A look at weather extremes and the big-picture climate connections.

Twisters Past and Present: Interactive Tornado Tracker

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By Climate Central

The heart of the tornado season is upon us, with twisters touching down in parts of the U.S. nearly every week through mid-summer. The 2012 tornado season is already off to a busy start, but fortunately not on the scale of last year’s deadly season.

The 2011 tornado season was the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1950, as 550 people were killed and about 5,400 injured, many of them during large-scale outbreaks in the Southeastern states. One tornado, an EF-5 monster, became the fourth-deadliest tornado in U.S. history and the most expensive tornado on record when it tore through Joplin, Mo., on May 24.

Now, using Climate Central’s new interactive tornado tracker, you can track tornado reports for this season and investigate reports during past years.

Using the tracker, you can look back at one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, which took place last year on April 25-28. Or you can examine one of the big events this season so far, which took place on March 2-3.

The tracker plots tornado reports from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., and is updated multiple times a day to capture breaking events. Keep in mind, though, that this tracker shows reported tornadoes, not confirmed tornadoes. The National Weather Service conducts damage assessment surveys after tornadoes are reported to determine if a tornado actually touched down, and if so, how powerful it was.

The number of tornado reports is typically greater than the number of actual tornadoes, since multiple reports can come in from storm spotters, all reporting the same single tornado at different points along its path.

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