Updated: Recap of tornado and damaging wind event from December 21

For a number of days leading up to yesterday, the potential for severe weather was apparent and in most forecasts.  As the week went on, the concern for tornado potential increased as the high magnitude of wind shear was better realized.  The main deterrent was going to be the degree of instability.

Overview

By Friday, the Storm Prediction Center had issued a Day 2 Moderate Risk forecast, which continued into the Saturday morning forecast.  However, as showers over east AR inched towards the Mississippi River, it became clear that instability would not be quite as high and the Moderate Risk was downgraded to a Slight Risk for west TN and east AR near the Mississippi River.  However, sufficient instability was present to produce severe storms resulting in damaging wind of up to 80 mph and five tornado touchdowns in or near the metro, as well as a couple of small hail storms.

Below is a map showing damage reports from the metro region. Click here for a complete listing from NWS-Memphis and details on each event. (Note that the four Mississippi tornado confirmations were made after the map below was created.)

A total of 11 Tornado Warnings, 34 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, and 15 Flash Flood Warnings were issued by NWS-Memphis. Maps of the warnings issued during the day and evening are shown below.  Kudos to the forecasters at the Agricenter for staying on top of storms moving at up to 70 mph!

All Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, and Flash Flood Warnings issued by NWS-Memphis on 12/21/13

All Severe Thunderstorm Warnings issued by NWS-Memphis on 12/21/13

All Tornado Warnings issued by NWS-Memphis on 12/21/13

Flooding

The other chief concern was going to be flooding, especially across northeast AR where 4-6″ was forecast.  The rest of the metro was expected to get 1.5-2″.  This is nearly exactly what happened, as can be seen in the graphic below.  MWN picked up 2.15″ of rain Friday and Saturday, while Memphis International Airport received 2.10″ for a two-day total.

Rainfall totals from 7am Saturday through 7am Sunday.

Tornado Summary

The first tornado confirmation by the NWS was from Hughes, AR.  An EF-2 tornado with maximum wind of 130 mph killed one and injured three, as well as destroying a few mobile homes and damaging other structures.  The path length was 15.6 miles and width was 300 yards.

Hughes, AR tornado damage. Photo courtesy Austin Lewis, Local 24 News, Memphis.

The second tornado occurred near Clarksdale, MS where an EF-2 with 120 mph wind traveled 10.4 miles, killing one and injuring another.  Major damage occurred at a mobile home where the fatality occurred and Coahoma County High School and an elementary school also sustained damage.

The third tornado touched down southwest of Senatobia, MS in Tate County, traveling 6.2 miles and peaking at EF-1 strength or 100 mph.  There were no fatalities and a handful of homes sustained damage, along with trees being uprooted.

The fourth confirmed tornado occurred in southern Tunica County, MS, producing 90-100 mph (EF-1) wind and traveling 2.7 miles. There were no fatalities or injuries. Damage included a church that was pushed at least ten feet off its foundation, multiple homes damaged, a mobile home rolled, large power lines snapped, and some debris thrown more than a mile.

Finally, a fifth tornado was confirmed near Independence, MS in Tate County. An EF-0 with 65-80 mph was on the ground for approximately 3/4 miles, snapping and uprooting trees, downing power lines, and causing minor roof damage to multiple homes and a church.

Below is the final statement from the NWS on the five tornadoes.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT...CORRECTED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEMPHIS TN
745 PM CST TUE DEC 24 2013

...NWS DAMAGE SURVEY FOR 12/21/13 TORNADO EVENT...

ADDED CONFIRMED TORNADOES IN TUNICA AND TATE COUNTIES

.TORNADO NEAR HUGHES ARKANSAS...
...START TIME CORRECTED...

RATING: EF2
PEAK WIND /ESTIMATED/:130 MPH
PEAK LENGTH /STATUTE/: 15.6 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 300 YARDS
FATALITIES: 1
INJURIES: 3

START DATE: 12/21/13
START TIME: 0313 PM CST
START LOCATION: 6 MILES SOUTHWEST/HUGHES/ARKANSAS
START LAT/LON: 34.907/-90.559

END DATE: 12/21/13
END TIME: 0329 PM CST
END LOCATION: 1 MILE NORTHWEST OF TARSUS
END LAT/LON: 35.099/-90.415

SURVEY SUMMARY:
NEAR HUGHES 3 MOBILE HOMES WERE DESTROYED. ROOF DAMAGE OCCURRED TO
TWO HOMES AND A BARN WAS DAMAGED. A NUMBER OF IRRIGATION PIVOTS
WERE OVERTURNED. NEAR WILDWOOD A METAL SHED WAS DESTROYED. POWER
LINES WERE ALSO DAMAGED ALONG THE PATH.


