2011 on Pace to be Deadliest US Tornado Year

By Deborah Zabarenko | May 25, 2011

The tornado that raked Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday was the deadliest single twister in the United States since 1953, putting 2011 on pace for a possible record year for tornado fatalities, U.S. weather experts said Monday.

Here are facts and figures about the Joplin tornado and its place in the U.S. weather record, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service:

* The Joplin tornado of May 22 was the deadliest U.S. tornado since 1953, with 116 people confirmed dead as of Monday, tying fatalities in a major tornado that hit Flint, Michigan in 1953.

* This is the eighth-deadliest tornado year on record in the United States, with 481 people killed. This year is now on pace for the full year to set a record for tornado fatalities, according to U.S. records.

* April was a record month for the number of U.S. tornadoes, with 875; the previous monthly record was 267, set in 1974, but this was before the advent of technologies like Doppler radar, mobile electronics and the Internet, which all ease tornado tracking and reporting.

* There was an average of 24 minutes between the time a tornado warning was issued for Joplin and the time the tornado hit. This compares to a national average of 14 minutes. Outlooks for severe weather were issued three days in advance.

* The Joplin tornado was an EF-4 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Winds reached 190-198 miles an hour . An EF-4 tornado is capable of causing extreme damage, with well-constructed and whole frame houses leveled; cars and other large objects thrown and small missiles generated. An EF-5 tornado is capable of total destruction.

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