April 2011-One for the record books
April 2011 will be remembered for years to come as a month of record-breaking and destructive weather. Our area continues to deal with the worst flooding many of us have ever seen as a result of record-setting rainfall, and across the southern U.S., families continue picking up the pieces after the largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history. I wanted to share a few numbers with you to put both of these weather events into perspective.
It should be no surprise to anyone that last month was the wettest April on record in Paducah. The National Weather Service office in Paducah officially measured 15.91" of rain, surpassing the old record of 14.54" in April 1983.
Also, as of this update on May 4th, this is the wettest spring on record (defined as the period from March 1-today), with 28.24" of rain since March 1. That's 293% of our normal total! And from January 1st until today, NWS Paducah has measured 35.33" of rain...putting us 18.23" over our average total of 17.10" for that period of time. In fact, for the entire year, our annual average rainfall totals 49.23". If you do the math, you'll find that we have already received nearly 72% of our total yearly rainfall in just over 4 months! Hopefully we can spread the rest out a little more evenly over the next 8 months.
Unfortunately, our region is not the only place dealing with weather-related tragedy. The numbers that are coming out from last week's tornado outbreak across the southern U.S. are just unbelievable. The NWS is officially classifying the outbreak as running from April 25-28, when they estimate that a total of 305 tornadoes occurred, making this the largest tornado outbreak in the history of the U.S. The previous record was associated with the "Super Outbreak" of April 3-4, 1974, when 148 tornadoes touched down. According to Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, tornadoes were on the ground for nearly 76 continuous hours at one point during this latest outbreak. Unreal.
Also shattering previous records, the NWS estimates that there were more than 600 tornadoes in April...the previous April record was 267 in 1974. This April not only shattered the record for tornadoes in that particular month, but for any month. The previous record for tornadoes in one month was 542, set in May 2003.
The death toll from this outbreak currently stands at 354 (unconfirmed), making this the second deadliest outbreak in U.S. history....second only to the Tri-State Tornado of 1925, which killed 695 people across MO, IL, & IN. This death toll is astounding, considering that the NWS issued tornado warnings with an average lead time of 24 minutes on these storms! This stat helps to show the violent nature of these tornadoes.....some of these EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes were so incredible that chances of survival diminished greatly unless people were underground.
Here's hoping for calmer and drier days ahead.