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Tornado debris study could lead to better warnings

Posted at 10:39 AM, Mar 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-18 07:01:54-04

ATLANTA (AP) - Photos and mementos that were snatched up and blown hundreds of miles by a cluster of Southern tornadoes are giving researchers new insight on how debris is carried by the storms -- and it's information that could help the public.

A new study has documented one picture's flight of almost 220 miles over Alabama and Tennessee in 2011. That is among the longest-documented trajectories of tornado debris, the researchers found.

The photo was among 934 objects in a database built by University of Georgia associate professor John Knox and his students. They say the research could aid public safety by predicting where tornado-borne toxic or radioactive debris might fall.

The research relied heavily on a Facebook page created by an Alabama woman, who posted pictures of the debris.