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Tornado in Kansas Last week's devastating tornadoes destroyed hundreds of homes and killed more than 70 people.
(Eric Nguyen / Corbis)

A Weekend of Deadly Tornadoes

Hundreds of tornadoes touch down from Oklahoma to Maryland

By Zach Jones | April 18 , 2011
<p>TOP: More than 240 tornadoes were reported in Southern and Midwestern states. (Sue Ogrocki/AP Images)</p> <p> BOTTOM: The twisters left a path of destruction from Oklahoma to Maryland. (Jim McMahon) </p>

TOP: More than 240 tornadoes were reported in Southern and Midwestern states. (Sue Ogrocki/AP Images)

BOTTOM: The twisters left a path of destruction from Oklahoma to Maryland. (Jim McMahon)

Last week, more than 240 tornadoes ripped through the Southern and Midwestern U.S. It was one of the worst tornado outbreaks ever recorded. More than 70 people were killed.

Witnesses reported 62 tornadoes on Saturday in North Carolina alone.

"It looked just like The Wizard of Oz," said North Carolina resident Audrey McKoy.

Tornadoes began in Oklahoma on Thursday, moving into Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia by the following day. The twisters reached their peak power in the Carolinas on Saturday, before heading out to sea.

A huge system of thunderstorms spawned the tornadoes. When strong winds inside thunderstorms move in different directions at different heights, the air can start to spin. When a spinning funnel cloud touches the ground, it’s officially a tornado.

The twisters damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Powerful gusts of wind uprooted trees, smashed cars, and broke power lines, taking out electricity over large areas in several states. Flooding and hailstorms worsened the already dangerous weather.

Local search-and-rescue teams spread through areas hit hardest, looking for survivors who needed help.

"There were several cases of houses being totally demolished except for one room, and that's where the people were," said Zee Lamb, a North Carolina government worker.

Tornadoes are not uncommon this time of year. Tornado season in the U.S. is from April through June.

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    Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: A Home in the Swamp

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