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26-28 April 2011 Tornado Outbreak – United States

It’s been a rough Spring so far for the confederate states in regards to severe weather. A mere 2 weeks ago Mississippi found itself in the firing line of a severe weather system which was producing some damaging tornadoes which ended up causing havoc in the town of Jackson. Oklahoma and Alabama were both also affected by the 14-16 April tornado outbreak.

This week has been even more destructive, there have been 2 High Risk tornado days in a row for Mississippi and then Alabama. Rarely do we see parameters come together in such a way that strong tornadoes don’t become a possibility but more of a certainty. Residents of Mississippi may have thought that it was over at the end of the 26 April 2011 with local meteorologists suggesting that the area should have seen the main area pass, though this was not the case and while the storms on the 26th of April were deadly, they were part of a derecho which typically doesn’t drop as many tornadoes as an outbreak of discreet supercells.

On Wednesday the 27 April 2011 storms began to fire early within Mississippi and everything was looking all systems go for an historic tornado outbreak. By mid afternoon there were over 20 tornado warnings in place at a single time, the danger definitely wasn’t over for Mississippi!

The first real eye opener of the day though belonged to Alabama when ABC news network managed to capture a large tornado on their skycam as it tore apart the city of Cullman. The Cullman storm is one that I was keeping an eye on personally since Jasper already. The storm went from a 30dbz speckle on the radar to a beast supercell with reflectivity of around 65dbz and a mean hook echo in just one hour, this cell then moved NE and dropped a tornado directly over Cullman a few miles away. Damage reports were pouring out of Cullman within a matter of minutes with the town name even trending worldwide on twitter, though it wouldn’t be the only town to trend because of tornado damage.

A couple of hours later a pair of strong tornado warned supercells passed over Mississippi into Alabama with the northern most cell heading straight for the town of Tuscaloosa. Again this storm followed the sequence of the Cullman cell, dropping a tornado directly over Tuscaloosa, and again the news networks were on the ball with live footage of the tornado from their sky cam. It was not long before word got out of the video footage and the tornado and Tuscaloosa was trending on twitter.

Prelimary estimates on these two tornadoes seem to be around EF-3 and EF-4, though the real numbers will only be in, in a few days after the damage has been properly surveyed. Regardless, the past two days have been historic and with over 70 deaths reported from these storms the 26-28 April 2011 tornado outbreak is likely one to be remembered.


Update: As of 10:00 GMT on 28 April 2011, the death toll has been extended to 159 people, with 128 of these deaths occurring in Alabama. This makes it one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in recent history.

Update: As of 12:00 GMT on 28 April 2011, the death toll has been increased yet again to 178 as per Yahoo news.

Update: As of 13:00 GMT on 28 April 2011, the death toll is now at 193 after a series of deaths in Tennessee and Virginia.

Update: As of 13:20 GMT on 28 April 2011, death toll increased to 202 people, expected to rise more.

Update: As of 14:20 GMT on 28 April 2011, death troll increases by 29 to bring the total thus far to 231 people, approaching the record 1974 super outbreak.

Update: As of 12:20 GMT on 29 April 2011, death toll stands at a reported 319, if this total is correct it would mean this tornado outbreak surpasses the 1974 super outbreak and becomes the deadliest tornado outbreak in the United States in recent history.



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