All Weather News

Remembering the “Super Outbreak”

5 Apr 2013, 12:37 pm

With the severe weather season already underway, let’s take a minute to look back at the “Super Outbreak” of April 3-4 1974. It was one of the largest tornado outbreaks in history, with hundreds of storms producing tornadoes, hail, and wind.

Absolutely astounding levels of damage were left in the wake of these storms. The photo below is of Audobon Elementary School in Louisville, KY after being hit by an F-4 tornado.

Courtesy: NOAA

Here’s a look at the outbreak by-the-numbers:

A total of 315 to 330 people were killed in 171 tornadoes from April 1 through April 4 and 5,484 were injured. The Super Outbreak is designated as the 18-hour span between April 3rd and 4th that produced the most tornadoes.

The 1974 Outbreak was also notable for it’s number of large, violent tornadoes. While nationally we typically only see 7 strong tornadoes each year, there were over FOUR times as many strong tornadoes in this ONE day.

This event was broad, and encompassed much of the Lower Ohio Valley, the Tennessee Valley, and the Southeast. These storm tracks represent each of the tornadoes that touched down during the event:

Forecasting methods have greatly improved since the days of the Super Outbreak, but even with advances in technology, tornadoes are still incredibly unpredictable. Severe Weather Awareness week kicks off in Michigan on Monday, and many other states will be hosting theirs during the month of April. Take a minute to review your storm-safety plan — locate a good place to take shelter and change the batteries in your NOAA Weather Radio.

The severe weather season is underway, and our next chances for storms come next week. This is a preliminary outlook, but stay tuned to WeatherNation for updates around the clock.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers

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