We have a nice string of days ahead of us, folks! If you have any outdoor plans for the next five days you couldn’t ask for better weather. We have a disturbance that will be moving through this afternoon and evening, bringing with it some clouds. There is a very slight chance for a shower or sprinkle, but most of us won’t see a drop. Another dry cold front will pass through here tomorrow morning, bringing a few clouds but we’ll all stay dry. This front marks the leading edge of a big area of high pressure that will settle in here and bring us the nicest stretch of weather we’ve seen this spring! The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, is that the front Saturday will bring breezy conditions, so be aware of that. Also, we have to be mindful of frost Sunday morning, and perhaps for Monday morning for those of you north of I-40.
Our next chance of rain comes the end of next week. Right now it just looks like rain. The chance of severe storms looks really low at this point. I’ll keep you posted. You’ll hear of severe weather out over the Plains over the next week, but don’t worry about that getting here anytime soon.
You’ll notice the St. Jude emblem on Saturday morning. Think about me as I run the St. Jude Rock-n-Roll half marathon in Nashville! I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the generosity that came from those I work with and for. Without their help and generosity I would have never raised the $1,000 that I set my goal for raising. I can’t think of a better cause than St. Jude, and I am absolutely thrilled to be running this year as one who set an ambitious fundraising goal and was then blessed to see it met. If you don’t have a charity that you give to, I strongly encourage you to look into supporting St. Jude.
Today is April 27. Many of us will forever remember this as the day in 2011 that the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history occurred. The outbreak began on the 25th but really exploded on the 27th. Over that three-day period some 350 or so tornadoes touched down. Roughly 25% of them were strong/violent. An astonishing 321 people lost their lives. This is a death toll that many of us thought was impossible with today’s technology, communication, and forecasting.
The problem is that some of the tornadoes were simply unsurvivable, no matter what you did. Plus, even though much of the Deep South is very rural, these tornadoes seemed to target the heaviest populated areas.
On April 27, 2011 there were 15 violent tornadoes rated EF-4 and EF-5. A mind-boggling number of four EF-5s occurred this day. We normally get one EF-5 in the U.S. per decade.
I was living in Starkville, MS at this time and remember the weather scaring me on this day. That’s the first time I can ever remember that happening. We had a supercell develop southwest of Starkville and it was moving right for us. By this time, we were being slammed with images of an outbreak of large wedge tornadoes that we saw being filmed live on all of our tv stations and all across social media. And we were getting images of landscapes that had been transformed forever by what many of us meteorologists knew were EF-5s. And then here comes a storm for Starkville. Some of jumped in our cars and drove out of town, just in case. These tornadoes were huge and violent; I wasn’t taking any chances. We could only “safely” do this because the storms were so isolated in nature. We could track them on our radar and know where they were.
For some reason, this storm didn’t produce a tornado as it moved over Starkville. We had an EF-5 hit from another storm to our north, and an EF-5 hit to the south of town from another supercell, but we were spared.
The day before this outbreak, me and a buddy of mine had driven over to Arkansas to chase on the 25th. On the 26th, we managed to catch a supercell in southeast Arkansas, but it turned to the right very sharply and I got caught in the huge hail it was producing. There was nothing I could do. By the time the storm was finished with us, I had a busted windshield, my side mirrors were busted out, and my car looked like someone had gone over it with a hammer. It was kinda awesome but that’s just me (ha). As soon as the hail ended, an absolutely beautiful wall cloud came by us and, try as it may, it just couldn’t put a tornado on the ground. I saw several funnels get low but nothing on the ground. About a half hour or so later we were treated to another supercell that took the exact same path. This time I was not caught in the hail! But we were treated to yet another beautiful wall cloud that, try as it may, just couldn’t produce a tornado.
We knew the next day, April 27th, was going to be a big day but we didn’t know it would be so horrendous. We say it was a once-in-a-generation event. Let’s hope it skips a generation.
Below is a map of the tornadoes with this whole outbreak. As you can see, those of us in Mississippi and Alabama really had our hands full of tornadoes!
Map of Alabama tornadoes. This state was hardest hit.
Radar imagery composite of the supercells. Look at those hooks! Starkville is midway between the two EF-5s in Mississippi.
You all have a great day and a great weekend! Enjoy the beautiful weather. Heaven knows it sure could be a lot worse this time of year!