According to data from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), the preliminary tornado count for February 2011 across the U.S. was 59, marking an above-average February in terms of the number of tornadoes. This preliminary count ranks as the fourth busiest February on record. The final monthly tornado count is typically less than the preliminary count, and the final count will likely rank among the top ten busiest Februaries. Tornado activity was significantly higher during February 2011 compared to February 2010, when only one tornado was confirmed in the United States. Most of the tornado activity was confined to the southern and southeastern U.S., which is typical this time of year as cold fronts moving from the Canadian border interact with relatively warmer and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the tornadoes (55) occurred in two separate outbreaks, one on the 24th and one on the 27th and 28th.
A significant severe weather outbreak occurred across the Tennessee River Valley on February 24th. According to preliminary counts, there were 25 tornadoes and 262 severe wind reports. The strong storm system also brought heavy rains to the area, where 3 to 5 inches (76-127 mm) of rain fell in western Tennessee. The strongest tornado of the outbreak occurred near Parsons, Tennessee. The EF-2 tornado was on the ground for 12 miles (19.3 km) with a maximum width of 400 yards (366 m). Winds with the tornado were estimated near 120 mph (193 km/hr). There were no injuries or fatalities associated with the tornado, but damages to homes and businesses were estimated at 1.285 million U.S. dollars.
Another severe weather outbreak occurred on the 27th and 28th of the month when a strong cold front moved through the Midwest and Southeast. Over the two days, there were 30 preliminary tornado reports, 308 strong wind reports, and 88 hail reports stretching from Kansas to Georgia. The strongest tornado of the outbreak, anEF-3 occurred near Eminence, Kentucky in the early morning hours of the 28th. The tornado was on the ground for 2.3 miles (3.7 km) and had estimated winds of 140 mph (225 km/hr). The first tornado related fatality of 2011 was reported in Franklin County, Tennessee, near the town of Tullahoma. The EF-2 tornado had winds estimated at 125 mph (201 km/hr) and was on the ground for 11 miles (17.7 km), uprooting thousands of trees in its path. Four other people were also injured in the storm.