Heartland Tornadoes: Keeping things in perspective

CNN has excellent coverage of the tornadoes that struck Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas yesterday. Here’s a link for you with videos and maps: CNN Tornado Coverage May 25.  The Wall Street Journal also has a comprehensive article online this morning.

Go there and find out where those tornadoes hit, what they destroyed, and how many lives were lost. I almost cannot bear to read the news. It’s terribly sad, and all the more so because it follows so closely on the heels of the destructive tornado in Joplin, which in turn was preceded by the horror of the tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. This string of deadly tornadoes has been almost unbelievable, but believe it or not, this has happened in our country before.

With so many calamities, including historic fires and historic floods, it’s easy to think the absolute worst, and indeed, from the comments I’ve read already this morning, some people are. They’re shouting that Al Gore was right! We’ve caused climate change, and the tornadoes are proof of it!

Well, hold on folks. These tornadoes are horrible, but we’ve had deadly tornado outbreaks in the past before anyone even thought of “global warming” or “climate change.” The super outbreak of September of 1974 comes to mind. I remember quite well that those tornadoes killed many people and just about wiped the town of Xenia, Ohio, off the map. Here’s a map from Wikipedia, showing the huge number of tornadoes spawned during a two-day period. Below the map is some additional information.

Paths of the 148 tornadoes
generated during the Super Outbreak.
Date of tornado outbreak: April 3–4, 1974
Duration1: ~18 hours
Maximum rated tornado2: F5 tornado
Tornadoes caused: 148 confirmed
Damages: $3.5 billion (2005 dollars)
Fatalities: 315–330
Areas affected: Most of central and eastern North America

I’m going to have another post later on today that will compare the outbreak of May 2011 with other reported deadly storms on the past. Remember that not all tornadoes are reported, and that many strike in unpopulated areas, where they cause much less destruction. We’ve just had the great, great misfortune of having these intense storms strike cities this year.


About M.J.Deare

I am a writer, actively researching topics of interest. I am also a graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with a degree in English, and have a master's degree from the University of Memphis. Born in New Orleans, I lived there until moving to northwest Arkansas and from there to Memphis, Tennessee. My husband and I currently reside in The Woodlands, Texas.
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2 Responses to Heartland Tornadoes: Keeping things in perspective

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  2. Pingback: Why Are We Having So Many Tornadoes? | Beneath the Oaks

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