Tornado outbreak of March 3, 2019
|Formed||March 3, 2019|
|Dissipated||March 3, 2019|
|Max rating1||EF4 tornado|
|Duration of tornado outbreak2||6 hours, 30 minutes|
|Largest hail||2 in (5.1 cm) diameter near Elberta, Georgia|
|Fatalities||23 deaths, 100+ injuries|
|Areas affected||Southeastern United States, particularly Alabama and Georgia and the Florida Panhandle|
|1Most severe tornado damage; see Enhanced Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado
The tornado outbreak of March 3, 2019, was a significant severe weather event affecting the Southeastern United States. Over the course of 6 hours, a total of 39 tornadoes touched down across portions of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. The strongest of these was an EF4 tornado that devastated rural communities from Beauregard, Alabama to Talbotton, Georgia, killing 23 people and injuring 97 others. Its death toll represented more than twice the number of tornado deaths in the United States in 2018, and it was the deadliest single tornado in the country since the 2013 Moore EF5 tornado. An EF3 tornado destroyed residences to the east of Tallahassee in Leon County, Florida, and was only the second tornado of that strength in the county since 1945. Several other strong tornadoes occurred across the region throughout the evening of March 3 and caused significant damage. A large number of EF0 and EF1 tornadoes also touched down.
On February 28, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a day four risk for severe thunderstorms across a broad region of the Southeast United States stretching from northern Louisiana through northwestern Georgia. A broad slight risk was introduced the following day, and a more narrow enhanced risk was raised across portions of southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia later on March 2 where the threat for tornadoes, some potentially strong, appeared most likely.
The severe weather prediction for March 3 came to fruition that morning as a broad mid-level cyclone in the northern jet stream pushed eastward over northern Ontario and James Bay. A series of shortwave troughs rotated the southern semicircle of this low-pressure system, with an especially well-defined shortwave progressing from the South Central United States eastward across the Appalachian Mountains and into the Atlantic Ocean. This feature led to the formation of a surface low over northern Mississippi and Alabama, aiding in the northern transport of rich and deep moisture originating from the Gulf of Mexico. Strong southwesterly low-level winds coupled with strong forcing for ascent along a trailing cold front led to the formation of a squall line stretching from the Carolinas down into portions of the Deep South. Ahead of this line, the combination of mid-level Convective Available Potential Energy of 500–1,200 J/kg, a low-level jet of 50–70 kn, and effective storm-relative helicity of 250–400 J/kg resulted in a highly unstable atmosphere that was conducive to the formation of strong tornadoes. The lack of strong convective inhibition, coupled with weak forcing, favored the formation of numerous discrete supercell thunderstorms across the Florida Panhandle, southeastern Alabama, much of central Georgia, and into South Carolina. Throughout the afternoon, numerous supercell thunderstorms that formed ahead of the squall line produced several significant and damaging tornadoes, including the violent EF4 that struck Beauregard, Alabama. As the squall line moved eastward, embedded circulations and semi-discrete structures within the line produced additional strong tornadoes before tornadic activity waned with eastward progression overnight.
Twenty-three deaths occurred as a result of a single tornado, which touched down in Lee County, Alabama. At least two of the deaths occurred near the Alabama town of Beauregard. Four of the dead were children. Ten of the victims were from one family. Sixty patients were received at the East Alabama Medical Center; however, only four remained hospitalized on March 4. Many people were initially reported as missing. Drones with heat-seeking devices were utilized in the search effort for survivors while ground crews had to wait for morning light on March 4. In a later report on March 6, all tornado victims in Alabama have been accounted for.
