The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a tornado watch for 24 million people across seven states after 328 twisters were reported across the US in 12 days.
Residents in parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland have been issued a watch that is valid through 8pm Wednesday evening, according to CNN.
The watch affects more than 6,000 schools and 400 hospitals.
Following the announcement, the Fort Worth NWS tweeted a view of a storm in Tarrant County.
‘If you’re in the tornado warning, seek shelter now,’ the tweet reads.
The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport also tweeted that their ‘ramps are currently closed for the safety of the airline and ramp teams due to weather warnings’.
Forecasters said residents in the affected areas are likely to see hail that may reach the size of apples and people may see wind gusts up to 70mph.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a tornado watch for 24 million people across seven states after 328 twisters were reported across the US in 12 days
This map shows the areas that are under the tornado watch until 8pm. They include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. More than 12 million people could be affected by the weather
Residents in parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas were also issued a watch that is valid through 8pm Wednesday evening
Following the announcement, the Fort Worth NWS tweeted a view of a storm in Tarrant County. ‘If you’re in the tornado warning, seek shelter now,’ the tweet reads. The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport also tweeted that their ‘ramps are currently closed for the safety of the airline and ramp teams due to weather warnings’
The NWS in Forth-Worth shared this photo of a tornado in Tarrant County on Wednesday afternoon
On Tuesday, the US exceeded its record of 11 consecutive days with at least eight tornadoes on each of those days, according to Patrick Marsh, warning coordination meteorologist for the federal Storm Prediction Center. The previous 11-day stretch of at least eight tornadoes per day ended on June 7, 1980.
‘We’re getting big counts on a lot of these days and that is certainly unusual,’ Marsh said.
The National Weather Service (NWS) had already received at least 27 more reports of tornadoes on Tuesday.
There have been 934 tornado reports so far this year, up from the yearly average of 743 observed tornadoes.
More than 500 of those reports came in the last 30 days. The actual number is likely lower, however, because some of the reports probably come from different witnesses who spot the same twister.
The deadly spate of weather has already killed one and injured hundreds more. And according to Marsh, the tornadoes and heavy rains sweeping across the US from the southern Plains into New Jersey, will ease by late Thursday, but the volatile weather isn’t over yet.
‘What we may see next week is a transition,’ Marsh told DailyMail.com, adding that certain states may be hit with a giant cluster of thunderstorms that are capable of producing strong winds and torrential rains, but ‘it’s too early to tell’.
And although the extreme weather surge brought with it a number of severe phenomena, including hail stones and a number of unusual cloud formations, Marsh said: ‘We cannot say definitively one way or the other how climate change is impacting severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.’
On Tuesday, the US exceeded its record of 11 consecutive days with at least eight tornadoes on each of those days, according to Patrick Marsh, warning coordination meteorologist for the federal Storm Prediction Center
The NWS had already received at least 27 more reports of tornadoes on Tuesday. There have been 934 tornado reports so far this year, up from the yearly average of 743 observed tornadoes. More than 500 of those reports came in the last 30 days. This home was destroyed Tuesday night after a tornado tore through Lawrence, Kansas
The storms took aim at Kansas as several twisters reportedly touched down on Tuesday evening, damaging homes, uprooting trees and ripping down power lines. An uprooted tree is seen in Linwood, Kansas
Houses damaged by a tornado are seen in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday after powerful tornadoes ripped through the state Monday night
The Northridge Shopping Center on North Dixie Highway in Dayton, Ohio, lies in shambles after a tornado struck the area
Debris from damaged homes litter the properties on Fairground Road after a tornado storm system passed through Celina, Ohio
Rain, hail, thunderstorms and the threat of tornadoes will return in east Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and on into Illinois and parts of the East Coast, David Roth, a forecaster with the NWS, said early on Wednesday.
‘You can’t catch a break,’ Roth said. ‘Or at least not for long. It’ll clear up Friday, Saturday and Sunday.’
Counties across Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were ravaged by the barrage of gusting winds and powerful storms on Monday night.
TORNADO REPORTS FOR MAY 2019
May 17 39 reports
May 18 28 reports
May 19 8 reports
May 20 35 reports
May 21 41 reports
May 22 43 reports
May 23 17 reports
May 24 16 reports
May 25 17 reports
May 26 31 reports
May 27 53 reports
The storms then took aim at Kansas as several twisters reportedly touched down on Tuesday evening.
About 20 tornadoes, including a large rain-wrapped twister near Kansas City, were reported to the NWS by storm chasers and spotters.
