At least 33 people have been killed after a devastating wave of tornadoes swept across the Midwest US states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, authorities said Saturday.
The fast-moving twisters on Friday demolished homes, knocked out powerlines, damaged a prison and tossed around vehicles across the region, leaving 16 people dead in Kentucky, 14 in neighboring Indiana, two more in Ohio, and one in Alabama, officials said.
“We’re not unfamiliar with Mother Nature’s wrath out here in Indiana,” Governor Mitch Daniels told CNN during a visit to the stricken southeast corner of the state on Saturday. “But this is about as serious as we’ve seen in the years since I’ve been in this job.”
Friday’s outbreak came two days after an earlier round of storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South, and forecasters at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center had said the day would be one of a handful this year that warranted its highest risk level.
By 10pm, the weather service had issued 269 tornado warnings. Only 189 warnings were issued in all of February.
“We knew this was coming. We were watching the weather like everyone else,” said Clark County, Ind., Sheriff Danny Rodden. “This was the worst case scenario. There’s no way you can prepare for something like this.”
According to the Weather Service, tornadoes killed 550 people in the US in 2011. That was the highest number of fatalities seen in almost 100 years.
The service reports that there is still a ‘moderate risk of severe thunderstorms from West Virginia to central Mississippi’. However, it has downgraded the high risk area for the time being.
ABC News Chicago talks more about the 2012 Midwest tornado outbreak in the video below:
Graphic: USA Today