March 3 event
|EF#||Location||County||State||Start Coord.||Time (UTC)||Path length||Max width||Summary||Refs|
|EF1||S of Chatom||Washington||AL||18:55–18:56||0.17 mi (0.27 km)||300 yd (270 m)||Trees were damaged and some were snapped in the vicinity of Alabama State Route 17.|||
|EF0||ENE of Mulberry||Autauga||AL||19:19||0.62 mi (1.00 km)||70 yd (64 m)||Tree limbs were broken and some trees were uprooted.|||
|EF1||SW of McIntosh||Washington||AL||19:37–19:42||2.6 mi (4.2 km)||100 yd (91 m)||An addition to a church was heavily damaged. Trees were downed, and a few other structures in the area sustained minor damage.|||
|EF4||W of Beauregard, AL to ENE of Talbotton, GA||Macon (AL), Lee (AL), Muscogee (GA), Harris (GA), Talbot (GA)||AL, GA||20:00–21:16||68.73 mi (110.61 km)||1,600 yd (1,500 m)||23 deaths, 97 injuries – See section on this tornado|||
|EF2||N of Fort Valley||Crawford, Peach||GA||20:15–20:22||6.7 mi (10.8 km)||420 yd (380 m)||A mobile home was flipped and destroyed, injuring one woman inside. A vehicle was flipped and rolled, a house had its roof completely removed and some exterior walls collapsed, and a neighboring home suffered roof damage from flying debris. Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted, pecan farming equipment was overturned, and a farming shed was destroyed.|||
|EF2||S of Tuskegee to E of Beauregard||Macon, Lee||AL||20:27–20:57||29.15 mi (46.91 km)||1,300 yd (1,200 m)||A tornado formed from an embedded rotation within the squall that followed behind the supercell that spawned the initial Lee County EF4. At some points, the path of this tornado passed as close as 0.4 miles away from the original EF4 path. Many thousands of trees were damaged, including several large groves of trees that were completely mowed down. A few outbuildings were destroyed, several homes suffered varying degrees of roof damage and a farm irrigation system was damaged. A brick church sustained shingle damage, and a cinder block building at a cemetery had its roof blown off. Another church lost roughly half of its roof. Two mobile homes were rolled over near the end of the tornado's path, resulting in one injury.|||
|EF1||NW of Honoraville||Butler||AL||20:34–20:35||0.27 mi (0.43 km)||50 yd (46 m)||An outbuilding was damaged, the roof was blown off a single-story brick home, and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted.|||
|EF0||Macon||Bibb||GA||20:36–20:38||1.1 mi (1.8 km)||150 yd (140 m)||A weak tornado impacted downtown Macon, causing minor roof, shingle, and window damage to several buildings. Three transformers were blown, a large flag pole was bent at a right angle about 3 ft (0.91 m) from its base, and several vehicles had their windows blown out. An anemometer recorded a peak gust of 66 mph (106 km/h) before it broke. Large tables were tossed.|||
|EF1||NNW of Honoraville||Crenshaw||AL||20:38–20:42||2.66 mi (4.28 km)||50 yd (46 m)||Numerous trees were uprooted, including one that fell onto a mobile home. A nearby outbuilding was damaged.|||
|EF1||S of Huber||Twiggs||GA||20:42–20:44||1.2 mi (1.9 km)||300 yd (270 m)||A number of large trees were snapped or uprooted. One tree was downed onto a house.|||
|EF0||E of Workmore||Telfair||GA||21:05–21:09||4.1 mi (6.6 km)||150 yd (140 m)||The porch to a home was ripped from its concrete footings and tossed over 100 yd (91 m). Minor roof damage occurred to the home and a wooden power pole adjacent to the structure was snapped. Around a dozen trees were downed.|||
|EF0||ENE of Jacksonville||Telfair||GA||21:09||0.4 mi (0.64 km)||100 yd (91 m)||A chicken house was lifted and tossed 50 ft (15 m) into a nearby shed. Several trees were snapped.|||
|EF0||SSW of Inverness||Bullock||AL||21:15||0.42 mi (0.68 km)||50 yd (46 m)||Several trees snapped or uprooted.|||
|EF1||E of Toomsboro||Wilkinson||GA||21:18–21:20||3.3 mi (5.3 km)||630 yd (580 m)||Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted and some roof damage occurred to structures at a mine site. The tornado continued into an inaccessible woodland area.|||
|EF0||S of Rupert||Taylor||GA||21:18–21:24||6.6 mi (10.6 km)||200 yd (180 m)||Sporadic tree damage was observed.|||
|EF1||Southern Pine Mountain||Harris||GA||21:19–21:28||7.5 mi (12.1 km)||900 yd (820 m)||Hundreds of trees were downed, several of which fell on houses. In addition, an apartment building had one of its second floor rooms destroyed by a fallen tree.|||
|EF1||S of Oconee||Washington||GA||21:24–21:25||0.5 mi (0.80 km)||200 yd (180 m)||Sections of shingles were removed from a house and the backyard shed on the property was flipped and heavily damaged. A number of trees were downed and snapped.|||
|EF1||SW of Tennille||Washington||GA||21:36–21:38||1.5 mi (2.4 km)||290 yd (270 m)||A large number of trees were snapped or uprooted.|||
