Multiple homes in Hattiesburg, Miss., show damage following the severe weather and tornadoes that swept through the area on Jan. 21-22, 2017. (Thomas Mahaffy/FEMA)

Deadly Tornadoes Reveal New Disaster Patterns in the Southeast

On March 3, seven devastating tornadoes tore across a 50-mile-plus swath of Tennessee, killing around 25 people and destroying hundreds of buildings. The winds reached up to 165 miles an hour during the worst storm, which was categorized as a “Strong” EF3 twister—one notch below the EF4 and EF5 “Violent” category.

In addition to dangerously high speeds, the tornadoes took Tennesseans by surprise: They occurred between about 10 p.m. Monday and 2 a.m. Tuesday, when most people were asleep. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Davidson, Sumner, and Wilson counties at 12:35 a.m., but evacuation numbers were likely still low.

“The intensity of the tornadoes and the weak structures filled with sleeping people in their path were a recipe for disaster,” says Kelsey Ellis, a hazard climatologist at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Read more at Popular Science

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