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Multiple Injuries, Fatalities Reported After Three-Day Tornado Outbreak Across the Great Plains, Midwest

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, OK first hinted at the potential for severe weather on April 20, 2024, issuing a Slight Risk (15%) on Day 7 (Thursday 4/25) and Day 8 (Friday 4/26). It was too far out for specific details, but usually by issuing a Slight Risk this far out, it catches the eyes of meteorologists and forecasters across the country.


It became clearer and clearer that we would be dealing with a dangerous situation on April 22, 2024 (Monday), as Slight Risks were issued for Days 4 (Thursday), 5 (Friday), and 6 (Saturday). Although, it was still too far out to get specifics, the Storm Prediction Center noted the potential for "...a few supercells with large hail and wind damage will occur. An isolated tornado threat could also develop." While supercell thunderstorms are the least common thunderstorm, according to the National Weather Service, they have the highest potential for producing severe weather, including violent tornadoes.


By April 24, 2024, confidence was increasing among National Weather Service meteorologists at local offices and at the Storm Prediction Center.


THURSDAY (4/25)

On the morning of Thursday (4/25), an Enhanced Risk was issued for parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. A risk of tornados, damaging winds and large hail would be present across the area.


The first Tornado Watch was issued for parts of Nebraska and Kansas at 1:55 PM MDT. The Storm Prediction Center said in the watch that:

"A few tornadoes [are] likely with a couple intense tornadoes possible, scattered large hail and isolated very large hail events to 3 inches in diameter [is] likely, [and] scattered damaging winds [are] likely with isolated significant gusts to 75 MPH possible".

This was just the beginning as more watches were issued in the Oklahoma panhandle and northwest Texas as storms were expected to develop in the area. Further to the north, across Nebraska and Kansas, a large complex of severe thunderstorms moved off to the east.


In all, there were a few tornadoes, which would become nothing compared to what was to come.


FRIDAY (4/26)

It was very early Friday morning - around 3AM - that we would see the first watch being issued. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch would be issued for far northern Texas and southern Okahoma, right between Dallas, TX and Oklahoma City, OK. This general area would be "under the gun" again for another round of severe thunderstorms later in the day.


In total, there were 117 tornado reports, 40 wind reports, and 79 hail reports, bringing the storm report total up to 236 for the day.


SATURDAY (4/27)

April 27th, 2024 will a day that will be remembered for the violent tornados that touched down that day. In the morning hours, the Storm Prediction Center issued a Moderate Risk (4/5) for central Oklahoma, north-central Texas, SW Missouri and SE Kansas, which included:

  • 15% tornado risk (with a hatched area, noting the heightened potential for strong, violent tornadoes)

  • 30% wind risk (with a hatched area, noting the heightened potential for damaging winds)

  • 45% hail risk (with a hatched area, noting the heightened potential for 2"+ diameter hail)


At 12:40 PM CDT, the Storm Prediction Center issued a rare Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) Tornado Watch for portions of western Oklahoma and NW Texas. This watched noted the potential for strong, intense, and violent tornadoes being likely, very large hail to 3" in diameter and widespread damaging wind gusts, some reaching 75MPH or greater.


Just an hour later - at 1:40 PM CDT - the Storm Prediction Center issued a Tornado Watch for southern Iowa, NE Kansas, and northern Missouri, using some of the same language that was used in the PDS Tornado Watch outlined above, most notably the potential for intense tornadoes.


That's exactly what happened that day. A mile-wide tornado touched down near Harlan, Iowa, as shown below by Matthew Cappucci, posted on X. (You can follow Matthew on X here)


A violent tornado also touched down in Marietta, Oklahoma. Shown below is the damage left in a video taken by Mark Sudduth and posted on X. (You can follow Mark Sudduth on X here)


Unfortunately, that was just examples of two tornados that touched down. In total, there were reports of 39 tornadoes, 63 wind reports, 98 hail reports, which brings the total up to 190 for the day.


DISCLAIMER: All tornado reports are considered to be preliminary, unless otherwise stated.

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