Tornadoes April 2014

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Tornadoes April 2014

Post  Raymond_Smith on Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:13 pm

Tornado Outbreak Kills at Least 36 as Threat Pushes Into Fourth Day: State-by-State Updates

A multi-day severe weather event is expected to continue across parts of the South and mid-Atlantic Wednesday, bringing deadly flooding, damaging winds, hail and tornadoes to the region for a fourth consecutive day.

Flash flooding and at least five tornadoes were reported in eastern North Carolina by Tuesday evening, the Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, areas of the Florida Panhandle were under flash flood warnings Thursday morning as record rainfall left homes, cars and streets under water.

(MORE: Track the Ongoing Severe Threat | Live Updates)

On Monday, dozens of tornadoes flared up across the South inflicting widespread damage across Alabama and Mississippi that contributed to the deaths of more than a dozen individuals. Preliminary reports from the National Weather's Storm Prediction Center indicate 80 reports of tornadoes from 3 p.m. CDT Monday through 2 a.m. Tuesday, though the number of confirmed tornadoes could be different as surveys are conducted by the NWS.

At least 15 people were killed in Mississippi from the wave of tornadoes that scarred the state, nine of which died in Winston County. In Alabama, three people were reported dead, two in the northern part of the state and one in Tuscaloosa. In total, at least 36 people have been killed, and countless more injured, from the severe storms that started in the Midwest Sunday and continue to push into the South into Tuesday.

Arkansas suffered some of the heaviest damage and the largest number of deaths so far from the multi-day severe outbreak, after tornadoes from a long-lived supercell thunderstorm ripped through the center of the state, killing at least 15 people Sunday.

Below is a rundown of the outbreak's impact for each state:

Alabama

Heavy rainfall is causing flood problems for Gulf Coast communities in Alabama, which is dealing with severe weather for a third straight day.

The National Weather Service says portions of southwest Alabama that have seen up to 11 inches of rain already this week could get another 2 to 4 inches Wednesday. Mobile and Baldwin counties have been placed under a flash flood warning until 9 a.m. Residents were being urged to stay off roads Wednesday morning except in emergencies.

A series of tornadoes lashed the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala. metro areas in the late evening hours Monday. A debris ball showed up on radar over Bessemer, Ala., just to the southwest of downtown Birmingham, but the reported tornado fizzled out before it could inflict further damage on highly populated areas. In Bessemer, Jefferson County Emergency Management officer Horace Walker told AL.com that there were no fatalities in the area, but damage was reported at an apartment complex near UAB Medical West hospital. The full extent of damage in Bessemer may not be known until the daylight hours.

Reporting live from Salem, Alabama, Tuesday morning, The Weather Channel meteorologist Kait Parker remarked on the widespread damage in the town just east of Auburn.

"I'm in the middle of devastation," she said. "I'm absolutely in the middle of devastation here. There's more than structural damage here. We're talking about a neighborhood that's gone."

(MORE: Here's How You Can Help Tornado Victims)

In Tuscaloosa, 21-year-old John Servati was killed when a possible tornado struck near Tuscaloosa Monday night. Servati and his girlfriend were hiding in the basement when a retaining wall was knocked onto him. He was a member of the swimming and diving team at the University of Alabama.

Limestone County Emergency Director Rite White told the Associated Press that two people were confirmed killed west of Athens, Ala. in a mobile home park there. That tornado left EF3 damage, as confirmed by a National Weather Service crew that surveyed the damage on Tuesday. The twister packed winds as high as 165 mph.

An EF1 tornado was confirmed in the Kimberly community, north of Birmingham.


Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency in Alabama as severe weather continued to impact the state Monday night.

Arkansas

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe visited several homes Tuesday that were damaged by a deadly twister, stopping at one location where three members of a family were killed. The state death toll from Sunday's tornado stands at 15, with three of those deaths — a father and two daughters — occurring at a central Arkansas home of 11 people at the border of Pulaski and Saline County.

"It was kind of heartbreaking those two little girls that I talked to that lost two of their siblings and their dad," Beebe told reporters afterward. "That's utter destruction up there ... and these people need to know that folks care about them just as much as folks in Faulkner County. ... There's not a lot I can do. We've got good people doing all of the hard work. But I can see if there's any other resources that are needed."


