49*th Anniversary of the "Super Outbreak"

I've been so busy today with forecasts of the terrible weather that will occur tomorrow into Wednesday that this is the first chance I have had to comment on the 50th anniversary of a terrible, terrible tornado anniversary: the Super Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974. It got its name from Dr. Ted Fujita who, along with John McCarthy, Roger Wakimoto, Greg Forbes and others (sorry if I omitted your name) who did a meticulous survey of each of the 148 tornado paths. Fujita when made a meticulously hand-plotted map of the chronological number and intensity of each tornado (below). I am proud to have a copy.

What made this tornado outbreak so deadly and unique, along with the tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011, was the predominance of F-4 and F-5 tornadoes. There were 319 fatalities and 5,000+ injuries. The warning system started out working fairly well but then got completely overwhelmed due to the number of tornadoes. An interactive map of the outbreak is here

The outbreak inspired a government movie called, The Day of the Killer Tornadoes. Places like Xenia (photo below), Guin, and others enter the meteorological lexicon. 

The National Weather Service, before decided criticizing itself was verboten, conducted a meaningful and important self-assessment of its performance that day. It resulted in many improvements to the warning system.

I was a meteorology student and television meteorologist at the time. Even though I did not participate in the survey, it had a major effect on my career. I tell the story in Chapter 8 of my book Warnings

*I had 50th up earlier. I can't count!


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