MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Mid-South is familiar with severe spring weather. 2011 was a record year for tornadoes that killed nearly 500 people in the U.S.
Severe weather has already taken a toll across the Ohio Valley so far this spring and the season hasn't even peaked yet.
On April 2, 2006, two tornado supercells swept across Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee, killing 26 people. It only takes one tornado event to make for a deadly spring.
According to meteorologist Jim Belles with the National Weather Service, when it comes to tornadoes, "more people die in the Mid-South than in any other part of the country."
Almost half the tornadoes in the Mid-South hit at night when people are sleeping. The Mid-South also has a higher percentage of mobile homes than other areas in the region. Plus, homes in our areas are not known to be built with basements. Storm shelters are the key to saving your life during a tornado.
"In some of the more devastating tornadoes, unless you're underground you're going to die or be injured," says Belles.
Straight-line winds can be just as deadly as a tornado. Earlier this year in January, a mobile home in Phillips County, Arkansas was destroyed by intense straight-line winds. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area and the homeowners had evacuated to a more sturdy structure.
"So, if we would have issued a severe thunderstorm warning, would they have left that trailer?" pondered Belles. "If we had issued a severe thunderstorm warning, then maybe they would've stayed in the trailer and would have died. We issue a tornado warning and it ends up a false alarm and they're alive."
That serves as just one example of why everyone in the Mid-South should take every kind of warning seriously.