes, today is now the largest tornado outbreak since April 27.

And it's March 2nd....
I think that we have been all warned to expect more Extreme Weather, everywhere.
I hope this is another anomaly. But I kind of doubt it, somehow.

Very tragic situation.
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

Whites and pinks slowly fading away with the dark of night looming. Still very severe storms but slowly weakening.

I don't think so. These storms will remain extremely dangerous and will be capable of producing violent tornadoes for the next several hours.
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Quoting TheOnlyBravesFan:
That tornadic storm in eastern Alabama is headed for me in Georgia!!!
Me 2. It seems to be getting stronger to.
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

DBZ's coming down a tad. Not so intense and high of cloud tops on some of these things as daytime heating is all but gone.
Not true at all.
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SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 757 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 657 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 756 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING NASHVILLE TN - KOHX 656 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
FLASH FLOOD WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 752 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING MEMPHIS TN - KMEG 652 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG SC - KGSP 751 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON MS - KJAN 650 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 749 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING MORRISTOWN TN - KMRX 748 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING JACKSON KY - KJKL 745 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 646 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
TORNADO WARNING CHARLESTON WV - KRLX 745 PM EST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 644 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
SVR T-STORM WARNING BIRMINGHAM AL - KBMX 644 PM CST FRI MAR 2 2012
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
With 78 reported tornadoes, today is now the biggest tornado outbreak since April 27.


Amazing, and to think today is March 2.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
That tornadic storm in eastern Alabama is headed for me in Georgia!!! A tornado has been confirmed by debris on doppler radar by dual-pol.
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almost 1400 comments in not even a day. this is hurricane season acitvity, but with good reason.

i be back later
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With 78 reported tornadoes, today is now the largest tornado outbreak since April 27.
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Quoting SPLbeater:


i had a EF3 destroy my Lowe's about 5 miles to my E, while i was experiencing spiked golf-ball sized hail
my grandparents missed that same tornado by a mile. Tornado was to the west of them.
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Quoting Ameister12:
Possible large tornado moving just south of Charleston, WV.



Maybe not much population in that immediate area, but once it nears the river, the population density will increase substantially...
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Jeff Masters can be heard here at 8pm EST Link
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Quoting KeyWestSun:

Whites and pinks slowly fading away with the dark of night looming. Still very severe storms but slowly weakening.

Not quite sure what you're seeing...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1376. Patrap
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Everyone out there stay safe.
Sleeping in the basement can be a very good thing tonight if you are in the path of these storms. If you have kids you can pretend that you are camping out, or something like that.
A friend's basement will work, too, if you don't have one yourself.
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Quoting violet312s:


These cells look so much like the cells we had in April of last year here in NC. Separated so they are able to do their own thing. Started forming just east of Durham so missed out on the whole thing. Thank goodness.


i had a EF3 destroy my Lowe's about 5 miles to my E, while i was experiencing spiked golf-ball sized hail
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1373. Patrap
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting violet312s:


These cells look so much like the cells we had in April of last year here in NC. Separated so they are able to do their own thing. Started forming just east of Durham so missed out on the whole thing. Thank goodness.
I remembered tracking the storms that day. The cells were in line, and then splits. So many bad tornadoes that day. I was spared from 2 EF-3 that day (tornadoes passed 10 miles to north and 5 miles to south). My grandparents were spared from Sanford tornado by A MILE as well. I visited Sanford to see them and damage to Lowe's was just crazy.
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TWC Breaking ‏ @TWCBreaking

Per NWS...reports of semi flipped on I-75 north of London, KY. #Damage to homes.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1369. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting hydrus:
Headed right at us. McMinnville and Spencer.

Stay safe Hydrus.

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TWC Breaking photo
Harvest, AL
Link

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Possible large tornado moving just south of Charleston, WV.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting Bluestorm5:
glad we don't have to deal with these monsters here in Raleigh!!! Still heavy winds for me in Clayton though...


These cells look so much like the cells we had in April of last year here in NC. Separated so they are able to do their own thing. Started forming just east of Durham so missed out on the whole thing. Thank goodness.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1363. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
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Quoting violet312s:


Unlikely for us. The front didn't come north as expected. Just potential strong winds tomorrow morning.


what front?
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1361. txjac
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
GA and AL are also really in for it. Strong possibility now of strong nocturnal tornadoes.


I couldnt imagine being in the dark and hearing it come my way ...
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Gee SPC aint saying anything about the slight risk area over me. hyped over the moderate area, cant say about anything else!

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Quoting Ameister12:
There are still several tornado warnings currently in effect and it's now getting dark outside if it isn't already.
GA and AL are also really in for it. Strong possibility now of strong nocturnal tornadoes.
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Quoting violet312s:


Unlikely for us. The front didn't come north as expected. Just potential strong winds tomorrow morning.
glad we don't have to deal with these monsters here in Raleigh!!! Still heavy winds for me in Clayton though...
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1357. hydrus
We have hail now.
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Hail storm in N. Louisiana is upgraded to a tornado. Very large hail and apparently at least 80kts wind.

Storm near Meridian upgraded to severe.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
There are still several tornado warnings currently in effect and it's now getting dark outside if it isn't already.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting SPLbeater:
is central North Carolina out of tornado danger?


Unlikely for us. The front didn't come north as expected. Just potential strong winds tomorrow morning.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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