'Is No Season Safe?': What's Behind Friday's Tornado Outbreak?

·5 min read
Tamara Yekinni hugs a friend outside a shelter in Wingo, Kentucky, after residents were displaced by a tornado that caused severe damage in the area. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)
Tamara Yekinni hugs a friend outside a shelter in Wingo, Kentucky, after residents were displaced by a tornado that caused severe damage in the area. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

ACROSS AMERICA — Good morning! It’s Wednesday, Dec. 15. The month is half over, and while it seems impossible, it won’t be long before we’re making resolutions and celebrating the start of a new year. Until then, here are the headlines we’re following today:

  • Is climate change behind recent deadly twisters? Probably, some experts say.

  • Drugmaker Pfizer said its COVID-19 pill is effective.

  • New Jersey residents are paying tribue to a homeless man who “looked like Jesus.”

  • Someone skipped the change, opting to drop a grenade in an Illinois Salvation Army kettle.

The deadly cluster of twisters that tore across multiple states Friday, killing at least 88 people, may be the latest example of extreme weather wrought by the warming of the planet, climate scientists say.

The storm, which killed 74 people in Kentucky alone, had already been called one of the deadliest and longest lasting in U.S. history. More than 30 tornadoes cut a path of destruction about 250 miles long; and if viewed as a single tornado event, it would be the longest on record in the United States.

That alone doesn't mean the storm system was spawned by climate change, but some experts say an analysis of the data is likely to support that.

"In my 40 years as a meteorologist, this was one of the most shocking weather events I've ever witnessed," says Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Yale Climate Connections. "Watching these storms on Friday night, my thought was, 'Is no season safe?' Extreme tornadoes in December. That was mind-blowing to me." » Did Climate Change Fuel Deadly Twisters? Probably, Scientists Say, via Across America Patch

Other storm coverage:

Pfizer Confirms COVID Pill Efficacy

Drugmaker Pfizer this week said its experimental pill to treat COVID-19 appears effective against the omicron coronavirus variant. The company also said full results of its 2,250-person study confirmed the pill's promising early results against the virus: The drug reduced combined hospitalizations and deaths by about 89 percent among high-risk adults when taken shortly after initial COVID-19 symptoms. Separate laboratory testing shows the drug retains its potency against the omicron variant. » Pfizer Confirms COVID Pill's Results, Potency Versus Omicron, via Across America Patch

Opioid Settlement Nears

Thousands of towns across the United States are on the precipice of receiving billions of dollars in the second-biggest legal settlement in U.S. history. The $26 billion from three drug distributors and a pharmaceutical manufacturer would address damage wrought by opioids, which the federal government declared in 2017 was a public health emergency. States, counties and cities face a deadline in three weeks to sign onto the settlement, and most states have agreed to do so. But a few holdouts remain. » Cities Wracked By Opioids Close To Getting $26B Settlement, via Across America Patch

Intern At Patch

For the second year in a row, hyperlocal news network Patch is looking to hire paid editorial interns for the spring, summer and fall semesters of 2022. Interns undergo weekly training ranging from understanding and taking advantage of public records to libel law to photography best practices. Apply for an upcoming semester.

More national headlines on Patch:

Marines Robert Field and Robert O'Malley reunite 56 years after O'Malley saved Field's life when they were both hit by shrapnel and bullets while serving in the Vietnam War. O'Malley received the Medal of Honor. (Skyla Luckey/Patch)
Marines Robert Field and Robert O'Malley reunite 56 years after O'Malley saved Field's life when they were both hit by shrapnel and bullets while serving in the Vietnam War. O'Malley received the Medal of Honor. (Skyla Luckey/Patch)

Around ‘The Patch’

Heroes Reunion: Two Marine veterans who fought in Vietnam in 1965 — one was severely injured and the other who was his rescuer — reunited at a Florida VFW after more than 50 years, via Bloomingdale-Riverview Patch

Homeless Man ‘Looked Like Jesus’: When Robert Helmeck — a tall homeless man who wandered the streets of Hoboken, New Jersey, for four decades — died six weeks ago, people instantly recognized the description of him in his obituary: "Homeless man who looked like Jesus has died.” Now, residents are paying tribute to the man, via Hoboken Patch

More local news:

House Hunting

If you’re ready for greener pastures and wide-open spaces, check out this equestrian ranch for sale in Huntersville, North Carolina. Featuring a two-story living room, a horse barn, and 23 acres of private land, this home offers a perfect amount of privacy.

This Day In History

In 1939, the film “Gone with the Wind,” a romantic tale of the American South around the Civil War, premiered this day in Atlanta, Georgia.

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This article originally appeared on the Across America Patch