Tornadoes - April 2014


NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.


According to data from the Storm Prediction Center, during April, there were 217 preliminary tornado reports, with the final confirmed number of tornadoes expected to be lower. The 1991-2010 average number of April tornadoes for the contiguous U.S. is 155. The most tornadoes during April occurred in 2011 when there were 758. Several small tornado outbreaks impacted the nation during April, with the largest occurring over the three day period from the 27th through the 29th. There were 33 reported tornado-related fatalities during the month — one occurred on April 25th when an EF-2 hit Chowan County, North Carolina and the rest occurred across the Midwest and Southeast during the late-April outbreak. The April 2014 tornado count brings the year-to-date preliminary number of tornadoes to 287; the 1991-2010 average is 225.

April 27th – 29th Outbreak
April 27-29 Tornado Tracks and Fatalities
27-30 April tornado tracks and fatalities
Source: SPC

From April 27th through 29th a powerful upper level storm system moved through the Northern Plains and into the Midwest. Ahead of the associated cold front, severe weather, including hail, straight line winds, and tornadoes were observed from Nebraska, through the Midwest and Southeast, to North Carolina. Over the course of the three-day period, there were over 160 preliminary tornado reports. At the time of this report being published, 38 of the tornadoes had been confirmed, including at least five EF-3 and two EF-4 tornadoes.

27 April Arkansas Tornado Track
Arkansas EF-4 Track
Source: NWS

On the 27th, there were 36 preliminary tornado reports (nine confirmed to date) across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. There were 18 reported fatalities on this day. An EF-1 in Iowa killed two people, an EF-2 in Oklahoma killed one person, and an EF-4 in Arkansas killed 15 people. The deadly Iowa tornado was the longest-tracked tornado of the entire outbreak, with a path length of 46 miles. The EF-4 in Arkansas was the first EF-4, or stronger, tornado reported in 2014 and only the third such tornado to impact Arkansas since 2000. This tornado decimated the towns of Mayflower and Vilonia, north of Little Rock, where up to 500 homes were destroyed along the 41 mile long and 1,300 yard wide track.

28 April MS Tornado Tracks
28 April Mississippi Tornado Tracks
Source: NWS

On the 28th, there were 118 preliminary tornado reports (24 confirmed to date) across Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. There were 14 reported tornado-related fatalities on this day of the outbreak, ten in Mississippi and two in each Alabama and Tennessee. The deadliest tornado was an EF-4 tornado that tore through central Mississippi, with a path length of 34.3 miles and maximum width of 0.75 mile. Hundreds of structures were heavily damaged and thousands of trees were uprooted, with the town of Louisville being the hardest hit with nine reported fatalities. An EF-3 tornado that had a path length of 20.1 miles and a width of 400 yards hit east of Jackson, Mississippi, killing one person. Two EF-3 tornadoes in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee were responsible for four more fatalities. Both of those tornadoes had path lengths of greater than 15 miles and widths of at least 500 yards.

The final day of the outbreak, the 29th, saw the tornado activity shift eastward into North Carolina. There were 13 preliminary reports of tornadoes (four confirmed to date, mostly across eastern North Carolina). There were no reported fatalities. This day was forecasted to be another major tornado event, but convective storms along the Gulf Coast that dropped up to two-feet of rain, cut off the moisture supply from the Gulf of Mexico, preventing another widespread tornado outbreak.

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Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Tornadoes for April 2014, published online May 2014, retrieved on October 30, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/tornadoes/2014/4.