Deadly tornadoes blast U.S. Midwest leaving 39 dead

Monday, March 5, 2012

At least 39 people are confirmed dead, dozens injured and numerous buildings are left damaged in several states after series of tornadoes hit the U.S. Midwest March 2. The storm system stretched from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Southern Indiana, northern Alabama and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee were affected the most.

Images from the GOES 13 satellite shows the formation and movement of the storm system.
Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The first warning went out around 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and by about 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, at least twelve tornadoes had touched down in three different states. At least fourteen people were confirmed dead in Indiana. Officials are still trying to determine how many people might have died and assessing the damage.

New Pekin, Indiana, Marysville and Henryville are reported to have been hit the worst. Marysville about a hour north of Louisville, Kentucky has been reported to be nearly flatted. In Kentucky, at least 17 people had died and at least 200 injuries have been reported. Only one has been confirmed dead in Alabama but at least eleven people were injured during the storm. There are three confirmed dead in Clermont County, Ohio.

Damage reports in the Midwest and South keep piling up. Golf ball, tennis ball and softball size hail was reported in several states. Severe damage was reported in Nashville, Tennessee and Knoxville after high winds and 3 inch in diameter hail tore through the cities.

At the Limestone Correctional Facility in northern Alabama roofs were ripped off two dormitories housing over 500 inmates and multiple security fences were knocked down. Even though the prison lost power, nobody was injured or escaped. Also, flights were delayed for over an hour after storm debris littered the runways at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The National Weather Service issued 255 tornado warnings on Friday, received 94 reports of tornadoes, 208 reports of strong winds and 410 reports of hail. The storms, caused by a warm, moist and unseasonable air mass that then mixed with colder air, followed a series of tornadoes earlier in the week that killed 13 people in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.

The storms have raised fear that 2012 will be another bad year for tornadoes. Last year was the deadliest year in a century due to tornadoes, killing 550 people.