The Most Dangerous Tornado Days in History

By Karen Araiza
|  Thursday, Apr 28, 2011  |  Updated 5:07 PM EDT
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Going underground may have been the only way to survive Wednesday's fierce tornadoes for some victims. NBC10 Meteorologist Glenn

NBC Philadelphia

Going underground may have been the only way to survive Wednesday's fierce tornadoes for some victims. NBC10 Meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz talks about that outbreak, how it compares to the most dangerous day in tornado history and the legendary story of weather icon Gary England and the 1999 Oklahoma tornado.

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Wednesday will go down in history as one of the most severe weather outbreaks on record, according to NBC10 Meteorologist Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz.

The worst day was April 3, 1974.

"The warnings were coming over just one after another, after another, after another. It was just unreal. And there were a bunch of F5 tornadoes, the strongest that are possible. Some of them went through some major cities and there were well over 300 fatalities," Schwartz explains.

Even though alert systems now are better than they were nearly 40 years ago, even if you know an F5 tornado is coming, like the one that hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama yesterday, sometimes you can't really protect yourself.

"Just going into the interior closet or bathroom isn't going to help if an F5 is coming, it just wipes out that house, completely," Glenn said.

Sometimes the only way to survive the fierceness of an F5 tornado is to be underground, which is why Oklahoma Meteorologist Gary England's 1999 forecast is legendary.

"He saw this gigantic tornado, which turned out to be an F5, coming toward the southern portion of Oklahoma City. And he went on the air and he said, 'This is one of those tornadoes where the only way to survive it if you are in its path is to be underground. You have to find a basement or a storm cellar or to get out of the way," Glenn recalled.

He thinks that yesterday may have been one of those days for Alabama's tornado victims.

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