Discussion of April 27, 2011 Outbreak (1 Viewer)


Equus

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I had never seen that Smithville photo before... fascinating. Other than the reservoir video there are very few clear shots of it.

Great discussion topics re: vortex tilt, phases, and horizontal vortices on historic outbreak days. I'd love to see some sort of research and comparisons made but I'm not sure how one would specifically quantify or compare some of these things.

I can still pick out the tornado paths knowing precisely where to look but it's pretty impressive how much difference eight years makes in tree growth and reconstruction... the Cordova to Sipsey path on Hwy 78 is becoming fainter and the Adamsville area path just down the road from the Tuscaloosa tornado is honestly overshadowed now by the nearby 4/28/14 EF2's swath of shredded trees; even that is slowly recovering. Downtown Cullman is completely rebuilt but the historic district is really depressing still with many empty properties where turn of the century houses once stood and a near total lack of trees in what was once a very shaded district. Hopefully people won't forget that day as fast as nature seems to have... it's going to happen again some decade in the future
 

warneagle

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Yeah. Maybe we had been collectively lulled into a false sense of security that the 2011 season really proved to be misguided. Outbreaks weren’t supposed to kill hundreds of people anymore and then April 27th happened. Individual tornadoes weren’t supposed to kill 160 people anymore, and then Joplin happened. Both of those events were kind of perfect storms (no pun intended) designed to defeat our ability to protect people—April 27th had the morning storms that took out a lot of communications infrastructure (I know you can’t quantify how much that exacerbated the death toll but it surely contributed) and Joplin was a powerful tornado developing quickly near a vulnerable target.

I think the biggest lesson is that no matter how much we build and how much we advance technologically, we’re still no match for nature if the conditions are bad enough. We can’t immunize ourselves against it but we can remember it and educate people so that when it happens again (as statistically unlikely as it is to happen soon), people won’t be caught by surprise.
 
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Another thing that's striking is the lack of major (verified high risk) outbreaks since 2012. Granted 4/27 was so extreme it will naturally be very rare, but it seemed like during the preceding decade there was a less extreme but still very high-end outbreak or outbreak sequence somewhere in Dixie Alley and/or the Plains about once a year to every other year. May 4-10, 2003, May 22-30, 2004, etc. Even 2006 which is remembered as an awful chase season had March 12, April 2 and April 6-7.

Then nothing like that has really been seen since April 2011, with most springs having long quiet periods with the active periods plagued by convective messes, VBV profiles and only the occasional rogue significant tornado (like Jacksonville and Tescott last year and Beauregard this year). The two big outbreaks in 2012 (March 2 and April 14) were pretty much the only activity of the spring, with the rest of it dominated by hot ridging.
 

Equus

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Check out the list of SPC high risk days; except for a few sequences (In May 2013 and June 2014 come to mind) it does seem to have been quieter than the previous couple decades in regards to major multi-day verified outbreaks. 2010-2011 were pretty extreme though.
 

warneagle

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Check out the list of SPC high risk days; except for a few sequences (In May 2013 and June 2014 come to mind) it does seem to have been quieter than the previous couple decades in regards to major multi-day verified outbreaks. 2010-2011 were pretty extreme though.
Yeah, if you look at the historical lists of violent tornadoes, there are a few evident lulls like that. Like we went 8 years and 1 day between the Bridge Creek/Moore F5 in 1999 and the next EF5 (Greensburg). There was another gap of almost 5 years between the Niles/Wheatland F5 in 1985 and the Hesston/Goessel F5s in 1990. Seems like we’re in another of those lulls. Idk if there’s a common climatological pattern in all of the lulls or not, I admittedly haven’t looked into it that closely.
 
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The period following the 1974 Super Outbreak was also fairly quiet, with the next major outbreak with several violent tornadoes being almost exactly eight years later on April 2, 1982. There were a couple of decent outbreaks in that period, like 4/4/77 and 4/10/79, but the overall pattern was pretty slow.

High-end outbreaks seem to come in waves or clusters. A few examples:

-March 1973 to June 1975
-April 1984 to May 1985
-March 1990 to November 1992
-March 1997 to June 1999
-April 2010 to April 2012

Notice how all of these periods had a lot of high-end outbreaks with an unusual number of violent tornadoes, and were then followed by several quiet years. I agree with Equus that it's going to be interesting to see how this trend holds up.
 

Lori

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I hate this date from 2011 and everything associated with it. Next to this virus going on right now, I don’t think those of us in Dixie Alley ever felt so helpless watching this unfold. Those of us on TW posting on the thread that week leading up to it, knew that this was possibly going to be the worse severe weather day in almost 40 years. None of us knew if we were going to lose family, friends, property and for some our own lives.
People were permanently injured mentally and physically. Chasers and first responders have PTSD and will never get over it.
Seeing these massive tornadoes occurring on live TV was fascinating for the weather community but also horrifying knowing people were dying as we saw the debris being lofted into the sky...
We will never forget!!
 

CSimonds

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Guntersville, AL
Our friend @Equus posted the radar loop of the entire day, all the way through, in YouTube video format not long after it happened.

Here it is:

Thank you for posting this! We got smacked by the “Marshall Complex” around 6 am that morning and lost power, cable, internet and cell phone service. We had to track the afternoon storms using a Rand McNally Road Atlas, sitting in the car in the basement listening to the radio. We missed seeing how the whole thing unfolded in the rest of the state.
 

Equus

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I always intended to go back and fill in that ridiculous swath of Marshall tornadoes, but in the scale of the map and radar imagery I think it would have still looked like a blob of paths hard to discern lol

It's shortly after 2pm... outbreak in Alabama was on the verge of beginning exactly nine years ago. Cullman supercell was blowing up near Oakman.
 

Equus

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Just about any given time having 2-4 EF3+ tornadoes down simultaneously all evening was such a nightmare for broadcasters. At least with 4/8/98 or 11/16/00 etc there was one obvious thing to focus on, but having people dying simultaneously in multiple counties in contemporaneous strong/violent tornadoes is something I hope never ever happens again
 

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