Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brown, Michael E.

Committee Member

Mercer, Andrew E.

Committee Member

Dixon, P. Grady

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


During the April 25 – 28, 2011 severe weather outbreak, 350 tornadoes were confirmed across 21 states, making the event the largest 3-day outbreak in U.S. History. Of the 350 tornadoes, 13 were of EF4 or EF5 strength. Due to complex terrain and vegetation in northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia, and eastern Tennessee, only four tornadoes were analyzed in this study. Abrupt changes in vegetation and the related sensible and latent heat fluxes have been shown to enhance convective activity along and near the resulting land surface discontinuities. This study analyzed heightened convective activity (analyzed by looking at cloud-to-ground lightning data) along each tornado track on days of weak synoptic forcing. Post- tornado months showed no signs of enhanced convective activity along any of the tornado tracks analyzed in this study, which could be attributed to several factors including study period, duration of intensity, tornado track length and width, and land cover.