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(photo courtesy of NWS)

Posted: Wednesday, 02 April 2014 11:50AM

40th Anniversary Of Super Outbreak Of 1974

It is one of the most devastating weather events to ever occur in the United States, and Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of what is now called the Super Outbreak of 1974. The Super Outbreak is the second largest tornado outbreak ever recorded, and is the most violent outbreak ever. A total of 148 tornadoes took place in 13 states, including Kentucky, in a period of just 18 hours. Rick Shanklin, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, spoke with the News Edge about the historical significance of the event.

Shanklin goes on to add that the intensity and the devastating nature of this event is magnified by how many people lost their lives on that day.

The outbreak began in Morris, Illinois around 1:00pm on April 3. The first F5 tornado of the day struck the city of Xenia, Ohio, at 4:40pm, killing 34, injuring 1,150, and completely destroying about one-fourth of the city. Reflective of the violent nature of this outbreak , seven F5s were observed, one each in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, three in Alabama, and the final one, which crossed through parts of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. There were another 23 F4 tornadoes.

(photo courtesy of National Weather Service)

During the peak of the outbreak, an unbelievable sixteen tornadoes were on the ground simultaneously. At one point forecasters in Indiana, frustrated because they could not keep up with all of the simultaneous tornado activity, put the entire state of Indiana under a blanket tornado warning, which was the first and is still the only time in U.S. history that an entire state was placed under a tornado warning.

(photo courtesy of National Weather Service)

The outbreak finally ended in Caldwell County, North Carolina at about 7:00am on April 4. Shanklin point out that significant strides in severe weather forecasting were made in the aftermath of the tragic event.

A total of 319 people were killed in the 148 tornadoes from the afternoon of April 3 through the morning of April 4, with another 5,484 injured.

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