Damage caused by a tornado
The town of Joplin, Mo., has been devastated by a tornado, but may be visited by another one soon. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The city of Joplin, Mo., has been devastated by tornadoes and may have to brace for a second tornado outbreak. Weather reports indicate a storm front is converging on the lower Midwest that will bring heavy rain, winds and a strong possibility of tornadoes. The storm front is converging on five states, and all are at risk of tornado outbreak.

Five states face high risk of tornadoes

A storm system started in the southern United States and produced tornadoes, including the twister that tore into the town of Joplin, Mo., and killed at least 116 people on Sunday, May 22, and a new storm front is already forming, according to MSNBC. A thunderstorm advisory is in effect for Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and the northeast corner of Texas, and people are told to watch for tornadoes, hail and strong winds throughout the region. A National Weather Service official was quoted as saying that the risk of tornado outbreaks is “not through … not by a long shot.” There could be more tornadoes just as devastating as the one that struck Joplin, according to USA Today, though the risk will diminish throughout the week as the storm system passes by.

La Nina years bring greater storms

Tornadoes have been the cause of 482 deaths this year. The increased strength of storm systems and tornadoes is being credited to La NiƱa, a periodic weather phenomenon caused when the tropical Pacific Ocean cools. When the Pacific cools, jet streams become stronger as a result of more cool air rising into the atmosphere, causing storm systems to become more severe and increasingly prone to tornadoes. Meteorologists, according to Yahoo News, are noting that while the tornado outbreaks in the Midwest have been devastating, none of these events are out of the ordinary. Weather patterns, such as low pressure systems conducive to tornadoes, can form in areas and stay for long periods of time. Last month, several tornadoes tore across several states and killed more than 300 people.

Insurance losses in the billions

Insurance companies are projected to post losses in the billions, according to Reuters. The recent Mississippi river flooding and other natural disasters in the United States such as tornado outbreaks are expected to cost various insurance companies up to $10 billion this year, compared to a normal year’s outlays of $2 billion to $4 billion. Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand could cost American and foreign insurance companies more than $55 billion. There have been 1,151 tornadoes in 2011, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is busy rebuilding weather battered towns. The Joplin tornado was the deadliest single tornado since 1947, when 181 people were killed by a tornado that touched down in Woodward, Okla. The Joplin tornado was, at one point, three-quarters of a mile across and generated wind speeds of nearly 200 miles an hour.

Sources

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43147795/ns/weather/

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/weather/storms/tornadoes/2011-05-23-tornadoes-hit-plains_n.htm

Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_sci_midwest_storms_science;_ylt=AjjcCUBXXogIBRiQGeOupzqs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNjM21oOHRnBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNTI0L3VzX21pZHdlc3Rfc3Rvcm1zBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDMQRwb3MDNgRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yeQRzbGsDcmVsYXRlZA–

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/24/us-insurance-disasters-idUSTRE74M6GH20110524

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