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The February–March 2007 Tornado Outbreak was a tornado outbreak across the southern United States that began in Kansasmarker on February 28, 2007. The severe weather spread eastward on March 1 and left a deadly mark across the southern US, particularly in Alabamamarker and Georgiamarker. Twenty deaths were reported; one in Missourimarker, nine in Georgia, and 10 in Alabama. Scattered severe weather was also reported in North Carolinamarker on March 2, producing the final tornado of the outbreak before the storms moved offshore into the Atlantic Oceanmarker.

In the end, there were 55 tornadoes confirmed during the outbreak, including three EF3 tornadoes reported across three states, as well as three EF4 tornadoes; two in Alabama and one in Kansas, the first such tornadoes since the introduction of the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Total damages were estimated at over $580 million from tornadoes alone, making it the fourth costliest tornado outbreak in US history (the figure not including damage from other thunderstorm impacts including hail and straight-line winds). Insured losses in the state of Georgia topped $210 million, making this outbreak the costliest in that state's history. Enterprise, Alabamamarker, which was hit the hardest, sustained damages in excess of $307 million.

Meteorological synopsis

The tornado outbreak was related to a large low-pressure system across the central United States that intensified on February 28 while over Kansasmarker, and a cold front moved across the region, providing the lift needed to allow the storms to develop. In addition, a surge of very moist air from the Gulf of Mexicomarker and warm temperatures across the south side of the storm helped feed the storms. Temperatures were in the 70s °F (low 20s °C) in some areas to the south, while the mercury was below freezing on the north side. The dewpoints were in the 60 °F (16 °C) range as far north as southeastern Kansas, which provided extra fuel.

A moderate risk of severe storms was issued by the Storm Prediction Center for February 28 across parts of the central Plains. The first tornadoes developed early in the evening of February 28 in Kansasmarker as the dry line pushed eastward and was lifted by the cold front. In total, 12 tornadoes formed that evening across Kansas and Missourimarker, of which 11 were weak. However, one of the tornadoes was an EF4, the first such tornado recorded and the first violent tornado since September 22, 2006. No one was injured that evening. Farther south, expected activity in Oklahomamarker and Arkansasmarker did not take place as the atmospheric cap held up.

A high risk of severe storms—the first such issuance since April 7, 2006—was issued for a large part of the Deep South for March 1 as the cold front moved eastward. The activity began almost immediately, with several isolated tornadoes taking place that morning across the Mississippi Valley, with one of them leading to the first fatality of the outbreak. Isolated tornadoes were also reported as far north as Illinoismarker, near the center of the low. However, the most intense activity began around noon and continued throughout the afternoon and evening, with southern Alabamamarker and southern Georgiamarker hit the hardest. Nearly continuous supercells formed north of the Gulf of Mexicomarker and produced many tornadoes, some of which hit large population centers with devastating effects. 19 people were killed by those tornadoes.



The squall line finally overtook the supercells just after midnight on March 2, after putting down 37 tornadoes that day. As the squall line overtook the cells, a few tornadoes—all EF0—took place overnight in Floridamarker and extreme southern Georgia within the squall line, before the severe weather emerged in the Atlantic Oceanmarker that morning. The final tornado was a landfalling waterspout in the Outer Banksmarker of North Carolinamarker late that morning. In addition to the tornadoes, widespread straight-line wind damage from microbursts were also reported, along with scattered large hail, the largest of which were the size of baseballs.

On the other side of the low pressure area, a significant blizzard occurred over the northern Great Plainsmarker and Upper Midwest, including parts of Minnesotamarker, Manitobamarker, Saskatchewanmarker, Wisconsinmarker, Iowamarker and Nebraskamarker, where several snowfalls in excess of 8 to 18 inches (20–45 cm) were reported, as well as snow of between 6 and 11 inches (15–28 cm) across portions of Ontario and Quebec. Freezing rain was reported across New Englandmarker, the lower Great Lakesmarker in Ontariomarker, Michiganmarker, and in the Chicagomarker area. 19 people were killed by the storm, including two in Manitoba , two in Ontariomarker, one in Massachusettsmarker, four in North Dakotamarker, one in Minnesotamarker, three in Michiganmarker, five in Wisconsinmarker and one in Nebraskamarker. The University of Minnesotamarker in the Twin Citiesmarker was closed for the first time since 1991 and the roof of a supermarket in Wisconsin collapsed. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty called in the National Guard while governors Chet Culver (Iowa) and Michael Rounds (South Dakotamarker) issued disaster declarations

