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andyhb

Anniversary of the 3/2/12 Tornado Outbreak

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As the title suggests, today is the one year anniversary of the most significant tornado event to affect the Ohio Valley region in quite sometime (likely at least since the 6/2/90 outbreak) and one of the most impressive severe weather events in Early March on record in the United States, just two days after a deadly and destructive tornado struck Harrisburg, IL on the morning of Feb 29th. Towns such as New Pekin and Henryville, IN, West Liberty and Salyersville, KY and Moscow, OH suffered severe damage from strong/violent and fast moving tornadoes. This day also marked only the 3rd time since 1985 that two separate tornadoes killed 10 or more people (4/27/11 and 2/5/08 being the others).

 

Violent tornado moving into Henryville, IN on Louisville, KY radar:

 

HenryVilleTorReal8.jpg

 

The New Pekin/Henryville tornado:

 

tornado.jpg

 

West Liberty, KY tornado on Jackson, KY radar prior to reaching the town:

 

Clipboard02.jpg

 

MCD Issued as the outbreak was really going on in Eastern KY:

 

mcd0220.gif

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0220
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0513 PM CST FRI MAR 02 2012

AREAS AFFECTED...ERN KY INTO EXTREME SRN OH AND WRN WV

CONCERNING...TORNADO WATCH 58...62...

VALID 022313Z - 030015Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR TORNADO WATCH 58...62...CONTINUES.

DAMAGING TORNADO OUTBREAK UNDERWAY ACROSS ERN KY WITH SEVERAL
SUPERCELLS LIKELY CONTAINING STRONG TO VIOLENT TORNADOES. SUPERCELL
OVER MORGAN COUNTY KY IS MOVING INTO LAWRENCE COUNTY AND LIKELY
CONTAINS A VERY DAMAGING TORNADO. THIS STORM SHOULD EVENTUALLY
CONTINUE EWD INTO WAYNE COUNTY WV.

SUPERCELLS MOVING THROUGH ERN KY WILL CONTINUE THROUGH AN
ENVIRONMENT VERY FAVORABLE FOR STRONG TO VIOLENT TORNADOES AS THE
LLJ STRENGTHENS TO IN EXCESS OF 60 KT. LAST VWP DATA FROM JACKSON KY
INDICATE VERY LARGE 0-1 KM HODOGRAPHS WITH STORM RELATIVE HELICITY
ON THE ORDER OF 800 M2/S2 AND 500 J/KG MLCAPE. THESE PARAMETERS
ALONG WITH THE DISCRETE NATURE OF THE CONVECTION WILL CONTINUE TO
PROMOTE A THREAT OF TORNADOES...VERY LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WIND
NEXT FEW HOURS.

..DIAL.. 03/02/2012

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One thing that can be appreciated is just how lucky the big cities in the outbreak zone got on this day. Louisville, Lexington, the Cincinnati/Dayton metro and Nashville were all well under the gun with this event and the big storms decided to play hopscotch around them. Not to mention the threat down south didn't materialize as it could have later on with the gradually veering low level winds. There was a strong tornado in GA northwest of Atlanta and in Central AL (northern AL and the Chattanooga area got hit in the morning), but there could've been a secondary outbreak down there had things been tweaked just a bit.

 

0-6 km bulk shear graphic I posted from the 00z March 1st NAM.

 

NAM_221_2012030100_F45_SHRM_500_MB.png

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Worked here at NWS Chicago that day. It was scary and somber hearing law enforcement on NAWAS saying 'there's tornadoes everywhere.' Incredibly impressive event, those big cities truly are lucky, considering that the fact that debris rained down in parts of Cincy showed how close it was.

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EF 4's in Harrisburg and Henryville that early in the season that far north surprised me, but they were only a prelude to a record setting March temp wise.

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I've wondered what it would've been like if areas closer to the surface low had been able to destabilize. I remember someone posting a model image the night before that had good CAPE all the way into northern Indiana with a string of supercells running pretty much the entire length of the state.

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I've wondered what it would've been like if areas closer to the surface low had been able to destabilize. I remember someone posting a model image the night before that had good CAPE all the way into northern Indiana with a string of supercells running pretty much the entire length of the state.

 

Indianapolis would've been in trouble (as would Kokomo, Bloomington, , I believe Dayton would've been in far greater trouble as well. I remember you pulled some ridiculous sounding from there a couple of days out, I'll see if I can dig it up.

 

Ah yes, here it is...an EHI of 10.5 on March 2nd?

 

day.gif

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One of my favorite volume scans of all time from the Salyersville tornado.

 

 

post-3065-0-20926600-1362261900_thumb.pn

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Let's play "where's the tornado" with that volume scan. :P

 

And here's the 4 km NAM image that Hoosier was referring to (this had 2000 J/kg of CAPE to Kokomo), this would've been something else...

 

NAM4March2nd2012.png

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And this is the shear they would've had access to if they had fired in that area:

 

srh1201203022000.gif

srh1201203022100.gif

srh1201203022200.gif

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Thing I remember most about this day was the video from some dude's backyard. Tornado narrowly missed his neighborhood and one of the neighbor's tree blew over.

Yeah, if we're thinking about the same video, it's kinda cool how the tree waited to go down until right after the strongest winds passed. lol

The cool thing about stuff like this now is that everybody gets it on camera.

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If not for an accident on I-65 I would have been on the Henryville tor...Oh, what could have been...

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Indianapolis would've been in trouble (as would Kokomo, Bloomington, , I believe Dayton would've been in far greater trouble as well. I remember you pulled some ridiculous sounding from there a couple of days out, I'll see if I can dig it up.

 

Ah yes, here it is...an EHI of 10.5 on March 2nd?

 

day.gif

I remember I was under a PDS Tornado Watch which actually extended about 70 miles north of me as well. Local met said the storms along the OH River prevented additional development farther north otherwise it could have been just as bad here.

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One of the tornadoes in Indiana came from a storm that was embedded in moderate rain (Holton EF-3). It didn't have a long life (compared to the other supercells) but it was deadly.

 

I was away from my computer for about an hour that afternoon (1:30-2:30 or so) and remember seeing how much had changed on the radar in that span of time (the lead supercell in southern Indiana had developed and was producing tornadoes).

 

That's the most impressive radar display I've seen for this area since the WSR-88Ds were installed in the 90s.

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Won't ever forget this day. They had a parade in Henryville this past Saturday in memory of those that died and to honor our local TV stations that brought wall to wall coverage on that dreadful day.

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Bumping this since it is the 5 year anniversary today and I've worked on some graphics in Python to display radar loops using both Level II and III data. One below is of the New Pekin/Henryville EF4 and then the West Liberty EF3 (two deadliest tornadoes of the outbreak).

hville_wlib.gif

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I responded after the tornado went through Henryville and stayed there for three and a half weeks assisting with recovery (hence my profile picture). Nothing like rolling up on a completely destroyed city, the only lights shining on search and rescue teams going through a rubble pile that was a school, and just people walking around with nothing. Changed my life forever.

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I was one of those people you saw walking on the street. 

I'm 2 years late, but thank you for helping my hometown. It showed how compassionate people can be.

It's been so long now, but I still cant stand the sound of hail on a metal roof.

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