2013 UPDATE: Since the writing of this blog in 2009, the Super Outbreak in 1974 has been bested by the 2011 Tornado Outbreak (My Blog, WikiPedia, Tornado FAQ), as far as the number of people killed and number of tornadoes (the 1974 event still has the largest number of F5 tornadoes, if not F4/F5.
Below are our new HD graphics depicting the event, as well as links to new AccuWeather stories on the event. Since next year is the 40th anniversary, I will do a more comprehensive blog entry then.
ORIGINAL REPORT (2009):
Two months before I was born, on April 3 - 4, 1974, a tornado outbreak occurred which has not yet been surpassed. 148 tornadoes tore up the nation from Mississippi to Michigan, dropping twisters in 13 states. If you put all the tornado tracks end-to-end, they would cover 2,598 miles. There were six F-5 tornadoes and 20 F-4s. 330 people were killed and over 5,000 were injured.
- READ NOAA METEOROLOGICAL REPORT [PDF]
For all the horror that the storm caused, NOAA notes that it made us more prepared for later outbreaks. After the storm surveys were done, a number of tornado myths were immediately refuted. The extensive damage to schools (fortunately occurring after classes) also led to engineering research which improved buildings and led to the standard tornado drills that students still practice today.
The simple weather radars employed in 1974 provided "only green blobs" locating the storms, NOAA says. Tornado Warnings were only issued after a tornado had been spotted.
RADAR SUMMARY 2035 GMT APRIL 3, 1974
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