Three Years Since the Deadly Southeast Tornado Outbreak; Are You Prepared?

      Sunday, April 27th, marks three years since one of the largest and deadliest tornado outbreaks on record unfolded across the southeast.  There were more than 300 people killed and over 2,400 injured when nearly 200 tornadoes raked across portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and other states on April 27, 2011.

Top Outbreaks


Tornado Map 


Damage Track from an EF-4 Tornado in Tuscaloosa, AL

Damage from an EF-5 Tornado in Hackleburg, AL

Tuscaloosa Damage

Hackleburg Damage


    Preparedness is key for such life-threatening severe weather outbreaks, as often during such events there is little time to react to save your and your family's lives.  The tornadoes on April 27, 2011 had watches and warnings issued by the NWS well in advance, yet still it was the deadliest tornado day in the U.S. in over a half century.  This is at least in part due to an increased vulnerability to extreme severe weather.  Scientists from the NWS worked with social scientists in the aftermath of this event to survey those impacted and better understand public perception and response.  From this has come the Impact Based Warning experiment from the NWS which is ongoing across the entire Midwest this year, including at our office.


     It is not a question if but when Chicago, Rockford, and nearby areas will see a powerful tornado, and even a large outbreak such as April 27th, 2011.  Much of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana has not seen an outbreak in many years, especially of significant tornadoes.  But no one should be complacent because of that, as climatology indicates it certainly can happen.  Tornadoes such as the 1963 one in Kankakee County, the 1967 outbreak across Belvidere, Lake Zurich, and Oak Lawn , and the 1990 Plainfield EF-5 tornado all would impact substantially more people and infrastructure if they were to occur today.  The 2011 tornado season revealed how devastating such storms can be in densely populated areas, such as Tuscaloosa and Joplin

     Below is a Public Service Announcement prepared by a team of local media, emergency management, and our NWS office.  

Short Version   |    Spanish Version

    When watching this, think how you would ensure you were informed of severe weather in advance, what you would do if a warning was issued (including at home, work, school, car, outside), and how you and your family should prepare.  Please feel free to share this through social media and other platforms to encourage preparedness, especially this time of year as it is our peak severe weather season in Illinois and Indiana.


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