2011 Tornado Outbreak

January 19, 2012 by staff 

2011 Tornado Outbreak2011 Tornado Outbreak, An extremely large and violent tornado outbreak, the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded, and popularly known as the 2011 Super Outbreak, occurred from April 25 to 28, 2011. The outbreak affected the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States, leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, especially across the state of Alabama. It produced destructive tornadoes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia, and affected many other areas throughout the Southern and Eastern United States. In total, 359 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in 21 states from Texas to New York and even isolated tornadoes in Canada. Widespread and destructive tornadoes occurred on each day of the outbreak, with April 27 being among the most prolific and destructive tornado days in United States history with a record 208 tornadoes touching down that day. Four of the tornadoes were destructive enough to be rated EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which is the highest ranking possible; typically these tornadoes are only recorded about once each year or less.

In total, 346 people were killed as a result of the outbreak. That death toll includes 322 tornado-related deaths across six states. In addition, 24 fatalities were not caused by tornadoes, but were confirmed to be as a result of other thunderstorm-related impacts such as straight-line winds, hail, flash flooding or lightning. 239 deaths in Alabama alone were confirmed by the SPC and the state’s Emergency Management Agency.

April 27 was the deadliest tornado day in the United States since the 1925 “Tri-State” outbreak, which produced the infamous Tri-State Tornado. Although it has been classified by some news outlets as the second-deadliest tornado outbreak in United States history, the 1936 Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak actually holds that distinction with at least 436 reported deaths split almost evenly over two days. Officially the outbreak is listed by NOAA as the fourth deadliest in United States history and the 24-hour-period from 8:00 a.m. April 27 to 8:00 a.m. April 28 as the fifth deadliest tornado day in United States history. Nearly 500 preliminary local storm reports were received for tornadoes over four days, including 292 in 16 states on April 27 alone. It was also the costliest tornado outbreak and one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history (even after adjustments for inflation), with total damages of nearly $11 billion (2011 USD).

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