Confirmed tornadoes

February 28 event

List of confirmed tornadoes – Wednesday, February 28, 2007
EF#
Location
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Floridamarker
EF0 Tamaracmarker area Browardmarker 1855 Brief touchdown, caused $10,000 in damages.
Kansasmarker
EF0 W of Neosho Fallsmarker Woodson 0033 Short-lived rope tornado with no damage.
EF0 E of Colonymarker(1st tornado) Anderson 0053 Tornado reported on the ground by KAKE-TVmarker spotter. Moderate damage to several houses, and a covered arena was destroyed.
EF0 N of Carlylemarker (1st tornado) Allen 0101 Brief touchdown in an open field with no damage reported.
EF1 Colonymarker area (2nd tornado) Anderson 0105
EF0 N of Carlylemarker (2nd tornado) Allen 0107 Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
EF4 Mound Citymarker area Anderson, Linn 0124 Large and dangerous tornado; one house was flattened and several other houses and farm buildings were damaged or destroyed. The occupants of the flattened house were in a storm cellar at the time and were not injured. Extensive tree and power line damage was also reported. Caused $400,000 in damages.
Missourimarker
EF1 E of Alexander Batesmarker 0227 ) Long track tornado, major damage was reported to one house, and minor damage to several other structures. Caused $50,000 in damages.
EF1 E of Gunn Citymarker Cassmarker, Johnsonmarker 0405 One mobile home was destroyed and two houses were damaged. Caused $50,000 in damages.


