2 Years Ago…Looking Back, April 28, 2014 Tornado Outbreak… #alwx @wvua23

042814_EventMap

It was 2 years ago today, that Alabama dealt with the worst tornado outbreak since the April 15th and 27th outbreak of 2011. I, along with Spinks Megginson was on TV for nearly 12 hours non-stop covering the tornadoes as they tracked across west, central and east Alabama. This was also the first day for WVUA in the new location of Bryant-Denny Stadium, as we had moved from Reese Phifer Hall into the Digital Media Center at the stadium. We were scheduled to have our first newscast from Bryant-Denny Stadium at 5pm, instead, we went on air at 2pm for tornado coverage.

The Storm Prediction Center issued northwest Alabama under a rare high risk of severe weather for that evening and night, as dangerous supercell thunderstorms were expected to develop. The map above shows the tornado paths across central Alabama. Keep in mind, this does not include the numerous tornadoes that tracked across north Alabama, in the Huntsville Market. This event was responsible for some fatalities acorss north Alabama… There was one fatality in Tuscaloosa, but it was not due to the tornado. The fatality in Tuscaloosa was related to a structural issue and very heavy rain.

Below is a look at one tornado that impacted the south side of the city of Tuscaloosa. It was rated an EF-1, but what is unique is the path width. This tornado was 4,500 feet wide, which is nearly 1 mile wide! I can’t recall ever having a tornado nearly 1 mile wide rated an EF-1. Looking back at radar images, it looked like a storm that would produce an EF-2 or EF-3 tornado. We are very fortunate it was not that strong, otherwise, we would have had fatalities in direct relation to the tornado. The Tuscaloosa tornado of that night was very close to the December 16, 2000 tornado path. Look at the side-by-side comparison from both tornadoes!

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Here’s a great overview from the National Weather Service in Birmingham on this event:

A large scale severe weather event began Saturday April 26 and ended Tuesday April 29th. This system produced several waves of severe weather. Strong and violent tornadoes, very large hail, flash flooding, and damaging straight line winds accompanied this dynamic storm system. This severe weather started in the Central and Southern Plains and moved eastward into the Midwest and Lower Mississippi Valley on April 27th. The most tornadoes occurred across the Deep South as the system moved into Mississippi and Alabama on April 28th. The event finally subsided on April 29th, but not before producing significant flooding and tornadoes along the Gulf Coast, tornadoes in the Carolinas, and severe weather into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. The was the largest tornado outbreak in Central Alabama since the infamous weather back in April 2011.

Thunderstorms development needs the proper combination of moisture, instability and lift. If these values are combined with high enough values, severe thunderstorms can develop. Then we add wind shear, which is the directional turning of the winds with height, and tornadoes are possible. Conditions over central Alabama on Monday April 28th had the perfect mixture of these ingredients to produce tornadoes, some of which were strong.

Supercell thunderstorms developed during the late Monday afternoon over eastern Mississippi and northwest Alabama. This activity developed well ahead of a cold front in the warm sector. The activity slowly proceded east and southeast and the threat ended early Tuesday morning.

Send us your weather pictures! Send them to weather@wvuatv.com. Also,look us up on facebook and twitter. Great way to get weather updates! Plus, facebook is a great way to send us weather pictures. Simply tag us!

Join us live on WVUA-TV weekdays at 5, 6 and 10:00 P.M. and weekends at 10PM for the very latest on your news, weather and sports.

Richard Scott
WVUA Chief Meteorologist
rscott@wvua23.com
Twitter: RichardWVUA23
Facebook: WVUA23RichardScott

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