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Hello everyone. My name is Brandon Marshall and I work with Terry on the weather team at KGAN/KFXA television station in Cedar Rapids. Terry and the family are soaking up the sun in Mexico this week enjoying a nice, warm vacation and he asked me to take care of his blog posts for the week until he gets back. Hopefully I won't break anything. I'm not sure about you, but Spring can't come soon enough and in fact it arrives this Wednesday at 4:58 pm.

As the seasonal calendar flips to spring it also means severe weather season is right around the corner. Today marks the 94th anniversary of the deadliest tornado in United States history. The great "Tri-State Tornado." The storm claimed 695 lives, including 234 in Murphysboro, IL. The twister struck at 2:30 pm tearing through town and demolishing everything in its path including Longfellow School where 17 children perished. The photo below is the ruins of the school afterwards taken from Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

It was at least a mile wide and carved a path of destruction 219 miles long from east-central Missouri to southern Indiana and is still to this day the longest tracked tornado. There were seven other tornadoes that day which claimed an additional 97 lives.

The tornado doesn't have an "official" rating as the Fujita Scale, which was used to rate tornado intensity based on damage assessment, wasn't introduced until the early 1970's. However, many experts recognize is as an F5 which is at the top of the scale.

As I mentioned, severe weather season is approaching. Last year the tornado season got off to a late start in Iowa as the first one did not occur until May 3rd, more than a month later than usual. In all, there were 69 tornadoes that touched down across the state in 2018. Iowa typically averages 47 for any given year according to climatology over the last 30 years.

The Storm Prediction Center lists the tornado tally across the country coming into today at 173 which happens to be near normal which is represented by the gray line on the chart below.

The tornado season starts to ramp up in Iowa in April with an average of 8 occurring. May averages 11 and June averages 15, by far the most of any month. It's that time of year where everyone should start thinking about their severe weather plan and have multiple ways to get warnings.

In fact, Iowa severe weather awareness week is next week March 25-29. You can follow the National Weather Service office in the Quad Cities via Twitter HERE or Facebook HERE as they will provide information all week in how you can prepare for severe weather.

If you're interested in becoming a storm spotter you can sign up for a class hosted by the National Weather Service. It's free of charge and open to the public. They usually last 2 hours and will cover severe weather hazards including thunderstorms, tornadoes and give tips on identifying storm structure and features. Storm spotters are essential in relaying vital storm information to the National Weather Service which helps in many ways and can lead to advanced warning time for the public. Classes are offered through mid-April and you can find out more information about classes and training by clicking HERE. I actually took a class about five years ago and do recommend it. Even if you are just curious about thunderstorms and weather you will definitely learn a lot.

That's all I have to offer you today. Thanks for reading and as Terry likes to say... roll weather!

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