.TORNADO NEAR RENA LARA MISSISSIPPI...

RATING: EF2
PEAK WIND /ESTIMATED/: 120 MPH
PEAK LENGTH /STATUTE/: 10.4 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 300 YARDS
FATALITIES: 1
INJURIES: AT LEAST 1

START DATE: 12/21/13
START TIME: 519 PM CST
START LOCATION: RENA LARA MISSISSIPPI
START LAT/LON: 34.149/-90.767

END DATE: 12/21/13
END TIME: 528 PM CST
END LOCATION: CLARKSDALE MISSISSIPPI
END LAT/LON: 34.210/-90.607

SURVEY SUMMARY:

MAJOR DAMAGE TO MOBILE HOME WHERE FATALITY OCCURRED. COMPLETE
DESTRUCTION OF 2 LARGE GARAGE SHEDS. 2 FOOTBALL LIGHT POLES BENT AND
DESTROYED AT COAHOMA COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL. ROOF AND WINDOW DAMAGE TO
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ON BOBO-SHARARD ROAD. SEVERAL HOMES WITH MINOR TO
SIGNIFICANT ROOF DAMAGE TO 4 HOMES ON COUNTY ROAD 332. SEVERAL TREES
UPROOTED OR SNAPPED OFF ALONG THE PATH OF THE TORNADO.


.TORNADO NEAR SENATOBIA MISSISSIPPI...

RATING: EF1
PEAK WIND /ESTIMATED/: 100 MPH
PEAK LENGTH /STATUTE/: 6.2 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 200 YARDS
FATALITIES: NONE
INJURIES: UNKNOWN

START DATE: 12/21/13
START TIME: 557 PM CST
START LOCATION: 10.1 MILES SW SENATOBIA
                     /COUNTY ROAD 310 WEST OF COMO/
START LAT/LON: 34.519/-90.094

END DATE: 12/21/13
END TIME: 602 PM CST
END LOCATION: 4.3 MILES SW SENATOBIA /HAMILTON HILL ROAD/
END LAT/LON: 34.570/-90.005

SURVEY SUMMARY:

4 HOMES RECEIVED ROOF DAMAGE WITH A 2 STORY HOME RECEIVING DAMAGE
ASSOCIATED WITH THE COVERED PORCH BEING LIFTED AND DEPOSITED ONTO
ROOF OF GARAGE. SEVERAL TREES UPROOTED OR SNAPPED OFF NEARBY AT
THE STARTING LOCATION OF THE TORNADO.


.TORNADO IN SOUTHERN TUNICA COUNTY...

RATING: EF1
PEAK WIND /ESTIMATED/: 90-100 MPH
PEAK LENGTH /STATUTE/: 2.7 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 200 YARDS
FATALITIES: NONE
INJURIES: NONE

START DATE: 12/21/13
START TIME: 540 PM CST
START LOCATION: FLEA HARBOR ROAD OFF OF US HIGHWAY 61
START LAT/LON: 34.4465/-90.4171

END DATE: 12/21/13
END TIME: 544 PM CST
END LOCATION: SIX MILE LAKE ROAD NEAR BENNETT RD
END LAT/LON: 34.4665/-90.3769

SURVEY SUMMARY:

CHURCH PUSHED OFF ITS FOUNDATION BY 10 FEET OR MORE...MULTIPLE HOMES
DAMAGED ON FLEA HARBOR ROAD. TRAILER ROLLED AND DEBRIS THROWN FOR AT
LEAST A MILE FROM HOMES. POWERLINES SNAPPED...WITH LARGE POWERLINES
SNAPPED ON SIX MILE LAKE ROAD.


.TORNADO NEAR INDEPENDENCE MISSISSIPPI...

RATING: EF0
PEAK WIND /ESTIMATED/: 65-80 MPH
PEAK LENGTH /STATUTE/: .75 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 100 YARDS
FATALITIES: NONE
INJURIES: UNKNOWN

START DATE: 12/21/13
START TIME: 613 PM CST
START LOCATION: NEAR MAYS AND WAKEFIELD ROAD
START LAT/LON: 34.7412/-89.7413

END DATE: 12/21/13
END TIME: 617 PM CST
END LOCATION: ALONG MAYS ROAD
END LAT/LON: 34.7454/-89.7296

SURVEY SUMMARY:

MULTIPLE TREES SNAPPED AND UPROOTED. MANY HOMES WITH MINOR ROOF
DAMAGE. CHURCH WITH MINOR ROOF DAMAGE. POWERLINES DOWNED.

$$

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