Which state has the most tornadoes per year in the US?
The geography of the US provides the conditions to produce more tornados than anywhere else on the planet where over 1,000 form in a typical year.
The combination of dry cold air dropping down from the Rocky Mountains colliding with warm moist air from Gulf of Mexico create the perfect conditions to produce supercell storms across the Plains of the United States. These violent storm systems in turn are capable of churning out tornados, one of Mother Nature’s most destructive weather phenomena.
In a typical year the United States suffers more tornadoes than any other nation on the planet. Furthermore the US also has to face more violent tornadoes, those rated EF4 or EF5, than any other country.
This is concerning for residents in storm hotspots and seems to be becoming increasingly common. At least 168 were recorded in January 2023, more than was seen in any January since 1999.
Most tornadoes occur east of the Rocky Mountains, predominantly between Texas and South Dakota. This area is known as ‘Tornado Alley’ due to the prevalence of the phenomena. Spring time is when they are most common, due to the combining of hot and cold weather fronts. Fall and winter is usually the safest time.
States with the most tornadoes
The best information available on a per-state basis gives the average number of tornadoes per year over a period spanning the past 25 years. Tornadoes are rare events, even in hotspots, so taking an average figure across a number of years gives the most useful insight into their frequency.
Here are the 10 states with the highest numbers of tornadoes, as decided by the National Centers for Environmental Information:
If you’re eager to avoid tornadoes, there are a handful of states that typically experience just one tornado per year. Those states are Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Delaware.
Are tornadoes becoming more common?
Researchers have found that over the last 50 years that tornadoes have become more common. However, it is difficult to pin this down to one factor.
Some have suggested that the increase in tornadoes could be a consequence of climate change, with extreme weather conditions becoming more common. Tornadoes are most typically formed when areas of hot and cold air come into contact.
National Geographic explains: “As global temperatures rise, the hotter atmosphere is able to hold more moisture. This increases atmospheric instability, a vital supercell ingredient.”
“On the other hand, as the planet warms, wind shear (another vital ingredient) is likely to decrease. These two forces work against each other, and it is difficult to anticipate which might have a greater impact on tornado formation.”