Looking back on the 2011 Alabama tornado outbreak
Today marks twelve years since Alabama suffered historic tornado damage.
The 2011 Super Outbreak was one of the deadliest outbreaks ever recorded in the Southeastern U.S. Storms on April twenty seventh struck Alabama particularly hard. Forecasters say the tornado damage path in Central Alabama was six hundred and ninety-one miles long. Daniel Martin is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Birmingham. He says sixty-two tornadoes touched down across the state that day….
“It was an extremely volatile day,” Martin recalled. “Many of us may only see an event like that once in our lifetime. It was a volatile season. We had another significant outbreak of storms even just a few days before that. Just about every storm that produced that day was extremely strong. Definitely one of those days that you can remember for the rest of your career. There is no doubt 2011 on its own was an extreme year.”
Alabama suffered one hundred and forty-five tornadoes in 2011. That includes fifty-two EF2 tornadoes. That is the highest amount of strong category tornadoes ever recorded in the state. Martin says that since the outbreak occurred weather technology has improved…
“I think it spurred more action towards educating the public on severe weather. One thing to consider too is how the improvement in technology over the years has allowed us to detect more of these tornadoes earlier,” said Martin. “We can detect the rotation, we can detect intensity and also we have very much improved satellite data and that really assists us in getting those warnings out sooner.”
The Alabama Public Radio news team’s coverage of the 2011 tornado outbreak was recognized with the National Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence from the Radio Television Digital News Association, and back-to-back national Sigma Delta Chi awards from the Society for Professional Journalists. Those stories can be heard again by clicking below.