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

andyhb

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I'm inclined to believe there'd be 3-4 EF5s with this event if it happened during the 2007-2013 period. Brandenburg and Guin are the strongest candidates.
 
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I'm inclined to believe there'd be 3-4 EF5s with this event if it happened during the 2007-2013 period. Brandenburg and Guin are the strongest candidates.
Curious about the very anomalous number of F4s as well. That number could possibly be cut in half, but It’s hard to make that call without damage photos.

TornadoTalk’s article on the Frankfort tornado, while the damage especially vehicle was impressive, didn’t really standout as something that would be an automatic candidate for an EF4 by today’s standards. Especially just with some of the structure types it managed to hit.
 
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What’s astounding is just how everything went “perfect” for this outbreak. It’s one thing for it to go “perfect” in a corridor (ie 4/27/11) but the aerial coverage is mind blowing. A storm system producing F5s all the way up in Indiana and down into Alabama is not one you want to ever see. Getting prodigious parameters like that over such a large geographical area has to be an extreme rarity, even in unknown tornado “history”. Even 4/27/11’s northern moderate area was closed off from the instability due to crapvection in Tennessee, missing out on those upper echelon wind fields in western KY.

I would recommend that everyone, if given the chance, to read Corfidi’s paper on the outbreak. The total outbreak actually being in three different “convective bands” was something I didn’t know until I started studying meteorology more seriously. Once again, you had some early morning storms and even a MCS fire off in Arkansas and Missouri. But, same as on 4/27/11, it just didn’t matter - everything went perfect and occurred at the right time.

The only thing I’ve always been curious about is how the radar presentation looked in its totality, which is why I’d love for a recreation attempt at reflectively be made some day. I think the northern storm mode may have been a little more jam packed spacing wise, with a broken line look and semi discrete in places. While I think the southern mode was more central AL-4/27/11 like with plenty of space and cells out by themselves in the OWS. You can actually see some of the older Doppler images from that night for Alabama, and the presentation is very similar to 4/27/11.

I know Fujita at first thought it was a once in a 500 year outbreak, but we know these “super outbreaks” aren’t as rare as we once thought.
 

andyhb

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I'm also not going to get into this discussion here. It's pointless given the changes in damage surveying since then.
Although I will also say that it is frustrating that outbreaks now are becoming harder and harder to compare to each other because of these changes in rating procedure. Take 3/31 last year or 12/10/2021. Those events would almost certainly be "ranked higher" using any method incorporating the F/EF-scale if they occurred years ago because they likely would have at least 2-3 more violent tornadoes on their respective lists.
 
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Although I will also say that it is frustrating that outbreaks now are becoming harder and harder to compare to each other because of these changes in rating procedure. Take 3/31 last year or 12/10/2021. Those events would almost certainly be "ranked higher" using any method incorporating the F/EF-scale if they occurred years ago because they likely would have at least 2-3 more violent tornadoes on their respective lists.
Couldn’t agree more with you on this point. Especially 12/10. Which is why I always roll my eyes when I hear others say “violent outbreaks” are getting rarer and more infrequent than they were in the 20th century.

It’s like comparing Bill Russell’s NBA era to todays era. It’s just hard to compare.
 

TornadoFan17

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Couldn’t agree more with you on this point. Especially 12/10. Which is why I always roll my eyes when I hear others say “violent outbreaks” are getting rarer and more infrequent than they were in the 20th century.

It’s like comparing Bill Russell’s NBA era to todays era. It’s just hard to compare.
At the same time, we shouldn't keep moving the EF5 bar. An EF5 is an EF5, whether it hit in 1974 or today.
 

jiharris0220

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Honestly, I miss the F era of tornado ratings, it was so much simpler and non tedious.
Slabbed house no debris left=F5
Slabbed house debris left=F4
Destroyed house with interior walls=F3
Destroyed house with roof off=F2
Destroyed house with partial roof left=F1
Damaged house=F0
Sure it ignores a lot of semantics regarding construction, but it was perfect for simplicity sake. It also had much more realistic wind speeds for tornadoes. I still can’t get use to the fact that a 165mph tornado can slab a well built structure while a 185mph hurricane only damages the roof at worst of similarly built structures.
 

TH2002

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Speaking of ratings from the 1974 Super Outbreak, I'm kinda surprised that the Mannsville, KY tornado didn't get rated F5 considering rating standards were far less stringent back then
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andyhb

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Honestly, I miss the F era of tornado ratings, it was so much simpler and non tedious.
Slabbed house no debris left=F5
Slabbed house debris left=F4
Destroyed house with interior walls=F3
Destroyed house with roof off=F2
Destroyed house with partial roof left=F1
Damaged house=F0
Sure it ignores a lot of semantics regarding construction, but it was perfect for simplicity sake. It also had much more realistic wind speeds for tornadoes. I still can’t get use to the fact that a 165mph tornado can slab a well built structure while a 185mph hurricane only damages the roof at worst of similarly built structures.
Well part of this is because the three dimensional wind profile in a tornado is much different from that in a hurricane. That vertical component that counteracts gravity is a killer for many structures.

With that said, I think it's basically accepted that tornadoes can achieve wind speeds far in excess of any hurricane and especially any hurricane on land. The pressure gradient is simply an order of magnitude stronger.
 

Mike S

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Neither of our major national news partners at work (NBC News, and CNN) have ANY affiliate content available for the 50th anniversary of the Super Outbreak. Zilch. Nada.

Another sad reminder that there are severe weather geeks, and then there's everybody else.

None of the 4 Huntsville stations have even a mention on their websites, which means they have not done anything on their newscasts as well.

That is especially egregious for WHNT considering HD Bagley is a Huntsville legend in large part because of that night.
 

JPWX

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Fun Facts: The Guin, AL F5 started in Monroe County, MS and Monroe County MS is the ONLY county in North MS that has had 2 F/EF5 tornadoes. First one was the Guin, AL F5 and then the Smithville, MS EF5 in 2011.

What makes it even more ironic is that each one occurred during both Super Outbreaks.
 

jiharris0220

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Well part of this is because the three dimensional wind profile in a tornado is much different from that in a hurricane. That vertical component that counteracts gravity is a killer for many structures.

With that said, I think it's basically accepted that tornadoes can achieve wind speeds far in excess of any hurricane and especially any hurricane on land. The pressure gradient is simply an order of magnitude stronger.
Order of magnitude is a gross understatement regarding pressure gradient.
In tornadoes the pressure can get so slow it becomes close to a legitimate vacuum while a couple dozen meters away the pressure is above a 1000mb. Which explains how tornadoes are able to crack and pull concrete slabs due to the mind numbing rapid changes in air pressure.
Tropical cyclones like the most intense on record, typhoon Tip can only get down to 870mb.
Tornadic wind speeds are definitely vastly underestimated. Even the weakest of tornados likely have instantaneous winds over 200mph minimum that simply can’t be detected by radar.
Wind dynamics can only do so much to explain the vast differences in degree of damage despite having “the same wind speeds” between the two.

Edit: None of these words are directed at you by the way. I’m simply talking about the rating process as a whole.
 
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