Jesse Ferrell

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Stats on The Deadliest Tornado Outbreak In My Life!

April 28, 2011; 8:26 AM ET

UPDATE: NOAA has released many maps and stats on this outbreak!

NOTE: These stats may not be updated again until Monday. Join me on Twitter or Facebook for additional stats this weekend.

UPDATE 4/29/2011 1 PM: CNN is now quoting the death toll at "over 300"! This radar image is actually pretty cool - it takes the main Tuscaloosa supercell and plots it on its entire course.

A total of 32 tornado surveys have been conducted (mostly rated EF-3, but there was one EF-5 so far). The SPC numbers have been updated below; they have now counted 400 tornado reports this week.

The SPC also uploaded the graph below showing tornadoes so far this April. The current estimate stands at 921 so far this month, but some of those are duplicates. Even accounting for that ("inflation adjusted") this year stands far, far above the most active tornado year at this point in the season:

Here are some stats on Warnings issued on Wednesday:

Tornado Warnings: 450 (576 last week, covering 33,000 sq.km.)

Severe Thunderstorm Warnings: 432 (1324 last week, covering 95,000 sq.km.)

Here's a look at the 1,900 warnings issued this week (plus Flash Flood):

Here are some additional graphics of our statistics. While I will continue to update the numbers below, this weekend, I will not update the graphics again until Monday.

UPDATE 4 PM: Almost all numbers have been updated below, and new sections have been added. CNN is now quoting the death toll at 272! In the U.S., this currently ranks as the #2 Deadliest Tornado Day since 1950 and #10 Deadliest Tornado Outbreak of all-time, according to a spreadsheet that I compiled from WikiPedia. Some additional stats, such as this being a 14-state outbreak, can be found in our news story.

ORIGINAL POST 8 AM: It's a somber morning here at AccuWeather.com HQ while we report the news that over 230 people have been killed by yesterday's tornado outbreak, mainly in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. This is the deadliest outbreak since I was born in 1974, and it's a real shame that it can happen in this time of modern technology. Here are maps of the tornado and funnel cloud reports yesterday:

Throughout the day today, I will be updating the changing statistics below as new information comes in, so that we may gauge this historic weather event, while avoiding the inevitable hype from the media. I am mainly using WikiPedia Tornado Records and the Tornado FAQ to do that.

(UPDATED 4/29 1 PM)

Deaths Yesterday: >300 (184 Alabama)

Tornado Deaths This Month: >350

SPC Tornado Reports Wednesday: 211

LSR Funnel Cloud Reports Wednesday: 66

SPC Tornado Reports This Week: 400 (336 in 3 days;* 288 in 2 days)

SPC Tornado Reports This Month: 919

*NOTES: "Reports" may contain multiple reports of the same tornado, and is therefore not comparable to previous historical extremes such as the 148 confirmed tornadoes during the Super Outbreak or the 3-day confirmed number from May 2004 (which I found but have not confirmed). "Wednesday" is defined as 12Z 4/27 to 12Z 4/28.

Here is a radar loop of the event:

Other "Stats" From the Media:

EF-5 Tornadoes: There is no basis to estimate tornado strength before the NWS does an official storm survey, even in areas that appear to have been razed. When storm surveys are done, you will hear the results here.

Longest tornado track ever: A statement is floating around about a 300 mile tornado path. Again, it will be impossible to determine the length of a particular tornado until NWS does their surveys. The previous record for "longest tornado path" is 219 miles in 1925, and the "longest tornado family path" is 293 miles, set in 1917. However, because these records were set before modern times, either could be in question; often tornadoes lift and come back down. Since the distance from Birmingham to Knoxville is only 230 miles according to Google Earth, and the best-case scenario has the longest track shorter than that, I think it's unlikely we will break the single tornado track length record. Jackson, MS to Knoxville, however, is 450 miles, and that could break the "family" record depending on how it's counted.

Yazoo City hit by a tornado again? At least two people were killed in Yazoo City yesterday, the city that was hit more than once by tornadoes in 2010. However, there are no indications that a tornado touched down there at this time; only hail and wind were reported.

More after the break. Here's a North Alabama radar loop. Note the hook echoes:

Most tornado path miles ever? Maybe since 1974. According to Mike Smith: "I think we are going to find that this is the largest number of "path miles" of F-3, F-4, and F-5 tornadoes since the "Superoutbreak" of April 3-4, 1974."

Highest significant tornado index? Maybe since 1974. According to Mike Smith: "The "significant tornado index," which is designed to indicate when tornadoes of F-2 or greater intensity will occur, had the highest numbers I have ever seen yesterday. For comparison, during the recent [North Carolina and Missouri outbreaks the number was] around 6. Much of yesterday in Mississippi and Alabama the index was running around 12-14."

Power Outages: Still >300,000 without power in Tennessee this morning. Alabama Power set a new record for outages: 413,000. Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant repairs could take "weeks." At one point it was estimated that over 1 million people in Alabama alone were without power. Over 50,000 lost power in Georgia.

Other weird tornado news: One Tree Dog: "One tree uprooted/tossed by tornado had a dog tied to it. Alive, freed, given to a family to take care of." -CNN

The numbers above include twisters outside of the main outbreak area as well:

By the way, if I may get on my soapbox for a second: Here's what disappoints me in the wake of this tragedy. Cable news networks are essentially ignoring the travesty in favor of the Royal Wedding coverage. President Obama issued a statement, but he needs to hit the ground there and help coordinate relief efforts. And worst of all -- people in social media are blaming the tornado outbreak on a number of presidents, including Obama and Carter, or using it to forward a political agenda around climate change. Really, folks?

Here is a velocity loop similar to the North Alabama one I posted above. Note the red next to green wind rotation signatures.

According to Vaisala data: 212,527 lightning strikes hit the ground in the Southeast yesterday; 1,092,240 this week.

Jesse Ferrell

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.