Officials gather in Norman to discuss 2011 weather disasters

Meteorologists and officials from across the country gathered Tuesday at the National Weather Center in Norman for the first Weather-Ready Nation workshop, discussing weather events and natural disasters in 2011.
BY TIFFANY GIBSON tgibson@opubco.com Published: December 14, 2011

A few months after that, Fallin was faced with finding assistance for residents after the May 24 tornadoes swept through the state, killing 11 people. The state then faced a severe drought and an excessive heat wave that extended to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Now I'm just waiting on the locusts. Hopefully, they don't come or we'll have to find a new place to live,” Fallin said.

Other weather events, such as flooding, tornadoes and Hurricane Irene have also affected other parts of the country. Schneider said the U.S., overall, saw major property loss throughout the year because of the weather events.

On average, tornadoes kill 80 people a year, Schneider said. This year the numbers increased significantly, and the nation had the most tornado fatalities since 1936, he said.

The only year to exceed the 2011 and 1936 fatality total was in 1925, when the tri-state tornado swept through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, killing 695 people in its path.

Schneider said officials plan to have follow-up meetings to discuss similar topics from the workshop and are working on research projects that might allow meteorologists to predict tornado activity further in advance.

“There's no way to predict what the coming year will bring,” Schneider said. “We wouldn't predict a similar year this year, but we can't rule that out at this point.”