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Study: Most victims knew Ala. twisters were coming

Tornado debris is burned in downtown Hackleburg, Ala., Monday, April 16, 2012. It was about 3:20 p.m. a year ago when the skies grew dark over the northwest Alabama town of Hackleburg and a tornado dropped from the sky. When it left, 18 people were dead. All but one of town's 32 commercial buildings was wiped out, including its largest employer, leaving most of the survivors without jobs. Tornado debris is burned in downtown Hackleburg, Ala., Monday, April 16, 2012. It was about 3:20 p.m. a year ago when the skies grew dark over the northwest Alabama town of Hackleburg and a tornado dropped from the sky. When it left, 18 people were dead. All but one of town's 32 commercial buildings was wiped out, including its largest employer, leaving most of the survivors without jobs. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
By Mike Stobbe
AP Medical Writer / April 27, 2012
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ATLANTA—Most of the victims of last year's epic tornado outbreak in Alabama had at least one thing in common: They knew the storm was coming.

A year after the onslaught of dozens of twisters killed at least 250 people in Alabama and more elsewhere in the South, federal researchers are completing a study of who died and where they were when it happened. Among the conclusions so far: Nearly half of the people who died had been advised to take shelter. Indeed, most of them did.

But many of the tornadoes were so fierce that few structures were able to withstand them.

Unlike in other tornado outbreaks, the largest group of people who died were in single-family houses -- not mobile homes -- the CDC analysis found.

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