Incredible footage taken from the cockpit of a plane at 45,000ft shows the towering supercell that led to the tornado that has killed 88 people in the US.
The video, captured by a pilot flying above Memphis, Tennessee, shows lightning illuminating the huge storm cloud as it gathered Friday.
The tornado went on to tear a 200-mile path through six states in the Midwest and South, demolishing homes, leveling businesses and setting off a scramble to find survivors beneath the rubble.
Incredible footage taken from the cockpit of a plane at 45,000ft shows the towering supercell that led to the tornado that has killed 88 people in the US
The pilot was flying cross country at a high altitude to avoid the significant weather impacts near the Mississippi River Region when he captured the footage.
The top of the cloud was right in front of the cockpit in the awe-inspiring footage which reveals the magnitude of the storm.
Supercells are colossal storm systems caused by mesocyclones, rotating updrafts that can span several miles and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes.
Kentucky bore the brunt of the latest devastation with 74 confirmed deaths after it was struck by 30 tornadoes that ripped across the Midwest, killing another 14 people in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.
The video, captured by a pilot flying above Memphis, Tennessee, shows lightning illuminating the huge storm cloud as it gathered Friday
Brick houses in Cambridge Shores, Kentucky, were torn down during the huge storms that caused devastation across the Midwest, killing dozens
Many homes were destroyed in the tornado with roofs and balconies ripped off during the freak weather in Cambridge Shores
The storm destroyed thousands of buildings in Mayfield as it passed through Kentucky Friday night
They left a trail of wreckage in its wake that stretched from Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed, to Illinois, where an Amazon distribution center was heavily damaged.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear said the death toll could grow as authorities continued to work around debris that slowed recovery efforts.
Nearly 450 National Guard members have been mobilized in the state, and 95 of them are searching for those presumed dead.
Across the state, about 26,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, according to poweroutage.us, including nearly all of those in Mayfield.
More than 10,000 homes and businesses had no water as of Monday, and another 17,000 are under boil-water advisories, Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett told reporters.
Cambridge Shores was one of the worst hit areas in all of Kentucky, and some residents are still unaccounted for as rescue workers comb through the leveled terrain
Heavy damage is seen after a tornado swept through Cambridge Shores in Gilbertsville, Kentucky, with debris strewn across the area
The state was by far the worst struck on Friday night by 30 tornadoes that ripped across the Midwest, killing another 14 people in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.
Many residents’ personal belongings were blown up to 130 miles away, and now people are reuniting devastated families who lost everything with pieces of their lives that turned up in unusual places.
Midwesterners have taken to social media to locate the owners of pictures, Bibles, baby quilts, Christmas ornaments and other keepsakes after deadly tornadoes swept across six states this weekend.
A Facebook group, Quad State Tornado Found Items, is flooded with posts detailing items – and even pets – that people have found. In many cases, the owners lived 100 miles away from where their belongings ended up.
A black and white photo of a woman in a striped sundress and headscarf holding a little boy on her lap traveled almost 130 miles in winds that reached up to 140 miles per hour in the storm.
HOW DOES A SUPERCELL TORNADO FORM?
Recent supercomputer simulations revealed a glimpse at the catastrophic conditions inside a tornado-producing supercell thunderstorm.
In the simulation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, scientists used real-world observational data from the deadly ‘El Reno’ tornado in 2011.
New simulations have revealed a glimpse at the conditions inside a tornado-producing supercell thunderstorm
The atmospheric sounding from the archived data revealed the vertical profile of temperature, air pressure, wind speed, and moisture for the tornado.
There are a number of factors said to be ‘non-negotiable’ in the formation of a tornado, the researchers explained.
This includes abundant moisture, instability and wind shear in the atmosphere, and a trigger that moves the air upwards, like temperature or moisture difference.
But, this doesn’t always mean a storm will happen.
‘In nature, it’s not uncommon for storms to have what we understand to be all the right ingredients for tornadogenesis and then nothing happens,’ said Leigh Orf, a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS).
‘Storm chasers who track tornados are familiar with nature’s unpredictability, and our models have shown to behave similarly.’