Why so many tornadoes? It's a question that has been plaguing the nation due to the recent onslaught of large and dangerous tornadoes that have been ripping across the nation.
The deadly outbreak of 327 tornadoes across 21 states on April 25-28 of this year was the first major blow that Mother Nature delivered, taking 344 lives. April 27, 2011 actually broke the record for the most tornadoes in a single day, with a staggering number of 188.
Then on Sunday, disaster struck again. An EF-5 tornado ripped through the town of Joplin, MO, taking a quarter of the population's homes along with it. Not only that, but with the death toll is at 125 and is potentially still climbing. That ranks this tornado in the number one spot for the deadliest tornado in over 60 years.
Last night, 47 more initial tornado reports with at least 15 fatalities across 3 states.
So why is this occurring? Many ingredients have contributed to this set up that is making the atmosphere primed for strong storm development.
First of all, the Gulf of Mexico's waters are running slightly warmer than normal, which is providing a locomotive of warm, moist air into the middle part of the country. When that muggy air collides with a punch of cool, dry air out of Canada, the atmosphere becomes unstable and thunderstorms form.
What is really helping these storms have the ferocious impact we have been seeing is the jet stream. For the past two months, it has been strong and moving right over the Rockies, which is providing additional energy and spin to these already deadly storms.
On average, 60 people die a year in the US from tornadoes. In April and May alone of this year, that number is close to 500. That makes 2011 the deadliest year for tornadoes since 1953 when 513 tornado related fatalities occured.