Journal article Open Access

Revisiting the 3–4 April 1974 Super Outbreak of Tornadoes

Corfidi, Stephen F.; Weiss, Steven J.; Kain, John S.; Corfidi, Sarah J.; Rabin, Robert M.; Levit, Jason J.

The Super Outbreak of tornadoes over the central and eastern United States on 3–4 April 1974 remains the most outstanding severe convective weather episode on record in the continental United States. The outbreak far surpassed previous and succeeding events in severity, longevity, and extent. In this paper, surface, upper-air, radar, and satellite data are used to provide an updated synoptic and subsynoptic overview of the event. Emphasis is placed on identifying the major factors that contributed to the development of the three main convective bands associated with the outbreak, and on identifying the conditions that may have contributed to the outstanding number of intense and long-lasting tornadoes. Selected output from a 29-km, 50-layer version of the Eta forecast model, a version similar to that available operationally in the mid-1990s, also is presented to help depict the evolution of thermodynamic stability during the event.
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