One of the most common threads on the Internet in recent days has been about how could so many people in 2011 die in a tornado outbreak? Before the advent of advance radar coverage and our current warning system, tornadoes would frequently cause the deaths of 100s of people each year. But in recent decades deaths from tornadoes have dropped dramatically until recent events.
The exact reasoning will take time to resolve as data and surveys are taken in the coming weeks. Yet, there are likely some root causes. First, the tornadoes and severe weather the previous day and earlier in that morning cut power to thousands of residents limited their access to the warnings that day. Second, the tornadoes were moving exceptionally fast with forward speeds around 50 mph. And lastly, EF-4 and EF-5 tornadoes are almost indescribably powerful and when mixed with an urban setting, the setup for a disaster is always going to be present.