Powerful Tornadoes Rip Through Midwest, the Plains, Leaving Trail of Destruction
A strong tornado moved through the outskirts of Kansas City yesterday (May 28), killing one person and injuring at least a dozen others. This was one of a string of tornadoes that have devastated parts of the U.S. in the last month.
On the western edge of Kansas City, the damage was extensive: The tornado ripped the roof off homes, knocked over trees and power lines, and threw piles of debris on now-impassable roads, according to The Kansas City Star. An estimated 13,000 people were left without power in the area, according to the Star.
On Monday (May 27) night, several tornadoes with winds up to 140 mph (225 km/h) tore through parts of Ohio and Indiana, killing one person, injuring at least 130 others and damaging dozens of homes, according to the Associated Press.
Though tornadoes are common in these areas, especially in this season — tornadoes tend to peak in the U.S. South Plains in May and June — the number and strength of these tornadoes in Ohio were unusually strong, Andy Hatzos, a weather forecaster for the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, told Time.
Indeed, though the frequency of tornado outbreaks isn't increasing, the number of tornadoes in each outbreak as well as the number of days with multiple tornadoes, is increasing, according to NBC News. The average number of tornadoes in the past two weeks is twice that of the long-term average of tornadoes in each outbreak, they reported.
But it's unclear what's driving that uptick. Climate change is making weather events more extreme on average, but the exact role it played in the destruction over the past couple of weeks is tricky to untangle. But climate change is causing sea-surface temperatures to rise on average, something that can lead to atmospheric instability, a key ingredient for tornado formation, according to NBC News. [4 Things You Need to Know About Tornado Season]
Tornado watches this month have extended all the way to the East Coast, including Pennsylvania and New York City. These are just a few of over 500 warnings issued this month, according to CNN.
- Photos: The Tornado Damage Scale In Images
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- Image Gallery: Moore, Okla., Tornado Damage - May 20,
Originally published on Live Science.
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Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
By Sascha Pare