With entire towns reduced to rubble and damage spread across seven states, people in the southeastern United States began the long task of recovery. The tornadoes that struck this past week claimed 341 lives and achieved the unwanted status as the 2nd deadliest single-day tornado outbreak in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama toured the devastated city of Tuscaloosa in Alabama yesterday saying, “I have never seen devastation like this. It is heartbreaking.”
The National Weather Service received 211 tornado reports during the outbreak, a number that will be reduced once duplicates are removed. No matter the number of twisters, the results were nothing short of devastating.
One tornado that struck near Smithville, Mississippi has received an EF-5 rating – the highest possible. Meteorologists estimate that twister packed winds of 205mph. A tornado in Georgia was rated an EF-4 and at least five EF-3 tornadoes struck Alabama. Weather service officials say they expect more twisters could receive the highest rating as they continue their investigation.
With 341 lives confirmed lost and the number expected to continue to grow, the outbreak ranks as the 2nd deadliest single-day outbreak on record. It surpassed the “Super Outbreak” of 1974 and a 1932 outbreak in the Deep South.
Some are speculating the toll will grow enough for the event to become the worst in history, a truly nightmare scenario. The Tri-State tornado on March 18, 1925 claimed the lives of 747 people. One tornado alone in that outbreak tracked 234 miles across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
Obama has promised to speed federal aid to the region as governor’s in the hardest hit states declared states of emergency. “We can’t bring those who’ve been lost back. They’re alongside God at this point … but the property damage, which is obviously extensive, that’s something we can do something about,” the president said.
Damage estimates continue but an untold number of homes have been destroyed, certainly a number in the thousands. Insured losses could reach between $2 billion and $5 billion which would push the disaster into the top 10 list of most expensive natural disasters in US history.
We are providing complete coverage of the tornado outbreak on Examiner.com. Please visit the following links for more information.
- Slideshow: President Barack Obama tours tornado outbreak devastation in Alabama
- Slideshow: DigitalGlobe, NASA and Geoeye satellites provide view of tornado devastation
- Slideshow: High resolution satellite imagery from NASA shows tornado outbreak
A virtually unrivaled severe weather outbreak hit the southern United States yesterday bringing death and destruction. The death toll from the event continues to climb and now ranks as the second worst since 1950.
The evaluation on the number of tornadoes and their power has begun by the National Weather Service. The Storm Prediction Center recorded 164 reports but a number of those will be eliminated as duplicates of the same twisters.
Harold Brooks, a meteorologist with the SPC, told the Associated Press that he believed as many as 60 reports may be attributed to a single long-track tornado. He further said that some may have achieved the EF-5 rating, the highest possible that generates winds in excess of 200mph.
Recovery efforts across the nation’s South continue as resources continue to arrive. The Red Cross and other relief agencies were sending personnel from across the nation to help with search and rescue and to help with the distribution of water, food and other necessities.
- Check out images and video of the tornadoes below
More than 1 million people were still without power this evening in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant west of Huntsville lost power from the storms but was able to safely shut down.
Alabama announced 11 more fatalities bringing the state’s losses to at least 195. Overall at least 284 people across six states were killed making the disaster one of the worst tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. Only the “Super Outbreak” of 1974 caused more deaths.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said, “I don’t know how anyone survived.” The mayor toured his city by helicopter and was stunned by the devastation. “We have neighborhoods that have been basically removed from the map,”Maddox said.
States of emergency were declared in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia. President Barack Obama announced that he would speed federal aid to the disaster stricken region and would visit Alabama personally on Friday.
Do you know what to do when severe weather strikes? Learn how to protect you and your family:
Two days of severe weather have spawned more than two dozen tornadoes, dropped softball size hail and unleashed damaging winds. The storms which have affected five states turned deadly and claimed the lives of nine people.
- Update – The death toll from the severe weather outbreak is now at 16. Get the latest from the Natural Disasters Examiner.
Yesterday a massive line of storms stretching from northern Kansas down to southern Oklahoma struck. The town of Tushka, Oklahoma took a direct strike from the storm destroying many homes and as many as five school buildings. Two elderly women were killed.
Early this morning the same storm system moved to the east bringing powerful winds to 80mph. Seven people were killed including a six-year-old boy and an 18-month-old girl. The boy’s life was claimed when a tree six feet in diameter fell on the family home.
Today the severe weather has continued as the storms continue their terrifying rampage. More than 40 tornadoes have been reported, most in Mississippi and Alabama, and as of this writing they continue their movement east.
Extensive damage has been seen in both states. In Talladega, Alabama, NASCAR officials were warning fans to be ready to evacuate as the racetrack is under a tornado watch until 9:00pm. With tens of thousands of fans on site, officials prepared evacuation routes should the need arise.
Below is video from storm chasers as one tornado crosses a highway in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Deep South was the scene of some nasty weather yesterday as severe storms brought damaging winds, flash floods and tornadoes to four states in the region. One particularly damaging tornado struck Theodore, Alabama and surveillance video captured the effects of the storm as it tore apart a hardware store.
According to the National Weather Service the tornado initially touched down at about 9:00am local time yesterday as an EF1. As it tracked to the northeast the tornado increased to EF2 strength packing winds up to 120mph. At its maximum size it was 150 yards across.
Four people suffered injuries from the tornado and 25 residential and commercial structures were damages. Cars in a strip mall were tossed about like toys and a gas station awning collapsed.
Alexander Hardware and Small Engine was in the path of the tornado when it was at its strongest after it passed over Theodore Dawes Road. The store sustained a near direct strike from the twister.
Video captured by Alexander’s surveillance cameras provide video proof of the power and fury of the twister. In one video, employees are seen tentatively looking out the front door before running for cover as the tornado struck. The second video provides an overall view of the store interior as the tornado hits sending shelves and merchandise flying.