|EF0||NW of Perry||Macon, Peach||GA||21:43–21:51||6.4 mi (10.3 km)||300 yd (270 m)||Numerous trees were snapped, metal was peeled from one outbuilding, and a mobile home suffered damage to its skirting and roof. Another outbuilding had one of its three south-facing doors blown off and thrown onto a nearby building, while a 30 ft (9.1 m) wooden fence was snapped at its posts.|||
|EF2||NW of Eufaula||Barbour||AL||21:45–21:55||6.68 mi (10.75 km)||700 yd (640 m)||Hundreds of trees were severely damaged, including a large area of trees that was completely mowed down. A large wooden double power pole was knocked down as well.|||
|EF1||S of Davisboro||Washington||GA||21:55||0.2 mi (0.32 km)||85 yd (78 m)||A farm outbuilding and an old reinforced concrete silo were damaged. In particular, the silo was collapsed with its concrete debris scattering and downing nearby power lines.|||
|EF2||N of Eufaula, AL to SW of Weston, GA||Barbour (AL), Quitman (GA), Stewart (GA), Webster (GA)||AL, GA||21:58–22:32||31 mi (50 km)||860 yd (790 m)||A rain-wrapped, high-end EF2 tornado destroyed a fire station north of Eufaula, along with several metal-framed industrial buildings and airplane hangars at and around Weedon Field. Multiple airplanes were damaged or destroyed, and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted. A few homes and mobile homes in the area were damaged as well. The tornado continued into Georgia, producing moderate tree damage in Quitman County before continuing into Stewart County. There, multiple large metal-framed barns were destroyed, and several large pieces of farming equipment were moved. A single-family home had its roof ripped off and most exterior walls collapsed as well. Several campers were flipped over and destroyed, and hundreds of trees were snapped or uprooted. The tornado continued into Webster County, snapping a few tree branches and flipping a portion of a large irrigation system before dissipating.|||
|EF0||SW of DeFuniak Springs||Walton||FL||22:28–22:41||12.12 mi (19.51 km)||400 yd (370 m)||A weak tornado touched down on Eglin Air Force Base property and moved northeast, producing scattered tree damage.|||
|EF0||E of Shorterville||Henry (AL), Clay (GA)||AL, GA||22:39–22:52||9.59 mi (15.43 km)||75 yd (69 m)||A weak tornado began in Henry County, Alabama, uprooting several trees. It continued into Clay County in Georgia where it removed from roofing material from a roadway, downed an irrigation system, and uprooted additional trees.|||
|EF2||Western Evans||Columbia||GA||22:44||1.52 mi (2.45 km)||100 yd (91 m)||This tornado impacted the western part of Evans, where numerous homes sustained minor to moderate damage. One well-built brick home had a portion of its roof torn off, and vehicles were damaged by flying debris. Sheds and fences were destroyed, and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted.|||
|EF1||S of Slocomb||Geneva||AL||22:51–22:58||5.14 mi (8.27 km)||300 yd (270 m)||A single-family home had its entire garage roof and a portion of its main roof ripped off. A manufactured house immediately behind that structure was lifted off its anchor points and rotated 10–15 ft (3.0–4.6 m) from its original location. Other single-family homes, manufactured homes, and a barn suffered like damage. Larger trees were snapped. One person was injured.|||
|EF2||SE of Clarks Hill||Edgefield||SC||22:53||5.05 mi (8.13 km)||200 yd (180 m)||Numerous large trees were snapped or uprooted in the Morgana community, some of which landed on homes and vehicles. Power poles were snapped, and several homes and a gas station sustained damage as well. At least four people were injured.|||
|EF1||E of Sunny Hills||Washington, Jackson||FL||23:33–23:38||5.27 mi (8.48 km)||300 yd (270 m)||In Washington County, several homes had tin roofing material stripped off, with the most severe case involving a metal canopy being blown 75 ft (23 m). Similar damage occurred to homes in Jackson County. Trees were snapped and uprooted throughout the tornado's path, and outbuildings were damaged or destroyed. Wooden projectiles were speared into the ground, and a trampoline and a doghouse were blown away as well.|||
|EF1||Red Bank||Lexington||SC||23:53||10.92 mi (17.57 km)||100 yd (91 m)||Numerous trees were snapped and uprooted, support columns at a church were damaged, and roof and property damage occurred to several homes.|||
|EF1||SE of Riceboro||Liberty||GA||23:58||7.85 mi (12.63 km)||350 yd (320 m)||Debris was tossed onto Interstate 95, where a motorcyclist hit the debris and suffered injuries. A camper trailer was flipped and rolled about 20–30 ft (6.1–9.1 m), and a single-family home sustained minor shingle damage.|||
