In April 4 IssueRussell County News
It was May in 1933; in 1971 it was April and in 1974 it was the end of March when tornadoes brought devastation to Russell County.
Thirty-six were killed and 87 were injured in this and surrounding counties during the '33 cyclones, as they were called then.
Two were killed during '71 twister and 72 were injured in Russell County alone.
Both of those storms were estimated to be F4, the second worst possible on the Fagita scale
The '74 storm was reported as an F3. Though the damage was far less here but that storm was one of over 100 that struck from the Deep South to the Midwest.
According to eyewitnesses at the time the '71 storm was far more destructive than either of the other storms.
A portion of the roof on Salem Elementary School was blown off but many homes barns and outbuildings were completely demolished.
The National Weather Service has listed other tornadoes in 1983, '84 and in 1997, but all of those passed without loss of life and were rated F1 or less.
Now watches, and the more serious warnings, are issued over weather radios, emergency services channels as well as commercial television and weather stations.
The NWS has credited the extensive tornado research and improvements such as the Doppler Radar systems for the early warning that is saving more lives during storms.
A more common weather killer is lightning. Kentucky is listed by the weather service as 20th deaths and injuries, and 16th in property damage nationally.
They estimated between 50 and 90 people are killed every year in the U.S. by lightening.
Statistically only 20 percent of those struck die immediately, leaving the other 80 to suffer varying degrees of injury.
Another weather service statistic shows that men are more likely to be struck by lightning than women are; 84 percent of fatalities and 82 percent of injuries were to men.
A national sports league issued this warning to their players, "Once the leading edge of a thunderstorm approaches to within 10 miles, you are at immediate risk due to the possibility of lightning strokes coming from the overhanging anvil cloud. Because of this, many lightning deaths and injuries occur with clear skies directly overhead. Average Lightning stroke is 6-8 miles long Average thunderstorm is 6-10 miles wide. Average thunderstorm travels at a rate of 25 miles per hour. On average, thunder can only be heard over a distance of 3-4 miles, depending on humidity, terrain, and other factors."
News reports show that a rain storm, or even clouds are not necessary in the area for lighting to kill. In Forney Texas a bolt blasted 30 players and coaches to the ground sending 15 to the hospital with injuries varying from cardiac arrest to burns.
In 2005 a football player was killed while cheerleaders and other players standing near him were hospitalized by a lightning strike.
Sports aren't necessary for lightning to kill, a man this month was simply walking along the beach as a bolt killed him. According to reports 6 others have been injured this year already by lightning, and last year 27 were killed and 302 were injured.
In keeping with NWS statistics 22 of the fatalities were men while all but 60 of those injured were male.
But even that isn't the biggest weather killer. The Flood Safety Education Program reports 200 people a year are killed in the us by floods.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 50 percent of those who die in floods die in their vehicle.
The flooding in the Dakotas presently underway has killed at least two people.
Though most die in their cars the other most common way the NWS reports that flooding kills people is walking or playing along swollen streams or drainage ditches.