One Storm Amongst Many
The morning, afternoon, and night of April 27, 2011 was remembered for being chaos—storms everywhere, tornadoes with many of the storms, multiple large tornadoes happening simultaneously. But as have had time to understand more about this event, bring some order out of the chaos, here’s an example of a recent discovery. We knew there was a really bad tornado near Chattanooga (in the Apison area) with multiple fatalities in both Bradley and Hamilton Counties. We had known there had been multiple fatalities in Greene County in the Camp Creek area. We knew south of our area of responsibility that Ringgold, GA had been hit really hard with multiple fatalities. For this general area these seemed to be the worst tornadoes—each one with 6+ fatalities in the respective counties. What did these storms have in common with each other; what could we learn???
Pretty soon after the event it was realized that the Ringgold tornado crossed from Georgia into Tennessee and was the same tornado that caused the devastation in the Apison area. What about Camp Creek what else had that storm done previous to its entering Greene County? When checking on this storm via radar archive data it was very quickly realized that Ringgold/Apison storm had lots in common with the Camp Creek storm—as a matter of fact, the same storm—different tornado, but it was the same storm.
So the next question is ‘did this storm start in Catoosa County, GA just before hitting Ringgold?’ The answer is ‘no, not by a long-shot’. This storm had been on a path of destruction for many hours already. This storm had caused some of the fiercest damage of the day.
This Ringgold/Apison/Camp Creek storm started as a puff of a cumulus cloud near Jackson, MS along the banks of the Pearl River. The puff grew into a storm very quickly, then a rotating storm, then by the time the storm reached Philadelphia, MS (80 miles to the ENE) it spawned its first tornado. As a matter of fact this storm spawned many long-tracked tornadoes for many hours. Most of its trip across Alabama it carried a large tornado. All in all, this one storm had produced two EF4s and two EF5s, had tornado tracks totaling 267 miles, and a total of 71 fatalities in four states.
Research has started on the Superoutbreak, but one likely avenue of research will be to discover why on a day that was a superoutbreak for tornadoes, why some storms were superstorms for many hours producing EF4s and EF5s while others produced lesser tornadoes and possibly no tornadoes in seemingly a similar environment.