Barely a week since the last outbreak of tornadoes killed eight in Iowa and Minnesota, a spate of tornadoes forecasters had warned could be historic ripped through Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and possibly Colorado. At least six tornadoes were reported, and CNN said there were as many as 30 twisters reported. Severe thunderstorms also touched Illinois, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., cutting power and damaging homes and trees.
In Collyer, Kan., a pair of traveling circus elephants got spooked and escaped their enclosures, but were unharmed in the fracas.
Forecasters had warned that the outbreak of tornadoes could rival a 1974 outbreak of 39 tornadoes that killed 22 people. While this outbreak did not match the destruction of that outbreak, the storm totals for the year are sobering.
There had been 1,258 tornadoes reported through May 30, a tally that nearly matches the 10-year average for an entire calendar year, according to Storm Prediction Center data. While the figure is inflated because some storms are reported twice, storm watchers say this is an extraordinary, if not unprecedented, tornado season.
The 112 reported deaths to date are significantly more than the death count seen in recent years. The 2008 tornado season is the deadliest in a decade and on pace to be the deadliest ever recorded in the United States.
This could be a harbinger of things to come. Some scientists have warned that global warming will create conditions that make violent tornadoes more frequent.
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