Roofs were torn off homes and roads were scattered with debris and tree limbs.
At least 12 people were injured in an apparent twister on the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas.
The tornado that hit Linwood, Kansas, has been rated an EF-4 by the NWS. An EF4 tornado has wind of 166 to 200mph and cause devastating damage.
Weather officials said the tornado lasted for 55 minutes and traveled nearly 32 miles.
Meanwhile, New Jersey and New York City were also forced to brace themselves for impact on Tuesday night.
‘We are flirting in uncharted territory,’ Dr James Marsh of the federal Storm Prediction Center said of the prospect of the storm streak entering an unprecedented twelfth day.
‘Typically, you’d see a break of a day or two in between these long stretches, but we’re just not getting that right now.’
A total of 53 suspected tornadoes touched down on Monday across eight states. An online tally of storm reports posted by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, showed that 14 suspected tornadoes touched down in Indiana, 10 in Colorado and nine in Ohio.
Six suspected tornadoes were reported in Iowa, five in Nebraska, four in Illinois, three in Minnesota, and one in Idaho.
A least a dozen homes were destroyed or damaged in Linwood, Kansas, about 30 miles west of Kansas City
This home was nearly torn off its foundation following the tornado that touched down in Linwood, Kansas
New Jersey: Possible tornado damage
Also included in the East Coast’s tornado warnings were parts of northeastern New Jersey, including Hudson County, Union County and southern Essex County.
The NWS announced that one of its spotters reported seeing a funnel cloud at the base of a rotating thunderstorm in Mendham.
In Sussex County, emergency crews were summoned to Lenape Valley Regional High School to reports of ‘possible tornado damage’ ransacking the building’s structure. Officials also responded to widespread power outages and downed trees.
As of Wednesday morning more than 2,900 people were without power in New Jersey.
At the time between 50 and 100 people were inside the school attending a track team dinner in the cafeteria when the storm struck.
Two people were injured in the ordeal after a tree reportedly fell onto a vehicle. The pair only suffered minor injuries and nobody was taken to hospital, a representative of the local sheriff’s office said.
Others attending the event took shelter in the gymnasium until emergency crews told them it was safe to leave.
The campus had ‘significant wires down and trees uprooted’ with lesser damage to the front of the building, school Superintendent Paul DiRupo told NJLive.
The school will remain closed on Wednesday as investigators will inspect the full extent of the damage.
So far, officials have not yet confirmed whether a tornado has struck in the area.
New Jersey (damage pictured in Stanhope) and New York City were also forced to brace themselves for impact on Tuesday night
The NWS announced that one of its spotters reported seeing a funnel cloud at the base of a rotating thunderstorm (officers pictured in Stanhope)
In Sussex County, emergency crews were summoned to Lenape Valley Regional High School (pictured) to reports of ‘possible tornado damage’ ransacking the building’s structure
The facade is damaged near the entrance of Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope, New Jersey. The school remained closed on Wednesday
Officials also responded to widespread power outages and downed trees. As of Wednesday morning more than 2,900 people were without power in New Jersey
Fallen trees damage vehicles in Hopatcong, New Jersey, where there were reports of a possible tornado on Tuesday night
Counties across Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were already ravaged by the barrage of gusting winds and powerful storms, which traveled Northeast to New York and New Jersey
Pennsylvania: Large clumps of hail and flooding
The near entirety of Pennsylvania was also placed on tornado watch on Tuesday, as powerful storms barreled into the region from the Midwest.
The extreme weather surge brought with it a number of severe phenomena, including hail stones the size of golf balls, flooding, and a number of unusual cloud formations.
Hail was captured falling in large clumps over Lake Winola, with other surrounding areas including Lancaster County and Schuylkill County also reportedly being hit.
A fearsome tornado was sighted forming on the ground in Berks County, near Reading.
Meanwhile, a funnel cloud – the core of a tornado – was documented swirling into formation above the skies of West Nantmeal Township in Chester County.
Business owners and workers assess flood damage as they to start cleanup on Wednesday in Harmony, Pennsylvania. More storms are predicted for the area
Workers wade through floodwaters to recover lumber that floated from a lumber yard in Harmony, Pennsylvania
An entire street in Harmony, Pennsylvania, is flooded as residents begin cleanup in the area on Wednesday
Pennsylvania resident Brenda Frederick couldn’t believe the size of the hail stones falling in her backyard, remarking ‘Holy Hail, Batman’
Kansas: At least one dead, and 12 injured following ‘large’ tornado
A large and dangerous tornado touched down on the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas, around 8pm on Tuesday, the NWS reported.
