Though the severe weather season this year will likely become known for its destruction in the southern Plains… the actual number of tornadoes so far this year is well below normal.
Through last week… there have only been 716 preliminary reports of tornadoes in the US… compared to the 2005-2012 average of 1,221 through this date.
And So far… only one month… January… has been above average. It had 74 tornadoes… 2.3 times the average number of tornadoes.
The chance of catching up to normal or average tornado numbers through the end of the year is low.
There are 2 main reasons for the lower number of tornadoes this year. Since tornadoes require strong shear… the low numbers are a result of a lack of shear and that is tied to the lack of strong and intense weather systems
Wind shear is the change in direction or speed of wind with altitude. Strong wind shear creates rotation in the atmosphere.
So… the lack of powerful storm systems… especially during the late winter and early spring… is why the tornado numbers are lower than average.
It's important to point out that the lower numbers doesn't mean it has been an easy tornado year. At least 44 people have died in the U.S. from tornadoes this year. Two extremely destructive tornadoes devastated towns in Oklahoma in May.
An EF-5 tornado touched down in Moore, Oklahoma… killing 23. It was the first EF-5 in two years. Entire neighborhoods were flattened in Moore and an elementary school was reduced to rubble. The community is struggling to rebuild.
Despite significant tornado events this year… stronger tornadoes have been less frequent than normal.
Through early summer 2013… tornadoes rated EF-2 and stronger were running about 37 percent of normal.
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