|EF1||Lexington||Lexington||SC||00:02||1.93 mi (3.11 km)||50 yd (46 m)||An awning at a gas station was damaged, a seafood restaurant had its porch roof blown off, and eight recreational vehicles were overturned at a business, some of which were moved nearly 50 yd (46 m). Two large trailers were overturned at another business, and several homes sustained minor roof damage. Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted.|||
|EF1||S of Boykin||Miller||GA||00:02–00:10||4.26 mi (6.86 km)||150 yd (140 m)||Two homes were blown off their cinder block foundations and destroyed, including one that was pushed 60 ft (18 m); the occupant to that house sustained severe injuries. A third house saw a corner of its roof peeled off and a portion of its wall blown in. Two center pivot irrigation systems were overturned. Several trees were snapped or uprooted.|||
|EF1||Columbia||Richland||SC||00:13||1.46 mi (2.35 km)||150 yd (140 m)||Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted, many of which fell on homes and vehicles and inflicted severe damage.|||
|EF1||ENE of Bethany||Decatur||GA||00:18–00:24||4.59 mi (7.39 km)||150 yd (140 m)||Large trees were snapped; one tree fell on a home.|||
|EF1||Fort Jackson||Richland||SC||00:33||0.6 mi (0.97 km)||200 yd (180 m)||Multiple trees were snapped and uprooted.|||
|EF1||S of Greensboro||Gadsden||FL||00:41–00:45||2.12 mi (3.41 km)||275 yd (251 m)||A single-wide mobile home was flipped, a few small utility poles were snapped, and a few homes suffered roof damage either from the tornado itself or fallen trees.|||
|EF1||NE of Omega||Tift||GA||00:49–00:52||0.72 mi (1.16 km)||180 yd (160 m)||Trees were snapped and uprooted. A large garage had a portion of its foundation blown out, causing part of the structure's wall to bow outward; significant shingle damage occurred to the roof. A large trailer filled with air conditioning units, estimated to weigh about 700 lb (320 kg), was moved about 3 ft (0.91 m). The metal roof of the building harboring the trailer and other vehicles were partially uplifted.|||
|EF2||Cairo||Grady||GA||00:54–01:00||2.69 mi (4.33 km)||800 yd (730 m)||This strong tornado caused significant damage in Cairo. Numerous trees in town were snapped or uprooted, some of which landed on structures. Many homes were damaged, including several that sustained roof and exterior wall loss. Power lines were downed, garages were destroyed, and several businesses sustained heavy damage as well. A mesonet station in town recorded a peak gust of 102 mph (164 km/h) as the tornado struck. Two people were injured.|||
|EF0||NW of Sopchoppy to SSW of Bethel||Wakulla||FL||01:03–01:26||18.41 mi (29.63 km)||300 yd (270 m)||A weak but long-tracked tornado began in the Apalachicola National Forest, damaging trees. A small shed-sized metal canopy was flipped and a commercial sign suffered some minor damage too.|||
|EF3||E of Tallahassee to N of Lloyd||Leon, Jefferson||FL||01:18–01:25||6.5 mi (10.5 km)||700 yd (640 m)||A significant tornado began in eastern Leon County, destroying an outbuilding and snapping numerous trees. The most intense damage was inflicted to two well-built frame homes that were destroyed and left with only a few walls standing. Nearby cars were lofted and displaced, and multiple power poles were snapped. Several other homes sustained major structural damage as well. In western Jefferson County, numerous trees were snapped. Two people were injured. This is only the second EF3 or stronger tornado in Leon County based on reliable records going back to 1945.|||
Beauregard, Alabama–Talbotton, Georgia tornado
A large, long-tracked, and violent wedge tornado devastated the small community of Beauregard, where numerous manufactured homes were completely obliterated with debris strewn in all directions. A massive swath of trees was mowed down and debarked, and a few well-built brick homes were completely leveled with only piles of debris left behind. Vehicles were lifted through the air and mangled beyond recognition, a cell tower was toppled to the ground, and a billboard sign that originated near Smiths Station was reportedly found roughly 20 mi (32 km) away in Georgia near Hamilton. The tornado weakened to EF3 strength as it crossed into Georgia, where it struck the towns of Columbus, Ellerslie, Baughville and Talbotton. Numerous homes and manufactured homes were destroyed in Talbotton, including a few poorly anchored frame homes that were levelled. At least 90 people were injured, some critically. This was the first violent (EF4 or EF5) tornado in the United States since April 29, 2017 and the deadliest since the 2013 Moore tornado. It was also the first violent tornado in Lee County since 1875.
