Alabamians affected by destructive tornadoes

Maryann Lee, Editor

    Last year, an extremely widespread and destructive tornado outbreak occurred from April 25 to 28.  This was the largest tornado outbreak that has ever occurred in the U.S.  It affected 21 states from Texas all the way to New York with a total of 359 tornadoes recorded by the National Weather Service. On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, the worst day of the outbreak, four tornadoes were destructive enough to be rated an EF5 which is the highest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.  The most destructive of the tornados transpired in the South including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia.
    Thousands of people were left without power, or even homes, because of the destruction caused by the storms. Not only was there massive amounts of damage, but many people were injured or died. Throughout the country the death toll reached 346 people.  The state that was hit the hardest was Alabama, with a total of 239 deaths.       
    Alabama has been struck by a number of tornadoes. A total of 177 tornadoes hit Alabama last year, which made it the state with the highest number of twisters, according to the National Weather Service. Also, Alabama is already ranked in the top spot for 2012, with 22 tornado strikes since New Year’s Day.
    One of these tornado strikes occurred Monday, Jan. 23.  There were 10 total tornadoes.  Two of these struck Jefferson County, one in Oak Grove and the other in Center Point and Clay.  The effects of these tornadoes were tremendous.  Two people were killed, over100 others were injured and more than 200 mobile homes were destroyed in the Birmingham area alone.  Throughout the state, insured homes and businesses suffered between $15 to $30 million worth of damage.
    Tornadoes are formed when a warm and moist mass of air combines with a cool and dry one.  After they combine, they move in opposite directions and begin cycling.  This is most common during thunderstorms.  Even though tornado season is normally in the spring from March to May, Alabamians must be prepared for a tornado any time of year, especially because of Alabama’s warm climates that are conducive to tornadoes.