Tornadoes Whip through Midwest, South


After a relatively benign February, the 2012 Severe Convective Storm season in the United States has brought damage and possible significant losses with eight tornadoes reported yesterday. This brings the season total through March 1 to 152, higher than the average of 117 over the past six years.

At 4:56 am CST, February 29, an EF-4 tornado that was part of a larger extra-tropical cyclone, struck the town of Harrisburg, Illinois (population: 9000). Initial surveys indicate the tornado was accompanied by estimated winds of 180 mph (300 kph). Preliminary reports indicate that the tornado killed six people and injured nearly 100 in the city of Harrisburg. According to the Harrisburg sheriff's office, 250-300 houses were damaged or destroyed. Additional surveys will be conducted by the National Weather Service in the next day or two.

Google Earth image of path of Harrisburg tornado (NWS Paducah, KY) - March 2, 2012

Google Earth image of path of Harrisburg tornado (NWS Paducah, KY) - March 2, 2012
Source: Google Earth

There are 24 reports of tornadoes as of 3 pm CST time today. Tornado activity in 2012 is beginning earlier than in 2011, but the March 1 totals for 2007 and 2008 are significantly higher than the total for 2012.

This week's EF-4 tornado was part of a larger system which produced a line of severe convective storms across parts of southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, southwest Indiana, and western Kentucky during the overnight hours of February 29. More severe weather is forecast for Friday, March 2, with sections of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio designated as a "moderate risk" for tornado activity. The overall death toll for the system stands at 12.

The attached Google-Earth .KML file displays the locations of reported tornado touchdowns, hail and straight wind events.

EQECAT will continue to monitor and provide updates on this multi-day event.

Download KML File - CatWatch of March 2, 2012

A KML Map File showing the reported locations of these weather events is provided.* The locations in this file are preliminary but are provided to help our clients understand the locations of the events.

*Google Earthmust be installed in order to open and view the file.

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