JOPLIN, Mo. (CBS/AP) — Despite a rising death toll that marks the single deadliest tornado in the U.S. since at least 1950, there is no evidence to attribute the storm’s ferocity to climate change, according to a local climatologist.

Before the twister that has killed 117 people, the deadliest tornado on record with the National Weather Service in the past six decades was a twister that killed 116 people in Flint, Mich., in 1953.

But Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory told KFWB 980’s Michael Shappee that the rise in frequency of tornadoes in the Midwest may be historic, but it’s not entirely uncharacteristic for the region.

“The United States is the tornado capital of the world,” Patzert said. “Almost 80 percent of the tornadoes identified across the planet happen across ‘Tornado Alley’.”

More deaths have resulted from outbreaks of multiple tornadoes.

In April, a pack of twisters roared across six Southern states, killing more than 300 people, more than two-thirds of them in

April 27 was the single deadliest day for tornadoes since 1950.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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