Tame tornado season compared to last year

NOW: Tame tornado season compared to last year

Around this time in late March, severe weather starts to ramp up across the U.S., and this week alone has been very active. The southern states from Texas to Alabama have been dealing with tornados, hail, and wind damage.

Three tornadoes touched down in southern Texas near the Gulf Coast, between one and two A.M. Wednesday morning. That's a scary hour to have severe weather moving through. One tornado near Aransas destroyed the second story of a home, and seven occupants had to be rescued. Another tornado near Seadrift flipped and destroyed multiple mobile homes, and the last tornado near Woodsboro blew out windows and took the roofs off of several homes.

In Louisiana, wind and hail reports came in from the northern half of the state. Golf ball size hail smashed through windows and winds blew over trees and even destroyed multiple barns.

There have been 104 tornados across the U.S. so far this year, the majority of them in Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Count until 3/29/2018

While 104 seems like a lot of tornados, it has been a slow season compared to last year. Look at the tornado counts in 2017. In January there were 134 and in March there were 191. A possible reason for such an active severe weather season in 2017 is because it was so warm all winter and spring. This year, on the other hand, has a been much cooler.


We haven't had any tornados in Michiana so far this year, but the likelihood of seeing one is increasing as we head into April.

Notice the upward trend here in the total number of tornadoes per month across Michiana. We have seen nearly double the amount of tornadoes in April as compared to March. That trend again happens in May, with the most tornadoes occurring in June here in Michiana.


That map showed the climatological period of 1980 to 2010. Take a look at this map, which stretches from 1950 to 2016. This map shows every Michiana tornado's touchdown location and subsequent path over the 66-year period.

A few things to note here are how tornadoes can impact any location, including larger city centers, and how evenly spread out tornado touchdowns have been from county to county. The strongest and longest-lived tornadoes, some rated F-4, have occurred in our Indiana counties, with Lake Michigan playing a role in that.

 Most tornadoes that strike in this area are on the ground for a very short duration, but there have been about a dozen that have stayed on the ground for more than 20 miles, including one that had a 109-mile track. The deadliest single tornado in Michiana since 1950 was a long-track F-4 in 1965 that affected parts of St. Joseph, Elkhart, and LaGrange counties.

That tornado touched down south of Mishawaka and traveled along the bypass south of Elkhart before lifting northeast of Shipshewana. It killed 36 people and injured 321 others and was wider than 3 football fields at its peak.

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