10 Year Anniversary of April 2011 Super Outbreak

Written by Dustin Maddox, Meteorologist

Last updated 5/1/2021, 5:33:39 AM

This week marks the 10 year anniversary of the generational tornado outbreak called the 2011 Super Outbreak. The event occurred over the course of 4 days April 25-28, 2011 and 359 tornadoes touched down in 21 U.S. states and 1 tornado in Ontario, Canada. 324 fatalities and approximately 3,100 injuries were reported. It was the costliest tornado outbreak in U.S history with total damage reported at $10.2 billion (2011 USD).

The first significant tornado of the Outbreak occurred on the evening of April 25, when a long track EF2 tornado tracked through Vilonia, Arkansas killing 4 people in the town. A total of 42 tornadoes occurred on April 25 with 4 being EF2s and 1 EF3 tornado.

On April 26, the Storm Prediction Center issued a rare High Risk for portions of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma and a Large PDS (Particularly Damaging Situation) Tornado Watch was issued later that evening. A total of 55 tornadoes occurred April 26 with 4 being EF2s and 1 EF3 tornado. No deaths were reported however. 

The most significant day of the outbreak was, by far, April 27 when a total of 216 tornadoes occurred during a 24 hour period. There were a total of 36 EF2 tornadoes, 19 EF3s, 11 EF4s, and 4 very rare EF5s. 316 fatalities were recorded on this date - 240 of those were from the state of Alabama alone that saw some of the most destructive and long-lived EF4 and EF5 tornadoes. Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia also experienced numerous significant and long-lived tornadoes on this day. 

The final day of the outbreak, April 28 saw a total of 47 tornadoes - 5 of which were EF2s and 1 EF3. The activity occured along the Atlantic Coast from Pennsylvania to Florida. The last of the tornadoes occurred in Eastern North Carolina that afternoon before moving offshore. 

10 year later, while we still have a long way to go, numerous advances in weather technology and communications have occurred during the last decade to help us better prepare of the next outbreak including mobile weather alerts based on GPS and well as the implementation of dual polarization products on National Weather Service‚Äôs NEXRAD radar network. 

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