Weather Blog

Tornado record: As if 42" of snow fell in Seattle

Tornado record: As if 42" of snow fell in Seattle
John Segars' Heating and Air was destroyed in Concord, Ala. after what appeared to be a tornado ripped through parts of the town, late Wednesday, April 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Birmingham News, Jeff Roberts)

Could you imagine what the Seattle area would be like if 3 1/2 feet of snow fell in one day?

It's that kind of daunting statistic that puts in perspective just how massive the tornado outbreak was across the south and Midwest last week.

NOAA has updated their preliminary estimates and now says 312 tornadoes struck in the United States between 8 a.m. EDT on April 27 and 8 a.m. EDT on April 28.  Count the tornadoes that occurred outside that time frame and the number balloons to 362 tornadoes.

The 312 tornadoes in 24 hours set the national record. But what is truly unbelievable is that the old record was 148 tornadoes set in 1974. So that means there were more than double the all-time national record of tornadoes on one date (2.1 times, to be exact.)

How incredible is that? To put it in perspective, to break some well-known Seattle records that way would be to get 42" of snow in one day, or 10.54" of rain in one day, or record a wind gust of 145 mph.

So far, they have rated two tornadoes at the highest EF-5 level, with 11 tornadoes at EF-4 and 21 at EF-3, but more work is being done. The Tuscaloosa/Birmingham tornado was on the ground for 80 miles and had a width at one point of 1.5 miles.

NOAA says 340 people were killed during the 24-hour-period from 8:00 a.m. Wednesday to Thursday.

It was the deadliest single day for tornadoes since the March 18, 1925, tornado outbreak that had 747 fatalities across 7 states.