March 1 event

List of confirmed tornadoes – Thursday, March 1, 2007
EF#
Location
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Missourimarker
EF0 S of Shelbinamarker (1st tornado) Monroemarker 0730 Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
EF1 S of Shelbinamarker (2nd tornado) Monroemarker 0740 Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
EF1 S of Shelbinamarker (3rd tornado) Monroemarker, Shelbymarker 0743
EF3 SW of Caulfieldmarker Ozarkmarker, Howellmarker 1224 1 death Long-track tornado in the area. Severe damage was reported to several homes and businesses, including four mobile homes where a first grader died. Tornado just missed a local school. Tornado dissipated just before entering the West Plainsmarker city limits. Caused $760,000 in damages.
Arkansasmarker
EF0 SE of Oak Grovemarker Carrollmarker 1028 Brief touchdown, caused $10,000 in damages.
Louisianamarker
EF0 SW of Jonesvillemarker Catahoulamarker 1550 Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
Illinoismarker
EF0 SW of Jonesboromarker Unionmarker 1645 Brief touchdown, minor damage reported to about 20 houses. Many trees were knocked over. Caused $100,000 in damages.
EF0 Elwinmarker area Maconmarker 1847 1 Injury, Weak tornado caused minor damage to a house and a church. A tree fell on three cars. Caused $40,000 in damages.
Floridamarker
EF0 Spring Hillmarker area Santa Rosamarker 1720 Weak tornado briefly touched down in a forest. Trees and power lines knocked down. Caused $10,000 in damages.
Mississippimarker
EF1 E of Bentonmarker Yazoomarker 1758 One barn suffered roof damage. Many trees knocked over. Caused $90,000 in damages
Alabamamarker
EF0 W of Industry Butlermarker 1805 Several trees were blown down and a large truck was blown off Highway 106. Caused $20,000 in damages
EF4 Millers Ferrymarker area Wilcoxmarker, Dallasmarker 1827 1 death 2 Injuries, Long track tornado devastated a recreational area in the Bill Dannelly Reservoir area. About 70 houses were damaged or destroyed, mostly manufactured homes (one person was killed in one of them even though most were empty), although two wood frame houses were flattened. Some of the debris extended up to 2 miles (3.2 km) away. Caused $2.25 million in damages
EF4 Enterprisemarker area Coffeemarker 1908 9 deaths 50 Injuries, See section on this tornado
EF1 Echo area Dalemarker, Henrymarker, Clay marker, Quitman marker 1948 6 Injuries, Long track tornado with widespread damage to over 70 mobile homes, some of which were destroyed. In addition, five chicken houses were destroyed, killing over 140,000 chickens. Dozens of other houses were damaged. Widespread tree and power line damage also reported. Caused $13.75 million in damages.
EF2 Letohatcheemarker area Lowndesmarker, Montgomerymarker 2048 6 Injuries, Large wedge tornado tracked across the area. 39 houses were damaged, three of which were destroyed. Many outbuildings, sheds and silos were also damaged or destroyed, and a power transmission line was knocked down, along with hundreds of trees. Caused $700,000 in damages.
EF1 NW of Fayettemarker Fayettemarker 2059 Three houses and several sheds suffered minor damage. Widespread tree damage reported. Caused $50,000 in damages.
EF1 N of Samantha Fayettemarker 2100 Numerous trees were uprooted. One house lost its roof. Initially, NWS officials confirmed two different tornado tracks (including an EF0) but revised as a single tornado following an aerial survey. Caused $50,000 in damages.
EF2 Arleymarker area Winstonmarker, Cullmanmarker 2145 Several houses and barns were damaged and a chicken house was destroyed. Caused $50,000 in damages.
EF1 Adamsvillemarker area Jeffersonmarker 2206 Tornado reported by The Birmingham News, confirmed by NWS. Major damage to subdivision. Path was 400 yards (360 m) wide at widest point. Dozens of trees uprooted and snapped, one house de-roofed. Caused $100,000 in damages.
EF2 NW of Phenix Citymarker Russellmarker, Leemarker. Muscogee marker 2327 Minor damage in Phenix City; however, considerable damage with many trees and power lines knocked down and structural damage to some houses and businesses in north Columbus, primarily along Brookstone Boulevard. Caused $28.13 million in damages.
EF1 NNW of Montevallomarker Shelbymarker 2356 One house and a barn suffered major damage, primarily due to fallen pine trees. Caused $30,000 in damages.
Kentuckymarker
EF1 Elktonmarker area Toddmarker 2020 Roofs were blown off two mobile homes and a storage building. Caused $40,000 in damages.
Georgiamarker
EF1 SW of Richlandmarker Stewartmarker 2111 At least 50 houses were damaged to some degree. One house and one church were destroyed. One mobile home was also shifted off its foundation. Caused $400,000 in damages.
EF2 SW of Reynoldsmarker Taylormarker 2229 1 Death 4 Injuries, Many houses reported to have been damaged. Many trees and power lines also fell. Caused $500,000 in damages.
EF3 E of Robertamarker Crawfordmarker, Bibbmarker 2234 9 Injuries, Dozens of homes damaged or destroyed. Many cars overturned. Caused $530,000 in damages.
EF1 NW of Fort Valleymarker Crawfordmarker 2249 Long track tornado, caused $100,000 in damages.
EF0 W of Sherwood Forest Bibbmarker 2251 Brief touchdown, caused $100,000 in damages.
EF1 NE of Maconmarker Jonesmarker 2330 Extensive damage to trees and power lines. Caused $500,000 in damages.
EF0 SSE of Graymarker Jonesmarker 2330 0 Second tornado from the same cell that produced the first Jones County tornado. Damage limited to a few trees. Caused $10,000 in damages.
EF1 W of Talbottonmarker Talbotmarker 0000 Minor roof damage to several houses. At least five outbuildings and one mobile home destroyed. Caused $50,000 in damages.
EF2 ENE of Warrentonmarker Warrenmarker, McDuffiemarker 0108 3 Injuries, Many houses and buildings damaged or destroyed. Severe damage to Briarwood Academy; it was empty at the time. Caused $700,000 in damages.
EF3 Americusmarker area Webstermarker, Sumtermarker, Maconmarker 0200 2 Deaths 11 Injuries, See section on this tornado
EF0 SW of Allentownmarker Bleckleymarker 0330 Short-lived tornado destroyed several outbuildings and damaged three houses slightly. Caused $250,000 in damages.
EF2 SE of Irwintonmarker Wilkinsonmarker 0340 Long track, half-mile-wide tornado caused damage to several houses, primarily along SR 112. Caused $30,000 in damages.
EF1 SSW of Junction Citymarker Marionmarker 0352 Brief touchdown, caused $30,000 in damages.
EF2 Newtonmarker area Bakermarker, Mitchellmarker, Doughertymarker, Worthmarker 0444 6 Deaths 3 Injuries, Tornado destroyed a mobile home park just north of Newton, where the fatalities took place. At least 100 other houses and 13 businesses were damaged or destroyed along its long path in Bacontonmarker and Pleasant Grove. Caused $3.97 million in damages.
EF2 SSW of Sylvestermarker Worthmarker 0520 2 Injuries, Related to the Newton tornado. Several houses were destroyed and extensive tree damage was reported. Caused $280,000 in damages.
EF2 NNE of Sumnermarker Worthmarker 0530 An empty mobile home was destroyed. 24 houses were damaged, some of them heavily. Caused $500,000 in damages.
EF1 N of Chula Tiftmarker, Turnermarker 0542 Extensive damage reported to at least 35 houses and several barns. Widespread tree damage. Caused $1.35 million in damages.


