Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes tore across Mississippi and Alabama on Friday, causing extensive destruction and claiming the lives of more than half a dozen people.
This was after the same storm system spawned deadly tornadoes across Oklahoma and Arkansas late Thursday and Thursday night, while near blizzard conditions raged across areas farther north in the Plains.
The Associated Press reports that the death toll from this severe weather outbreak has climbed to 16 across Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama. Seven people were killed by the ferocious storms in Alabama alone on Friday. Several others have been seriously injured.
A mobile home was tossed across an Alabama state highway on Friday, killing a man inside.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency across the entire state. A total of 14 counties in Mississippi were declared a state of emergency.
Details on the Tornadoes
There was a total of at least 100 tornado reports across the nation on Friday with most of them across Mississippi and Alabama, but a few in other states, including Louisiana, Illinois and Missouri.
Tornado reports are often higher than the actual number of tornadoes, since one tornado may be reported multiple times. At least of few of the tornadoes were large, devastating and long-tracking.
One of the large tornadoes touched down near Jackson, Miss.
The tornadoes leveled homes and businesses, tore the roofs off of many structures, and snapped scores of trees in their paths.
Some of the heaviest damage and largest loss of life occurred in Linden, Ala., and near Prattville, Ala. Geiger, Ala., was also ransacked by very dangerous and destructive thunderstorms that are suspect of spawning a tornado.
The first race at the Talladega Superspeedway on Friday was postponed until Saturday morning due to the severe weather threat.
Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski was concerned Friday morning about severe weather pummeling Talladega for the second year in a row. Nasty thunderstorms erupted around the area during the afternoon hours with a tornado being reported on Highway 77 from a Talladega Rescue Squad.
Besides producing destructive tornadoes, the thunderstorms also pummeled the Mississippi Valley with high wind gusts up to 70 mph and hail the size of softballs or 4.25 inches in diameter.
Severe Storm reports from the SPC on Friday, April 15, 2011. The red dots indicate tornado reports.
Weather Pattern for Severe Storms
The volatile severe weather outbreak was ignited by a powerful storm system that has shifted from the central Plains to the Great Lakes over the past couple of days. Abundant moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and wind energy were in place to set the stage for the extremely violent thunderstorms.
"Two big factors are leading to a more active severe weather season than normal so far and compared to last year," said Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.
One is that the water in Gulf of Mexico is warmer than last year. This means that there is very warm, moist air in supply for storm systems to tap into and provide fuel for severe weather.
The second is that we are in one of the strongest La Nina patterns in recorded history.
"The strong La Nina pattern means that tremendous contrasts in air masses, with cool and dry air to the north and warm and steamy air to the south, are occurring over the Mississippi Valley. This puts many highly populated areas in the path of dangerous severe weather," added Margusity.
Fortunately, the weather will be dry with sunshine over the weekend, allowing residents of tornado-ravaged communities from the southern Plains to the Deep South to clean up with no weather-related problems.
The next round of severe weather may unfold early next week, starting with some strong storms firing up in the central Plains late Monday afternoon.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Heather Buchman has more information on Saturday's tornadoes in the Carolinas, as the same system that brought the destruction to Mississippi and Alabama headed farther east.
Severe thunderstorms with the risk of a few tornadoes will advance eastward across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest into Friday.
A dangerous outbreak of severe storms will strike the northern High Plains and Canadian Prairies on Wednesday.
Evacuations and closed roads as wildfires continue to burn across the United States.
Join us on Thursday for AccuWeather LIVE as we will discuss the debate of climate change and hurricane frequency and the top five things you need to know about summer weather.
A hot and humid weekend is shaping up for Chicagoland just in time for the official start of summer, while severe thunderstorms fire nearby to the north.
Tropical Storm Barry formed over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and may hit the Mexico state of Veracruz Thursday.
Starksville, GA (1862)
Civil war drought: "The failure of oats in the region is total. Some wheat will be made but the crop is light and inferior."
Juneau, AK (1991)
Record warm 84 degrees; the old record was 83 set in 1958. This was one of ten times that Juneau has reached 80 degrees over the last 49 years. It was hot over northern Alaska as well with Fairbanks hitting 91.
George Washington, "Have now had one of the severest droughts ever known."