The U.S. has been hit by 500 tornadoes in the past 30 days, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center. The spate of extreme storms, described as extraordinary by the center’s meteorologists, has left a trail of death and destruction across swathes of the United States — from New Mexico to New York.
Bill Bunting, the center’s chief of forecast operations, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that only four other 30-day periods in the official record — in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2011 — saw an excess of 500 tornado reports.
“Whether or not we can say it was unprecedented, we will figure out later, but it certainly has been unusual,” Bunting said. “It is unusual to have this kind of streak going.”
Patrick Marsh, another meteorologist at the center, noted that the most recent 500-number is still a preliminary figure and represented the number of tornadoes that have been observed by eyewitnesses over the past 30 days. The record will take months to confirm, Bloomberg said.
Wednesday marked the 14th consecutive day in which tornado sirens sounded in several states.
There have been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the past week alone, according to The New York Times. Dozens of injuries and widespread property damage have also been reported as heavy rains, powerful winds and hail have battered towns and cities, threatening the lives and safety of tens of millions of Americans.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that at least 130 people had sustained injuries in Indiana and Ohio following powerful storms there.
Kathleen Wood Howe, a 62-year-old grandmother who’s lived in Ohio for more than 23 years, told Time that the storm that ravaged the town of Kettering, outside Dayton, on Monday was the worst she’d ever experienced.
“It was a horrible night,” she said.
Fortunately, meteorologists say a respite from the devastating storm streak may be around the corner.
Weather conditions are expected to improve Thursday and into the weekend, The Times reported. Flooding, however, remains a major risk in some states.
Scroll down to see some of the storms that have ravaged the country this past week ― and some of the damage they’ve caused.