In Leavenworth, Kansas, a 68-year-old woman died on Tuesday after a tree fell into her home.
At least a dozen people were admitted to the hospital in Lawrence, 40 miles west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, and home to the University of Kansas, hospital spokesman Janice Early said.
Damage was also reported in the towns of Linwood, Bonner Springs and Pleasant Grove.
But the Kansas City metropolitan area of about 2.1 million people appeared to have been spared the direct hit that was feared earlier in the evening when the weather service announced a tornado emergency.
Residents were forced to take shelter as the storm moved east over the heart of the metropolitan area and towards the Missouri border.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, six people were taken to the Lawrence hospital with injuries suffered during the storm, including one with serious injuries, and five more were reportedly rushed into other emergency rooms.
A large and dangerous tornado touched down on the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas, around 8pm on Tuesday, the NWS reported. A man and a woman are seen inspecting the damage to their home and classic cars after being hit by a tornado in Lawrence, Kansas
At least a dozen people were admitted to the hospital in Lawrence, Kansas, hospital spokesman Janice Early said. Joe Armison looks over damage to his home after a tornado struck the outskirts of Eudora, Kansas
Armison’s barn was also destroyed after the tornado struck the outskirts of Eudora, Kansas on Tuesday
Authorities said that ‘several houses throughout the county’ had sustained substantial damage. Power lines and trees were also downed, as well as debris blocking off many of the county’s roads.
Officials from the Kansas City International Airport suspended flights and moved stranded customers from the terminals to parking garage tunnels to wait out the storms and tornadoes.
They remained in the tunnels for over an hour before officials gave them the all-clear to return to the terminals.
However, the storm left heaps of debris on the airfield causing severe delays, the airport revealed on Twitter.
‘Airfield/airport still closed to aircraft due to unsafe conditions from area storm debris,’ an official tweeted at 10pm.
‘Small pieces can damage airplanes. Crews working to clear one 2-mile 150-ft wide runway, taxiways & aprons. Estimated opening after 11pm.’
Family and neighbors work together with support from first responders to free a horse from a pool of water and mud in dense trees on Wednesday in Linwood, Kansas
The horse’s owner Javier Campos suspects the tornado picked the horse up and carried it nearly three football fields away from their destroyed horse barn
Severely damaged homes are seen in Linwood, Kansas, on Wednesday following multiple tornadoes
A resident cleans up in a tornado damaged neighborhood on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. Tens of thousands of Ohio residents were still without power or water in the aftermath of strong tornadoes that spun through the Midwest earlier in the week
Power lines and trees were downed, as well as debris blocking off many of the county’s roads. The sheriff’s office said that ‘several houses throughout the county’ had sustained substantial damage
In a later post, the airport announced it was also conducting checks of their parking lots to assess any damage to patrons’ cars. Though ‘no damaged vehicles’ were reported as of 11pm.
Mark Duffin, 48, learned from his wife and a television report that the large tornado was headed toward his home in Linwood, about 30 miles west of Kansas City.
The next thing he knew, the walls of his house were coming down.
Duffin told the Kansas City Star that he grabbed a mattress, followed his 13-year-old to the basement and protected the two of them with the mattress as the home crashed down around them.
‘I’m just glad I found my two dogs alive,’ he said. ‘Wife’s alive, family’s alive, I’m alive. So, that’s it.’
The winds peeled away roofs — leaving homes looking like giant dollhouses — knocked houses off their foundations, toppled trees, brought down power lines and churned up so much debris that it was visible on radar.
‘Most structural damage appears to have occurred near Lawrence as the tornado passed just outside the city limit,’ the Lawrence Police Department said in a tweet.
Ohio: One dead, and more than 130 people injured by ‘rapid-fire’ tornadoes
Ohio officials said on Tuesday that several ‘rapid-fire’ tornadoes left five million people without power in the state alone.
Authorities also confirmed one death in Celina, Ohio, about 75 miles northwest of Dayton.
Celina Mayor Jeffrey Hazel said that 81-year-old Melvin Dale Hanna died when a Chevrolet Station Wagon was blown into his house while he was sleeping.
Hanna’s next-door neighbor, Wendy Knapke, said she watched on as the vehicle was picked up by the tornado, flew over her house and crashed into the back half of Hannah’s home.
Recently widowed, Hanna lived alone and his body was discovered in his bedroom. He was described as ‘an incredible father and an incredible man’, to the Columbus Dispatch.
