This day in weather history: 2011 tornado outbreak causes $10.2 billion in damage

CLARK COUNTY, Ohio — On this day in weather history, one of the deadliest and costliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history happened. April 27th, 2011, was the most active of a three and a half day tornado outbreak spanning April 25 – 28, 2011.

In total, an estimated 360 tornadoes touched-down causing $10.2 billion in damage. Ohio missed the worst of the weather, but still recorded one confirmed tornado in Clark County.

During the outbreak, 324 deaths can be tied directly to tornadoes. This made the outbreak the deadliest since 1974.

The massive number of damage reports, casualties, and confirmed tornadoes resulted in the storm system being dubbed the Super Outbreak of 2011. It’s record 360 tornadoes is the most ever spawned by one storm system.

During that storm, 216 of those tornadoes occurred within a single 24-hour period, which is also a record. Both records were previously held by the 1974 super outbreak.

Alabama received the worst of the weather and saw 58 tornadoes touch down in the state. Seven of those were of EF-4 intensity, while two were rated EF-5. During that outbreak, 253 of the 324 deaths occurred in Alabama.

The high number of deaths in the south during the outbreak can be partially attributed to lack of electricity when the worst of the weather moved in. During the early-morning hours of April 27, 2011, an intense squall line moved through parts of Alabama and Tennessee, knocking out power to over 1,000,000 customers.

Telephone lines and some NOAA Weather Radio towers were also knocked out. Those services were not restored before the second round of severe weather moved in during the afternoon. That led to 1,000,000+ people with very limited, and in some cases, no way to receive warnings of the approaching violent tornadoes later that afternoon.

Fortunately, tornado outbreaks like the one that occurred from April 25 – 28, 2011 are rare. They can be described as generational. A tornado outbreak of this magnitude may only occur once or twice during our lifetimes.

There has not been a tornado outbreak of this magnitude since 2011.

Comments on this article