At least 272 people have been killed, a nuclear power plant has been knocked out for weeks, and property damage is expected to exceed a billion dollars in one of the worst spring storm outbreaks in memory. There were 364 reports of tornadoes across the southeastern US, and flooding from Arkansas to Vermont. Tornadoes were sighted in 16 states from Arkansas to New York, with the hardest hit state being Alabama, where 184 people were killed. The Mayor of Tuscaloosa has said that the city’s infrastructure has been "decimated." The worst previous tornado outbreak recorded in the US took place in April of 1974. killed 308 people and spawned 148 tornadoes in 13 states. (Click on photo and scroll down to bottom of story to see video.)

When combined with last week’s storms, this amounts to the most protracted severe weather event of its kind ever recorded. Last week’s storm brought a severe tornado to St. Louis, closing the airport and leaving hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage Levees collapsed along the Mississippi River and the National Weather Service forecast more storms later in the week. The heavy weather is being caused by the fact that extreme winter cold has been followed by spring heating as warm air has poured up across the midsection of the United States from the Gulf of Mexico. A long term buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and along with unexpectedly rapid increases in methane due to arctic outgassing during the extremely hot summer of 2010 has created conditions favorable to rapid and violent oscillations in climate. At midnight eastern time, the storm system was still active and crossing the midatlantic states, with reports of high winds and significant rainfall, but no additional tornadoes. Whitley Strieber has offered his comments on the continuing violent weather in a new journal entry.

The first description of the climate extremes that are now emerging occurred in the Key. A new edition, with extensive new commentary by Whitley Strieber, will be published May 12. Preorder your copy here.