Authorities said the most severe damage was reported in Celina. Hazel said there are ‘areas that truly look like a war zone’ in the city of some 10,000 people.
Weather officials said an EF3 tornado hit Celina, but its speed is still being surveyed.
Celina Fire Chief, Douglas Wolters, said as many as 90 homes have been damaged by the tornadoes that pounded through the region. Wolters estimated that 40 of the homes have significant damage and some were knocked off their foundations.
Most people are staying with family or friends, but some went to a shelter in nearby Coldwater.
This aerial photo shows damaged homes and debris marking the path of a tornado in Celina, Ohio
Ohio officials said earlier on Tuesday that several ‘rapid-fire’ tornadoes left five million people without power in the state alone. Authorities also confirmed one death in Celina, Ohio. This aerial photo shows a home in Celina, Ohio, that had its roof torn off by the storm
Overturned and damaged vehicles were scattered across neighborhoods in Celina, Ohio
#BrookvilleStrong was inscribed on a minivan, after tornadoes touched down in Brookville, Ohio
At least half a dozen communities from eastern Indiana through central Ohio suffered damage, according to the NWS.
The power response will require a ‘multi-day restoration effort,’ utility Dayton Power & Light said Tuesday morning. As of Wednesday morning, more than 37,000 people were still without power, down from 64,000 the previous day, according to PowerOutage.us
On Tuesday, the city of Dayton urged residents to conserve water after the storms cut power to water plants and pump stations.
‘Due to the widespread power outages we are asking all Dayton and Montgomery County customers to conserve water,’ the city wrote. ‘We have lost power to both water plants and pump stations.’
City Manager Shelley Dickstein later issued a boil advisory for residents. The advisory affects ‘all water customers in Dayton and Montgomery County’.
The Dayton, Ohio, community has come together to help one another after the severe storms. Corinthian Baptist Church members are seen providing food for victims on Tuesday
Residents of Dayton banded together throughout Tuesday and offered water, food, and other necessities to those affected by the tornado
Residents in the West Brook neighborhood cut tree limbs and search dilapidated buildings after a suspected EF3 tornado touched down
Rescue workers rest under a bus in Trotwood, Ohio, after powerful tornadoes ripped through the US state overnight
Rescue workers have spent the past few days going door-to-door to help trapped residents and others escape their homes and buildings
Heartbreaking images showed families visiting what’s left of their homes to dig through the debris.
Some found items to take with them, while others wept over the remnants of their houses. Others took photos of the damage and some were seen preparing to clean up their yards.
Republican Gov Mike DeWine visited communities hard-hit by the tornadoes in the Dayton area.
Among areas he visited is Trotwood, an older Dayton suburb of some 24,500 people, that was hit by a tornado with 140mph winds. The NWS classified the Trotwood tornado as an EF3.
An EF3 is considered a strong tornado that does severe damage, rated on a scale of EF0 through EF5.
During his visits, DeWine spoke with President Donald Trump.
‘Storms overnight across Ohio and many other States were very dangerous and damaging. My team continues to update me with reports from emergency managers in the States affected. Listen to your local officials and be resilient. We are with you!’ Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
He followed that tweet up with another that said he had just spoken with DeWine.
‘@GovMikeDeWine just updated me on the devastation from the many tornadoes that struck Ohio early this morning. My Administration fully supports the people of the great State of Ohio as they begin the cleanup and recovery,’ Trump wrote.
Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald reported extensive, ‘catastrophic damage’.
She said five busloads of displaced residents were taken to a church offering temporary shelter while the American Red Cross assesses needs.
In Harrison Township fire chief Mark Lynch said that the town appeared to be hit by ‘World War III’ and that it will take ‘several years of rebuilding’.
CATASTROPHIC WEATHER ACROSS THE CENTRAL AND MIDWEST STATES CAUSES 11 DEATHS IN TWO WEEKS
The devastating storms began earlier this month when they bombarded the central US and produced dozens of destructive tornadoes, massive hail and damaging winds.
MAY 17-19: TORNADO ALLEY, NORTH DAKOTA DOWN TO TEXAS:
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Storm Prediction Center (SPC), more than 30 tornadoes touched down in Nebraska and Kansas on May 17.
Texas had at least six and one touched down in Oklahoma.
At the time, the National Weather Service said that there were areas hit with ‘strong tornadoes, significant damaging winds and very large hail’.
