175 tornadoes were reported over the weekend. The years 2003 and 2004 have seen a dramatic increase in the number of tornadoes being reported in the US. The record for most tornadoes in any month (since modern tornado record keeping began in 1950) was set in May 2003, with 516 tornadoes confirmed. This easily broke the old mark of 399, set in June 1992. But May 2004 may break all records for numbers of tornadoes. Global warming models predict dramatic increases in violent weather. An increase in the severity and frequency of tornadoes is consistent with this model.

CNN reports that in Indiana, a tornado turned one man’s mobile home upside down, burying him in rubble. His neighbor, Randall Meriwether, says, “I got in and got the stuff off him. But he was already gone.” Part of the roof peeled back on a local nursing home as well.

In Kentucky, a radio caller reported, “I’ve seen a lot of trees down. It hit a building and took out the back part of the building. I heard transformers blowing up. The wind picked up heavy trees. It was crazy. It was just a lot of debris.”

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings from eastern Texas up into Wisconsin and Minneapolis and east to Ohio, or from the middle Mississippi Valley to the Ohio River Valley. By Monday, the storms reached from northern Louisiana eastward through Mississippi, north Alabama, northwest Georgia, east Tennessee, west North Carolina and West Virginia.

In 2003, 543 tornadoes were recorded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for May and 292 for June. This is up dramatically from the 2002 season, which saw 204 tornadoes in May and 97 in June. During the 1990s, the record month was June of 1992 with 400 tornadoes reported. On April 3-4, 1974, 147 tornadoes touched down in 13 U.S. states, the record for a single day.

Avoiding a tornado takes more than luck?but it doesn’t hurt to be lucky.

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