New Tornado Super Outbreak Kills at Least 290 in South

Apr 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Lifestyle

The worst tornado outbreak since the Tornado Super Outbreak of 1974 killed at least 290 in the South’s Dixie Alley Wednesday, including at least 194 in Alabama, where Tuscaloosa was devastated. A record-setting estimated 164 tornadoes struck from Mississippi all the way to New York, knocking two nuclear power plants off line and leaving hundreds injured, thousands homeless, and over a million without power.

L89 Alabama tornado 300x181 New Tornado Super Outbreak Kills at Least 290 in SouthAlabama was hit hardest. A Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa Facebook page has been created to coordinate information and assistance for tornado survivors in the Tuscaloosa area.

In other parts of the South, Mississippi has so far reported 32 fatalities, Tennessee 33, Georgia 10, and Virginia eight. Hundreds of injuries have also been reported.

The estimated 164 tornadoes that struck yesterday exceeded the number reported during the 1974 Super Outbreak, which saw 148 tornadoes claim 315 lives and injure more than 5,000 over a 24-hour period from April 3 to April 4. The worst outbreak on record was on March 18, 1925, when 695 people died.

Southern tornadoes are especially dangerous because they are harder to see coming than their counterparts on the Great Plains. Tornadoes in the south often loom suddenly out of nowhere over trees and hills. They also frequently strike at night, making them even harder to see. Rain can also cloak them from sight.

Tornadoes are especially threatening to people who live in mobile homes and manufactured homes with weak walls or foundations. A large percentage of tornado-related deaths and injuries occur in mobile homes.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gives the following tornado safety tips:

  • Know the difference between a tornado watch, which means that conditions are ripe for tornadoes to form and you should remain alert, and a tornado warning, which means that a tornado has actually been sighted in the area and you should take shelter immediately.
  • Before a tornado, stay alert by listening to NOAA Weather Radio or following local news, watching for approaching storms, and looking for danger signs such as dark or greenish skies, large hail, dark or low-flying clouds, or a loud roar like a freight train. If you see storms or any of these signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
  • During a tornado, seek shelter appropriate for the area you are in. If you are in a structure such as a building, go to a predesignated shelter area such as a cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor, putting as many walls as possible between you and the outside, stay away from windows or dangerous structures like corners, get under a sturdy table, and use your arms to protect your head and neck. If you are in a vehicle or mobile home, get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building, because mobile homes offer little protection from tornadoes. If you are outdoors with no shelter, avoid overpasses or bridges, and seek a low spot like a ditch where you can lie flat and cover yourself for protection from flying debris, which is the major cause of injury during tornadoes.
  • After a tornado,follow appropriate health and first aid and home clean-up procedures. If your home has been damaged by flood or fire, wait for local authorities to declare the area safe before re-entering. Do not enter if you smell gas. Turn on flashlights before entering the home to avoid the battery spark igniting leaking gas. Keep an eye out for injured parties, wildlife that may have taken shelter from the storm, leaking gas, electrical damage, structural damage, damaged appliances, water or sewage problems, contaminated food, or spilled chemicals. Call your insurance agent and carefully document any damages with photos and good records.

For more information, updates, and relief resources, visit http://www.fema.gov/index.shtm.

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