Tornado Alley – from North Dakota down to Texas – was the most impacted by the dangerous weather but 18 states in total and roughly 40 million residents were at risk
One tornado hit Sheridan, Illinois and hail as big as golf balls was reported to have fallen not far from Chicago.
By May 18, at least 8 large tornadoes had touched down primarily in Texas while another was reported to have ravaged Oklahoma.
Throughout that weekend, a total of 18 states with 40 million people were affected by the storm systems.
MAY 20: OKLAHOMA AND TEXAS THREATENED BY MORE STORMS
Tornadoes were spotted in Texas and Oklahoma on May 20 as some two million people across a broad swath of both states braced against the US National Weather service’s warning that the risk of twisters in the region was at the highest level they had seen in years.
At the time, a tornado warning was issued for Reno, Kingfisher and Okarche in Oklahoma. A funnel cloud was also spotted in Paducah, Texas.
The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center issued the highest threat level possible, of a 5 out of 5, for violent tornadoes on May 20.
Soon after the tornado threat was over, the threat of a flash flood in Oklahoma increased. Storm cells that developed followed one after the other in what is called ‘training,’ leading to scattered reports of flash flooding that night.
MAY 21: TORNADOES IN OKLAHOMA, TEXAS, KANSAS AND MISSOURI AND SNOW IN COLORADO
Four million residents were under a flash flood ’emergency warning’ on May 21, including in Oklahoma, where as much as five feet of water entered homes in Hominy, to the northeast of the state.
Some 22 tornadoes were reported across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Rescue crews in boats pulled at least 50 people from flood waters as heavy downpours inundated roads and homes.
Meanwhile in Colorado, snow was falling – the latest it has fallen in more than four decades – leaving houses and cars covered and roads coated in black ice.
Four million residents were under a flash flood ’emergency warning’ on May 21, including in Oklahoma, where as much as five feet of water entered homes in Hominy, to the northeast of the state. Meanwhile in Colorado, snow (pictured) was falling – the latest it has fallen in more than four decades – leaving houses and cars covered and roads coated in black ice
MAY 22: SECOND CONSECUTIVE DAY OF TORNADOES IN THE MIDWEST
Last week, this dangerous storm system in the Midwest produced dozens of tornadoes for the second consecutive day, leaving two dead, demolishing a racetrack grandstand and damaging a wild animal park.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said an SUV skidded across the center of US 160 and struck a tractor-trailer, killing Brandon Beasley, 23, and his 24-year-old wife, Christin, of Willard, Missouri, who were in the SUV.
Missouri Gov Mike Parson declared a state of emergency, citing worsening flood concerns and soil inundation.
The severe weather started in the Southern Plains on May 20 and moved to the northeast. Missouri and parts of Illinois and Arkansas were in the cross-hairs by Tuesday.
At this point, some 37 tornadoes had been reported across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Those include the previous 22 tornadoes on May 21.
Two barges broke loose and floated swiftly down the swollen Arkansas River in eastern Oklahoma on May 22.
MAY 22 INTO MAY 23: VIOLENT MISSOURI TORNADO
Late Wednesday night, the tornado touched down in Jefferson City, causing heavy damage in Missouri’s capital city.
The tornado was blamed for three deaths, and it also left several people trapped in the wreckage of their homes.
The service reported at the time that a ‘confirmed large and destructive tornado’ was observed over Jefferson City at 11.43pm on Wednesday.
Missouri Public Safety confirmed in a tweet that three people were killed in the Golden City area of Barton County, and several injured in the Carl Junction area of Jasper County.
At this point, the death toll from the week’s storms included a 74-year-old woman found early Wednesday morning in Iowa.
Missouri authorities said heavy rain was a contributing factor in the deaths of two people in a traffic accident Tuesday near Springfield.
A fourth weather-related death may have occurred in Oklahoma, where the Highway Patrol said a woman apparently drowned after driving around a barricade Tuesday near Perkins, about 45 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
Officials reported a total of seven deaths, including the three deaths in Jefferson City.
MAY 24: DEATH TOLL INCREASES AS FLOOD FEARS RISE
The bodies of a man and a woman were discovered Friday in a submerged vehicle near the Mississippi River in Missouri, bringing the death toll to nine from storms that have ravaged the central US.
John Reinhardt, 20, and Caitlin Frangel, 19, both of Hazelwood, Missouri, were reported missing on May 15.
Their bodies were found around 4am on a flooded rural road that runs along the river at Portage Des Sioux, about 40 miles north of St Louis.
Heavy rain in recent weeks spurred major flooding in several states.
