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Somber searches resume as tornado outbreak leaves heartland reeling

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“We are going to continue to hit every county road that we know of that there are homes on and search those homes,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin told the Associated Press. “We have whole communities and whole neighborhoods that are completely gone. We’ve had a terrible, terrible tragedy here.”

The storm was unusual in and of itself, but what was called a one-in-20-year event was made more so by the fact that it came less than a year after a historic tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011, that left hundreds dead and billions in damage, mostly in Alabama.

Earlier this week, Greg Carbin, a forecaster with NOAA's Storm Forecasting Center in Norman, Okla., said the climatological odds were long that the country would see two extremely active tornado seasons in a row, although forecasters have predicted higher-than-usual numbers of twisters this year.

This week, however, America saw two massive tornado-spewing systems move through the same part of the country in the span of three days. On Wednesday, a system that spawned more than 20 tornadoes killed 13 people in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee, leveling parts of Harrisburg, Branson, Mo., and Harveyville, Kan.

On Friday, Doppler radar maps again were showing huge swaths of red, indicating intense atmospheric turbulence as spring-time warmth clashed with late-winter cold fronts, as sirens blared and Americans raced for cellars and other shelter.

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