Service Assessment: Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak of February 5-6, 2008   [open pdf - 1MB]

"During a 12-hour period in the evening and early morning of February 5-6, 2008, 87 tornadoes occurred in nine states with 57 fatalities in four states. This is the second largest February tornado outbreak since 1950 (beginning year of official tornado database) in terms of fatalities and the largest since May 31, 1985. Fatalities occurred in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama. There were five violent Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale 4 tornadoes reported; two each in Tennessee and Alabama, and one in Arkansas. The EF4 tornado in Arkansas had a remarkable 122-mile continuous damage path; this was the longest path length of a tornado in the state since at least 1950. A deadly EF3 tornado that touched down northeast of Nashville, Tennessee, carved a 51- mile path of destruction claiming 22 lives. This was the deadliest tornado in the United States since a tornado in Evansville, Indiana, November 2005 killed 25 people. Due to the magnitude of this event, a service assessment team was formed to evaluate the warning and forecast services provided to key decision makers and the public. In keeping with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) goals of developing hazard-resilient communities, the team was also tasked with trying to identify possible reasons for the large loss of life during this event. The facts, findings, recommendations, and best practices from this assessment are offered with the goals of 1) improving the quality of warning and forecast products and services; and 2) enhancing the ability of the National Weather Service (NWS) to increase public education and awareness regarding issues associated with tornado safety. The ultimate goal is to help meet the NWS mission of protecting lives and property and enhancing the national economy."

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