Tornado Damage 20120302One of the most destructive tornado outbreaks for early March left a swath of destruction across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys yesterday, along with the rest of the Midwest and South.

As of this morning, there were reports of over 90 tornadoes in at least 10 states from Mississippi to Ohio. There were more than 400 reports of large hail and 200 damaging wind reports.

The tornado outbreak, which is very unusual for this time of year, killed at least 31 people.

Of the 31 victims, 14 lived in Indiana, 13 were in Kentucky, 3 in Ohio, and 1 in Alabama. Authorities had previously reported a total of 36 deaths but reduced that number this afternoon. It’s likely to increase again as the day wears on, however.

Tall trees were toppled. Where homes once stood, there are now piles of rubble. School buses smashed into buildings. Wooden beams sped through the air with the force of a jet airliner.

Churches became into shelters and thousands of people began to sift through the wreckage left behind by nature’s wrath.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Gordon described the weather as crazy.

“It’s just nuts right here,” he was quoted as saying yesterday during the height of the storms.

The destruction came swiftly and without hesitation.

“What we know is we’ve got complete destruction. We’re going to deal with it the best we can,” said Sgt. Jerry Goodwin of the Indiana State Police yesterday. “We’re going to come together, and we’re going to get it done.”

The National Weather Service has issued a total of 413 tornado warnings 569 thunderstorm warnings over the past 7 days, as seen in the graphic below.

Severe Weather Warnings 201203

Miraculously, a 2-year-old girl was found alive and alone, although injured, in a field in Salem, about 20 miles south of Henrysville.

She was identified and her family was notified.

Roughly 250 National Guard troops have been summoned in to help with rescue efforts and security in Henrysville, Marysville, and elsewhere, said Sgt. First Class Tina Eichenour.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said daylight revealed the extent of the catastrophic damage today and emergency crews were dispersed in several communities.

“Recovering from another round of storms will be a long-term process,” he said. “That process is always difficult, but I have seen the determination of our people, and we will rebuild and recover together. Our prayers are with every person who has been affected.”

More below.