Satellites reveal tornado tracks in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama

May 03, 2011 by Holli Riebeek
A pale green swath in this Landsat image from April 28, 2011, reveals the path of a tornado outside of Griffin, Georgia across lightly populated farmland. Bright-colored spots are buildings, and some are close to storm’s path. The town of Griffin, shown on the far right, is the nearest community to the storm track in this areaCredit: NASA , Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using USGS Landsat data.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tornado tracks from last week's powerful tornado outbreak are visible in data from NASA's Aqua satellite and the Landsat satellite.

Among the more than 150 tornadoes reported on April 27 and 28, 2011, was a rare EF-5 storm. Such a storm has the capacity to collapse a concrete building. The tornado hit Smithville, Mississippi, where it killed at least 14 people, and moved northeast nearly 3 miles toward the Alabama border. It is the first EF5 tornado to occur in Mississippi since 1966, according to the National Weather Service.

An image captured by NASA's shows the path of exposed ground left in the tornado’s wake. The trail left by the EF5 tornado in is much shorter than a similar trail that cuts across northwestern Alabama. The National Weather Service rated this tornado at EF4, with winds around 175 miles per hour, said local news reports. The track was about 12 miles long, and the tornado caused more than 20 deaths.

The image was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on ’s Aqua satellite on April 28. The image was compared to an earlier image taken on April 12, 2011 and the tracks were not present.

The tornado of April 27, 2011 hit Smithville, Mississippi, where it killed at least 14 people, and moved northeast nearly 3 miles toward the Alabama border. This NASA MODIS image shows the path of exposed ground left in the tornado’s wake. The trail left by the EF5 tornado in Mississippi is much shorter than a similar trail that cuts across northwestern Alabama. Credit: NASA MODIS Rapid Response Team, Jeff Schmaltz

Another satellite revealed the track from a tornado that touched down near Griffin, Georgia. In a Landsat image from April 28, 2011, a pale green swath indicated the path of a tornado outside of Griffin, Georgia. The tornado was on the ground between 12:03 and 12:28 a.m. local time on April 28, hours before the image was taken. By the time the funnel cloud lifted, the tornado had covered about 20 miles with a path about half a mile wide, said the National Weather Service. The tornado was an EF3 tornado with winds of about 140 miles per hour.

The Landsat satellite image showed that the tornado moved across lightly populated farmland. Bright-colored spots that appear in the image are buildings, and some were close to storm’s path. The town of Griffin is the nearest community to the storm track in this area. Landsat data was provided by the United States Geological Survey.

The large storm system that generated the was the deadliest to hit the United States since 1974.

Explore further: Climate researchers measure the concentration of greenhouse gases above the Atlantic

Related Stories

NWS: NE Mississippi tornado was highest-rated EF-5

Apr 30, 2011

(AP) -- At least one of the massive tornadoes that killed hundreds across the South this week was a devastating EF-5 storm, according to an analysis Friday by the National Weather Service, which suspects ...

Study: New radar system cut tornado deaths

Jun 29, 2005

A study finds that the number of tornado casualties in the United States has fallen by half since a network of Doppler weather radar was installed 10 years ago.

Recommended for you

NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

42 minutes ago

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA's C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center ...

NASA sees last vestiges of Tropical Depression Jack

18 hours ago

Tropical Cyclone Jack had weakened to a tropical depression when NASA and JAXA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite passed above on April 22, 2014 at 1120 UTC/7:20 a.m. EDT.

New discovery helps solve mystery source of African lava

21 hours ago

Floods of molten lava may sound like the stuff of apocalyptic theorists, but history is littered with evidence of such past events where vast lava outpourings originating deep in the Earth accompany the breakup ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

CSharpner
not rated yet May 03, 2011
That was a highly stressful night. My family and I had to hunker down in the bathroom, downstairs TWICE with about 30 minutes between the 2 events. Both events produced golf ball sized hail and caused lots of damage to both cars, the exterior of my house, broke my windshield, ripped up my screens, and busted the lights along my sidewalk. The winds ripped apart my tool shed in the back. The first event was a confirmed tornado. Very very scary! I hope to never go through that again.

I thought it was a big deal at the time. After seeing what others went through, I realized our ordeal was nothing in comparison.

More news stories

NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA's C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center ...

On global warming, settled science and George Brandis

The Australian Attorney General, Senator George Brandis is no stranger to controversy. His statement in parliament that "people do have a right to be bigots" rapidly gained him notoriety, and it isn't hard to understand why ...

Phase transiting to a new quantum universe

(Phys.org) —Recent insight and discovery of a new class of quantum transition opens the way for a whole new subfield of materials physics and quantum technologies.

Imaging turns a corner

(Phys.org) —Scientists have developed a new microscope which enables a dramatically improved view of biological cells.