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April 26-28, 2011, Tornado Outbreak Statistics

NOAA's preliminary estimate is that there were 288 tornadoes during the entire outbreak from 8:00 a.m. EDT April 26 to 8:00 a.m. April 28, 2011.

  • During the 24-hour period from 8:00 a.m. EDT April 27 to 8:00 a.m. EDT April 28, The National Weather Service (NWS) estimates there were a total of 211 tornadoes.
  • NWS issued outlooks five days in advance, watches hours in advance, and tornado warnings with an average lead time of 24 minutes. NWS issued warnings for more than 90-percent of these tornadoes.
  • The largest previous number of tornadoes on record in one event occurred from April 3-4, 1974, with 148 tornadoes.

Expert NOAA analysis of the fatality information indicates that at least 344 people were killed during the entire outbreak from 8:00 a.m. EDT April 26 to 8:00 a.m. April 28. There were 334 fatalities during the 24-hour-period from 8:00 a.m. April 27 to 8:00 a.m. April 28.

  • This is the most people killed by tornadoes in a two-day period since April 5-6, 1936, when 454 people were killed, mostly in Tupelo, Mississippi and Gainesville, Georgia.
  • This is the deadliest single day for tornadoes since the March 18, 1925, tornado outbreak that had 747 fatalities across 7 states (including the Tri-State Tornado).
  • The Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado during the April 2011 event caused at least 65 fatalities.
    • These are the most fatalities from a single tornado in the United States since May 25, 1955, when 80 people were killed in a tornado in southern Kansas with 75 of those deaths in Udall, Kansas.
    • The deadliest single tornado on record was the Tri-State tornado (MO, IL, IN) on March 18, 1925, when 695 died.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama Tornado Damage Captured by NOAA’s King Air Aircraft April 29, 2011

“Before” (2010) (Credit: Google Earth)     “After” (4/29/2011) (Credit: NOAA)

 

Preliminary tornado statistics including records set in 2011

May 2011

NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

(Credit: NOAA)

On Sunday, May 22, a devastating tornado hit the city of Joplin, Mo., leaving an estimated 116 people dead and several hundred others injured. This tied the June 8, 1953, tornado that hit Flint, Mich., as the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado recordkeeping began in 1950.

    • The deadliest tornado on record was on March 18, 1925. This “Tri-State Tornado” (MO, IL, IN) had a 291-mile path, was rated F5 based on a historic assessment, and caused 695 fatalities.

    • Preliminary rating: Powerful EF-4 tornado with winds from 190-198 mph. Tornado was ¾ of a mile wide. A final determination on strength will be available Tuesday, May 24, after our Springfield Weather Forecast Office completes the storm survey.
  • National Weather Service's (NWS) preliminary estimate is more than 100 tornadoes have occurred during the month of May 2011.

    • The record number of tornadoes during the month of May was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.

    • Deadliest Tornado Years in US History

      (Official NOAA-NWS Record: 1950 - present; Research by Grazulis: 1875-1949)

      Year Fatalities
      1925 794
      1936 552
      1917 551
      1927 540
      1896 537
      1953 519
      1920 499
      1908 477
      2011 481
      (365 + 116 estimated Joplin fatalities as of
      May 23)
      1909 404
      1932 394
      1942 384
      1924 376
      1974 366
      1933 362
      The average number of tornadoes for the month of May during the past decade is 298.

    • May is historically the most active month for tornadoes.

2011 Year-to-Date (and record annual) Statistics

  • NWS’s preliminary estimate is that there have been approximately 1,000 tornadoes so far this year.

    • The previous yearly record number of tornadoes was set in 2004 with 1,817.

    • The overall yearly average number of tornadoes for the past decade is 1,274.

  • The preliminary estimated number of tornado fatalities so far this year is 481. NWS records indicate that there were 365 tornado fatalities before the Joplin tornado. Media reports currently indicate 89 fatalities in the Joplin event.

    • The US tornado death toll is the highest ever through the month of May in the NOAA-NWS official record (1950-present).

    • The highest recorded annual death toll from tornadoes in the NOAA-NWS official record (1950-present) was set in 1953 with 519 fatalities.

April 2011

  • April 2011 set a new record for the month with 875 tornadoes.

    • The previous record was set in April 1974 with 267 tornadoes.

    • The average number of tornadoes for the month of April during the past decade is 161.

    • The previous record number of tornadoes during any month was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.
  • NWS records indicate 321 people were killed during the April 25-28 tornado outbreak.

  • NWS records indicate 361 people were killed during the entire month of April 2011.

 

Joplin Missouri Tornado - May 22, 2011 Summary

A supercell thunderstorm tracked from extreme southeast Kansas into far southwest Missouri late Sunday afternoon and evening (May 22nd). This storm produced a strong tornado over Joplin Missouri resulting in devastating damage. This storm generated other tornadoes and wind damage along its path as it moved east southeast across far southwest Missouri.

Spotty wind damage also occurred across the remainder of far southern Missouri as the storms moved east. Additionally, these storms produced torrential rainfall and flash flooding across far southwest Missouri particularly in McDonald and Barry Counties.

Joplin Missouri Tornado - May 22, 2011

Severe storms producing tornadoes affected Southwest Missouri (NWS Springfield County Warning Area) during the afternoon and evening of May 22, 2011. Large portions of Joplin Missouri were severely damaged. Results of damage assessed yielded a rating of an EF5 (greater than 200 mph).

Latest reports from Tuesday evening 5/24 indicate an estimated 122 fatalities and several hundred injured in the Joplin MO area. The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern recordkeeping began in 1950 and is ranked 8th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.

The tornado surpassed the June 8, 1953, tornado that claimed 116 lives in Flint, Mich., as the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado recordkeeping began in 1950. The deadliest tornado on record in the U.S. was on March 18, 1925. The “Tri-State Tornado” (MO, IL, IN) had a 291-mile path, was rated F5 based on a historic assessment, and caused 695 fatalities.

The US tornado death toll through the month of May this year is the highest since modern record keeping began in 1950. Also, 2011 is already ranked 8th among the deadliest tornado years in U.S. history. More information on 2011 

Warning Information:The National Weather Service issued a Tornado Warning at 5:17 pm CDT, 5/22 which included the city of Joplin. The tornado was reported to have developed directly over Joplin with the first report of the tornado in Joplin at 5:41 pm CDT, 5/22. Lead time = 24 minutes.