Record Number of Tornados Stuns Weather Observers
Unknown Country, 18-Oct-2001
The 83 tornadoes that have hit the United States so far this month set a record for the first half of October, according to the National Weather Service. Last week alone 59 twisters struck. "Despite the record number of tornadoes, there were no fatalities and only twelve minor injuries during this most recent outbreak," says Dan McCarthy, a meteorologist at the federal Storm Prediction Center. Last week tornadoes struck Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. "Just in those five days, there were more than double the average number of October tornadoes," says McCarthy. "The average number of tornadoes in October since the National Weather Service began tracking tornadoes in 1950 is 29 events. The previous record for the first half of any October was set in 1998, when 47 confirmed tornadoes hit various parts of the nation." 83 in just the first two weeks of this October is obviously a phenomenal weather event. "October is not usually this active but, since we are only halfway through this month, we are watching for any further changes in atmospheric systems that could continue this active trend," McCarthy says. The most tornadoes for any October occurred in 1997, with 100 reported. The second highest number was 86, set in October 1998.
Last weekend, tornadoes hit the Alabama, Florida and Texas, destroying homes and knocking out power. In Florida's Panhandle, about 20,400 households lost power Saturday during a storm that overturned cars and downed power lines. In Alabama a 63-year-old man was killed when a large limb from a tree hit his windshield. Two businesses were destroyed and several houses were demolished. In Texas, seven homes were destroyed and 68 were damaged about 60 miles northwest of Dallas. Two people were reported injured. Mobile home parks were special targets. In Hondo, Texas, tornadoes virtually destroyed two mobile home parks, while doing relatively minor damage elsewhere in the community. "It just seemed to hop from trailer park to trailer park," one resident said. One of the mobile homes that was hit in Texas was picked up by the wind before it was demolished. A man fled the structure moments before the twister struck. According to emergency management director Leigh Anne Ryals, "The frame was bent and portions of it were wrapped around a telephone pole, and the rest was strung out through the woods."