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Severe storms and tornadoes outbreak in the central and southern U.S.


An outbreak of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes was reported in the Central and Southern U.S. on Sunday, April 27. The severe weather is expected to continue into the new week as a potent storm system slowly pushes east. Damaging wind gusts, large hail and flooding rainfall are very likely.

National Weather Service (NWS) said that the threat for severe weather will last overnight Sunday into Monday morning in the Central and Southern U.S. Another significant outbreak, that could include strong tornadoes, is possible Monday afternoon and night in the Mid-South and Lower Miss. Valley. Severe weather could also impact parts of the Mid/Upper Miss. and Ohio Valleys. Heavy rainfall in the Midwest and South could cause flooding. 

NWS – Doppler Radar National Mosaic. Image credit: NOAA

A State of Emergency has been declared in Beaufort County, North Carolina, after a tornado destroyed homes, caused injuries, and left thousands without power on Friday, April 26. Emergency Management Director John Pack said all Beaufort County residents have been accounted for and no fatalities have been reported. Up to 8 000 households were in the dark at one point

On Sunday night, April 27, a massive tornado slammed Mayflower, Vilonia and El Paso, northwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, demolishing homes and businesses. Vilonia mayor James Firestone told CNN the tornado was much stronger than the 2011 tornado and had caused a lot more damage.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management confirmed at least eight death. Latest reports (08:00 UTC) say there are at least 13 storm-related deaths in Arkansas.

Faulkner County sheriff Andy Shock told the Associated Press there is "utter devastation," and that family members are searching for missing relatives. (TWC)

YouTube video

Video courtesy of Brian Emfinger

Two hours before the Arkansas tornado struck, a twister hit the small northeastern Oklahoma community of Quapaw, killing two people, Ottawa County sheriff's dispatcher Colleen Thompson said. 

After hitting Quapaw, the tornado moved northward into Kansas and struck Baxter Springs, a city of about 4 200 residents.

NOAA/NWS forecast for Monday, April 28, 2014.

Southeast Iowa was struck with the strongest storms in several years on Sunday. Damage was widespread throughout the region. Winds were estimated at 70 mph (112 km/h) when the storms hit Wapello County. 

Severe storms and tornadoes are expected through Wednesday.

Tornado season

Copyright © Mike Olbinski Photography

Tornadoes are more common in the United States than in any other country of the world and although the U.S. "tornado season", the period in which most tornadoes strike, is March through August violent tornadoes and major tornado outbreaks have been documented during every month of the year.

The Midwestern states are very prone to tornado activity, as it is part of "Tornado Alley", a colloquial term for the area of the United States where tornadoes are most frequent. States included in the area that are hit by tornadoes the most are Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.

As spring passes and summer begins, the mass of warm moist air moves northwest into the Great Plains and Midwestern states. During the months of May and June, tornado activity is at its peak in the southern Great Plains. The air mass then moves northward into the Northern Great Plains and the Great Lakes area, causing a tornado activity peak in these areas during the summer months. During the late summer and early fall months, tornado activity in the United States tapers off.

The Southern United States has suffered more tornado fatalities than any other part of the country. Some areas experience repeated damaging tornado events, such as the Tennessee Valley in northern Alabama. The state of Alabama is tied for the most reported F5 tornadoes. For the period 1950 to 2006, 358 people were killed by tornadoes in Alabama, ranking the state third nationwide behind Texas (521) and neighboring Mississippi (404). Fourth is Arkansas (336) and fifth is Tennessee with 271 fatalities. (Tornadoes in the United States)

A map of the frequency of F3 and greater intensity tornadoes by area. The darker colors highlight the areas typically known as a Tornado Alley. Image credit: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Featured image credit:  Brian Emfinger


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