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Spring is here! While that means longer days, more sunlight, warmer weather, and the return of color to the natural world, it also means something more unpleasant: the start of tornado season.
While tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, tornado season is a traditional period of peak activity from March through early July. Each year, an average of 1,200 tornadoes touch down in the United States, and the vast majority form in the spring and early summer. Similarly, while tornadoes can touch down just about anywhere in North America, they are most likely to occur in the area known as “Tornado Alley,” which runs roughly from the Central Plains from Texas to Nebraska. Within that area, Texas has the highest number of tornadoes, with an average of 124 each year.
On average, Tornadoes kill about 70 Americans each year, and injure another 1,500. Then there are years like last year, with approximately 1,900 tornadoes, 550 deaths, and more than 5,300 injuries. That’s a 63% increase in tornadoes, and a nearly eight-fold increase in deaths! Those statistics make 2011 the second worst year for tornadoes in United States history, after 1925, the year the infamous Tri-State Tornado killed 695 people in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.
The opening months of 2012 have already brought us more than 60 tornadoes, including some big ones at the end of February and beginning of March. Tornado season is just getting started and we have already seen 55 deaths. So, will we see another year like last year?
In the 2012 Farmers’ Almanac, we predicted a pretty active tornado season in the Midwest, primarily in May and June. While tornado season is just getting geared up for the year, we don’t expect this year’s season to be quite as fatal as last year’s. A season like 2011 is extremely rare, occurring only once in several decades.
Want a more detailed predictions of when and where tornadoes will hit in the coming months? Visit our long-range forecast!