2011 has been a year of devastation for the record books. Through May 25th, 2011 has set numerous records for tornadoes. Many of these have stood for decades. Some frightening tornado statistics already this year are:
- Most tornadoes ever recorded in any single month (April 2011 - 875, previous record was 542 in May 2003)
- Average yearly total number of tornadoes: 1274, so far in 2011 (preliminary) is 1212
- Average number of tornadoes for the past 10 years in May: 298, so far in 2011: 295 (through 5/26 a.m.)
- Most tornado related deaths: 508 (through 5/26 a.m.) since 1953. 1925 had the most tornado deaths with 794
- Joplin's tornado death toll stands at 125 (through 5/26 a.m.), this makes it the deadliest tornado since 1947
- Joplin's tornado was rated an EF5 (the highest possible) indicating winds in excess of 200 mph!
By all accounts, the significant increase in tornado related deaths this year is due to the tornadoes hitting more densely populated areas. As the population of the United States continues to grow, this trend could likely continue well into the future. Even with improved technology and increased warning times, most structures aren't designed to withstand and EF5 tornado. That makes it crucial to have a plan for what you and your family should do in the event of a tornado. This includes a plan for where to go, having a weather radio (and possibly other sources of weather information like a portable, battery operated TV, internet access, etc...) and sufficient batteries in the safe place, basic food and water should you be without power for multiple days, etc...).
We cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared for this threat:
- Make a plan and discuss it with your family
- Determine your tornado shelter ahead of time
- Have at least 3 days of food and water on hand
The National Severe Storms Laboratory has an article that explains tornadoes and provides some very good pointers on preparing for a tornado: