Here's What We Know About the Deadly Tornadoes That Tore Through Kentucky - DMT NEWS

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Here's What We Know About the Deadly Tornadoes That Tore Through Kentucky

A series of devastating tornadoes ripped through western Kentucky and four other states this weekend, leaving dozens dead and utter destruction in its wake. 

The most extensive damage came in Kentucky, where at least 60 appeared to have died Friday and Saturday. More than a dozen people have been confirmed dead in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. 

“This event is the worst, most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky history,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during a Saturday press briefing

Workers on the job

Those killed in the tornadoes included workers in factories, including at least eight at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky. More than 90 people were working there Friday night as the factory was running “24/7” to meet demand, Kentucky Congressman James Comer told CNN. On Sunday, the company said at least eight people were still missing.

Initially, more than 40 people at the factory were unaccounted for, said Beshear. But on Sunday, the candle company said that after initial trouble reaching the missing workers, more than 90 of the 110 workers at the factory had been located. Beshear added Sunday that the death toll in Kentucky state could now be closer to 50, when previously he’d said it could top 100.

“We are praying that maybe original estimates of those we have lost were wrong,” Beshear told the Associated Press. “If so, it’s going to be pretty wonderful.” 

Six workers at an Amazon delivery depot in Edwardsville, Illinois were also confirmed dead after an tornado registering EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale—meaning wind speeds of up to 165 miles per hour with severe damage—ripped through the building, partially collapsing it. The company told the New York Times that the tornado formed in the distribution center’s parking lot

“I felt like the floor was coming off the ground,” driver Alonzo Harris told the New York Times. “I felt the wind blowing and saw debris flying everywhere, and people started screaming and hollering and the lights went out.”

‘The definition of hell on earth’

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for eight Kentucky counties Sunday, giving the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the power to coordinate the response and provide assistance to people in the affected areas.

Beshear declared a state of emergency Saturday and activated nearly 200 members of the state National Guard as well as the Kentucky State Police to aid in rescue and relief efforts. The governor said that more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed by the tornadoes. 

“It's the definition of hell on earth,” one man in Mayfield told Reuters. “People's lost everything, it's just terrible.” 

Beshear said entire communities were obliterated by the tornadoes, including half of his family’s hometown of Dawson Springs. “I have got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean, gone,” he told CNN

“My dad's hometown, half of it isn't standing. It is hard to describe,” Beshear said, adding: “You think you would go door to door to check on people and see if they're OK. There are no doors.”

More than 200,000 people in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois were without power as of Saturday, according to PowerOutage.US. As of Monday morning, more than 26,000 Kentuckians still didn’t have power, according to PowerOutage.US

A December tornado outbreak

The tornadoes began Friday evening and made their way northeast, tearing through an entire swath of the country until Saturday morning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. At least one of the tornadoes stayed on the ground for 227 miles, Beshear told CNN Sunday, including more than 200 miles in Kentucky. 

If that’s confirmed, it would break a record set in March 1925 for longest continuous tornado path. 

The National Weather Service received reports of 37 separate tornadoes and issued 146 warnings Friday and Saturday, the most warnings it’s ever given during a single December event, according to the Washington Post

Though tornadoes can happen year round, December has been unusually warm and humid in much of the country including the affected areas, which is where tornado conditions thrive. “One word: remarkable; unbelievable would be another,” Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini told the AP. “It was really a late spring type of setup in the middle of December.”

It’s unclear to what extent tornado activity is directly impacted by climate change, but a paper Gensini co-authored in 2018 found that since 1979, the Midwest and southeast United States has seen a “robust” increase in tornado activity.

Taken together, Gensini said, the “statistics are pretty clear that not only has there sort of been a change—a shift, if you will—of where the greatest tornado frequency is happening,” Gensini said in an interview with CNN. "These events are becoming perhaps stronger, more frequent and also more variable.” 



via https://www.DMT.NEWS

Paul Blest, Khareem Sudlow