Deadly Easter Tornadoes | Tornado Outbreak Analysis

  • Apr 14, 2020

Our total lightning network tracked the deadly Easter tornadoes as they ripped through the South on Sunday, April 12, 2020. This tornado outbreak led to several fatalities in hard-hit areas like Mississippi and extensive structural damage in Louisiana.

There were over 60 reports of tornadoes that began on Easter Sunday and spilled over into Monday, April 13, 2020. This destructive path tore through Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and south Tennessee.

Some of the hardest hit areas include east of Monroe, Louisiana and northwest of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of what happened and watch how our total lightning network tracked these powerful and tragic storms.

Louisiana Easter Tornadoes

The tornadoes that happened east of Monroe, Louisiana leveled approximately 300 homes. Thankfully, there were no major injuries or fatalities reported from Ouachita Parish (home to Monroe, La.). The red triangles in the image below depict National Weather Service (NWS) tornado reports.

Earth Networks cell tracks and Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts during the Easter Tornadoes in Louisiana

Our total lightning network, which detects both in-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning flashes, detected 28,403 flashes from 1400 UTC – 1800 UTC (9:00 am – 1 pm CDT) on April 12.

Earth Networks detected 28,403 total lightning flashes from 1400-1800 UTC during Easter #tornadoes in #Louisiana Share on X

This incredible amount of lightning happened in 340 cell tracks with flash rates reaching 43 flashes per minute. This high frequency of total lightning activity generated 8 Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts (DTAs).

Press play on the video below to see the storms in action.

In-cloud lightning plays an integral role in anticipating tornadoes. As you can see from the image below, most of the lightning pulses in these cells were in-cloud (magenta). It’s in-cloud lightning that powers DTAs and other life-saving weather alerts that give people more time to seek shelter.

Total lightning screenshot from the Easter Tornado in Louisiana

Mississippi Easter Tornadoes

Tornadoes also formed in Mississippi.

When the Easter tornadoes reached the area surrounding Jefferson Davis County, the conditions killed 11 people and damaged at least 20 homes.

Press play on the video below to watch the total lightning, NWS alerts, and DTAs during the storms.

Our total lightning network detected 37,414 pulses from 1800 UTC – 2300 UTC (1 pm CDT – 6 pm CDT).

Earth Networks detected 37,414 pulses from 1800 - 2300 UTC in Jefferson Davis County, #Mississippi during the Easter #tornadooutbreak Share on X

This lightning happened in 935 storms with maximum flash rates of 50 per minute. This lightning activity generated 11 Earth Networks DTAs and 73 NWS alerts including:

  • Severe Thunderstorm Alerts
  • Tornado Watches
  • Tornado Warnings



Mississippi tornado outbreak cell tracks and alerts

For the region northwest of Hattiesburg, Miss. in Jefferson Davis County hit hard by the tornadoes, Earth Networks issued a DTA at 2019 UTC for a storm with a flash rate over 43/min. Earth Networks then issued a second DTA covering this area at 2034 UTC for an intense storm with a flash rate of 50/min. The NWS issued a Tornado Warning at 2039 UTC.

More on Tornadoes

Our thoughts are with those who lost their lives over the weekend. We are also thinking of those who are still dealing with the aftermath of these Easter tornadoes.

Spring is a time of enhanced tornadic activity in the U.S.

The best way to stay safe when tornadoes are likely is to prepare. You can learn more about tornadoes on our Tornado 101 page. Stay safe out there!

Click here to learn more about tornadoes

This data was generated by the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network and extracted by Earth Networks Meteorologist and Program Manager, Steve Prinzivalli. Thanks for all your hard work, Steve!