Summary of the April 14-16 US tornado outbreak

While Mike Smith over at Meteorological Musings has a great post on predicting the recent tornado outbreak in the eastern USA, NOAA has this postmortem summary of the event below, complete with video and animations.  See at the bottom of this post for some awesome NEXRAD radar Java Animations of the entire outbreak, updated every 4-minutes with Tornado Warnings superposed.  Also, WUWT readers may recall this post by WeatherBell’s Joe’ D’Aleo here on WUWT last week:

Uh, oh…the clash of ice and warmth brings storms

If it hasn’t happened already, somebody will try to link this episode with global warming climate change climate disruption. When they do, show them this graph:

Source: National Climatic Data Center http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/img/climate/research/tornado/tornadotrend.jpg

Here’s where it all got started, April 14th:

GOES image from April 14, 2011

› View larger image

› Click for movie of the system from April 14 through April 16, 2011.

› High def version of movie

This visible image from the GOES-13 satellite on April 14 at 1440 UTC (10:40 a.m. EDT) shows the line of clouds associated with the powerful cold front moving through the Carolinas and Virginia, where it triggered tornadoes. The MOVIE was created at NASA using images from the NOAA GOES-13 satellite. It shows the progression of the powerful cold front that triggered severe weather from the plains to the east coast from April 15 to April 17, 2011. In the movie, you can see the low pressure area over Oklahoma on April 15, in the tight circular rotation and watch it move east. Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project

The GOES-13 satellite captured images of the powerful weather system that triggered severe weather in the southern U.S. this weekend, and NASA created an animation to show its progression. GOES-13 satellite data showed the strong cold front as it moved eastward from Saturday through Monday and generated tornadoes before moving off-shore into the Atlantic Ocean. NASA’s Aqua satellite also captured data from the system and took the temperature of the cold front’s cloud tops and revealing severely cold temperatures of some of the thunderstorms.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite called GOES-13 monitors weather in the eastern half of the U.S. and is operated by NOAA. The NASA GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. creates images and animations from the GOES satellite data. The NASA GOES Project created an animation of the satellite imagery from April 15 through April 17 that showed the movement of the powerful cold front through the eastern U.S. In the movie, you can see the low pressure area over Oklahoma on April 15, in a tight circular rotation and watch it move east bringing the cold front with it.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center noted that the system generated 243 tornadoes in 13 states in three days, from April 14-16. According to the Weather Channel, the weather system generated 29 tornadoes on April 14 across the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Texas. As the storm moved east, 73 tornadoes touched down in Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Louisiana on April 15. On Saturday, April 16, 51 tornadoes were reported in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Maryland. Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia have all declared a state of emergency.

The National Weather Service ranks the power of a tornado by the Enhanced-F scale or “EF” Scale. The EF Scale is a set of wind estimates (not measurements) based on damage. Its uses three-second gusts estimated at the point of damage based on a judgment of 8 levels of damage to the 28 indicators. These estimates vary with height and exposure. To see the indicators and scale, visit: › http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/ef-scale.html

The National Weather Service in Oklahoma reported that at least 21 tornadoes touched down in that state. The two strongest tornadoes were of EF3 and EF2 strength. The EF3 had wind speeds between 136 to 165 miles per hour and touched down in the town of Tushka, Atoka County. The EF2 had winds between 111 to 135 mph, and touched down near Lake Eucha in Delaware County. Weaker tornadoes were reported in 12 other counties in Oklahoma.

GOES image from April 18, 2011› View larger image

This visible image from the GOES-13 satellite on April 18 shows the line of clouds associated with the powerful cold front that triggered severe weather throughout the U.S. south is still visible in the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles off the U.S. East coast. Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project As the system continued to move east, an EF1 tornado touched down in Little Rock, Ark. early Friday morning, April 15, with winds between 86 and 110 mph. The National Weather Service also confirmed EF1 tornadoes in western Ark., near the town of Dyer, Crawford County and Branch, in Franklin County.

In Kentucky, the two tornadoes that touched down were both in Trigg County. The National Weather Service confirms that one was an EF1 tornado with sustained winds of 90 mph that touched down just southwest of Cadiz, Ky. The other was an EF) in the same vicinity that touched down briefly.

When the front swept through North Carolina on Saturday, April 16, the National Weather Service confirmed six tornadoes hit the central part of the state. The motion of the line of clouds associated with the front and the severe weather can be seen on the GOES-13 satellite animation. Reports of tornadoes came from Alamance, Cumberland, Lee, Person and Wake counties.

The National Weather Service in North Carolina has confirmed the strength of six different tornadoes that hit the state this weekend. They are working on confirming other possible tornadoes, as teams survey more damaged areas in the state. Two of the tornadoes were powerful EF3s with estimated winds near 160 mph. One of those tornadoes traveled through Hoke, Cumberland and Harnett counties while the other powerhouse traveled through Lee and Wake counties causing damage in their wake. The two EF3s had paths that stretched more than 60 miles, according to the National Weather Service.

A less powerful, but destructive EF2 tornado tracked through Wilson County, while EF1s affected Johnston and southeastern Cumberland and Sampson County. Person County had a touchdown of an EF0 twister.

News stations around the country have been showing footage of the Loews hardware store in Sanford that was completely destroyed. Television footage has shown the collapsed building with lawnmowers still positioned in a straight line outside the store. The roof had been torn off by one of the EF3 tornadoes.

GOES image from April 16, 2011› View larger image

This infrared image from the AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite on Apr. 16 at 18:29 UTC (2:29 p.m. EDT) shows the cold high cloud tops of the strong thunderstorms (purple) that spawned tornadoes in North Carolina and Virginia on April 16. The purple areas indicate cloud top temperatures as cold as or colder than -63 F/-52C. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an infrared image from its Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on Apr. 16 at 18:29 UTC (2:29 p.m. EDT). The image showed very cold, high cloud tops of the strong thunderstorms that spawned tornadoes in North Carolina and Virginia. The coldest cloud tops indicated the strongest storms. Temperatures in those clouds were as cold as or colder than -63 F/-52C.

In Virginia, storms associated with the powerful cold front caused flash flooding, wind damage, downed trees and power outages. There were five deaths reported from the storms. According to Dominion Virginia power, a tornado touched down at the switchyard of a Surry, Va. nuclear power station on Sat night, April 16. The tornado cut electricity and triggered a shutdown of two reactors.

In the animation of GOES satellite imagery, the low pressure center moved through the Ohio Valley as the front pushed east. Ahead of the cold front was a warm front that brought in warm, unstable air from the Gulf of Mexico. As the cold front marched through it triggered the severe weather. The animation of GOES satellite imagery clearly shows the line of clouds associated with the powerful cold front moving though the Carolinas on April 16. By April 18, that line of clouds is still visible in the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles off the U.S. East coast.

________________________ ———– ______________________________

Dr. Ryan N. Maue has assembled the 1-kilometer NEXRAD imagery along with tornado warnings / severe thunderstorm warnings superposed, updated every 4-minutes.  The Java Animations are awesome, and you can loop back and forth, and watch the entire event unfold — as warnings are issued and expired.  First, a North Carolina zoom-in for Saturday evening, April 16:

Then, visit Ryan’s FSU Weather Map page for animations of the entire tornado outbreak, as the storms traveled from Oklahoma eastward, from the 14th onwards.  The Java animations have hundreds of images, again with the TOR warnings superposed.

April 14, 2011 Oklahoma outbreak: JAVA Animation

April 15, 2011 Southeast US: JAVA Animation

April 16, 2011 North Carolina Java Animation

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Summary of the April 14-16 US tornado outbreak

  1. To this day I really don’t get how they can ‘predict’ heightened storm intensity or extreme weather based on a fraction of a degree warming. It must be modelled. And they must do a mighty job of ignoring real data like the intensity/frequency graph leading this article.

