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Today's Severe Weather Outbreak may be worse than last!

Another Severe Weather Outbreak Striking Midwest, South
By Bill Deger, Meteorologist 
Apr 19, 2011; 1:50 PM ET


A major outbreak of severe storms, including tornadoes, is striking parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys.

These violent thunderstorms and tornadoes come just days after deadly tornadoes devastated communities in the southern Plains and Southeast. Unfortunately, some of those towns could again be struck by strong storms this week.

Rescue workers in Joplin, MO are desperately scrambling to find survivors before the next outbreak occurs. Severe weather is forecast to breakout across southeast Oklahoma and western Missouri Tuesday afternoon. The severe weather will continue to race eastward across the Tennessee and Ohio valleys through early Wednesday morning.

Many of the thunderstorms will continue to produce powerful wind gusts, driving downpours and frequent lightning strikes. Some of the storms may produce large hail.

Unfortunately, conditions could produce more tornadoes over the storm-weary region. Just one tornado passing through a populated area can lead to casualties and major destruction.

Powerful storms could also reach as far north as the I-80 corridor, including Toledo, Ohio.

The threat for severe weather won't end there. Later Wednesday, parts of the eastern Tennessee Valley, mid-Atlantic and central Appalachians will be at risk for powerful thunderstorms.

Stay with AccuWeather.com early this week for more on this severe weather outbreak."AccuWeather.com meteorologists feel that most of the tornadoes will occur from 4:00 p.m. to midnight CDT..."

A swarm of powerful tornadoes is forecast late this afternoon and evening in the I-35 corridor from Dallas to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita and Kansas City.

Similar to the start of the week, there is the risk of widespread destruction and many casualties, if these storms manage to strike a populated area.

People in the southern and central Plains are urged to keep a close eye on the weather and have a plan of action in place in case tornado warnings are issued.

AccuWeather.com meteorologists feel that most of the tornadoes will occur from 4:00 p.m. to midnight CDT. However, some powerful storms, including damaging weather conditions, may continue through the night.

According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "This is the type of outbreak that could yield a couple hundred tornado reports and dozens of actual tornadoes."

A handful of the storms could reach EF3 and EF4 strength with winds of 136 to 200 mph.

People in the threat area should have a means to get weather information such as a NOAA weather radio, AM/FM radio, TV, computer with internet or hand-held device. If all else fails, they should remain in earshot of tornado sirens and keep a nearby window open to listen.

If a tornado warning is issued, immediately seek shelter. The safest areas are a storm shelter, basement or interior room in the lowest level of your home in that order.

In the wake of the most deadly single tornado in over 50 years, 48 hours later, the atmosphere has become very ripe for large and powerful tornadoes over the Plains again.

The region was bright and sunny to start the day Tuesday in this region. However, daytime heating and an approaching storm system from the Rockies will create a volatile atmosphere by late afternoon.

Growing thunderstorms will break through the atmosphere and become rotating super cells, which, in turn will spawn multiple tornadoes.

The situation may change rapidly from clear and warm to towering thunderstorms and severe weather in a matter of minutes.

The tornado threat will continue to shift eastward overnight and Wednesday.

The risk of damaging thunderstorms, including tornadoes, will include the devastated Joplin, Mo., area overnight and then on to flood-weary areas of the lower Ohio Valley and part of the lower Mississippi Valley during Wednesday.

 Explosive thunderstorms are among the most dangerous type of thunderstorms and are the most likely to form tornadoes. This type can be likened to a soda bottle shaken violently; when the cap is taken off, the soda explodes out of the bottle. In the atmosphere, when a "warm cap" aloft is broken, there is explosive thunderstorm development as warm, humid air rises rapidly.

Tornado Statistics

1. How many tornadoes hit the U.S. yearly?

Tornado reporting methods have changed a lot in the last several decades, so the officially recorded tornadoes are believed to be incomplete. Although the actual average is unknown, recent trends indicate the number is around 1,300. This year, the number of tornadoes is 1,151 reports which is on pace for a record season.

2. How many people are killed by tornadoes every year?

On average, about 60 people are killed by tornadoes every year, most from flying or falling debris.

3. What were the top 10 deadliest U.S. tornadoes in the past?

1) March 18, 1925, Tri-State (Mo./Ill./Ind.), 695 deaths

2) May 6, 1840, Natches, Miss., 317 deaths

3) May 27, 1896, St. Louis, Mo., 255 deaths

4) April 5, 1936, Tupelo, Miss., 216 deaths

5) April 6, 1936, Gainesville, Ga., 203 deaths

6) April 9, 1947, Woodward, Okla., 181 deaths

7) April 24, 1908, Amite, La.,/Purvis, Miss., 143 deaths

8) June 12, 1899, New Richmond, Wis., 117 deaths

9) May 22, 2011, Joplin, Mo., 116 deaths (pending final totals)

10) June 8, 1953, Flint, Miss, 115 deaths

4. What city has been hit by the most tornadoes?

Oklahoma City. The exact count is not known, but the total is more than 100.

5. Which city/town holds the most tornado fatalities in a single city or town?

Murphysboro, Ill. - at least 234 people lost their lives during the March 1925 "Tri-state" tornado.

6. What was the deadliest U.S. tornado day?

The Dixie Alley tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011, set a record of 335 deaths.

7. What was the biggest outbreaks of tornadoes?

The Super Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974, spawned 148 confirmed tornadoes in 13 states and resulted in the second highest death toll (317) for a tornado outbreak in the United States.

The April 25-28, 2011, outbreak may exceed this number once the final number of tornadoes is counted. So far, there have been 492 tornado reports.

8. What was the biggest known tornado?

The Hallam, Neb., tornado of May 22, 2004, had the peak width of nearly 2.5 miles, which is close to the maximum size for tornadoes.

9. What was the strongest tornado? What is the highest wind speed in a tornado?

Tornado wind speeds have only been recorded in weaker ones, since violent tornadoes could destroy weather instruments. The highest winds that have ever been found during a tornado were about 302 mph near Bridge Creek, Okla., on May 3, 1999.

10. What were the costliest tornadoes?

On June 8, 1966, the Topeka, Kan., tornado had a cost of about $1,680,136,978 in 2010 dollars.

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