2011 Spring Tornado Outbreaks
The tornadoes that occurred during the spring of 2011 were deadly, record-setting, and heart-breaking. Below we have listed the most significant outbreaks, along with links and information, and some of NSSL's research products that have been used in assessing the outbreaks.
April 16, 2011
Thirty tornadoes were confirmed across the Carolinas and Virginia on April 16, 2011 causing 26 fatalities and 371 injuries.
- NSSL Rotation Tracks file for April 16 (Eastern U.S., .kmz, 10.81 MB)
- Outbreak Summary, Blacksburg, VA NWSFO
- Outbreak Summary, Newport/Morehead City, NC NWSFO
- Outbreak Summary, Raleigh, NC NWSFO
April 22, 2011
On April 22, 2011, two supercell thunderstorms crossed the St. Louis metropolitan area bringing large hail, strong winds, and five tornadoes, including one ranked EF4. The worst damage occurred when the tornado hit the Lambert St. Louis International Airport. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.
- Summary, NWS St. Louis, MO
April 25–28, 2011
During a 4-day period from April 25-28, 2011, more than 200 tornadoes occurred in a five southeastern states. The deadliest part of the outbreak was on April 27, when a total of 122 tornadoes resulted in 319 deaths. The event was one of the deadliest since formal record keeping began in 1950.
- NSSL Rotation Tracks file for April 27 (Continental U.S., .kmz, 15.1 MB)
- Tornado Tracks (4/24–4/29/2011), NWS Southern Region HQ
- Tuscaloosa-Birmingham Tornado Summary, Birmingham, AL NWSFO
- Cordova Tornado Summary, Birmingham, AL NWSFO
- Outbreak Summary, Blacksburg, VA NSWFO
- NOAA Aerial Imagery of Storm Damage
May 22, 2011
Devastating tornadoes hit southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri on this Sunday afternoon. The city of Joplin, Mo., experienced an EF5 tornado that destroyed a significant amount of the city and left 158 people dead. The Joplin tornado is the deadliest single tornado since 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 historical assessment, and caused 695 fatalities.
- NSSL Rotation Tracks file for May 22 (Joplin, MO, .kmz, 10.81 MB)
- Joplin Tornado Event Summary, Springfield, MO NSWFO
- Severe Weather/Heavy Rain Event, Little Rock, AR NWSFO
- Joplin tornado offers important lessons for disaster preparedness (article on NOAA website)
- NWS final assessment report (.pdf, 2.0 MB)
May 24, 2011
Deadly tornadoes tore through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas claiming 18 additional lives. Several of these tornadoes received ratings of EF-5.
- NSSL Rotation Tracks for May 24 (Eastern U.S., .kmz, 10.69 MB)
- Fast Facts for the Tornado Outbreak of May 24, 2011, Norman, OK NSWFO
- NSSL Briefings: NSSL Scientists Study Tornadoes in Their Own Back Yard
- NOAA Technology Helps American Red Cross Respond Faster
- PAR Captures Long-lived Tornado in May 24, 2011 Outbreak
- NOAA 2011 Tornado Information Page
- NOAA Knows... Tornado Forecasting and Warnings (.pdf, 1.4 MB)
- Enhanced F-Scale for Tornado Damage (EF-0 to EF-5)
(click on thumbnails for larger)
Download the rotation tracks file (.kmz, 15.1 MB)
The image was produced by the On-Demand Severe Weather Verification System, part of NSSL's Warning Decision Support System – Integrated Information (WDSS-II) Multi-Radar/Multi Sensor platform. On-Demand is a web-based tool that can be used to help confirm when and where severe weather occurred.
The platform is being used by several local American Red Cross chapters, emergency managers and National Weather Service Forecast Offices for disaster assessment and response.
The WDSS-II system receives data in real-time from the nationwide networks of weather radars, satellites, surface observations and lightning detectors. WDSS-II then processes, analyzes and displays the data in a way that is useful to people who need to diagnose severe weather quickly.
On-Demand uses data gathered and sorted by WDSS-II to estimate the tracks of rotating storms and where hail fell. The rotation tracks or hail swath data can be overlaid on high-resolution street maps in Google Earth/Maps to pinpoint areas affected by the hazardous weather.