Record 241 tornados claim 40 lives in US
Apr 17, 2011, 19:55 GMT
Washington - A cluster of 241 lethal tornados over three days has claimed at least 40 lives, making it the largest tornado outbreak connected to a single storm system in US history, according to a meteorologist on Sunday.
Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist with the private weather forecasting service AccuWeather.com, was commenting on the deadly twisters that ravaged cities and towns from Oklahoma to North Carolina from Thursday to Saturday.
'There has not been a tornado outbreak in history over three days with this many tornadoes spawned by a single storm system,' Margusity said.
In May 2003, there were 401 tornados over a seven-day period, but they were spawned by multiple storm systems moving from the south- west to the Plains states, Marguisty said.
The recent tornados raged across 14 states, and AccuWeather said the number of fatalities could rise as investigations continue.
The death toll is the highest since the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak, when 57 people were killed in February by 131 tornados that raged as voters tried to cast ballots in the massive multi-state presidential preference primary elections.
North Carolina was worst hit with at least two dozen dead on Saturday, and the death toll would have been higher had the quick- thinking manager of a Lowe's home improvement store south of Raleigh not acted so fast.
When he heard the tornado warning, he herded about 100 sales people and customers into a sturdy part of the building while the twister leveled the main sales area, according to media reports.
AccuWeather said the violent tornado outbreak was the result of the powerful jet stream, an abundance of moisture and a strong cold front.
Warmer water in the Gulf of Mexico as well as a strong La Nina pattern are combining to create more severe storms this year compared to past years, Marguisty said.
Read more about US Weather