As the National Weather Service Offices across the country continue to conduct damage surveys from Wednesday's tornadoes, it is certain this will go down as one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history. At the writing of this article the current death toll stands at 297, only 38 short of the Super Outbreak of 1974, the last time the U.S. saw a tornado outbreak take over 300 lives.
What is not known is the exact number of tornadoes that hit the Southeastern United States. Many national media outlets have been stating that according to the National Weather Service there have been 164 confirmed tornadoes. This is just not the case. There have been 164 official “Reports” of tornadoes (now the official report is up to 211) from Wednesday.
The word report continues to be left out during the reporting of these large tornado outbreaks. Last week it was stated over 240 tornadoes touched down when in reality the number was closer to 113. Now this is still an incredible amount of tornadoes but you see how the actual amount of tornadoes is much less than the reports.
Wednesday’s 164 reports (now 211) of tornadoes will probably be much lower in the actual count. To give you an example, there were 20 tornado reports in Alabama from just Lawrence, Limestone, and Madison Counties. This was more than likely one continuous long track EF-4(with a possible upgrade to EF-5) tornado. Six tornado reports in Alabama come from Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties where by looking at video, it is apparent this is one long track violent tornado, more than likely an EF-5.
Now I am in no way trying to take away from the incredible outbreak that occurred on Wednesday. I was alive during the Super Outbreak but have no recollection, I was only 2. So this is by far the worst tornado outbreak in my memory. Once all the damage surveys are complete this outbreak could come very close to the Super Outbreak. But until we know for a fact, I wish National media outlets would stick to the facts and not leave out key words making their statements false. I really have to believe that in 1974 if we had the communication abilities, numerous spotters and chasers, and population density that we have now, the actual tornado reports would have been closer to 500.
One thing is certain. This was a tragic event that took many lives. This one hit close to home for me. If the Madison County tornado would have veered off its course by only 200 yards, I very well could have lost my parents. A couple of houses down the street are swept clean and lives were lost. Feeling helpless here in Texas I had to watch this event on radar, knowing I did all I could by informing them they needed to take shelter. The longest five minutes of my life were the time it took to get a call to go through on my Mom’s cell phone once I saw the tornado moved off to their East. Thankfully they are still with me but my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who lost loved ones in this tragic event. I have a very bad feeling the death toll will eclipse the Super Outbreak of 1974 when everyone is accounted for……I hope I’m wrong.