April Tornado Facts
1959 to 2006
Total Reported Tornadoes 5376 with
15 F5 113 F4 329 F3
1059 F2 1856 F1 2004 F0
Of the total tornadoes 28% would be classified as strong/violent
during this period. 44 States in the US have recorded
tornadoes in April since 1959. During April since 1959 1193 deaths have been recorded from
these tornadoes. April has recorded a very high number of F5
tornadoes since 1959, with an incredible 59 tornadoes that have had
a track length of greater than 50 miles. Also known for many Palm
Sunday outbreaks, April is a deadly month when it comes to
tornadoes. Is your family storm plan ready?
To the left is a graphic of the first 11 days of April where
tornadoes have occurred by location from 1959 to 2006.
You can see early April can be a busy time for tornadoes across the
US. Historical information like this is a good starting point
in determining where tornadoes are likely to occur when storm
systems develop during early spring.
Watch these clips of a tornado on April 29th shot by Tornado Tim
Plainview Tornado Video Part 1
Plainview Tornado Video Part 2
April 3-4, 1974, a super tornado
outbreak occurred and was the worst tornado outbreak in U.S.
That day an incredible six F5 tornadoes
struck. Remember there are many years were no F5 tornadoes happen,
so that many in one day is almost unthinkable. Known
as one of the Super Tornado Outbreaks, 148 twisters struck in
that one day alone. 13 states were struck by twisters: Alabama,
Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North
Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West
Virginia. Also an incredible statistic was that 118 of the tornadoes
had paths over a mile long.
Just that one
outbreak left tens of thousands homeless, over 6000 people injured
and 330 killed so the need for help was enormous. The American Red
Cross, with chapters in the states affected by the devastation,
provided much of the needed assistance. Communities found help to
rebuild with federal and state funds, but Xenia Ohio also found that
the human spirit can be a great catalyst for bouncing back. The city
setup a “Spirit of '74 Committee” that began a movement to stay and
rebuild. Their courage was proudly displayed on cars around town,
with a bumper sticker exclaiming, “Xenia Lives!” encouraging others
to stay. In other states as well it was people coming together like
this that helped most people find the strength and desire to
Of all my years of chasing storms and tornadoes, I still haven’t
seen anything close to the April 3rd and 4th 1974 tornado outbreak.
To me, it was an almost unbelievable event because of the large area
it covered and because it produced that record of six F5 tornadoes.
Remember, most years a storm chaser doesn’t see even one F5 tornado.
Many of the storms topped 60,000 feet in height and built so fast
weather experts still talk about it to this day with awe.
At the time the
National Weather Service offices were using radar that limited their
view of the storms, leaving them with looking for a tornado
signature called a hook echo. The warnings were then sent by
teletype where the warning had to be manually punched onto a paper
punch tape which was then manually fed thru a reader. Those with
teletype readers in other locations, such as TV and radio stations
would then get these warnings and finally pass them onto their
viewers/listeners. This system limited how fast the warnings could
be sent out and the system ran into a bottle neck from the shear
number of warnings, limiting how much information was able to be
transmitted before the tornadoes hit. Even with the limited warning
system at that time, more people could have died during this
outbreak, but because of tornadoes that happened a few days earlier,
people were more on guard during this outbreak then they might
otherwise have been.
Today, due to great advancements in technology we
have new ways to track storms. Tools such as Doppler radar allow us
to see storm rotation early on giving us faster and more precise
warnings. We are also able to send warnings by TV, Radio, Cell
Phone, and the internet within minutes of the first detection making
rapid warnings easy for people to obtain.
Researchers, scientists, and inventors are
vital in making our warning systems even better and saving more
lives in the future. With the incredible advances in tornado
warnings and the knowledge we have made since 1974, I can only
imagine how fantastic the advances in the future will be.
The Palm Sunday outbreak of April
11, 1965, spawned 31 tornadoes, which had paths totaling 853 miles,
and killed 256.
And more recently April 19, 1996
tornadoes racked across Illinois with more than 30 tornadoes in that
state on that one day alone.
People in Nashville Tennessee may
remember the tornadoes that ripped through the city on April
16, 1998, with 3 tornadoes touched down in Nashville. One tornado
touched down near the intersection of Charlotte Pike and Forty-sixth
Avenue and traveled through the downtown area and was rated an F3.
That same year Birmingham, Alabama was hit with an F5 tornado on
April 8th killing 32 people carving a 31 mile path over the
April 10, 1979 Tornadoes killed 53 in Texas
and 3 in Oklahoma known as the Red River Valley Outbreak.
3 of the main storms in the Red River Valley outbreak were
very large tornadoes lasting for an hour or more and left a
continuous track of ground damage 35 miles or longer.
Then who can forget the F5 tornado that struck Monday 29 April
2002 that hit La Plata, Maryland causing extensive damage and
reminding us tornadoes happen all over the US, not just in the areas
known as tornado alley. No one should be too surprised if a tornado
heads in your area during April.
As you can tell, April historically
has been a dangerous month for tornadoes.
April 2, 2006 Storm Damage Surveys and