More Than 20 States Thrashed by Five-Day Storm Outbreak
Despite a quiet start to the severe season, the most deadly and fierce severe storm outbreak of 2014 yet erupted in the early hours of Sunday, April 27, 2014, and proceeded to wreak havoc into Thursday, May 1, 2014. Lasting for a full five days, the storm system spewed heavy rain, provoked deadly tornadoes, generated powerful winds and triggered severe flash flooding across much of the eastern half of the United States, destroying nearly everything in its path.
During the course of the five-day outbreak, millions sought safe shelter as the system tracked over more than 20 states, including Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Preliminary Tornado Reports Climb to 160
A series of severe thunderstorms spawned more than 160 tornadoes across 14 states over the storm system's lifespan, leaving completely leveled buildings, thousands of displaced people and nearly 37 people dead in their wake.
Out of all the twisters during the outbreak, two topped the charts for the most powerful tornadoes of the bunch. On Sunday, April 27, 2014, a preliminarily rated EF3 tornado with a 30-mile path charged through the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, flattening numerous homes and buildings. The very next day, an even stronger tornado struck Jackson, Mississippi, at a force ranking it preliminarily an EF4.
Hail Falls Nearly 200 Times
Ranging in size from quarter-sized to baseball-sized hail, approximately 205 hail reports were recorded during the multi-day outbreak. Hail was reported in 13 states with the biggest hail report coming out of Alabama at 2.75 inches in diameter, or baseball-sized hail.
Winds Burst up to 80 mph
With approximately 370 reports of high winds, storms brought high-gusting, damaging winds to more than 14 states, blowing down countless trees in the process. As a result of downed trees, thousands were left in the dark for hours as trees fell on power lines in multiple towns in the path of the storms. Outside wind gusts generated by tornadoes, the highest wind gust blew at up to 80 mph in Clinton County, Ohio.
At Least Three Cities Set New Rain Records
As the severe storm system moved towards the East Coast around midweek, the thunderstorms produced flash flooding in various communities on the East Coast including Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Boston, Newark and Trenton, New Jersey, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Gulf Breeze and Pensacola, Florida.
Amid torrential downpours, three cities set new rainfall records this week. On Wednesday, April 20, 2014, Watertown, New York, broke its 1962 maximum daily rainfall record of 1.17 inches, previously broken also in 2011, with 5.93 inches of rain recorded for the day. Farther south, Lynchburg, Virginia, also broke its daily maximum rainfall record of 0.91 of an inch set in 2003 by a shy 0.02 of an inch, setting the new record at 0.93 of an inch for April 20.
Over a two-day span, Pensacola, Florida, received more than 20 inches of rain on April 29 and 30, 2014, causing life-threatening flooding throughout the area. The city proceeded to shatter its daily maximum rainfall record set in 1918 at 3.33 inches by collecting 4.92 inches on April 30, 2014.
One Landslide, Two Mudslides Transpire
Following hours of heavy rain, cars, roadways and street signs were swallowed as a landslide opened up alongside a residential neighborhood in Baltimore late Wednesday night, April 30, 2014.
Only a few hours later, early Thursday morning, May 1, 2014, a mudslide near Yonkers, New York, halted morning commute traffic along the Hudson Line service in the state. Around the same time, residents in Long Island were evacuated from their Sea Cliff homes as a mudslide in Port Washington left two vehicles buried in mud, according to the area's local news station.