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Worst Year for Tornadoes Since 1953, Death Toll 481 So Far

Government data indicates that the current tornado season is the deadliest since 1953, with at least 481 people dead from 50 tornadoes in the South...
May 24, 2011

Government data indicates that the current tornado season is the deadliest since 1953, with at least 481 people dead from 50 tornadoes in the South and Midwest, including deaths from the May 21 twister that devastated Joplin, Missouri. On May 22, large home and commercial insurers worked to set up mobile offices and provide extra staff in Joplin, Missouri, and other communities in the Midwest that were hit by recent tornadoes.  The number of claims for the disaster is expected to be near the record level for storm damage. Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute estimated that damages from 2011 storms could be worse than any of the previous three years, which were the costliest for thunderstorm damage, costing insurers a total of $30 billion.  Hartwig said, "The newest damage makes it even more likely" that this year will be worse than 2008, 2009 and 2010. He noted, however, that insurers are in good condition to cover claims because there was only one major hurricane between 2008 and 2010 - Hurricane Ike in Texas.

Over the last 60 years only a 1953 tornado in Flint Michigan killed as many as the 116 confirmed death in Joplin. Despite the near record fatalities, meteorologists said that the storm system that generated the tornado was not unusual for this time of year.  The high death toll is attributed to the tornado's path through the commercial center of Joplin, which included a hospital, a nursing home, a row of busy restaurants and several large stores.  The winds, recorded as high as 198 miles an hour, were not unusual for the season.  The article includes a map showing the locations of deadly tornadoes that hit the U.S. so far this year and a bar graph showing the annual number of tornado related fatalities since the 1980s, based on federal government data.

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