  2. “Posted on here””March 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm
    Tornado production is a result of Lunar declinational tides pulling air masses from more equatorial areas into the mid-latitudes, so the peak production times when they form can be predicted as the periods from Maximum North culmination to three days after, a couple of days when the moon crosses the equator headed North, and as the moon reaches maximum South declination and several days after.
    These effects are due to the production of the primary and secondary tidal bulges in the atmosphere, that arrive at the same time as the ion content of the air masses reaches a local maximum. Between the induced charge differential between the +ion concentrations riding on the more equatorial sourced air mass, established ahead of the dry line front of -ion concentrated more polar air mass, that sweeps in from the West, forcing the precipitation into the rapidly moving narrow band of severe weather from which the tornadoes form on the trailing edges.
    The periods when these effects will be most likely to occur this spring,
    2-25/28 for three days, which we just had, around max South.
    3-5/7 slight chance of small outbreak
    3-12/17 starting in Arkansas through Kentucky and the Ohio river valley
    3-25/30 Starting Texas/Oklahoma/Arkansas through Ohio river valley the beginning of a long period of very wet activity most of April.
    4-5/8 start up of activity
    with the re-enactment of the 1974 outbreak most possible in the period
    4-8/13 Maps of the expected precipitation can be found on my site, bearing in mind that the tornado and severe activity usually forms in the fast moving part of the frontal boundary and not usually in the areas of heaviest total daily precipitation.””
    http://research.aerology.com/severe-weather/tornadoes/tornado-forecast-verification/

  3. NOAA employee says “We changed the way we report severe events and starting on March 8, 2011, we no longer use the proximity space/time rule to de-duplicate events and minimal filtering is now applied to the decoded reports. This means if a duplicate report is sent, it will be encoded twice on the storm reports page and count as two events (when in reality it is only 1). Also, prior to March 8th, if the same hail or wind event occurred with 10 miles or within 15 minutes of the same event, it was not logged onto the Storm Reports page (assumed to be the same storm report). These two factors will result in many more wind and hail reports than in the past (neither correct or incorrect), though the user has to dig more through the actual reports, as opposed to using the actual numbers. This is not a conspiracy against your project, but a request from many of our users that has been in the works for some time. Anyway, I wanted you to be aware.”
    I am not trying to start a OMG the numbers are getting bigger response, just saying that they are.
    Richard Holle

  4. Anthony, any chance you know how to also get a U.S. map with precitation that fell during only these three days? Seems that would be key whether this system was merely warming driven or by the mass condensation removed from the atmosphere with volume collapse.
    Maybe Dr. Makarieva might also have a comment along these lines. That would be a great storm to study if enough simultaneous data of all parameters could be located.

  5. ‘Richard Holle says:
    April 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm
    These two factors will result in many more wind and hail reports than in the past (neither correct or incorrect), though the user has to dig more through the actual reports, as opposed to using the actual numbers.’
    Very interesting because all I have heard from MSM is how storms “are getting worse than before”. Which leads to questions: Who are the ones (request from many of our users) and why the change? What benefit does the chance bring?

  6. ‘Richard Holle says:
    April 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm
    These two factors will result in many more wind and hail reports than in the past (neither correct or incorrect), though the user has to dig more through the actual reports, as opposed to using the actual numbers.’
    Very interesting because all I have heard from MSM is how storms “are getting worse than before”. Which leads to questions: Who are the ones (request from many of our users) and why the change? What benefit does the change bring?

  7. Meanwhile in UK the alarmist press are getting ready to trumpet a record mild April as evidence of global warming. Never mind that December was record cold and also proof of global warming, or that the globe is actually cooling.

  8. Pretend the Earth’s average temperature were to rise a fraction of a degree.
    The effect of that temperature increase during the middle of Spring would mean that the air would be fractionally warmer perhaps a few days earlier in the season.
    The few days difference would have ZERO effect on any storm’s intensity.
    I think global warming causing increased storm intensity is just not logical.

  9. old construction worker says:
    April 18, 2011 at 10:19 pm
    I would assume that the insurance carriers and the insured that suffered storm damage would want to keep all reports to base the claim and rotation of losses further up the feed chain in the Ins business.
    Think about all of the tracking of claim problems in the past when reports were disappeared from the records when deemed a duplicate. Must have been an insurance claim to underwriter paper trail nightmare!!

  10. The sharp delineation of those line is amazing. It looked like a bullwhip snapping through. The conditions must have been perfect for that to happen.
    Mom’s house up in Illinois had a storm line come through, stop in Iowa, then back up and loop through again.

