An Overview of the 28 April 2014 Tornado Outbreak in the Tennessee Valley

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 2:30 PM
229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Christopher B. Darden, NOAA/NWSFO, Huntsville, AL; and B. C. Carcione, D. J. Nadler, K. D. White, and B. R. Williams
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On 28 April 2014, a tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the southeastern United States. The 14-county area served by the National Weather Service forecast office in Huntsville, Alabama was impacted by a total of thirteen tornadoes, including four EF-3 tornadoes and three EF-2 tornadoes.

While little of this seems unusual, there were three particularly interesting aspects to this event. First, a majority of the confirmed tornadoes were significant and more than 30 percent of the tornadoes were strong, yet only two of these tornadoes remained on the ground for more than 15 miles. Second, several of these tornadoes exhibited deviant storm motions, unusual positioning, or rapid intensification which created significant challenges for warning decision-making, communication, and safety. It is hypothesized that mesoscale boundaries played a large role in the strength and short duration of the tornadoes, but the role of storm motions and positioning will require longer-term study. Last but not least, the outbreak occurred three years and one day later after a more infamous event: the 27 April 2011 outbreak. The long shadow of the 2011 outbreak impacted preparation, decision support, and decision-making for the 2014 outbreak amongst the public, media, public service, and meteorological communities. Nearly all efforts were viewed through the lens of the 2011 outbreak, which created a significant emotional connection, but also likely enhanced preparation.

This presentation will provide a general overview of the event including underlying synoptic and mesoscale meteorological conditions and a brief radar analysis. The impacts of an outbreak occurring so close to the 27 April 2011 anniversary will also be discussed in greater detail.