One of those girls was 19-year-old Whitney Tittle, who survived the tornado that killed her 48-year-old father Rob and two of her sisters — Tori, 20, and Rebekah, 14. The family had scurried for safety under the stairs of their two-story house, but only half of them made it before the tornado obliterated the walls.

"I was with my mom when we suddenly heard a loud hum going faster and faster," she said. "We heard that it sounded like a train, but a tornado doesn't sound anything like a train. ... We were all flown into the backyard."

Tittle, who was still picking through the rubble, said they had managed to find her parents' wedding photos in the debris. Her mother, she said, was mostly all right physically, but was "stressed and grieving."

(MORE: Here's How the NWS Warnings Saved Lives in Arkansas)

The tornado that hit Vilonia and nearby Mayflower could be rated as one of the nation's strongest twisters to date this year. National Weather Service meteorologists confirmed it will be rated no lower than EF3, which has winds greater than 136 mph. President Obama declared a disaster for Arkansas Tuesday afternoon, sending federal aid to assist in state and local recovery efforts.

Vilonia police say two men have been arrested on suspicion of looting in a neighborhood hit hard by Sunday's tornado.

Vilonia Police Chief Brad McNew says the two men were caught stealing copper wire and compressors from air conditioners in the town's Parkwood subdivision, which sustained major damage in the tornado. Police arrested James Steven Howard and Dustin Brooks Houston, both of Morrilton. The Log Cabin Democrat reports that both men were arrested Tuesday night on misdemeanor charges of theft, trespassing and possession of an instrument of crime. Both men remain jailed in Faulkner County and authorities did not know if they had attorneys. The police chief says officers from multiple law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for looters in the area.

Florida

In the latest blow from a dayslong chain of severe weather across the South and Midwest, the Florida Panhandle was hit with widespread flooding early Wednesday, with people stranded in cars and homes waiting for rescuers to find a way around impassable roads and others abandoning vehicles to walk to safety. As a result, Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for the panhandle.

Fire rescue crews weren't able to respond to some calls for help because of road flooding in and around Pensacola, and one woman died when she drove her car into high water, officials said.

"It's gotten to the point where we can't send EMS and fire rescue crews out on some 911 calls because they can't get there," Escambia County spokesman Bill Pearson said. "We've had people whose homes are flooding and they've had to climb up to the attic."

Some people left their flooded cars and walked to find help on their own. "We have people at the police department," Officer Justin Cooper of the Pensacola Police Department said. "They walked up here and are hanging out until things get better."

As much as 15 to 20 inches had fallen in Pensacola in a 24-hour period, National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Grigsby in New Orleans said Wednesday morning, with a few more inches expected. Grigsby said aerial rescues were planned, and the county moved boats and jet skis from the beaches to the streets to help. A portion of Interstate 10 was closed.

"We've seen pictures that people are posting with water halfway up their doors, front doors," Grigsby said. "It's going to be a big cleanup, looks like."

Georgia

Georgians are being cautioned to watch out for potentially severe weather for a third day, with strong thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes possible mostly in the middle and southern regions of the state. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch early Wednesday for seven counties in southwest Georgia — Baker, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Mitchell and Seminole — that was expected to expire at 8 a.m. Meanwhile, forecasters say middle Georgia could still see isolated severe thunderstorms and minor flooding Wednesday. The weather service says those threats should pass by sunset.

(PHOTOS: Horrific Damage Left Behind)

Southeast Georgia, which has largely been spared from stormy weather earlier in the week, could see widespread thunderstorms Wednesday between late morning and early evening. Forecasters say some of these storms could become severe, producing hail or even tornadoes.

Residents in Troup and Heard counties continued to clean up from a confirmed tornado Monday night. The tornado carved a 5.5-mile path of damage across western Georgia. A survey crew at the National Weather Service announced Tuesday that the twister was an EF2, packing winds as high as 120 mph.

Iowa

Authorities in southeastern Iowa say two people are dead and others are injured after powerful storms swept through the state.

One tornado was spotted northeast of Mount Vernon, Iowa, Sunday afternoon. The other tornado was spotted in a field north of Floris, Iowa. At least one farm near Wapello sustained damage to the roof and porch.

