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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Deadly Storms are ‘unusual’ to develop a few weeks apart in U.S. say Weather Experts


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Repeat deadly storms are ‘unusual’

newsok.com
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
May 25, 2011 
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WASHINGTON — Weather experts said it’s unusual for deadly tornadoes to develop a few weeks apart in the United States.
But what made the two storm systems that barreled through a Missouri city and the South within the last month so rare is that tornadoes took direct aim at populated areas.
The tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., on Sunday killed more than 100 people and marked the nation’s deadliest single tornado in almost six decades.
The series of twisters that swept through the South late last month killed more than 300 people. Both disasters leveled entire communities.
Such a pair of weather events is “unusual but not unknown,” said tornado researcher Howard B. Bluestein of the University of Oklahoma.
“Sometimes you get a weather pattern in which the ingredients for a tornado are there over a wide area and persist for a long time. That’s what we’re having this year.”
And the threat is continuing, he said, noting more storms are predicted over the next few days.
Other than the death toll, there was nothing too unusual about the Joplin storm, he added. The conditions were right and thunderstorms were forecast.
Urban sprawl into the countryside has increased the odds that tornadoes will affect more people, said Joshua Wurman, president of the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colo.
Forecasters can’t tell very far in advance where the path of destruction is going to be, added Greg Carbin, meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman. A lot of tornadoes hit open spaces, so “when you move to major population centers, the death toll can climb.”
Carbin also noted that a single tornado hit in Missouri, while several tornadoes swept across six Southern states last month.


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