The tropics are quiet today, but tornado alley in the Midwestern U.S. saw its worst tornado in 7 years last night when a 3/4 mile wide tornado cut a 20-mile long swath of damage just north of Evansville, Indiana. Tornado warnings were issued 30 minutes in advance, but many of the 22 people who died probably never heard the sirens, which hit at 2 am local time. Near-record warm temperatures helped fuel the line of thunderstorms that spawned the tornado. The high temperature in Evansville was 77 F yesterday, 1 degree shy of the record. The temperature was still 70 at 1 am, shortly before the tornado hit.
2005 has seen tornado activity about 10% below average, according to statistics compiled by the Storm Prediction Center
. In fact, May of 2005 was the first May since record keeping began that the state of Oklahoma saw no tornadoes. But this morning's Evansville tornado was the most deadly in the U.S. since the Oak Grove, Alabama tornado of April 8, 1998 killed 32. This morning's tornado brings this year's tornado death toll to 32, which is still well below the average of 46 tornado deaths for a typical year.