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Another week of tornadoes ravaged the Midwest, with the United States on track for the deadliest tornado year since 1998, when 130 people were killed. From January to May, there have been nearly 110 deaths caused by tornadoes in 2008.
According to the National Weather Service, 2008 is also likely to break the U.S. record for the number of tornadoes in a year, with a preliminary count of 1,191 twisters so far. The current record stands at 1,817 in 2004.
Storms ranging from 136-200 mph have been more prevalent than normal, more often hitting populated areas, said meteorologist Greg Carbin at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. There have been at least 22 tornadoes this year in the top part of the new Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale: 3 (for severe) or a 4 (devastating) on the 1-to-5 scale.
Some of the areas recently hit include…
Colorado: Authorities stated that a large twister, rating 3 on the EF-scale, tore through 35 miles of northern Colorado, damaging some 590 homes, with 102 rendered unlivable. One person was reported dead and dozens of others injured.
Iowa: Five people were reported dead after an EF-5 twister—the highest intensity level—demolished 288 homes, along with city buildings and schools in Parkersburg, Iowa, a town of about 1,000 residents. Governor Chet Culver declared a state of disaster in three counties.
Minnesota: A twister killed a two-year old and injured nine others after touching down in Hugo, Minn. Fifty homes were destroyed and another 150 were severely damaged. Authorities also reported twisters in Coon Rapids and Blaine.
Kansas: Two people were reported dead from a car accident caused by a tornado in the south-central part of the state.
Oklahoma: Several twisters were reported skimming across the northern part of Oklahoma, severely damaging a hog farm. No injuries were reported.
Texas: Sightings of three additional tornadoes were reported in Moore County, but details were not readily available.