As we recently warned, tornadoes can strike without warning: Now a huge tornado has hit Springfield, Massachusetts. Sacramento, California has been hit too. Why can’t we forecast these terrible storms so that people can take shelter? There have been plenty of tornadoes this year, but for 60 years, 1953 was the deadliest tornado year on record. Now that record of 519 fatalities has finally been beaten by more than 520 recorded so far this year. In 1953, a Nebraska family was calmly eating supper one minute, then the next minute all 10 of them were dead.
A weather system similar to the three that have passed across the central United States over the past month is once again moving down out of the Pacific Northwest toward the central plains. The system will pass through a region of dry air across the center of the country, but then come into contact with warm, moist air that continues to rush up into the southeast and the midatlantic states. If this contact takes place, it could mean another round of severe weather next week, especially toward the end of the week.
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.)