The year 2011 has been an historic and deadly year for tornadoes in the United States. First, there were a record 875 tornadoes in April, smashing the previous one-month record (542 in May 2003). A total of 305 tornadoes swept across the Southeast, mostly Mississippi and Alabama, from April 25 to April 28, making it the largest four-day tornado outbreak in the nation’s history. The outbreak resulted in at least 321 deaths, the most in the U.S. from an outbreak since 1936.
The damage had not even been cleared from those tornadoes before a monstrous tornado tore through the heart of Joplin, Missouri, the afternoon of May 22. The tornado leveled a large part of the city, killed 154 people and injured around 1,000. The Joplin tornado ranks as the deadliest tornado since 1947. Thanks to today's better forecasting, and improved warning procedures, there have been fewer casualties from tornadoes in the past half-century. A look at the 10 deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history begs the question of how many of the deaths from those storms could have been avoided today.