- Tornadoes of 2019
- List of United States tornadoes from January to March 2019
- List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks
- Mark Darrow (February 28, 2019). "Day 4-8 Severe Weather Outlook Issued on Feb 28, 2019". Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- Steve Goss (March 1, 2019). "Mar 1, 2019 0830 UTC Day 3 Severe Thunderstorm Outlook". Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
- Chris Broyles (March 2, 2019). "Mar 2, 2019 1730 UTC Day 2 Convective Outlook". Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
- Roger Edwards; Elizabeth Leitman (March 3, 2019). "Mar 3, 2019 1300 UTC Day 1 Convective Outlook". Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
- "SPC Storm Reports for 03/03/19". Storm Prediction Center. March 3, 2019. Archived from the original on March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- Chappell, Bill. "Alabama's Tornado Death Toll Of 23 Is Final, Lee County Sheriff Says". National Public Radio. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
- "Tornadoes in Alabama kill at least 23, a figure officials expect to rise". ABC News. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- Blinder, Alan; Stevens, Matt (March 4, 2019). "Alabama Tornado Updates: Four Children Are Among 23 Killed by Storms". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "She lost 10 family members in Alabama tornadoes. 'Just why, why?'". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
- "Alabama reels in aftermath of deadly tornadoes: Live updates". www.cnn.com. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- staff, Guardian; agencies (March 4, 2019). "Alabama tornadoes kill at least 23 and cause 'catastrophic' damage". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- Bacon, John; Hughes, Trevor (March 6, 2019). "All missing people have been accounted for from deadly Alabama tornado, sheriff says". USA Today. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
- NWS Mobile, Alabama (March 4, 2019). "NWS Damage Survey For March 3, 2019 Washington County Tornado Events". Iowa Environmental Mesonet. Mobile, Alabama: Iowa State University. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- County Road 33 EF-0 Tornado (Autauga County) (Report). National Weather Service. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham, Alabama. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- "Beauregard-Smiths Station EF-4 Tornado (Macon/Lee Counties) March 3, 2019". Birmingham, Alabama: National Weather Service. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham, Alabama. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- Update #3 From NWS Damage Surveys Including the Long-Track Tornado which Traversed from Macon and Lee Counties in Alabama Through Muscogee, Harris and Talbotton Counties in Georgia (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Atlanta, Georgia. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- NWS Preliminary Damage Assessment Report for the March 3 2019 Tornado Outbreak (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Atlanta, Georgia. March 7, 2019. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
- "Davisville - Corbett Crossroad EF-2 Tornado (Macon/Lee Counties) March 3, 2019". Birmingham, Alabama: National Weather Service. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham, Alabama. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- NWS Damage Survey For March 3, 2019 Butler and Crenshaw County Tornado Event (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Mobile, Alabama. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- County Road 8 EF-0 Tornado (Bullock County) (Report). National Weather Service. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham, Alabama. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- County Road 79 EF-2 Tornado (Barbour County) March 3, 2019 (Report). National Weather Service. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Birmingham, Alabama. March 5, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- Final NWS Tallahassee Damage Survey Results for March 3, 2019 Tornado Event (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Tallahassee, Florida. March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- NWS Damage Survey for 03/03/19 Tornado Event (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Columbia, South Carolina. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- NWS Damage Survey for 03/03/2019 Tornado Event (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Charleston, South Carolina. March 4, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- NWS Damage Survey for 03/03/19 Tornado Event (Report). Iowa Environmental Mesonet. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Columbia, South Carolina. March 15, 2019. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "Beauregard-Smiths Station Tornado - March 3, 2019". National Weather Service Office in Birmingham, Alabama. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
- Donegan, Brian. "Alabama Tornado the First EF4 in U.S. Since 2017; Deadliest Since Moore, Oklahoma, EF5 Tornado in 2013". The Weather Channel. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- News, WSFA 12 (March 7, 2019). "Darden: This is the worst tornado to hit #LeeCounty since March 20, 1875 when an EF-4 hit. It's worst March tornado for Alabama in terms of fatalities since March 21, 1932. #alwx". Twitter.com. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
Outbreak summaries from regional National Weather Service offices: