Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

The 16 April 2011 EF3 Tornado in Greene County, Eastern North Carolina

Academic journal article Southeastern Geographer

The 16 April 2011 EF3 Tornado in Greene County, Eastern North Carolina

Article excerpt

This paper presents a case study of an EF3 tornado that adversely impacted Greene and Pitt Counties in eastern North Carolina on 16 April 2011. This was one of the most damaging and longest-lived of the multiple tornados that occurred across central and eastern North Carolina that day, the most extensive outbreak in North Carolina since 1984. This event occurred during the month (April 2011) with the largest number of tornadoes on record in the United States. The focus of this case study was to examine the relationship between the mesocyclone evolution and the location and intensity of surface damage associated with the EF3 tornado. Results indicated that the initial contraction and spin up of the mesocyclone circulation preceded EF3 damage by about 20 minutes. At the time of mesocyclone intensification, the damage swath and tornado were situated much closer to the mesocyclone center than in the formative and dissipating stages. The weakened mesocyclone passed directly over a meteorological station at East Carolina University's West Research Campus, providing a rare opportunity for surface measurements associated with a weakening tornadic mesocyclone.

Este trabajo presenta un estudio de caso de un tornado EF3 que impacto negativamente los condados de Greene y Pitt en el este de Carolina del Norte el 16 de abril de 2011. Este fue uno de los mas daninos y de mas larga duracion de los multiples tornados que se produjeron en el centro y el este de Carolina del Norte ese mismo dia, el brote mas extenso en Carolina del Norte desde 1984. Este evento tuvo lugar durante el mes (abril de 2011) conel mayor numero de tornados en el registro en los Estados Unidos. El objetivo de este estudio fue examinar la relacion entre la evolucion del mesociclon y la ubicacion e intensidad de los danos en la superficie asociados con el tornado EF3. Los resultados indicaron que la contraccion inicial y el giro de la circulacion del mesociclon precedio los danos del EF3 por unos 20 minutos. Al momento de intensificacion del mesociclon, la franja de danos y el tornado se encontraban macho mas cerca del centro del mesociclon que en las etapas de formacion y disipacion. El mesocicon debilitado paso directamente sobre una estacion meteorologica del West Research Campas de East Carolina University, proporcionando una oportunidad unica para las mediciones de la superficie asociado con un debilitamiento del mesociclon de tornados.

KEY WORDS: severe weather, North Carolina, radar, tornado

PALABRAS CLAVES: mal tiempo, Carolina del Norte, radar, tornado

INTRODUCTION

On the afternoon and early evening of 16 April 2011, a significant tornado outbreak affected much of central and eastern North Carolina, producing fatalities as well as extensive damage to structures and buildings across the region. This was the most damaging and widespread tornado outbreak since the 28 March 1984 event in central North Carolina, where such occurrences are much less frequent than in the Midwestern U.S. (Fujita and Steigler 1985; Gyakum and Barker 1988). The 16 April 2011 tornadoes in North Carolina were part of a larger-scale outbreak across the southeastern United States that resulted in 875 tornadoes for the month of April, the largest monthly total in the United States on record (Hoerling 2011). In particular the 25-28 April outbreak across several southeastern states, which included the Tuscaloosa, Alabama EF5 tornado, was the costliest tornado outbreak in the United States, with approximately 321 deaths and over $10 billion in damage (NOAA Extreme Weather summary 2011).

Twelve tornadoes were confirmed within the National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City office warning area on 16 April 2011 in eastern North Carolina, with additional tornadoes near Raleigh (NWSFO 2011). The tornado outbreak in eastern North Carolina occurred within a 230 km long swath extending southwest to northeast from Mt. Olive in Duplin County to Duck in Dare County along the Outer Banks (Figure 1). …

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