Where are the Tornadoes?
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Hi, I'm Bryan Yeaton, and this is The Weather Notebook.
If Dorothy Gayle were on her Kansas farm last year, she might have been waiting a long time to
hitch a ride to Oz. Twister-wise, it was about as quiet as it ever gets in the Great Plains.
Up through Thanksgiving, not a single killer tornado was reported in Oklahoma, Kansas,
Nebraska or Iowa. For the nation as a whole, it was the calmest tornado year since the 1980s.
By the end of October the U.S. had been struck by 670 tornadoes. That sounds like a lot, but
it's barely half of what we've seen in recent years.
After such a calm year, November came in as quite a shock. On Sunday, November 10th, close to
100 twisters moved in a swath from Mississippi all the way up to Pennsylvania. In Ohio, a
movie theater got hammered right after an astute employee rounded up the patrons and got them
to shelter. Still, at least 37 people died in tornadoes that day, quadrupling the year's death
toll. More than half of that toll died in mobile homes, which can tear apart in even a fairly
One reason for this year's skimpy tornado total is the big drought that covered much of the
country. Tornadoes grow out of thunderstorms, so when the skies are clear and dry, you're not
likely to see many twisters. That might keep Dorothy closer to home, and be a welcome respite
for folks in tornado-prone areas.
Bob Henson contributed today's story. The Weather Notebook comes to you from the Mount
Washington Observatory. Assistant producer Doug Sanborn puts it all together. Generous support
for our show is provided by Subaru of America, and The National Science Foundation. Ask us
your weather questions at www.weathernotebook.org, or call (888) RAIN-001. That's (888)