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South's 'super tornado' outbreak may be worst ever in US history

Storm forensics experts have begun to put into historical perspective the massive twister outbreak that hit Alabama and six other Southern states. The Tuscaloosa twister alone may register as the most powerful long-track tornado in US history.

Brooke Carbo helps a friend pack up what's left of her Alberta City, Alabama, apartment which stood right in the path of the deadly storm which hit the southern region of the United States. A string of powerful tornadoes caused massive devastation, killing at least 350 people.


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The king of a series of massive long-track tornadoes that clobbered the South this week may have traveled in excess of 220 miles across Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, carrying wind speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, all of which could make it the most powerful tornado ever recorded in the US.

The only rival so far is the 1925 "Tri-State Tornado" that ripped through the upper Midwest on a 219 mile track, killing over 700 people. That tornado traveled at up to 73 miles per hour. Wednesday's Tuscaloosa super tornado may not have reached those land speeds, but, taken in combination with up to a dozen other potential EF-5 tornadoes spawned from Wednesday's storms, several aspects of the Tuscaloosa twister and the outbreak as a whole may be unprecedented.

Some 211 tornadoes were reported within a few hours' span on Wednesday, including a series of so-called long-track twisters that raked across six states, killing at least 350. Among that twister outbreak, the Tuscaloosa tornado is likely to have resulted in most of Alabama's 228 reported casualties as it tracked to the northeast after hitting Tuscaloosa, crushing neighborhoods like Pleasant Grove in Birmingham and continuing into Cherokee County, where it flattened homes near Spring Garden. Debris from Tuscaloosa was recovered in Rome, Ga., 178 miles away.

IN PICTURES: Alabama tornadoes


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