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Increase in Tornado Severity Throughout the South

Increase in Tornado Severity Throughout the South


Tornado season is here, and the South has already been affected and could see conditions worsen.

In early April, several severe tornadoes hit Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

Alabama had tornadoes touch down in both Ardmore and Eldridge, in the northern and central parts of the state. According to The Weather Channel, an Alabama train was derailed after a multi-day severe tornado, which caused major flooding that washed away part of the railroad bridge.

“Torrential rain and gusty thunderstorms have been affecting the area,” said Quincy Vagell, a meteorologist. “The area was inundated with high water with reports of flash flooding.”

These damages come after another tornado struck Alabama, destroying an Amish schoolhouse. Wholly 100% of Amish-built structures and furniture are hand-crafted, built to last, but these severe weather conditions leveled the school and other area buildings.

ABC reports that these tornadoes had winds that topped over 100 miles per hour and damaged more than 50 buildings, along with other structures and vehicles.

Scientists believe that the increase in severity of these storms is due to suburban and exurban sprawl.

According to NIU Newsroom, a study done by Northern Illinois University scientists found that suburban sprawl has created a form of a tornado bull’s eye, which is increasing the chance for potential disasters with a magnitude greater than the 2011 Joplin, MO, tornado.

“The acceleration of development and sprawl results in an expanding bull’s eye effect,” Walker Ashley, a professor of meteorology at NIU, said. Ashley believes this effect will “undoubtedly generate more frequent and higher impacts from tornadoes.”

The scientists used data on tornado frequencies, tornado footprints, and housing growth to show the more tornado-prone areas of the United States.

“Storm frequency and climate change are important topics, but how we develop as a society -how and where we build and live and spread out- is just as important in the construction of disasters,” Ashley stated.

“Our study shows the mid-South has the greatest overall tornado disaster potential.”