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April 2011 - tornado month
Tornadoes of April 2011
The year 2011 was special in many ways. Let me give you an example - with a preliminary figure of 875 tornadoes recorded initially (count of confirmed tornadoes stops at 747), April 2011 broke the record for the most twister active month ever. Has anything similar happened before? Learn more about stormy weather now and in the past.
How real is it for you?
It's pretty easy to calmly talk about tornadoes from a quiet, unaffected part of the world. But I'm sure there are people out there for whom tornadoes are scary reality.
Have you ever experienced a tornado?
Let's have a look at the figures.
Preliminary count of tornadoes in April in 2011 initially stopped at 875, as opposed to previous year's 139, 226 in 2009 and 189 in 2008.
The figure changed - tornado sightings need to be confirmed. Eventually it was brought down to 747, but even so it's impressive.
Until now, the title of the single month with the highest number of recorded tornadoes was held by May 2003, with 543 confirmed twisters.
Also, in April 2011, 361 people lost their life to tornadoes. In the previous year the figure was 11, 6 in 2009 and 0 in 2008.
US Storm Prediction Center warned not to draw conclusion from the preliminary figures, but when the numbers were so striking, it was difficult not to.
The biggest historical tornadoes
Let's have a quick look at the Famous Tornadoes gallery:
* the deadliest US tornado happened in on 18 March 1925 and killed 695 people. 'Tri-state' tornado, as it is known, caused widespread damage across Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
* "Super Outbreak" of 3-4 April 1974 is an absolute phenomenon in tornado history. With 148 confirmed twisters within 24 hours it's the most intence tornado event on record. Also, never before was such a high number of F4 and F5 tornadoes recorded in a single event (24 and 6 accordingly). 335 people were killed.
* The biggest known tornado touched down in Hallam, Nebraska, on 22 May 2004. It was nearly 2.5 mile wide.
Beatiful and deadly
Tornadoes may be dangerous disasters, but sure as hell they are fascinating and beautiful. Just look at some of those prints!
As if to compensate for its rage in April 2011, convective weather stayed unusually clement in June and July. Let's have a look at the figures:
June average (over last 3 years): 296 tornadoes
June 2011: 160
July average: 114
July 2011: 103
Usually, April is only a warm-up for tornado season. Most years twister activity peaks in May/June. So the big question at the end of April 2011 was whether the tendency would continue, with even more tornadoes next month. Meteorologists were pretty worried, as conditions didn't promise change in weather any time soon. If storms continued, the year 2011 may have been remembered as the most 'twisty' year ever. 'Will it happen?' everyone asked.
Fortunately the weather eased off in the following months and no further tornado record was broken.
Although US get by far the highest numbers of tornadoes from all the countries in the world, twisters happen worldwide and are equally or even more dangerous (because people are not prepared for tornadoes in unexpected locations).
It may be hard to believe, but according to Daily Mail UK has "the highest number of reported tornadoes for its land area of any country in the world".
Other countries experiencing occasional tornado include Canada, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Russia, Germany, France, Netherlands, Poland and many others.
Learn more about tornadoes
These books can help you
Is this the end of the world?
For the unfortunate few who lost their lives to the storms, yes, but for the rest of us - highly unlikely. I'm sure that Doomsday prophets will crop up like mushrooms after the rain preaching the approaching Armageddon, but I doubt anyone will take them seriously. It may be a sign of us influencing the Earth's climate, but hardly of the Apocalypse. So if you don't happen to live in the affected area, don't let the news disturb your sleep.
Or just say 'hi'... Either way, speak up :)