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More severe weather slams the US

Tornadoes rip through the southern states of Mississippi and Alabama.
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2013 15:12
At least 82 people were injured after tornadoes ripped through states of Mississippi and Alabama [GALLO/GETTY]

Hot on the heals of Friday’s immense snowstorm, another powerful weather system has raged across North America.

In the north, the system brought heavy snow, particularly to the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota. Some towns reported over 50cm (20 inches) of snow by the time the system had cleared on Monday.

In the south, the weather was far more destructive. The unseasonably warm and humid air blowing up from the Gulf of Mexico slammed into the cold air from the north triggering a series of damaging tornadoes.

A total of 12 tornadoes were reported in a region that stretched from southern Mississippi to southwestern Alabama, although this number still has to be confirmed by the Storm Prediction Centre at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).

The most destructive tornado in the latest outbreak was rated as an EF-4, with winds estimated to be 275 kph. The strength of a tornado is measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale, a five point scale where five is the strongest possible.

This immense EF-4 tornado smashed into Lamar Country in Mississippi. It touched down for over 30 km, and injured 82 people. One of the worst hit areas was the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, but miraculously there were no deaths.

If the number of tornadoes in this outbreak is confirmed as 12, this would bring the total number of tornadoes seen in the year to 100, over 30 percent more than the average.

For the northern States, although the snow was heavy, there is hope that this winter will help to alleviate the drought that is currently gripping many parts of the US.

If the heavy snow seen this year melts slowly during the spring, the water will soak into the soil, and also to run off into rivers and lakes. This would give a much needed boost to the water levels.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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