2023 Mid-Year Tornado Activity Recap
Despite being only halfway through the year, 2023 is already on its way to becoming one of the deadliest and most destructive years for tornado activity in United States history. While the remaining months of summer and the upcoming fall are not traditionally included in “tornado season,” or you may not live in the well-known “Tornado Alley,” it is important to remember that a tornado can happen at any time or place. This blog reviews the current number of tornadoes in 2023, discussing their locations, impacts and how residents and business owners can be better prepared for a tornadic event.
Current Number of Tornadoes In 2023
So far there have been 755 confirmed tornadoes with an additional 220 nonconfirmed tornado reports. In fact, the number of tornadoes in the first three months of this year has set a national record at 410. The current 2023 number beats the previous record, set in 2017 by 12. While the first three months of the year did exceed the average number of tornadoes typical for the U.S., both April and May were below average. This reinforces the research that tornadoes do not always occur during “tornado season.” The season in which your state or area is at the greatest danger for tornados is dependent on the local climate, which will be examined in a later section.
Confirmed Tornado Touch Downs by State in 2023
It is important to keep in mind that just because your state has not yet experienced a tornado this does not mean you are in the clear. Tornadoes have been previously reported in all fifty states. So far, Illinois has experienced the most tornadoes in 2023 with 100 confirmed. Following shortly behind, Alabama holds the number two spot with 91 confirmed tornadoes and Texas at number three with 77 confirmed tornadoes. Currently, more than 80% of the mainland states have had a tornado experience in 2023.
Tornadoes by Month in 2023
“Tornado Alley” refers to an extremely large portion of the U.S. that covers high tornado occurrences. This area includes extensive parts of the Great Plains like north Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Maps of “Tornado Alley” are all seemingly a little different due to the inconsistent data and measurables used, making the “Tornado Alley” trope misleading. The truth is areas of tornado danger change with the months and the seasons, and there is no predetermined alley that tornadoes pass through. During the cooler parts of the year, the Southeast has the greatest threat, with states like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi seeing the most activity. When the weather begins to heat up, most often in May and June, the greater threat moves to states in the southern and central plains, like Texas and Oklahoma. During the early to late summer, the northern plains and Midwest’s tornado threat increases, which explains why Illinois has been so active. As stated earlier, tornadoes can and have occurred in all 50 states.
An estimated 253 confirmed tornadoes in March alone make it the most active month of the year. Despite the heavy activity at the start of the year, these storms have continued throughout the summer. The second most active month was June, with 224 reported tornadic events. An increase almost double of June 2022’s 128 tornadoes.
Casualties as a Result of the 2023 Tornado Season
Unfortunately, 2023 could end up being one of the deadliest tornado years on record. More than 70 individuals lost their lives in 2023 from tornadoes. While only halfway through the year, 2023 has a death toll three times higher than all of 2022. The deadliest storm so far, was a massive multiday storm system that affected at least 25 million people across the southern U.S. At least 30 tornadoes were confirmed, the strongest of which being an EF-4 originating in Issaquena County, Mississippi on the night of March 24. This specific tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and hit peak wind speeds of 170 mph. This storm system claimed the lives of at least 24 people, 21 of whom were in Mississippi and damaged more than 1,800 homes. Sadly, a direct correlation between deaths and a lack of storm shelters in Mississippi was reported by NBC News. Bracey Harris, the author of the article, claims that after polling 16 counties bordering or involved in the March 24 storms, only six counties had at least one shelter up to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s guidelines.
The Importance of Preparedness
Being prepared means being aware of the disastrous effects a tornado can have on your community. Be conscious of the increase in frequency, increase in distance traveled and rising death toll that these storms have caused. There will be more tornadoes in 2023 and it is important to have a plan when disaster strikes your community. Tornadoes can strike at any time without warning, and the most important thing above all else is finding a safe place to seek shelter. A survivor of the March 24 tornadoes in Mississippi, Carrie Linda Mathews, was asked about the loss of life in her community following the storms. Her reply serves as a grim reminder of the lack of shelter in the area, “I do believe a lot of those people would have been alive if they would have had somewhere to go.”
RemainSafe’s mission is to keep you and your loved ones safe in the event of severe weather. Contact us or visit our website to learn more about our shelter options and how we can be of service to you.