It's domestic and it's not political, but the recent devastation caused by tornadoes in the southern United States deserves a mention here.
I've spent most of my life in "Dixie Alley," the southern adjunct of "Tornado Alley." Living in that area, you develop a healthy respect for the raw, destructive power that forms when atmospheric conditions are right.
It's a respect that has been reinforced by covering the aftermath of a deadly twister (during my days as a journalist), and having a close encounter of my own while living in Mississippi. But nothing in my experience could prepare me for what I've seen over the last 24 hours, during one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.
The numbers alone are staggering. Close to 300 fatalities across six states--despite advanced warning. Media outlets in Birmingham began covering the deadliest storm when it was still in Mississippi. Residents along its estimated, 200-mile path had an average of 20 minutes warning time and could watch the storm live on local TV.
But at least 32 people died in the city of Tuscaloosa; another 15 in the surrounding county, and 26 in metro Birmingham. Across Alabama, at least 204 people were killed, according to Governor Robert Bentley. More than 30 deaths were also recorded in Mississippi and Tennessee; there were 14 confirmed fatalities in Georgia, and other deaths were reported in Virginia and Kentucky. Experts could only speculate what the death toll might have been without advanced warning (emphasis mine).
The number of tornadoes is equally stunning. ...
Read the rest at the link to find out why Smiley is skeptical of new radar technology for NOAA.
MSNBC has more, with video from Tuscaloosa. Fox has a slide show. Greg Carbin at NOAA argues against a global warming link to tornadoes, saying that
warming trends do create more of the fuel that tornadoes require, such as moisture, but that they also deprive tornadoes of another essential ingredient: wind shear.