The Keokuk County Sheriff's Office confirmed two fatalities from Sunday's storms. Pam Ledger died Tuesday morning from injuries sustained after a barn collapsed in Keokuk County. Another person died Sunday when strong winds caused an outbuilding to collapse in a rural area near Kinross. That person's identity has not been released.

South of Udell, several farm buildings were damaged or destroyed as the storms moved through. Several trees about one-foot in diameter were snapped off. The roof of the Oskaloosa Family Medical Center in Mahaska was damaged.

Kansas

A tornado that tore through the southeastern Kansas town of Baxter Springs left 25 people injured and more than 100 homes and businesses damaged but caused no serious injuries or deaths, Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves said Monday. The tornado was given a preliminary EF2 rating by the National Weather Service on Monday.

Nine of those injured when the storm hit Sunday evening were hospitalized with injuries that are not considered life-threatening. A person who died Sunday night suffered from a medical condition and the death was not attributed to the storm, he added.

The storm did damage ranging from minor to total destruction of 100 homes and 12 businesses in the town of about 4,200. On Monday, workers were restoring power to about 40 percent of the community and to 91 residents whose gas was disconnected after the twister.

The storm, which Groves said was 2 miles long and 2 blocks wide, also left behind mounds of debris, twisted metal, hanging power lines and residents grateful to have survived.

Sue McBride woke up Monday at a Red Cross emergency shelter. She said she saw the tornado coming and was able to get inside her home before glass started flying around her. She says she survived without a scratch.

The tornado struck around 5:45 p.m. Sunday, cutting a diagonal through the town of about 4,200 people. Baxter Springs is located about six miles north of Quapaw, Oklahoma, where the same tornado struck just before hitting the Kansas town.

Kentucky

The National Weather Service has determined that injuries and damage in Harlan County were caused by 90 mph straight-line winds. The weather service said the storm on Monday caused three minor injuries and damaged three buildings in Evarts, including one building hit by a tree. Numerous trees were also reported damaged. Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill said the storm also downed power lines and caused power outages in the county.

Louisiana

A tornado touched down in rural northwest Louisiana around 3:15 a.m. on Monday, injuring one teenager and severely damaging his home. In northwest Louisiana, a teenager suffered minor injuries when a tornado touched down there early Monday. Bill Davis, a spokesman for the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office, said the tornado hit around 3:15 a.m. Monday, about six miles west of Plain Dealing, in mostly a rural area. The teen suffered cuts and bruises and his home was heavily damaged.

Mississippi

At least nine tornadoes struck Mississippi on Monday, including an EF4 or stronger in Louisville and EF3 tornadoes in Tupelo and Richland, the National Weather Service said Tuesday. Six of the eight in central Mississippi were confirmed by radar signatures for debris but had not been checked by ground crews, said Daniel Lamb, a meteorologist in the weather service's Jackson office. They were generally along Interstate 20 between Vicksburg, Jackson and Meridian, he said.

"There may be more than that. Those are just the ones that we're aware of from the radar," he said.

Lamb said damage was still being assessed both in Lewisville and for the 4-mile track from Richland through Pearl. The tornado that hit Tupelo left a 24-mile-long swath from 7 miles south-southwest of Tupelo to the town of Ozark in Itawamba County, said Marlene Mickelson, a meteorologist in the service's Memphis, Tenn., office. Meteorologists thought at first there had been two tornadoes in north Mississippi, she said. "We determined it was just one with a long track."


Lamb said twisters identified by radar were southeast of Vicksburg in Warren County; north of Utica in Hinds County; north of Bolton, which is 20 miles north-northeast of Utica, in northern Hinds County; near Lake Caroline in Madison County; from Forest in Scott County to north of Lake in Newton County, a 9-mile track; and south of Decatur in Newton County.

Missouri

A large tornado was confirmed on live television Sunday night about 70 miles south of Kansas City on the Kansas/Missouri line in Linn and Bates counties.

North Carolina

A strong line of storms is moving across central North Carolina, bringing high winds and flooding rains.

The National Weather Service posted a series of tornado warnings across central North Carolina early Wednesday as the storms moved east across the region. Warnings included the Raleigh-Durham area. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries.

