US Staggered by Record 292 Tornadoes in April
Tornado record set: 292 in April — and counting
5,400 severe weather reports so far this month, well above 3,300 average
Weather.com, April 26, 2011
It's been an April to remember (or perhaps forget) as far as severe weather is concerned. We've had six major severe weather events, some lasting multiple days.
Weather Channel Severe Weather Expert Dr. Greg Forbes now says April has set a tentative record, with 292 confirmed April tornadoes in the U.S., breaking the old mark of 267 tornadoes in 1974. Keep in mind, an average entire month of April sees "only" 163 tornadoes.
There have been over 5,400 severe weather reports (tornadoes, hail, and high winds/wind damage) so far in April. On average, only about 3,300 severe weather reports are tallied in an entire April nationwide.
What follows is a recap of each April severe weather event, with maps, notable tidbits, and links to articles, video, and/or photo collections. Let's start with a massive wind damage event:
April 4-5: Massive wind damage!
* Roughly 1,500 total reports of tornadoes, high winds, and hail across 19 states.
* Number of high wind/damaging wind reports (1,318) smashed previous record for any 24-hour period of 1012 on Apr. 2, 2006. However, that April 2006 event had many more significant wind reports (gusts over 74 mph), fatalities, and injuries.
April 9: Mammoth Iowa supercells!
The following weekend kicked off with destructive tornadoes in Pulaski County, Va., the night of April 8, one of which was an EF2 on the Enhanced-Fujita scale.
More severe storms pummeled a swath from the Ohio Valley to the Carolinas on April 9 with large hail, high winds, and a few tornadoes.
However, it was supercell thunderstorms in the Hawkeye State that grabbed the attention that evening.
* At least 10 tornadoes confirmed in Iowa.
* EF3 tornado levels town of Mapleton, Iowa. Pocahontas County damage path up to 2-3 miles wide!
* One supercell spawned tornadoes over a 4-hour period in west-central and northwest Iowa.
April 10: Wisconsin tornadoes
Where would you place the peak tornado threat in April? Ok, we'll give you a hint. Here is the peak April tornado threat -- on average. But that's just an average. On Sunday, April 10, supercell thunderstorms tracked across northern and central Wisconsin.
* At least 14 tornadoes confirmed in Wisconsin, a record for any April day in the state.
* EF3 tornado inflicts heavy damage in Merrill, Wisc. This tornado was on the ground for 22 miles.
* In 22-county area served by NWS-Green Bay, 10 tornadoes were confirmed, a record outbreak for this area in any month!
April 14: Day 1 of 3-day siege
Severe weather returned to its peak April threat area, namely, the South during the second full week of April.
A three-day siege of severe thunderstorms began in the Southern Plains in the late afternoon and evening hours of April 14.
* At least 27 tornadoes confirmed in 3 states. Oklahoma led the way with at least 22 tornadoes.
* EF3 tornado levels town of Tushka, Okla.
* At least 2 died in Oklahoma, 7 were killed in Arkansas, mainly from trees falling onto residences.
April 15: Dixie Alley nightmare
Unfortunately, the episode of severe weather the previous afternoon and evening was just a precursor to a deadly, destructive April 15.
There was no "morning lull" in this case, either. A supercell thunderstorm tracked across central Mississippi, inflicting damage in Clinton, Miss., and prompting a "tornado emergency" for the Jackson metro area.
That was far from the end of this story, however. Rounds of supercell thunderstorms spawned twisters through late Friday night primarily in Mississippi and Alabama. Tornadoes also touched down in parts of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
* At least 66 tornadoes confirmed. At least 40 tornadoes in Alabama alone!
* EF3 tornado in Clinton and the west side of Jackson, Miss. This was the first "3-rated" tornado in Hinds County since Mar. 4, 1989.
* At least 7 died in Alabama, and 1 death occurred in Mississippi.
April 16: Virginia/Carolinas crushed
More often than not, weather systems will tend to do spawn the lion's share of tornadoes in the Plains and Deep South/"Dixie Alley", with only a glancing blow in the East as it exits stage right.Not this time ... not by a long shot!
A line of severe t-storms spawned a swarm of tornadoes centered in the eastern half of North Carolina, but also in northeast South Carolina, parts of Virginia, even as far north as Maryland.
* At least 60 tornadoes confirmed in 7 states. N. Carolina lead the way with at least 32 tornadoes.
* Five N. Carolina tornadoes were rated EF3. An EF2 tornado in Raleigh was Wake County's first "2" or higher rated twister in over 13 years.
* At least 24 were killed in N. Carolina, at least 5 died in Virginia.
April 19-20: Midwest, South Wind-Whipped
Would the atmosphere take a breather after the three-day mid-April severe siege spawned over 150 tornadoes from the Plains to the East Coast?
While over 50 confirmed tornadoes touched down from Oklahoma to Ohio, it was the numerous high wind/wind damage reports from Arkansas into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys that stole the show. In some ways, it was similar to the April 4 outbreak.
* Over 1,000 reports of severe weather in 16 states from the Plains to the Southeast.
* 51 confirmed tornadoes, including an EF3 near Girard, Ill., an EF2 near Litchfield, Ill., and an EF1 near Bowling Green, Mo.
* This would have been the day with the highest total of severe reports since Apr. 2, 2006 ... if it wasn't for April 4's outbreak.
April 22: "Good Friday" St. Louis tornado
Sometimes a given severe weather event is not so much an outbreak as it is known for where it occurred. Such was the case on Good Friday.
While severe t-storms stretched from Texas to the Ohio Valley, one rain-wrapped supercell spawned a tornado, carving a swath over the north and west St. Louis metro Friday evening.
* First U.S. tornado rated EF4 of this year in NW St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton. First "4-rated" tornado in metro since Jan. 24, 1967.
* EF2 damage at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Many windows in main terminal blown out, large section of roof peeled off.
* There were no fatalities along the tornado's 22-mile path across St. Louis County, Mo. and Madison County, Ill.
April 25: Arkansas Ambush
Reports of tornadoes stretched from Texas to Indiana on "Easter Monday".
While one supercell south an southwest of Ft. Worth, Texas, produced several tornadoes as it tracked east, and the Memphis metro had another close call, the most destructive tornadoes targeted central Arkansas.
* 38 preliminary reports of tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana.
* Up to 1/2 mile-wide damage swath in Vilonia, Ark., with at least 4 dead.
* Little Rock Air Force Base: Homes with roof damage, buildings damaged & cars flipped.
* Hot Springs Village, Ark.: Many homes damaged, numerous trees downed.