|A victim of the massive Chinese tornado this week.|
Chinese state media said it was the worst tornado to strike the nation in at least half a century.
Meanwhile, that well-advertised outbreak of severe weather in the United States Wednesday and Thursday did indeed happen, but it really could have been worse.
More details on that toward the bottom of this post, but first, China's tornado disaster, which really was as bad as it can get, pretty much.
Rescue efforts at the scene of the Chinese tornado were being messed up by heavy rain and the risk of more hailstorms and tornadoes in the area.
Photos and video showed widespread destruction, with man buildings leveled or destroyed, cars tossed around and utilities in ruins.
Based on the photos, I'd guess the tornado was an EF4, the second strongest on the Enhanced Fujita scale, a widely used ranking system that judges the strength of tornadoes.
An EF4 woul have winds of between 166 and 200 mph.
The huge Chinese tornado was obviously just as terrifying as the big ones that sometimes strike the middle and southern parts of the United States in the spring and early summer.
"It was like the end of the world......I heard the gales and ran upstairs to shut the windows. I had hardly reached the top of the stairs when I heard a boom and saw the entire wall with windows on it torn away," local resident Xie Litian told the Chinese state news agency, according to the BBC.
Yancheng and the surrounding province of Jiangsu is on the central coast of China, well southeast of Beijing.
|More destruction from the tornado in China this week.|
The Chinese tornado proves once again that the United States isn't the only place to get big tornadoes.
This time of year, the Jiangus region in China is especially prone to dangerous storms, notes Bob Henson in a Weather Underground blog post.
A weather front often sets up and stalls over eastern China as the southwest monsoon begins to push northward in the spring and summer.
Intense thunderstorm complexes very frequently form along this front, causing severe floods, severe thunderstorms, and sometimes, tornadoes.
Storm activity is often worse in a year following an El Nino, which is the case now, Henson notes.
As expected, a big complex of severe storms got going in Illinois Wednesday and raced southeastward all the way to North Carolina by Thursday morning.
According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, there were 22 reports of tornadoes, almost all of them in Illinois, with a swath of scattered wind damage through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Luckily, the tornadoes hit in mostly rural areas, so damage and injuries weren't as bad as they could have been had they hit more populated areas. The Chicago Tribune reported four injuries from the tornadoes in Illinois, but thankfully no deaths.
Severe weather is possible across mostly the northern tier of the United States over the next few days, but no blockbuster outbreaks of dangerous weather are expected.