As an unprecedented tornado season continues, Texas and Louisiana are bracing for damaging storms today.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for an area from now until about 3 p.m. local time.
TORNADOES...HAIL TO 1 INCH IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS," the National Weather Service bulletin reads. "THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 105 STATUTE MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 55 MILES NORTHWEST OF NATCHITOCHES LOUISIANA TO 30 MILES SOUTHEAST OF HUNTSVILLE TEXAS."
The warning comes after a weekend that saw tornadoes kill 22 and flattened parts of Missouri, Oklahoma and Georgia over the weekend. Towns like Kite, Ga., and Picher, Okla. were all but wiped off the map.
Those tornadoes came just three days after tornadoes left one dead in North Carolina and flattened a mall in Mississippi.
And though spring is typically only the start of tornado season, this is just the latest spate of killer tornadoes in the United States this year. Already, the death toll from tornadoes is 98 people, nearly 60% above the average over the past three years. It's the deadliest on record since 1998, according to USA Today and it's on pace to be the deadliest ever recorded. (ABC News put the death toll to date at 97 people, and the Storm Prediction Center at 96 people.)
The 905 reported tornadoes through May 11 is far ahead of the total typically seen by this time of year. It's been late July or even early August by the time this many tornadoes have typically been recorded, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
The U.S. has already been hit by 71% of the tornadoes expected in an typical year, when compared to the 10-year average. The year is only about 34% through, and we've only just entered the typical tornado season. 2008 has been unusual because the winter produced so many damaging storms.
However, the preliminary count used to make these comparisons is somewhat inflated. Experts expect the final count to be somewhat lower, given that the same storm can be reported several times, and so overcounted.
Still, 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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