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Volume 27, Issue 4

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The Week of 413 Tornadoes

Written by  Michael R. Smith November 22, 2007

Sirens wail. Television and radio stations interrupt programming. People take shelter. Basement stairs took a beating from May 4-10, 2003, as 413 tornadoes occurred from California to Virginia – more tornadoes than in any other one-week period since 1950, the year reliable records became available. This was a week like no other. Major cities like Kansas City and Oklahoma City were hit. Small towns like Franklin, Kan., were nearly wiped off the map. To put the scope of this event in perspective, consider just one day, May 8, 2003: Funnel clouds (tornadoes aloft) were photographed over downtown Sacramento. A tornado near Denver International Airport was broadcast live on national television. Oklahoma City was hit in the same area as the devastating May 3, 1999, tornado (and would be hit again the following evening). A large tornado barely visible through haze and rain near Lyndon, Kan., continued northeast to hit the town of Lawrence, damaging homes and apartments,

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