City manager Mark Rohr announced the number of known dead at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly 6 miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town. Much of the city's south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins.It has been less than a month since tornadoes in Alabama took the lives of at least 300 people.
The twisters rampaged through cities like Tuscaloosa, Ala., forced a pair of nuclear plants to go off line, left thousands homeless and more than a million people without power.
NOAA said it was the worst tornado outbreak since 1974, when storms killed 315 people. The deadliest tornado outbreak on record was on March 18, 1925, when 695 people died.
Beyond the heartbreak associated with the tragic deaths, tens of thousands of persons have had their lives turned upside down, and the resilience of families and communities will be severely tested over the next several months as the rebuilding proceeds.