On May 4, 2014 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the southeastern United States and captured this true-color image of a sunny spring day.
Parts of eleven states are visible in this image, and black borderlines have been overlain to outline the boundaries. From west to east the states are: Oklahoma (north) and Texas (south); Arkansas and Louisiana; Tennessee and Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia; Virginia and South Carolina. In the far southeast is Florida.
The region appears peaceful, with verdant green growth of spring vegetation seen across all states. The tan colored soils of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MVA) – the historic floodplain of the Mississippi River which was formed by melt waters as glaciers receded approximately 12,000 years ago – shows signs of greening, typical of the agriculture in the region. Fires, many of which are agricultural in nature, but also some wildfires, speckle Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the panhandle of Florida.
As peaceful as this scene seems, it is hard to image that less than a week earlier most of this region suffered severe weather. In late April, 2014, tornadoes swept across the plains and the southeastern United States in a violent and dramatic storm system. From April 27-30 approximately 75 tornadoes were confirmed from Nebraska to North Carolina, including deadly EF4 tornadoes in Vilonia, Arkansas and Louisville, Mississippi. Also, severe flooding occurred in several areas, including Florida's Gulf Coast.
A total of thirty six people have been reported killed in the April tornado outbreak. Most of the tornadoes were clustered in the southeast, especially in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama. On April 28, 11 died in three tornadoes in Mississippi, 2 died in a tornado in Alabama, and two died in Tennessee. On April 27, a twister in Arkansas killed 16.