Above is the preliminary severe weather report map from the SPC for the outbreak of Friday, March 2, 2012.
As you can see, there were 97 reports of tornadoes, 259 reports of wind damage and 430 reports of hail, for a total of 786 events! These numbers will change of course, particularly with respect to the tornado reports, as ground surveys are completed over the coming few days.
Below is a video that shows the progression of most of the severe storms on Friday via radar, with tornado warnings flowing as they were issued (in red):
I've been hearing some in the media saying this was a record tornado outbreak for the month of March. It's a little too early to say that for sure. The all time record right now for a March tornado outbreak is 74 tornadoes, set back during the period March 11-13, 2006.
We'll have to wait until after the surveys of yesterday's storms are complete to know whether or not this year's event will be in contention for a new record (some of the 97 tornadoes currently reported yesterday will undoubtedly be determined as duplicate reports of the same tornado once surveys are done).
NSSL Image Showing Radar Indicated Rotation Paths on 3-12-12
Regardless of whether or not a record is set based on quantity, I think we'll find that yesterday's event will be very noteworthy as far as the strength of the tornadoes is concerned. The 2006 event produced 9 F-3 tornadoes and 1 F-4 tornado.
We're also starting the 2012 severe weather season off on an ominous note for another reason. The average total number of tornadoes for the month of March in the U.S. is only 87 (that's a 10 year average), and it looks like we may well have knocked that out in 1 day this year!
So buckle up and get ready for what could be a long, wild ride this spring. If you haven't already, take a few minutes this weekend to review your own personal severe weather safety and preparedness plans and make sure that you're ready to protect your family if threatening weather approaches your area this spring.
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