Death – Tornado Death Toll May Top 100 After Devastating Outbreak Across Six States

Death – Obituary


The death toll continues to rise from an unprecedented outbreak of tornadoes that tore through parts of the Midwest and South late Friday and early Saturday, with as many as 100 people feared dead — most in Kentucky, where at least 80 deaths have been reported.

Key Facts

Rescue efforts resumed Sunday after at least 30 tornadoes tore through a 200-mile-plus area across six states: Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

On Sunday Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said it was the state’s deadliest-ever tornado event, and confirmed at least 80 have died and that the number will likely climb to 100.

At least six people died at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois after a tornado caused the building to collapse on Friday; four were killed in Tennessee; and two each in Arkansas and Missouri, according to the Associated Press.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Deanne Criswell said Sunday that the severity and size of the storms this late in the year were “unprecedented.”

Key Background

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are without power as a result of the storms. On Sunday Criswell said the focus was still on life-saving efforts as search and rescue workers look for people still trapped. Residents are now in the process of digging out and assessing the damage, with Criswell warning it will be a “long” recovery for communities. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Kentucky on Saturday in the wake of the devastation, and has called on the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the role climate change may have played.

Crucial Quote

“This is going to be our new normal,” Criswell told CNN on Sunday. “The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation.”


While climate change has clearer links with natural disasters such as flooding and wildfires, meteorologists said warm weather played a “crucial” part in this devastating spate of tornados, according to the AP. Scientists’ understanding of the relationship between climate change and tornadoes is growing, but meteorology professor Victor Gensini told the Washington Post that, as the planet warms, it is “absolutely fair to say that the atmospheric environments will be more supportive for cool-season tornado events.” Another scientist told the Post tornadoes are still “one of the extreme events where we have the least confidence in our ability to attribute or understand the impact of climate change.”

Further Reading

“Kentucky tornadoes: up to 100 feared dead in historic US storms” (The Guardian)

“Tornadoes Tear Through South and Midwest, With at Least 70 Dead in Kentucky” (New York Times)

“Deadly tornadoes devastate communities in six states” (CNN)

“Crews search for the missing after devastating tornadoes” (Associated Press)

“At Least 77 Dead After Tornadoes Rip Through Midwest And Southern States” (Forbes)

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What Is An Obituary

In national newspapers an obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a prominent person. Although it tends to focus on positive aspects of the subject’s life this is not always the case. According to Nigel Farndale, the Obituaries Editor of The Times: “Obits should be life affirming rather than gloomy, but they should also be opinionated, leaving the reader with a strong sense of whether the subject lived a good life or bad; whether they were right or wrong in the handling of their public affairs.”

In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.