This past weekend brought our first truly widespread severe weather outbreak of the year. On Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14, a vigorous system delivered storms from central Texas to eastern Massachusetts. Damage ranged from limbs down to homes and businesses destroyed. Three fatalities and twenty-six injuries were reported according to the filtered storm reports on the Storm Prediction Center’s website, as well as 56 tornadoes, 548 straight-line wind and 22 hail reports.
Here in North Carolina, Sunday brought the worst damage, much of it during the late-night hours. Many people arrived at work Monday morning with tired eyes and the need for an extra cup of coffee. Some complained that weather alerts woke them while others complained they never received any. Truly, the most reliable way to receive emergency alerts for your specific county is still via NOAA weather radio. Mine did not fail, much to my delight and my cat’s dismay.
April tends to be one of the worst months for North Carolina with respect to severe weather. As an example of the kinds of severe weather we have had in past years, today is the eighth anniversary of the April 16, 2011 tornado outbreak that included the Sanford-Raleigh tornado and the Fayetteville-Smithfield tornado, which were each attributed with more than 100 injuries. Both of which were also long-track tornadoes that traveled over 55 miles each. That day, a total of 24 people lost their lives and more than 400 were injured.
As we look ahead to this coming Easter weekend, pay attention to the weather on Friday. Last Saturday, the Storm Prediction Center had already marked Good Friday as the East Coast’s next good chance for organized severe thunderstorms. As the day approaches, the outlook map for it has not changed much. It’s unusual to have 7-days of advance warning on the Outlook maps, and it means that the upper levels of the atmosphere in the forecasting models have been consistently showing the ingredients for severe weather for days.
The closer Friday gets, the better grasp forecasters will have on the timing of the storms. They’ll also be able to narrow down the region of concern – if it does narrow – with each model update. The good news is the worst should be over by Saturday morning, and by Easter Sunday, high pressure will bring sunshine and spring temperatures.