Midwest and Southeast US Tornadoes: Fast Facts

Deadly tornadoes have left a trail of destruction in the midwestern and southeastern United States, flattening buildings and knocking out power. Learn more about the tornadoes and how you can help survivors through community-led relief efforts.


1. Unusually severe conditions are creating an outbreak of tornadoes.

More than 300 confirmed tornadoes have impacted the US in 2023, making it one of the most active starts to a year on record. The most recent Midwest tornadoes have added to weeks of destruction across the country. A typical tornado path is 1-2 miles. But the tornado that touched down in Mississippi on April 24 tore across almost 60 miles for more than an hour. In the past seven decades, less than 1 percent of tornadoes in the US have traveled more than 50 miles, according to National Weather Service data.

With winds reaching 177 mph, officials have given the tornado a preliminary rating of 4 out of 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. That puts it in the top 2 percent in terms of wind speed and damage caused. It was one of the deadliest tornadoes to hit Mississippi, killing at least 21 people there and injuring dozens.

The severe storms responsible for this and other tornadoes that ripped through the Southeast trapped people in their homes and knocked out power in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
Source: Popular Science + National Weather Service + The Washington Post + CNN + NPR

Help survivors by donating to GlobalGiving’s Midwest and Southeast US Tornado Relief Fund.


2. Thousands of people have been affected by the record-breaking tornadoes.

The mayor of Rolling Fork said the storm hit so quickly that the sheriff had little time to set off the tornado sirens and warn the town of 2,000 residents. An estimated 80-85 percent of the town was destroyed. Residents describe Rolling Fork as obliterated. Roughly 21 percent of the town’s population lives below the poverty line, and 30 percent lives in mobile homes, which are significantly more vulnerable to damage. The storm left more than 83,000 homes and businesses in parts of Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi without power by early Saturday. By Monday morning, more than 10,000 customers were still affected by power outages.

The latest wave of weather brought the Midwest tornadoes and caused widespread destruction as the third in the deadly series of storms. Forecasters are wary of more severe storms as the especially active storm season continues.
Source: Popular Science + US Census + CNN + The Associated Press

3. Severe storms threatened more than 20 million people across the South, the Midwest, and the Northeast.

Recovery efforts continued last week despite the threat of more severe weather in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois, and Alabama. Parts of central and southern Mississippi saw thunderstorms, heavy rains, and tennis ball-sized hail on April 25. That storm system started in California earlier in the week, where Los Angeles County was hit with the worst tornado since 1983. It continued east, causing deadly floods in Arizona and gaining strength as it moved over the central US. Flood and tornado watches and warnings were still in effect for much of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi on the morning of April 27. Since then, confirmed or suspected tornadoes have been reported in 11 states, destroying homes and businesses.

The most recent storms hit southeast Missouri early Wednesday. As the cleanup proceeds, the death toll continues to rise. More than 50 fatalities have been reported over the past two weeks.
Source: Popular Science + Mississippi Clarion Ledger + NPR + USA Today + CNN + NPR + The New York Times

4. The climate crisis could be making weather events like this more severe.

Historically, less than 10 percent of severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes. Both phenomena usually intensify in March and concentrate in Southern states. In recent years, March has been especially active, with 236 tornadoes recorded in 2022. That’s the most since March 1950. Experts say the climate crisis impacts the conditions in which tornadoes form and could lead to changes in when and where the US sees them in the future.

Scientists are not yet able to determine whether the ferocity and frequency of tornadoes are linked to climate change. But researchers can say that in recent years, tornadoes have been forming in greater clusters, and the region known as Tornado Alley seems to be shifting eastward.
Source: NPR + The Weather Channel + Popular Science + The New York Times

5. GlobalGiving partners are already on the ground helping survivors access food, shelter, and other emergency services.

GlobalGiving’s Disaster Response Team is working with responding partners to meet the immediate needs of tornado survivors. Once urgent needs are met, the GlobalGiving Midwest and Southeast US Tornado Relief Fund will transition to support community-led, long-term recovery efforts as needed.
Source: GlobalGiving Midwest and Southeast US Tornado Relief Fund

6. Cash is the best way to help people in need during a natural disaster like the tornadoes in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Why? Survivors’ needs vary greatly throughout the life cycle of recovery. Some will require financial support, medical care, and psychological assistance years later. You can learn more about the importance of cash donations in this infographic.
Source: GlobalGiving + USAID Center for International Disaster Information

Help communities hit hardest by the tornados in the Midwest and Southeast through GlobalGiving and fuel community-led recovery.


Featured Photo: Yvonne Hayes looks out at the pile of debris, Saturday, March 25, 2023, after the roof and the north wall of her house were both removed by a storm the night before in Amory, Miss. by AP Photo/Jim Lytle

Note: This article was originally published at 1:23 p.m. on March 28, 2023 and last updated at 8:35 a.m. on April 7, 2023.

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