Six more people, four of them Boy Scouts at a camp in Iowa, died in the latest outbreak of killer twisters this week, as more than 30 tornadoes touched down across Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota. Two of the deaths occurred in Kansas, and overall dozens were injured.
The Storm Prediction Center has released new data showing just how extraordinary the 2008 U.S. tornado season is.
There had been 1,520 tornadoes reported through June 10 (before the latest outbreak), a tally that exceeds 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 government estimates that the actual count of tornadoes to date is closer to 1,000, which is about as many as were recorded in the entire calendar years of 2006 or 2007.
The 118 reported deaths 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. There is greater consensus that global warming will, at the least, produce more extreme weather events.
The tornado season so far in 2008 can certainly be labeled "extreme."
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