2011 Tornado Damage in Arab, Alabama
On April 27th and 28th, the southern United States experienced the largest recorded tornado outbreak in US history. It is estimated there was a total of 362 tornadoes, with 178 being confirmed. The previous record was set in 1974 with 148 tornadoes. Tornadoes are measured by the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF). The strength of the storms was incredible with two EF-5's, eleven EF-4's, and twenty-one EF-3's.
As a RADAR expert, I've watched severe weather events unfold for many years, but I have never seen an outbreak like these powerful and deadly twisters. I watched in horror as an EF-4 tornado with peak winds of 190 MPH came right at me. The base of the tornado was 1/2 mile wide and it traveled across three counties. In the image above and below you can see just how close the tornado came to me (my location is marked by the pink dot).
Although I escaped damage from the tornado, many of my neighbors were not so lucky. The storms caused at least 327 deaths, which makes it the 3rd deadliest tornado outbreak in US history.
Millions of chickens died in the tornado and many large animals (horses, goats, and cows) were injured by flying debris. Most of the seriously injured farm animals received emergency medical care. The farmers will have to replace a whole lot of their farm equipment and supplies. I took a photo of a cattle trough wrapped around a tree about 30 foot high. The damages are heart-breaking. The families affected by the storm literally have nothing left, so all of the donations will really be appreciated by those in crisis.
Besides the obvious property damage, the storm will have an impact on the local economies. During the power outages, most families lost hundred of dollars worth of groceries that spoiled without refrigeration. Business was also dealt a severe blow. Many businesses were destroyed by storms, and many more were not able to operate due to the widespread electricity outages. Nearly 4,000 workers have requested unemployment aid due to the storms.