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Severe weather threat on the 40th Anniversary of April 3, 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak

Severe weather threat on the 40th Anniversary of April 3, 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak

by Monty Webb

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 9:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 3 at 8:31 AM

40th Anniversary of the April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak

This week marks the 40th Anniversary of the April 3-4, 1974 Super Tornado Outbreak.  It was one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history with 148 tornadoes touching down in 13 states (Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia).

The outbreak lasted 16 hours killing 330 people and injuring 5,484 in a path of destruction covering more than 2,500 miles.


In Kentucky the tornadoes hit between 3:40pm CDT and midnight.  At least 26 destructive tornadoes hit the Commonwealth in the worst storm disaster in the state's history.  The twisters killed 77 and injured another 1,377. 

The most severe tornado hit the town of Brandenburg, KY around 3:50pm.  This F5 tornado tore through the town, destroying homes, businesses and killing 31 people.

Courtesy NWS Louisville

The city of Louisville had a F4 tornado touch down at 4:37pm 1/4 mile north of Standiford Field and travel through 10 miles of residential neighborhoods.  Three died in the Louisville tornado and 225 injuries were reported in Jefferson county.


Indiana did not escape the Super Outbreak of 1974.  At least 20 tornadoes touched down, resulting in 49 fatalities and 768 injuries.

(stats and information about The Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974 courtesy of


Our Threat for Severe Storms this Thursday and Friday

Let me start off by saying our set up later this week is nothing like the Super Outbreak of 1974.  We do have several chances for strong to severe storms late Wednesday through early Friday morning

Set Up

A stationary front lies across Kentuckiana and will be the focal point for storms as upper level disturbances move through the region Wednesday-Thursday.  Then overnight Thursday through early Friday morning a line of strong to severe storms will develop ahead of an approaching cold front.

Severe Weather Threat

SPC has Kentuckiana in a Slight Risk for severe storms Thursday morning-Friday Morning (April 3-4).  We have two chances for severe weather during this time...  Thursday morning and early Friday morning (2-6am)

Main Threats

Damaging winds, hail, heavy rain (possibly 1.5 to 3.5" through Friday) and a very slight possibility of an isolated quick spin-up tornado early Friday Morning.  Right now Friday morning looks to be the best chance for seeing severe weather with the greatest risk along and west of I-65.

Futurecast Timing

Just a few scattered showers and possibly a stray thunderstorm Wednesday morning-afternoon.

Highs tomorrow will climb into the mid 70s.  I believe we will see showers and storms develop along the stationary front as it begins to slide south during the late afternoon and evening.  A few of these will be strong and I can not rule out an isolated severe storm with heavy rain and gusty winds.

Early Thursday morning an upper level disturbance will move across the region trigger another round of showers and storms.  We will likely see strong and maybe a few severe storms during this time.  The main threat will be damaging winds, heavy rain and hail.

The one thing in our favor will be the storms will be moving through during the cool part of the day, so instability will be a little weaker.

We get a little break in the action Thursday afternoon-evening.

By early Friday morning a line of strong to severe storms will develop ahead of an approaching cold front.  The best chance for severe storms will be along and to the west of I-65.  The storms should weaken a bit as they move east of I-65. 

The main threats...  Damaging winds, heavy rain, hail and a very slight chance for an isolated quick spin-up tornado.

Finally the cold front will arrive late morning through early afternoon with another round of showers and a few stray thunderstorms.

My Final Thoughts...

We have several chances this week of seeing strong to severe storms.  While we may end up with some wind damage, heavy rain, hail and maybe an isolated tornado, this will NOT be like the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974.