At least five counties reported tornadoes Tuesday, and more severe weather is likely Wednesday.

Schools in Wilson planned to open two hours later than usual because of the weather. Flooding was reported in Fayetteville, where 74 people were rescued from flooded vehicles and homes Tuesday.

Two people were taken to a hospital. There was no immediate word on their conditions. Fire department officials said lightning strikes caused two fires. A number of roads were closed for a time, but most of those were open Wednesday morning. Seven buildings at Fayetteville State University suffered flooding on the ground floors.


Ohio

A series of strong storms that swept through central Ohio brought high winds and scattered reports of damage. The storms late Tuesday were part of a powerful weather system that spawned fatal tornadoes in the South.

Winds picked up and flipped a mobile home in the community of Bellville in Richland County, south of Mansfield. In Delaware, just north of Columbus, a roof was blown off a downtown building and onto a car parked on the street. Downed tree limbs also closed a road in Delaware. Scattered power outages were reported in central Ohio overnight.

Heavy rain also led to flash flood warnings for parts of central and southeast Ohio early Wednesday.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency Monday for Ottawa County following a tornado that struck Quapaw, killing at least one person and injuring six. Monday afternoon, an NWS survey crew rated the tornado as an EF2.

John L. Brown, 68, was killed after a concrete wall fell on his car, trapping him and his wife. The couple were driving through downtown Quapaw when the tornado struck. The two sought shelter in a parking lot, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, but high winds brought down a nearby wall onto their vehicle. Mr. Brown was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Brown was rescued from the vehicle, treated at a nearby hospital and later released.

Fallin says the state is prepared to offer every resource available to assist with the cleanup, rebuilding and recovery. The town of about 900 residents suffered heavy damage from the tornado, Ottawa County Emergency Management Director Joe Dan Morgan said.

The tornado damaged or destroyed about 60 buildings in the town of 900, including Quapaw's volunteer fire department station and a bank, reported News9.com. Although cleanup and rescue efforts are ongoing, Ozarksfirst.com reported the town does not have electricity and that authorities are concerned about the water supply and have asked residents to conserve.

Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam planned to survey the devastation wrought by a deadly tornado in Lincoln County on Wednesday. Monday night's tornado started near the Alabama line and cut a path to the northeastern corner of the county, leaving two dead and at least 25 homes and one elementary school destroyed.

"It was very chaotic for several hours," Lincoln County Sherriff Murray Blackwelder said. "By the grace of God, we were able to get by with only two fatalities out of this mass destruction."

The National Weather Service has not yet made a final call on the on the strength of the tornado, but set a preliminary rating of EF3 with winds between 136 mph and 165 mph. Haslam was scheduled to view the damage both from a helicopter and on the ground Wednesday morning. Authorities on Tuesday identified the victims as John and Karen Prince. They were killed when their mobile home was thrown several hundred yards from its foundation.

Rickey Shelton, who lives up the street from the Prince home, was in his house when his son called to warn him that severe weather was headed his way. Shelton said he huddled in an interior hallway with his wife as the tornado raged around him.

"I put my arm around her and said a prayer," he said. "You don't know how long it is. It feels like forever, and then it feels like it's quick."

The tornado tore off the roof and destroyed much of the rest of the house, but left the Sheltons unharmed. Shelton's daughter Tiffani Danner, who lives across from the couple killed by the tornado, had left her home before the storm and said she learned of the Princes' fate when she returned the next day.

"We pulled up, and were in shocked seeing our own home," she said. "But then we saw Karen's father, and he said 'John and Karen are gone — They didn't make it.'"

Virginia

The National Weather Service says there's a large storm system making its way through Virginia that could bring heavy rains, hail and strong winds. The storm that began late Tuesday was expected to last several days and spread from the mountains to the coast. In southwest Virginia, there are flash flood watches in effect for numerous cities and counties. On the Eastern Shore, heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and gusty winds are possible into Wednesday.

Multiple counties in central Virginia were also under a flood watch from Tuesday evening through late Wednesday night. That includes parts of south central Virginia and the piedmont of central Virginia. Weather forecasters also say that the Hampton Roads region of Virginia and east central Virginia may also experience thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, strong wind gusts and hail.


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