Flooding along the Arkansas River threatened communities from Tulsa into western Arkansas through the holiday weekend, as water released from an Oklahoma dam combined with additional rain.
MAY 26: TORNADOES CONTINUE AND THE DEATH TOLL RISES TO 11
The devastating weather continued for the entire week and into the weekend as two more people were killed when a tornado tore through El Reno, Oklahoma, Saturday night.
The American Budget Value Inn in El Reno was decimated by the tornado. More than 30 people were reportedly inside the hotel when the twister struck.
Witnesses said they saw people being pulled from the rubble of the hotel in the aftermath. A nearby mobile home park that was also in the tornado’s path was completely destroyed. It remains unclear how many people were injured.
Before Saturday’s deaths were reported, the death toll from the storms across the Central and Midwest states was at nine.
More than 30 people were inside the hotel when the tornado struck. Pictured are emergency workers checking what is left of the second floor of the hotel. Two people were killed, bringing the death toll to 11
Two tornadoes hit the metro area of Dayton, Ohio, on Monday night in the span of just 30 minutes apart, according to the NWS.
The aftermath left some lanes of Interstate 75 blocked north of Dayton.
Trucks with plows were scraping tree branches and rubble to the side to get the major north-south route reopened, according to Matt Bruning, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
In Brookville, west of Dayton, the storm tore roofs off schools, destroyed a barn and heavily damaged houses. Classes were canceled. In Montgomery County, Sheriff Streck said many roads were impassable.
The first destructive tornado first touched down in the city of Trotwood, just outside Dayton, at about 11pm on Monday night before moving through the state.
Since 2012, tornado numbers have seen a lull across the US, with counts tracking at or below average each year and meteorologists still working to figure out why.
What’s causing the spate of recent tornadoes?
The recent surge in tornado activity over the past two weeks has been driven by high pressure over the Southeast and an unusually cold trough over the Rockies that forced warm, moist air into the central US sparking repeated severe thunderstorms and periodic tornadoes.
Scientists also say climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather such as storms, droughts, floods and fires, but without extensive study they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.
Though the number of tornado sightings has fallen since 2012, scientists say the number of tornadoes per outbreak is actually increasing – meaning they’re becoming more severe.
Florida State University in Tallahassee, said that on average, four to five tornadoes typically strike as part of a cluster.
But since 1950, the number of days with a cluster of at least 32 tornadoes has more than doubled, while smaller clusters have declined
‘A lot of people are trying to answer that, but there’s no definitive answer,’ Marsh said.
The recent surge in tornado activity over the past two weeks was driven by high pressure over the Southeast and an unusually cold trough over the Rockies that forced warm, moist air into the central US sparking repeated severe thunderstorms and periodic tornadoes.
‘Neither one of these large systems —the high over the Southeast or the trough over the Rockies— are showing signs of moving,’ Marsh said. ‘It’s a little unusual for them to be so entrenched this late in the season.’
Those conditions are ripe for the kind of tornadoes that have swept across the Midwest in the last two weeks, said Cathy Zapotocny, a meteorologist for the NWS in Valley, Nebraska.
Zapotocny said the unstable atmosphere helped fuel many of the severe winter storms and subsequent flooding that ravaged Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri earlier this year.
‘We’ve been stuck in this pattern since February,’ she said.
Zapotocny said the number of tornadoes this year was ‘basically normal’ until the surge this week.
May is typically the month with the highest incidence of tornadoes, usually in the Plains and Midwestern states collectively known as Tornado Alley, where most of this year’s twisters have hit.
Most of the confirmed tornadoes were rated as less-intense EF0, EF1 and EF2s on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
But 23 were classified as EF3 tornadoes, with wind speeds of 136-165mph. The strongest confirmed tornado this year was the EF4 tornado that killed 23 people in Alabama in March.
So far this year, 38 people have died in 10 tornadoes in the US, including a combined seven within the last week in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Ohio.
The relatively quiet storms in recent years followed the massive tornado that killed 161 people and injured more than 1,100 in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011. The EF5 storm packed winds in excess of 200mph and was on the ground for more than 22 miles.
Monday’s outbreak was unusual because it occurred over a particularly wide geographic area.
Eight states were affected by two regional outbreaks, in the high Plains and the Ohio River Valley.
Last week, a massive tornado ripped through the state capital of Jefferson City, Missouri.
Missouri Public Safety confirmed at the time that three people were killed in the Golden City area of Barton County, and several injured in the Carl Junction area of Jasper County.