March 2nd 2012 Severe Weather Outbreak
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On the morning of March 2nd, a very strong weather system was developing over Northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri. Very warm, moist air had surged into the Mid-South overnight as a warm front passed through the region. This warm air continued its surge into the Ohio Valley during the morning and afternoon hours. A dry line and cold front were also associated with this strong low pressure system. The jet stream, located directly above the Ohio Valley, had winds of 120 to 140 mph. All of these ingredients primed the atmosphere for a very large severe weather outbreak. As the low moved to the northeast, the cold front and dry line pushed across Arkansas. By 1 pm, the dry line was already beginning to move into the Mid-South while the cold front lagged behind in Central Arkansas. The dry line lowered dew points across the region and likely minimized the tornado threat in the Mid-South. Storms began to fire up between 3 and 4 pm across West Tennessee and North Mississippi once the cap broke. Several rounds of supercells would develop and move across the Mid-South through the late afternoon and evening hours. Numerous storms produced large hail and damaging winds. A few funnel clouds were reported with storms that moved across Monroe County in Mississippi and McNairy and Hardin Counties in Tennessee. The funnel clouds never touched down due to the drier air at the surface. One of the strongest storms, a bow echo, moved across Monroe and Chickasaw Counties in Mississippi later that evening. The Columbus, MS Radar was estimating winds speeds of 87 knots, or 100 mph, at 2000 feet above the ground near Trebloc, Mississippi. Severe winds from from this bow echo were still able to reach the ground; however, wind speeds were only 60 to 70 mph as indicated by the storm survey. Once these storms moved out of the region, it appeared as though the severe weather threat had ended. Unfortunately, one last storm decided to develop along the cold front and drop orange size hail, 3 inches in diameter, near Houlka, MS at 811 pm. Even through there were numerous instances of hail and wind damge, the Mid-South was spared this time from the significant tornado outbreak that occurred across the Ohio Valley and Southeastern United States.
Storm Survey Results:
A survey team that was dispatched Saturday March 3rd found:
Straight-line wind damage across Chickasaw and Monroe counties.
Estimated wind speeds of 60 to 70 mph caused sporadic damage across the two counties. Numerous trees were damaged with limbs snapped off. A few sheds and barns sustained some roof damage. A few homes received minor damage to the roof or siding.