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50th Anniversary of the April 3-4, 1974 Super Outbreak

MichelleH

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We are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the Super Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974. If anyone has memories, stories from your family or interesting facts about this event, please post them here. Also, if anyone is aware of any events coming up commemorating the anniversary, please share the information. Thank you!
 

JPWX

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We are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the Super Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974. If anyone has memories, stories from your family or interesting facts about this event, please post them here. Also, if anyone is aware of any events coming up commemorating the anniversary, please share the information. Thank you!
Don't know about any events, but I do know WeatherBrains is having a 2 part episode to talk about it. The first one is gonna be about the setup and all with one of the guests being the great Dr. Greg Forbes. The 2nd part is gonna be from what I understand their gonna have guests on who went through the outbreak and they'll be telling their stories.
 
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MichelleH

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Thanks JP! In 2004 I attended an event in Athens, Alabama for the 30th anniversary and even got to hear the late H.D. Bagley speak about that night. (There were also some other TalkWeather members there too from then, but I was still a relatively newish member and only recognized a few usernames when they introduced themselves.) That's why I'm surprised I haven't seen anything about an event for the 50th.
 

JPWX

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Thanks JP! In 2004 I attended an event in Athens, Alabama for the 30th anniversary and even got to hear the late H.D. Bagley speak about that night. (There were also some other TalkWeather members there too from then, but I was still a relatively newish member and only recognized a few usernames when they introduced themselves.) That's why I'm surprised I haven't seen anything about an event for the 50th.
You're welcome! Two things I'm still to this day astounded by is the fact they put the entire state of Indiana under a Tornado Warning and that there were 15 tornadoes ongoing at the same time. One of my big weather projects down the line is going through and documenting each tornado outbreak in a spreadsheet and/or powerpoint.
 
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You're welcome! Two things I'm still to this day astounded by is the fact they put the entire state of Indiana under a Tornado Warning and that there were 15 tornadoes ongoing at the same time. One of my big weather projects down the line is going through and documenting each tornado outbreak in a spreadsheet and/or powerpoint.

If I'm not mistaken, the "blanket warning" issued during the '74 Super Outbreak occurred in Alabama during the assault of Tanner 1+2/Guin, and the others.

The one in Indiana was issued by the South Bend Weather Bureau office during the Palm Sunday Outbreak of 1965:

Reports of tornadoes and funnel clouds have become so numerous that it is impossible to keep track of them. Warnings should therefore exist throughout the central and northern portion of Indiana. The problems have been intensified by telephones being out in many areas and it is impossible to notify many people.

It's possible there was one in Indiana during the '74 event as well, and I just didn't know about it. In all those cases, given the poor radar resolution of the time and the sheer number of reports, it was the best they could do.

James Spann essentially issued a "blanket warning" for the entire Tuscaloosa-Birmingham television market on April 27, 2011 when he told his viewers there would be so many tornadoes it's possible he and Jason Simpson wouldn't be able to call them out in time, so treat any storm that approaches as capable of producing a tornado and take cover. Indeed, there did end up being a few that they only mentioned briefly or didn't notice the radar signature until after the fact, such as the Fayette County EF3.
 
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NWS HQ and offices (well, I know FFC is) that experienced tornadoes during the ‘74 outbreak are working on a pretty informative website for the 50th. Additionally, the UGA Brown Media Archives have some good videos from various tv stations of damage in North Georgia if anyone is interested.
 
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Timhsv

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I was 13 in 1974. We lived in Fultondale just off Walkers Chapel Road at that time. Remember that night still fairly well. My mother, my brother, and myself spent the entire night in our basement that night after hearing the reports starting to be reported by the great Joe Rumore on WVOK radio at the time. My grandparents called from Russellville and said around 5:30 P.M. a tornado had touchdown just east of the them, maybe more towards Mt. Pleasant.

After that, it was on...ALL NIGHT. Tornado Warning after Tornado Warning was coming from Joe Rumore. I actually stood near the basement sliding door and watched the continuous "green lighting" to the north ,I'd say around 8:00 P.M., maybe 8:30 P.M, and after awhile Joe had said a large tornado had touchdown and struck Cullman and many injuries with a hit to the hospital. Then the BIG one hit...Guin.
Joe had come on air and said Alabama State Troopers are reporting that GUIN was gone..wiped out from first initial estimates. Daylight would prove so on April 4th.

I could go on I guess, but for this post the two things that stuck out in my old mind from that day was the ....surface winds and the very sticky temperature, in which now I realize it was an almost **80F Td and surface winds averaging about 40 mph all day and night. There's a little more but this is some of that historic night in Alabama.
 
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MichelleH

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Thank you for sharing that! I was only about 14 months old when the outbreak happened, but believe it or not, it is one of my earliest memories! My mom moved me from my crib in her room and put me in my grandparents bed because she thought I would be safer. (She and my grandparents were up all night in the living room listening to coverage on WFMH.) When Mom and I were talking about that night once, I told her my memory and she was shocked that I remembered that and I was shocked it was from THAT night! Reading about this outbreak is what started the "tornado bug" with me.
 

Timhsv

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Thank you for sharing that! I was only about 14 months old when the outbreak happened, but believe it or not, it is one of my earliest memories! My mom moved me from my crib in her room and put me in my grandparents bed because she thought I would be safer. (She and my grandparents were up all night in the living room listening to coverage on WFMH.) When Mom and I were talking about that night once, I told her my memory and she was shocked that I remembered that and I was shocked it was from THAT night! Reading about this outbreak is what started the "tornado bug" with me.
Your so welcome! That's my event as well that has driven me all these 50 years in the love of weather and forecasting
 

Mike S

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I was 2 1/2 - born October 1971 - but it is one of my earliest memories as well. I didn't realize what I was remembering until I got older and confirmed with my father what I was remembering.

McDonnell Elementary School in Huntsville was severely damaged by the Huntsville tornado that night. The school sits about 850 feet, according to Google maps, behind my childhood home. My grandparents lived in the Merrimack Mill village about a mile north of us. The village houses had old concrete outhouses that were converted into storage after the neighborhood got indoor plumbing and was our "go to" whenever severe weather was threatening. Our house suffered some minor roof damage, but we were very lucky. There are some pictures from our neighborhood from the book about that tornado, including the house of a family friend that was destroyed.

One memory I have of the event was while the tornado was passing through. My grandparents, parents, cousin and her boyfriend at the time and me were standing on the sidewalk in front of my grandparents house. I remember my dad and my cousin's boyfriend walking down the street and could see the tornado tracking towards our house. Years later my dad would tell me he was certain our house got hit at the time.

My other memory is from the next morning. As I found out in later years, the power was out at my grandparents and most other places nearby, so to prepare breakfast the next morning my grandfather build a fire in an empty metal trash can, pulled the oven grates out of the oven and cooked breakfast over the fire.

I had those memories for years but it wasn't until after I was reading about this event on the old board several years ago that I put 2 and 2 together and asked my dad if what I was remembering was from the night/the next morning.
 
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MichelleH

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Wow! Isn't that so weird that some of our earliest memories - as toddlers no less! - are from one of the most iconic tornado outbreaks, and then we became obsessed with them as we got older. Thank you for sharing that!
 
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There are four videos, providing almost 8 hours of total audio, from WHAS in Louisville that are on YouTube. Really great coverage from before the Louisville tornado through the early morning hours. A lot of reports from IN/KY and even southern states. It’s a great listen.

In addition to the radio coverage, there is a great tv program that was aired on April 4th, 1974 by WHAS that shows a lot of the damage.
 
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I always wonder what events like this and the 1932 outbreak would look like if they had the modern technology we have now. I wonder if it would have looked like April 27 with several violent yet extremely photogenic tornadoes. I also wonder what the radar presentation would have looked like. Maybe with the AI technology we have and the satellite images we have of
74 someone will recreate what it probably looked like for a research project
 
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