This Year's Tornadoes Are "Off the Charts"
May 28, 2011 • 10:40AM

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data on recent tornadoes show that 2011 is "off the charts," reports a meteorologist for KTBS in Shreveport, Louisiana. On average, the U.S. experiences about 1,000 tornadoes a year, but as of this week, there have been 1,228 tornado reports. Only 0.1% normally fall in the EF-5 category, about one a year. But there have been at least three confirmed EF-5 tornadoes in the United States already this year. "It is clear that 2011 is already off the charts with respect to these violent storms," KTBS says. The last year to show a marked spiked in F3 to F5 tornado activity is 1975. Prior to that year, the spike would have been in 1965 and 1957, according to the NOAA data.

Over the last 48 hours, a broad storm wave that produced violent winds, torrential waves, and twisters of varying sizes, covered a vast area including parts of the Ohio Valley, all the way north to Vermont. As well, a southern swath produced violent weather from the Mid-Atlantic down into Georgia. Three people were killed in Atlanta, Georgia, and flash flooding occurred as far north as Vermont. At least 13 tornadoes touched down in Indiana on Wednesday as severe thunderstorms bore down on the state, injuring at least 34 people.

NOAA reported yesterday that 321 people were killed in the April 25-28 tornado outbreak which swept through seven states. A total of 361 were killed by tornadoes thoughout just the month of April.

The Alabama Emergency Management Agency has (AEMA) confirmed today that the Alabama death toll from the April 27 tornadoes stands at 238, and the death toll in Tuscaloosa County alone is 41. According to the AEMA, "the National Weather Service estimates that 52 tornadoes devastated Alabama resulting in damage to many counties.... The National Weather Service offices in Birmingham and Huntsville are continuing to conduct surveys to determine how many tornadoes were spawned during this outbreak. So far they have confirmed that there were 6 EF-3, 8 EF-4 and 2 EF-5 tornadoes."

Even absent twister formation, the rainfall itself and the fierce winds are wreaking havoc with structures, power lines, and croplands.