Eight years later: Remembering the 2011 Carolinas tornado outbreak

The April 16, 2011 tornado outbreak occurred eight years ago Tuesday.

Jamie looks back at April 16, 2011 tornado outbreak

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - On April 16, 2011, a very complex and dynamic weather system pushed through the area.

This was just one severe weather outbreak that unfolded during an unsettled national weather pattern. April 2011 was an extremely active month for severe weather.

Leading up to the event, the same low pressure system had already impacted the Central Plains and the deep South before taking aim at the Carolinas.

Exactly eight years ago, the Storm Prediction Center placed a good chunk of the Carolinas in a moderate risk. The outlook stated: “Given the character and strength of wind profiles, these could evolve into supercells posing a threat for tornadoes in addition to locally damaging winds and severe hail."

The Storm Prediction Center outlook on April 16, 2011.
The Storm Prediction Center outlook on April 16, 2011. (Source: SPC)

By the afternoon, the Storm Prediction Center upgraded areas in the Carolinas to a high risk, the highest an area can be for severe weather. In the new outlook, they stated: “Tornado outbreak expected this afternoon and early this evening across eastern North Carolina and far eastern South Carolina.”

The Storm Prediction Center upgraded areas into a high risk on April 16, 2011.
The Storm Prediction Center upgraded areas into a high risk on April 16, 2011. (Source: WMBF)

The impacts of this severe weather event were felt from Georgetown County to Robeson County.

Two tornadoes touched down in Robeson County, one touched down in Dillon County, while four touched down in Georgetown County. Regarding the latter, one of those tornadoes crossed the Williamsburg County line into Georgetown County.

Three people were injured in the Dillon County tornado near Little Rock. Multiple trees were snapped, which caused significant damage to nearby homes. The tornado was rated an EF-1, with winds of 105 mph and a path length of one mile.

One of the two tornadoes in Robeson County occurred near Rowland. That tornado was rated an EF-1, with 100 mph winds. Pine trees were snapped, causing significant damage to numerous homes. Buildings slid from their foundation and a few outbuildings were destroyed. Straight line winds caused more damage after the tornado. No injuries or deaths were reported.

The second tornado in Robeson County occurred in Barker Ten Mile. This was an EF-1 tornado, with winds of 105 mph. Headstones were flipped in a local cemetery and numerous trees were snapped. Some of those trees fell across Interstate 95, while others caused substantial damage to homes in the area. There were no injuries or deaths with this tornado.

Georgetown County, luckily, also had no fatalities. The most significant damage that occurred was a shed that was flipped over due to the wind, damage to a pickup truck from debris, and hundreds of snapped trees covering some of roads. All tornadoes were classified as either an EF-0 or an EF-1.

There were also multiple reports of golf-ball-sized hail and damaging winds.

The tornado outbreak continued to unfold and intensify across North Carolina. The state reported the most tornadoes ever in a single day with 30 touchdowns. Some of the tornadoes were rated EF-3. A total of 24 deaths were reported across the state.

Damage from the April 16, 2011 Tornado Outbreak
Damage from the April 16, 2011 Tornado Outbreak (Source: WMBF)

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