A large portion of the country was impacted by a powerful storm system from Thursday, April 14 to Saturday, April 16. A combination of heavy snow and blizzard conditions were observed in the Plains, strong winds and rapidly spreading wildfires in Texas, and severe weather along with deadly tornadoes from Oklahoma to North Carolina. See the satellite images below from Friday depicting the system. Below the images are brief accounts from various National Weather Service offices.
"A major winter storm hit western and north central Nebraska on April 14th & 15th with heavy snow, gusty winds and blizzard conditions. Low pressure developed over southeastern Colorado and slowly wobbled to the north and east. Initially, warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico raced northward, brining moderate to heavy rain with a few embedded rumbles of thunder. However, as the system intensified, cold air from the Northern Plains was pulled south into the system. Rain quickly changed over to snow across the eastern panhandle by midday on Thursday. Due to heavy snow accumulation rates of two inches or more an hour, snow began to accumulate on paved surfaces. This caused havoc on area roadways, with numerous accidents reported by early Thursday evening."
"The extreme fire danger was exacerbated by another passing storm system Thursday and Friday, April 14-15, 2011. This storm system brought widespread severe weather from central Oklahoma eastward through the southeastern United States. However, the western half of Texas saw an increase in winds and continued very dry air, which stoked ongoing fires and supported new ignitions. The westerly winds pushed a fire toward the town of Rotan Thursday evening, though thankfully, the town was saved. A strong cold front pushed then moved through Thursday night, bringing a northerly wind shift and cooler air to the region. Unfortunately, though, northerly winds quickly increased on Friday, with gusts in excess of 60 mph recorded over parts of the Panhandles into the Rolling Plains as the upper level storm system wrapped up over the central plains. Severe winds with gusts of 58 mph or more spread across the eastern Texas Panhandle through much of the Rolling Plains. The highest wind speed reported was a 67 mph gust at the Childress Airport."
"A strong low pressure system moved out of the Rockies and into the Southern Plains on April 14, 2011. A surface low deepened across central Kansas by early afternoon, with a sharp dryline extending from the surface low southward along the I-35 corridor. Moisture continued to increase from northeast Texas into eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas ahead of the dryline, with dewpoints rising into the low to mid 60s. Initial convection occurred along the dryline from near Ponca City to Ardmore at around 3 pm CDT. These storms quickly matured into supercells as they moved further east into eastern Oklahoma due to favorable wind profiles and instability. Storms continued to increase as the dryline slowly moved east during the evening. A 100+ knot westerly upper-level jet was also present across northern Texas, which helped to further enhance the severity of the storms. A trailing cold front overtook the dryline during the late evening hours, leading to additional development and a line of storms across western Arkansas."
"Significant severe weather affected portions of central Mississippi, southeastern Arkansas, and northeastern Louisiana on Friday. Wind damage, some of which was caused by tornadoes, and large hail was reported across several areas. Tornadoes have been confirmed in Attala, Hinds, Rankin, Neshoba, and Kemper counties. In addition, significant flash flooding occurred over northern portions of central Mississippi."