Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12. toukokuuta 2008 klo 13:51 (GMT)
An EF-4 tornado with winds of 166-175 mph swept through Oklahoma and Missouri Saturday, killing 21 people. Hardest hit were the towns of Picher, OK, where six died, and Seneca, MO, where ten died. The violent tornado was up to a mile wide. It's been an unusually early and violent tornado season in the U.S. There have been 905 tornadoes so far this year, a total usually not seen until late July (Figure 1). Saturday's deaths bring the 2008 U.S. tornado death toll up to 96--the most tornado fatalities since 1998, when 130 people died. With at least another month left in peak tornado season, 2008 ranks as the 12th deadliest year in the 59-year record. The Picher tornado was the sixth violent EF-4 tornado of the year.
Figure 1. Cumulative tornado activity in the U.S. through May 11, compared to average. This year's 905 tornadoes match the total usually seen by late July. Image credit: NOAA Storm Prediction Center.
Severe weather forecast
Severe weather is not expected today over the U.S., but more severe weather and tornadoes are expected Tuesday through Thursday in association with another powerful spring storm. The Weather Underground Severe Weather page and Tornado page are good places to go to follow the severe weather. Also, tune in to the chase accounts and awesome storm photos from Wunderblogger Mike Theiss. Mike is in Tornado Alley this week, performing his annual chase efforts.
Amazing video: why not to take shelter in your car during a tornado
If you haven't seen it, the video captured by a surveillance camera during the Leighton, Alabama tornado on May 8 is a stunning testimonial of why one should not try to escape a tornado using a car. The EF-2 tornado with winds of 111-135 mph picked up cars like toys and tossed them into the air. A large number of tornado deaths and injuries occur when people try to escape the twister in their car and get caught by the violent winds.
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