  11. Our news media here in eastern NC have reported tornados causing significant damage in eastern NC counties of Onslow, Bertie (Behr TEE) and others. Preliminary counts range from 70 – 90. At least 22 dead and 130 injured, 800 homes destroyed or with extensive damage. We got nailed…badly.

  12. Is it my imagination or would a trend line show an overall downward trend since the 70’s? And if memory serves correct, wasn’t February of ’10 or ’09 the first month in US recorded history when a tornado didn’t touch down? It could be suggested that we’re experiencing a low in the number of strong to violent tornado’s. I guess the point I want make is, it is hard for the numbers in the chart to go anywhere but up.

  13. Bob in NC- I have family in Wilkes County. so does my wife.
    Our thoughts an prayers go out to you and others…
    My lefty co-worker is chortling over this as an example of global
    warming. I will counter with this chart…
    Now I have to go scrape my windshield-again….

  14. I live right between the paths taken by two of these – one that hit Raleigh and the other that hit Smithfield. Pretty much the same distance on either side. It’s unreal that I was AT one of the places demolished by the Raleigh tornado just a couple hours earlier that day.
    My daughter lives in Selma. One of them went right through there. It was rather nerve-wracking.
    (Everyone is ok, btw.)
    Douglas DC says:
    My lefty co-worker is chortling over this as an example of global
    warming. I will counter with this chart…

    Tell him to come down here and “chortle”. [self-snipping the rest of what I’m thinking]

  15. One important fact about the tornadoes is that there would be no massive outbreak without the massive amount of cold air over the Dakotas. I live in SD and can tell you that the temperatures have been running 15 to 20 degrees below normal, maybe at times 25 degrees below. We’re getting snow almost every day without any relief in sight. Without the clash between cold and warm air, there would be few storms.

  16. ‘Richard Holle says:
    April 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm
    Must have been an insurance claim to underwriter paper trail nightmare!!’
    Very good poiunt. Thank you

  17. kbray in California says:
    April 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm
    Pretend the Earth’s average temperature were to rise a fraction of a degree.

    A useless exercise, since it doesn’t happen that way. Here in my part of the Pacific Northwest, we’ve been well below average temps all winter and spring (so far), most of the time 10f below average. Other places might have been above average. Energy just gets moved around, that’s all. Sometimes it hits thermometers near AC outlets and barbecues…

  18. RHS says:
    April 19, 2011 at 7:43 am
    …It could be suggested that we’re experiencing a low in the number of strong to violent tornado’s.

    Tornado’s what? Oh, you meant tornadoes, not “belonging to a tornado”.

  19. Jeff Alberts says:
    April 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm
    I disagree. The claimed warming must occur by being evenly distributed.
    Your temperature differentials are just weather.
    The AGW is a theory based on our human made CO2 causing this “warming”.
    The manufactured CO2 is quickly, relatively evenly, disbursed worldwide throughout the lower altitude air masses. Therefore this “warming” has to occur everywhere at the same time, when one is counting using a 24 hour rotation period of the earth.
    Imagine microwaving the entire Earth all at once and raising the temperature instantly by 1 degree F everywhere. The temperature differential between different locations would not change at all. Some ice would melt at marginally frozen areas, but any storm that was in progress would maintain the exact same intensity, just happening at one degree higher on the thermometer.
    This theory of a warming Earth making storms more powerful is crap-sci.

  20. kbray in California says:
    April 19, 2011 at 11:41 pm
    Jeff Alberts says:
    April 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm
    I disagree. The claimed warming must occur by being evenly distributed.
    Your temperature differentials are just weather.

    I agree that it’s crap. But, since climate is the aggregation of weather over time, if not every point where we have thermometers has warmed, then it would seem there is no global warming.

  21. I study these processes and I can tell you you’re wrong. Describing everything in details would take too long but just I let me mention that global warming does not affect each place equally. E.g. higher temp rise on Arctic- fact. Global warming DOES affect hydro-meteorological hazards and their magnitude. Higher temps – more energy, temps and pressure differences – stronger winds. And so on. Don’t be ignorant, accept the fact:)

Comments are closed.