*** UNDER CONSTRUCTION *** The 2021 Easter tornado outbreak was a widespread, deadly, and destructive tornado outbreak affected portions of the Southern United States on April 4. Several tornadoes were responsible for prompting tornado emergencies. The outbreak affected many services related to Easter Sunday.
Throughout the two-day outbreak, a total of 85 tornadoes touched down across 3 states, inflicting widespread and locally catastrophic damage. The strongest tornado was rated high-end EF5, and occurred in Southern Texas, producing estimated winds of 270 mph (430 km/h), reaching a width of 1.75 mi, and causing 183 deaths. With a total of 499 tornado-related fatalities, it was one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in the US. This event was one of the costliest tornado outbreaks in the United States, with total damage amounting to ~$9.8 Billion (2020 USD).
In the days preceding the outbreak, a potent upper level trough was cut off from the jet stream. At the same time, an arctic cold front dropped into the southern United States. Deep, moist flow originating from the Gulf of Mexico was present over the Gulf states, with record precipitable water (PW) indices. In addition, a powerful dry line set up over Western Texas and Western Oklahoma, providing a focus for convective activity. The convergence of westernly flow (from the dry line) and northernly flow (from the cold front) provided wind shear that favored the development of rotating thunderstorms.
These factors provided for record instability and remarkably favorable conditions for the development of widespread, violent tornadoes. During the afternoon of April 4, CAPE values approached 5,000 j/kg over portions of Central Texas. Additionally, temperatures climbed into the upper 80s and lower 90s during the afternoon hours of April 4, providing the atmosphere with warm air to form convection.
The first indications of organized severe weather came on April 1, when the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) outlined an area of 15% probabilities in their day-4 outlook. The following day, the SPC introduced a moderate risk for a section of Southern Oklahoma, Western Louisiana, and Central Texas, citing the potential for a violent tornado outbreak. On the day of the outbreak, the SPC upgraded portions of the moderate area to a high risk, the highest possible, citing the likelihood for a prolonged, violent tornado outbreak. From the early afternoon of April 4 to the late night hours, 85 tornadoes tracked along portions of the Southern United States. At 12:05 PM CDT on April 4, a Particuarly Dangerous Situation Tornado Watch was issued for portions of southern Oklahoma, central Texas, and western Louisiana. The storm nature was discrete and super cellular at first, but then transitioned to a more linear mode of storms, as squalls developed behind the initial wave of supercells.
The Katy-Houston-Beaumont Tornado
The San Marcos-Lockhart Tornado
The Fort Worth-Dallas Tornado
The Helotes-Sequin Tornado
The storm that would go on to produce this tornado formed outside Utopia, Texas around 1 PM CDT. This storm quickly developed mid-level rotation. Radial velocity revealed a weak rotational signature. Storm observers begin noting a rapidly rotating wall cloud. At 1:19 PM CDT, the National Weather Service in Austin/San Antonio issued a tornado warning for portions of Bandera and Medina County. The first reports of damage from this storm occurred near the community of Bandera.