1 Year Anniversary of April 25-28, 2011 Tornado Outbreak

Nearly one year ago today the third largest tornado outbreak in US history (since systematic tornado record keeping began in 1950) was recorded on April 25-28, 2011. The areas most affected by the devastating tornadoes included the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States. In particular, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia were hit hardest. According to a Department of Commerce Service Assessment report, more than 200 tornadoes occurred in the aforementioned states which resulted in 316 deaths, 2,400 injuries and over $4.2 billion in property damage. Out of the 200 tornadoes, 15 were considered to be EF4 to EF5 (Enhanced Fujita Scale 4 or 5) tornadoes. Note: The two deadliest tornado outbreaks ever recorded include the 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak (368 deaths) and the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak (337 deaths).

After the dust settled and each state began to rebuild and evaluate how they could better prepare for tornado outbreaks; Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appointed 19 civic, community, and business leaders to a council which aided in the creation of a report titled, ”Cultivating a State of Readiness: Our Response to April 27, 2011.” From the report: “‘We pray that no disaster in our time or any time in the future will mirror the storms that tore across our state in April,’ Gov. Bentley said. ‘But by deepening our understanding of this tragedy and its effects, we can improve our ability to prepare for and respond to a broad range of potential disasters here in Alabama and help inform leaders in other states who might face similar challenges.'”

Following the outbreak, the Federal Emergency Management Agency deployed three Mitigation Assessment Teams (MAT) to the areas affected by the tornadoes. The goals of the MATs included: “(1) investigate and assess the performance of safe rooms and shelters, and document damages observed; (2) investigate and assess residential building performance, focusing on newer construction where possible; (3) investigate and assess the performance of critical and essential facilities (e.g., hospitals, schools, emergency operation centers, fire stations, communication towers, etc.); (4) evaluate operational issues resulting from damage of critical facilities (e.g., the effect of damage on response and recovery); and (5) evaluate and provide field evidence to determine the tornado ratings on the EF Scale for the evaluated locations.”

The magnitude of destruction brought upon the areas in United States affected by the April 2011 tornado outbreak reinforces the importance of disaster preparedness for local, state, and federal governments. In addition, this is a reminder to those who live in areas prone to extreme weather and tornadoes, to be vigilant and prepared in the case that a tornado touches down in inhabited areas.

We invite anyone who reads this commemorative blog to take advantage of the emergency and disaster preparedness resources that we provide here at the HSDL. Below are some valuable resources and websites pertaining to severe weather and tornadoes.

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week [2012]
CDC: Emergency Preparedness and Response: Tornadoes
FEMA: Tornado
National Weather Service
Remarks by the President During Tour of Tornado Devastation [April 29, 2011]
Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes in the United States [May 26, 2011]
Severe Weather Preparedness

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/s_4534