March 2 event

List of confirmed tornadoes – Friday, March 2, 2007
EF#
Location
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Floridamarker
EF0 SE of Monticellomarker Jeffersonmarker 0710 Brief touchdown, minor roof damage to one house, plus scattered tree damage. Caused $10,000 in damages.
EF1 Cherry Lake area Madisonmarker 0736 Brief touchdown, one house sustained roof and porch damage. Widespread tree damage was also reported, which also damaged one vehicle. Caused $10,000 in damages.
EF0 E of Live Oakmarker Suwanneemarker 0900 Brief touchdown, destroyed a garage and damaged many trees and power lines. Caused $10,000 in damages.
EF0 SSE of Callahanmarker Nassaumarker 1025 Brief touchdown, damage reported to three mobile homes and several sheds. Considerable debris. Caused $30,000 in damages.
South Carolinamarker
EF0 NNE of New Ellentonmarker Aikenmarker 0720 Brief touchdown, minor damage to two houses, and many trees knocked over.
Georgiamarker
EF0 Lake Parkmarker area Lowndesmarker 0755 Brief tornado touched down in a RV park. Minor structural damage. Caused $10,000 in damages.
North Carolinamarker
EF0 Smyma area Carteret 1340 Brief waterspout came ashore, damaging one house.


Enterprise area tornado

Early on the afternoon of Thursday, March 1, at 1:08 pm CST (19:08 UTC), a destructive tornado first developed near the Enterprise Municipal Airportmarker. The tornado lifted off the ground briefly before returning to the ground as an even stronger storm. It quickly slammed into Enterprise, Alabamamarker, at 1:12 pm CST (19:12 UTC). The tornado left severe damage throughout a large section of the city. The most severe damage took place at Enterprise High Schoolmarker, where a section of the school was destroyed during the middle of the school day. Eight fatalities occurred at the school and 50 other people were taken to local hospitals. Some early reports suggested that there had been as many as 15 deaths at Enterprise High School and 18 deaths statewide, which was found to be an over-estimation. It was the first killer tornado at a US school since the Grand Islemarker, Louisianamarker tornado in 1993, and the deadliest tornado since one in Belvidere, Illinoismarker in 1967. One other death was reported in Enterprise at a nearby private residence when a woman's living room was shattered by the tornado.



At the school, the fatalities resulted from the collapse of a concrete wall. One hallway completely collapsed, trapping many students in the rubble on the hallway known as 3rd Hall. The tornado at the school was so strong that it flipped cars over in the parking lot, flattened parts of the stadium and tore trees out of the ground. School buses were there for an early dismissal due to the storms at just after 1 pm, but the tornado hit before the school could be dismissed.

Nearby Hillcrest Elementary School also sustained severe damage from the tornado. After the tornado hit, students from both schools who were not injured were relocated by emergency personnel to Hillcrest Baptist Church, adjacent to the schools and which was not damaged, in order to meet up with shocked parents. Emergency personnel also rushed to the school to send the most seriously injured to local hospitals and provide treatment on the scene to others.

The tornado initially formed in a neighborhood just south of the downtown area; after demolishing a section of the downtown area, it moved on to the schools. The tornado then continued northeast crossing the Holly Hill and Dixie Drive areas. A quarter-mile (400 m) wide swath was devastated, with enormous damage reported to many houses and businesses, some of which were flattened. Several other schools and the local YMCA were among the damaged buildings. According to the Red Cross, 239 homes were destroyed, 374 sustained major damage, 529 sustained minor damage, and 251 homes were affected.

The tornado itself was estimated to have been 500 yards (470 m) wide and have had a path length of 10 miles (16 km). It dissipated shortly after leaving Enterprise. It was given an initial rating of EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. However, after a detailed survey, the tornado was upgraded to a low-end EF4 with winds around 170 mph (275 km/h). This upgrade was based on the finding of flattened houses near the school. A total of $307 million in damages were inflicted on the city of Enterprise.

President Bush talks with the media after walking through the tornado damage at Enterprise High School.


Aftermath

The National Guard was called into Enterprise in the aftermath of the tornado. Governor Bob Riley mobilized about 100 troops and placed more on standby. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on the community after the tornado strike. On the morning of March 3, President George W. Bush visited the community and declared Coffee County a disaster area. He went into the school and also took an aerial view of the devastation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was also called in to provide additional assistance.

