April 3, 2014 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1974 Super Outbreak of tornadoes, a series of devastating convective storms that hit 13 U.S. states over a period of 24 hours.
RMS estimates that a reoccurrence of this event today
could result in insured losses of between $7 to $8 billion.
Look at the destruction wrought on this dark day
in ’74, and some facts about the severe loss of lives
Rising heat in the equatorial Pacific Ocean portends the quietest Atlantic hurricane season in five years, Colorado
State University researchers said.
Nine named storms, with winds of at
least 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour, are
expected to develop this year, with three
of them growing into hurricanes and one
becoming a major storm, said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the forecast.
“The low forecast is due to El Niño’s likely development” in the Pacific and “cool sea
surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic,” Klotzbach said in an e-mail interview.
The Atlantic hurricane season is
watched closely by the energy, commodity and insurance industries because of
the effect hurricanes have on lives, property and markets in the U.S., Mexico and
The Gulf of Mexico is home to about
6% of U.S. natural gas output, 23% of oil
production and more than 45% of petroleum refining capacity, according to the
In 2001, Gulf waters accounted for 24%
of U.S. marketed gas production. Florida,
which has been struck by more tropical
systems than any other state, is the second-largest producer of oranges behind Brazil.
The last time the Atlantic produced only
nine named storms was 2009, which was
also a year in which an El Niño formed,
according to the National Hurricane Cen-
ter in Miami. That was the least number of
such storms since 1997, which had eight.
El Niño is important to the forecast
because warm waters in the equatorial
Pacific trigger atmospheric changes that
lead to more wind shear across the tropical Atlantic.
Shear is when winds at different altitudes blow in multiple directions or
speeds. That can tear apart the structure
of a budding tropical system, rip the top
off a hurricane or break it apart.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center has
issued an El Niño watch this year, and the
Australian Bureau of Meteorology says
the chances are greater than 70% that one
Last year, the researchers expected 18
storms, eight of them hurricanes and
three of them major systems with winds
of at least 111 mph. There were 14, two of
which became hurricanes. None was major. One of the storms was added to the
seasonal total in February after the hurricane center reanalyzed data.
The 30-year average is 12 named storms,
six hurricanes and three major systems,
according to the center. The six-month
Atlantic season begins June 1.
Atlantic Hurricane Season
By Brian K. Sullivan, Bloomberg
40 Years Later:
The 1974 Tornado
By Shawn Moynihan,