May 1, 2011
Some of the killer tornadoes that ripped across the South may have been among the largest and most powerful ever recorded, experts suggested, leaving a death toll that is approaching that of a tragic “super outbreak” of storms almost 40 years ago.
Chris Weiss, a tornado expert at Texas Tech University, said the storm that spawned that tornado formed in Mississippi and “lasted over 300 miles, and even for a super cell that’s pretty long.”
La Niña is an unusual cooling of the water in the tropical Pacific Ocean that can change weather patterns around the world. The federal Climate Prediction Center said last month that La Niña conditions were weakening but could continue to affect weather for months. Weiss said there is no scientific consensus on whether climate change played a role in this series of powerful storms. “The problem is trying to relate a climate signal to a specific weather event is always dangerous,” he said.