After the tornado, there was an investigation into whether the students should have been dismissed before the tornado stuck the school. However, the National Weather Service survey from the office in Tallahasseemarker suggested that the death toll could have been much higher due to the extreme damage in the parking lot and the area nearby. In addition, earlier thunderstorm activity in the area with two other rotating supercells tracking towards Enterprise late that morning (the first tornado warning was issued at 10:41 am CST) made evacuating the area unsafe.

In a later service assessment done by the NWS, it was determined that the school had taken the appropriate safety precautions to minimize and prevent potential loss of life with the tornado approaching, and the students were indeed in the safest part of the building. However, it was recommended in the assessment that hardened "safe rooms" with enhanced construction should exist, to prevent future disasters in the event of large and violent tornadoes impacting large buildings. A similar tornado on July 13, 2004 in Roanoke, Illinoismarker, destroyed an industrial building, yet such rooms were used and no one there was seriously injured.

Enterprise was hit again by a weaker tornado on October 8, 2008; however, no one was injured that time.

Americus tornado

In the evening of March 1, Georgia's most significant tornado of the outbreak took place. This tornado began at approximately 9:00 pm EST (02:00 UTC), about southeast of Westonmarker in Webster Countymarker, Georgiamarker. At 9:07 pm, it moved into Sumter Countymarker, about southeast of Dumas. No one was killed there but three people were injured as numerous buildings were damaged. The worst damage in the county occurred on East Centerpoint Road northeast of Chambliss. There, a cinder block house and two machine shops were destroyed. The three injuries occurred in the home, and 5 cows died on a nearby farm. A tractor-trailer near Chambliss was travelling on Highway 520 and was flipped over by the tornado. It caught fire and burned completely. At the intersection of the highway and TV Tower Road nearby, the Georgia Public Television transmission tower was damaged. 2/3 of it was twisted and only was left standing afterwards. Many trees and power lines were downed in the area.

In Sumter County, the tornado move northeast and struck Americusmarker. The worst damage was to the Sumter Regional Hospital. The twister destroyed every building there, causing $100 million in damage to the facility. The buildings included a row of doctors' offices and the Sumter HealthPlex, a newly built facility. It went through demolition later in the year and will not reopen until 2010. Extensive damage was done elsewhere in the city. All casualties in the county were in Americus; two people, a 53-year-old man and 43-year-old woman, died in a house when a wall collapsed inside it. The tornado moved right over the downtown area and business district. The Winn-Dixie Supermarket was completely destroyed, and the McDonald's, Wendy's, Zaxby's, Domino's Pizza, and several more local businesses were damaged or destroyed. The tornado passed right through the National Register Historic District, damaging roughly 250 historical homes, several of which were destroyed. The city's most notable cemetery, the Oak Grove Cemetery, built in 1856, suffered moderate damage. Marble monuments, some tall, were smashed, 26 wrought iron fences were toppled, and 104 cedar, magnolia, and oak trees were lost. The historic Rees Park High School sustained moderate damage but was not in use. Americus churches were not spared, as ten of them were damaged,including The Old Shady Grove Church.. Parks were badly affected as well. Rees Park lost 25 trees and nearby Myers Park lost 39.

The toll for damage in the county amounted to $110 million. A total of 31 residences, 42 businesses, one church, and one hospital were destroyed. Another 116 residences, 27 businesses, two churches, and three recreation facilities / parks sustained major damage. Moderate damage was inflicted on 260 residences, 60 businesses, five churches, a school, three recreation facilities / parks, and 2 cemeteries. Minor damage was reported to 586 residences, 88 businesses, two churches, a school, a fire station, two recreation facilities / parks, and a cemetery. A total of 75 structures were destroyed, 148 sustained major damage, 331 sustained moderate damage, and 681 sustained minor damage (a total of 1,235 structures). Of these, 993 were residences, 217 were businesses, 10 were churches, two were schools, one was a hospital, one was a fire station, eight were recreation facilities / parks, and three were cemeteries. Two people died in the county and eight others were injured.

At 9:36 pm, the tornado entered Macon Countymarker about 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Oglethorpe, Georgiamarker, but only continued for three miles (5 km) after that. It lifted at 9:40 pm, about 5 miles (8 km) south-southwest of Oglethorpe.

The tornado was rated as a strong EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. In total, the tornado cut a path up to one mile (1.6 km) wide and about 40 miles (64 km) long through Webster, Sumter and Macon Counties. Two people died and 11 injured. Total damage was estimated at over $111 million, $110 million in Sumter county and $1 million in Webster County. Approximately 1,238 buildings (1,235 in Sumter and 3 in Webster), hundreds of vehicles, and much other property were damaged or destroyed.

References

  1. NCDC: Event Details


See also



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