Iowa Public Television


Severe Weather Rocks the South

posted on April 29, 2011

Severe thunderstorms spawned a plethora of tornadoes again this week in half-a dozen southern states, killing hundreds and wreaking havoc on anything in their path.

The National Weather Service gave the worst possible rating to a twister in Mississippi, saying it was the strongest to hit the state in 55 years.

President Obama surveyed the damage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama Friday hoping to console victims of the deadliest tornado outbreak since the 1970s.

Storms containing massive tornadoes ripped through the South Wednesday killing more than 300 people in 6 states. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said it received 137 tornado reports with some of the twisters as wide as a mile and packing winds of up to 200 miles per hour. One particularly destructive tornado was captured on videotape by a tower mounted news camera in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

As of Thursday, the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia had all issued emergency declarations for parts of their states. In Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley activated 2,000 National Guard troops to assist in the search for people still missing.

Governor Robert Bentley, (R) Alabama: "We're going to get through this. Because the people of Alabama are resilient. They care about each other. And, we're going to get through this and come out better on the other side."

According to the National Weather Service, the number of deaths is the most since a 1974 storm containing 148 tornadoes killed 315 people in 8 different states.

While conditions pale in comparison to the loss of life and massive destruction suffered in the South, Mother Nature is also creating problems for the nation's farmers.

According to USDA, only 9 percent of this year's corn has been planted in the 18 states that produce most of the nation's crop… well behind the 5-year average of 23 percent and the 46 percent that had been planted by this time last year.

And, while WET weather is delaying planting in the Corn Belt, DRY conditions have been a problem for winter wheat producers, and crop conditions continue to deteriorate. Currently, only 35% of the winter wheat crop is rated in good or excellent condition, compared to 69% one year ago.


Tags: news storms tornadoes weather