What if the 3 April 1974 Tornado Super Outbreak in North Alabama Occurred Now?
Troutman, Tim ; Gaston, Dr. Greg

The 3 April 1974 tornado Super Outbreak resulted in 148 tornadoes across 13 states. The 16 hour event resulted in 330 deaths and 5,484 injuries in a damage path covering more than 2,500 miles from central Alabama to southern Michigan. This event produced an estimated 3.5 billion dollars of damage. In what is now the WFO Huntsville forecast area, three storms produced F4-F5 tornadoes, with damage exceeding 50 million dollars. In addition, there were 86 fatalities and 949 injured in the 14 county area.

For this study, the storm tracks for the 1974 Super Outbreak were placed on a detailed GIS map and modified to indicate the accurately depict the individual path widths. These tracks were then overlaid on the current urban geographic map based on population information retrieved from the 2000 census. This process allowed for the creation of several what if scenarios for the 1974 storms given the current levels of population and residential and commercial development.

It is not unreasonable to assume that a devastating outbreak of the magnitude of the April 1974 Super Outbreak could occur again. Increases in population density and development make it critical to assess the potential impacts of such events on the urban landscape. By using historical tracks with current census data it is reasonable to extract very useful information. This study attempts to display methodologies of utilizing historic track data to produce accurate predicted storm damage estimates.