What Makes Devastating Kentucky Tornadoes So Rare | Connect FM | Local news radio


(NEW YORK) – At least 22 reported tornadoes ravaged six states overnight, devastating communities and killing dozens, including more than 70 in Kentucky, during what is generally a quieter time in the United States for storms.

Tornadoes can occur any time of the year, although the greatest threat is usually in the spring and summer, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, with peak season earlier for states further south. So far this year, the days with the most tornadoes reported were March, May and July, according to a National Weather Service count.

This is what makes the latter activity so rare, experts say.

“Something like this is an unusual event for the month of December. It’s generally our quietest month for tornadoes, especially in Kentucky, ”ABC News meteorologist Rob Marciano told“ Good Morning America ”on Saturday.

It is not known if climate change could play a role in the activity, he said.

“There is no evidence that climate change has an impact on the strength of severe storms or tornadoes,” he said. “That said, getting a tornado of this strength and magnitude or length – in December – is incredibly rare.”

An average of 24 tornadoes were reported in the United States during the month of December from 1991 to 2010, according to data from the NOAA Storm Prediction Center. Last year there were 30 preliminary tornado reports in December.

At least 22 tornadoes alone were reported from Friday night to Saturday morning in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. A powerful supercell storm traveled over 200 miles from Arkansas to Kentucky and likely spawned several massive tornadoes.

Kentucky combs through the wreckage of arguably the deadliest tornado system in state history, with at least four tornadoes reported in western Kentucky.

Among the at least 70 people killed in western Kentucky, dozens were in a candle factory in Mayfield, according to Governor Andy Beshear.

“This was the most devastating tornado event in the history of our state,” Beshear said at a media briefing on Saturday. “And for those who have seen him, what he has done here in Graves County and elsewhere is indescribable. The level of devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen.

At least two people were also killed in southern Illinois, when an Amazon distribution warehouse in Edwardsville was ravaged by a tornado, officials said.

In Arkansas, two people were reportedly killed in a tornado, Governor Asa Hutchinson said.

The deadliest tornado in Kentucky history occurred on March 27, 1890, when 76 people died, according to the National Weather Service. Beshear said he expected the current death toll to exceed 100.

In more recent memory, the only F5 tornado recorded in Kentucky killed more than 30 people on April 4, 1974.

One of Kentucky’s most severe storms to hit later in the year was a multiple vortex tornado that destroyed more than 150 buildings in Hopkins County on November 15, 2005, according to the NWS. No deaths have been reported.

ABC News’ Kelly McCarthy and Dan Peck contributed to this report.

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