April Severe Weather Events Set New Tornado Records for Alabama(Updated August 24, 2011)


The April severe weather outbreaks across the south ravaged much of the state of Alabama and impacted many of its citizens. Some locations were impacted more than once throughout the month and some were hit twice in the same day. The tornado outbreaks of April 15th and April 27th led to dozens and dozens of confirmed tornadoes. The April 27th event will go down in history as one of the most deadly systems not only in Alabama, but in the entire nation. Not only was the April 27th event historic in the number of tornadoes that day, more than 50, it was also historic in the magnitude, intensity and path length of several tornadoes.   

To date, several tornado climatology records have already been exceeded this year and we haven't even reached the end of spring severe weather season yet. Through the end of April, Alabama tornadoes accounted for 10 percent of all tornadoes across the country for the year to date. Who knows what the rest of the year has in store for us, but let's hope that it is much kinder than the first four months have turned out to be.

Below is a compilation of some tornado stats and records for Alabama:

Tornado Climatology for Alabama:

Tornado Statistics                                 # of Tornadoes

30-year average (1981-2010)                       37
April  2011                                                   109* (1,2)
Year to Date                                                121* (1)
Yearly Record                                              121* (1) in 2011, previous 94 in 2008

There were more F-4/EF-4 tornadoes in 2011 than in the period of 2000-2010.  This year now holds the record for the most F-4/EF-4 and F-5/EF-5 tornadoes in a single year. 

*Important note: The total number of tornadoes for the month of April and 2011 to date is still considered preliminary.  These totals still may need to be adjusted.

(1) Updated 8/24/2011 (2) The number of monthly tornadoes in April alone exceeded the previous annual record number of tornadoes in Alabama.

Greatest Number of Tornadoes in a single event:

Rank       # of tornadoes               Date(s)

1                        62                  April 27, 2011*
2                        45                  April 15, 2011*
3                        36               Novermber 24, 2001
4                        24               April 8, 2006
5                        23                 September 25, 2005
6(T)                   21                August 16, 1985
6(T)                   21               September 28, 1998
8                       20                     May 7, 2003
9(T)                  18                     May 3, 1984
9(T)                  18                   April 19, 2009

*Number of tornadoes is still preliminary


Alabama F-4/EF-4 and F-5/EF-5 Tornadoes*:

Time Period       F-4 OR EF-4       F-5 OR EF-5

SINCE 1874              64                        6
SINCE 1950              32                        6
APRIL 27, 2011          8                         3

*Based on maximum EF rating along the entire track.

List of Alabama F-5/EF-5 Tornadoes:

March 3, 1966   -   Vienna-Benovala (Pickens, Tuscaloosa)
April 3, 1974       -   Moulton (Lawrence, Limestone, Morgan, Madison)

April 3, 1974      -  Athens - Vanntown (Limestone, Madison, Lincoln, TN)
April 3, 1974      -    Guin (Lamar, Marion, Winston, Lawrence, Morgan)
April 4, 1977      -    Smithfield (Jefferson)
April 8, 1998      -    Oak Grove (Tuscaloosa, Jefferson)
April 27, 2011    -  Smithville, MS - Shottsville, AL (Marion, Franklin)
April 27, 2011    -  Hackleburg (Marion, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, 
                                  Limestone, Madison)


Deadliest U.S. Tornado Outbreaks:

Rank       Date(s)            Outbreak Name                                                                   Fatalities

1              3/18/1925       Tri-State Tornado Outbreak                                                    747+
2              4/4-5/1936      Tupelp-Gainesville Tornado Outbreak*                                 454
3              3/28/1920        Palm Sunday 1920 Outbreak*                                               380+
4             4/25-28/2011    Southern State Outbreak Squence*                                     339
5             3/21-22/1932    Deep South Outbreak*                                                           330+
6             4/23-25/1908    Dixie Outbreak*                                                                       324
7             4/1-4/1974        Super Outbreak Sequence*                                                   319
8             5/27-28/1896    St. Louis/East St. Louis Outbreak                                         305
9             4/11-12/1965    Palm Sunday Outbreak 1965                                                 256
10           6/7-9/1952        Flint-Worchester Outbreak Sequence                                   247

*Indicates outbreak affected Alabama.

NOTE: Tornado fatality numbers for 2011 are still preliminary.

Special thanks to the Huntsville and Mobile offices of the National Weather Service for their contributions providing the most current information possible to produce this summary.

For more information about the April Tornado Outbreaks in Alabama, please visit the Alabama National Weather Service office websites.

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