Natural and Man-Made Disasters,
The 1974 Super Outbreak was one of the most violent tornadic events on record in the United States. It spawned 148 tornadoes, the largest number of tornadoes ever produced by one storm system. Thirty of these tornadoes were classified as F4 or F5 on the Fujita-Pearson Scale (Fujita Scale).
Before this fourteen state rampage was finished, over 300 people had lost their lives in 48 killer tornadoes.
On the morning of April 3rd, an area of low pressure was located in central Kansas. A warm front extended east-northeastward through the lower Ohio River Valley. South of this front, extremely unstable air had gathered during the overnight hours and was rapidly spreading north.
A cold front stretched from the area of low pressure south through Texas. At the upper levels of the atmosphere, a powerful trough was spreading strong winds aloft over much of the eastern half of the country.
With the warm air in place and a cold front approaching, along with favorable upper air dynamics, intense thunderstorms developed rapidly in the afternoon of April 3rd. Those thunderstorms spawned nearly 150 tornadoes across parts of the Midwest, Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys and Southern states from the afternoon of the 3rd into the early morning hours of the 4th.
An astonishing six F5 tornadoes were spawned. An F5 tornado hit Guin, Alabama, destroying the entire town and killing 20. Fortunately for Huntsville, Alabama, the tornado lifted back into clouds just before reaching the city limits.
Nearly 30 people perished in Brandenburg, Kentucky when another F5 tornado touched down, leaving the town in ruins. Over 300 homes were destroyed and over 2,100 were damaged by an F5 in Xenia, Ohio, which killed 34.
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