25+ Must-Know US and Worldwide Tornado Statistics for 2020

Last modified: November 15, 2020

Tornadoes represent one of the world’s most common and dangerous natural disasters due to their relatively-high occurrence rates, significant material damages, injuries, and worst of all — fatalities. Tornadoes are common in specific regions of the world; thereby, they do not pose a threat to everyone on the planet, but rather to a select few.

This post is meant to highlight a series of most intriguing US and global tornado statistics to help readers gain a better understanding of this natural phenomenon. Likewise, the article will focus on yearly occurrence rates, fatalities, tornado watch, and their monetary impact on the insurance industry. Hopefully, by the end of this article, all will be made clear.

So, to learn everything there is on this topic, and more, keep on reading.

Top 5 Most Intriguing Tornado Stats and Facts 

  • Over the last two decades, the highest number of yearly US-based tornadoes occurred in 2004 when 1,819 severe storms of this type were recorded.
  • Long-term data shows that an average 1,253 tornadoes occur every year in the US.
  • Texas is the US state with the highest tornado occurrence rate with 155 such storms taking place annually.
  • According to world tornado statistics, Daulatpur-Saturia is known as the world’s deadliest tornado, occurring in 1989 and causing approximately 1,300 fatalities and another 12,000 injuries.
  • 2011 holds the record for the highest number of tornado-caused deaths over the past two decades with 553 recorded fatalities.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these stats by year, state, and more, to get to the very heart of the issue.

Tornado Statistics by Year 

1. 2004 had the highest number of tornadoes recorded in the US in recent times

(Source: Statista)

According to data from Statista, a total of 1,819 tornadoes occurred in the US during 2004. As a result, tens of thousands of Americans were affected by this natural phenomenon, leading to significant material damages.

2. 1,520 tornadoes occurred last year in the US, as reported by tornado statistics for 2019

(Source: Statista)

Based on this, we can conclude that 2019 was quite severe when it comes to the number of storms that have occurred. In fact, 2019 had the most tornadoes in recent years since 1,691 tornadoes were recorded back in 2011.

3. Data indicates that 2017 was also quite severe in terms of tornado occurrences, yet it ranks below 2019

(Source: Statista)

According to tornado statistics for 2017, a total of 1,429 storms of this type took place. As expected, these tornadoes led to personal injury and millions of dollars’ worth of material damages.

4. According to Statista, 2015 also saw a considerable number of tornadoes in the US, estimated at 1,177

(Source: Statista)

Hence, the years 2015, 2017, and 2019 mark an on-going uptrend affecting the weather throughout the US, according to tornado statistics for 2015. Nevertheless, it is too early to conclude whether 2020 will bring an even higher occurrence rate.

5. Within the last decade, the lowest occurrence rates were reported during the years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2018

(Source: Statista)

It’s also worth noting that this data is exclusive to the US alone. All in all, 2012 saw 938 tornadoes, followed by 906 storms in 2013, 886 storms in 2014, 976 storms in 2016, and 1,126 storms in 2018, according to the latest tornado statistics.

6. Long-term data shows that an average 1,253 tornadoes occur every year in the US 

(Source: National Centre for Environmental Information)

As a severe convective storm, occurrence rates depend on several external factors that cannot be influenced by humans in any way. Similarly, they can occur practically anywhere, yet they are more common in specific areas where the conditions are just right.

Tornado Statistics by State 

7. Texas is the US state with the highest tornado occurrence rate with 155 such storms taking place annually

(Source: National Centre for Environmental Information)

The presented data was drafted by the NCEI by accounting the overall number of storms that have ensued between 1991 and 2010 in the US. More specifically, on the territory of the US state of Texas.

8. Kansas tornado statistics show that this state ranks second in terms of annual occurrence rates

(Source: National Centre for Environmental Information)

Likewise, the state of Kansas is also quite prone to tornadoes, seeing how between 1991 and 2010 roughly 96 storms of this type took place each year in this state.

9. The third place on our list of US states most prone to tornadoes goes to Florida, according to tornadoes statistics

(Source: National Centre for Environmental Information)

Around 66 severe storms take place every year in Florida. Recent meteorological data suggests that tornadoes are most likely to occur during late spring and early summer.

Moreover, the analysis of past storms shows that most tornadoes only last for around 10 minutes. Generally, the state of Florida is best-known for the 1998 Kissimmee outbreak, commonly referred to as The Night of the Tornadoes, which led to numerous deaths, and millions of dollars in material damages.

10. A series of Oklahoma tornado statistics indicate that this state ranks fourth on our list of  tornado-prone US states in terms of annual figures

(Source: National Centre for Environmental Information)

Data on the matter suggests that around 62 such storms occur every year in Oklahoma which is over half of the number of storms occurring in Texas — the top position on our list.

11. Currently, most of the available North Carolina tornado statistics indicate that  an average of 26 tornadoes take place in this state yearly, causing around 3 fatalities and another 39 injuries 

(Source: Spectrum Local News)

Citizens are quite affected by this natural phenomenon even in states where occurrence rates are somewhat lower. Data on the matter indicates that NC sees most tornadoes during April, with a lower number occurring in November. Over the past 5 years, at least 16 fatalities were recorded in the region, alongside 70 injuries.

12. Alabama tornado statistics point towards an average of 44 yearly occurrences in this state

(Source: National Centre for Environmental Information)

Despite holding a lower number of yearly tornadoes, the state of Alabama still represents one of the regions with the highest occurrence rates in the US.

13. Although it was never classed as a top-ranking state in terms of tornado occurrence rates, a series of recent Ohio tornado statistics point towards a worrying uptrend 

(Source: Weather Safety Ohio)

According to the NWS, Ohio broke its own record in 2019, when 49 tornadoes befell the state. In fact, during a single outbreak on May 27 and 28 that same year, 21 tornadoes affected 10 counties in said state, leading to countless injuries and great monetary damages in the millions of dollars.

14. In recent years, tornadoes statistics displayed a state-wide average of 21 tornadoes per year 

(Source: Indiana.Gov)

In this state, records have been kept since 1814. What’s more, approximately 1–3 tornadoes occur in the southern region of the state, whereas 7–9 yearly storms take place in the northern and central regions of Indiana.

15. As a Southern state, Arkansas sees an average of 33 tornadoes every year, with a rating of at least EF0 and EF1

(Source: KATV)

As indicated by Arkansas tornado statistics, the peak season is in spring, yet these weather events can occur throughout the year. From a regional standpoint, most Arkansas-based severe storms happen in an area known as — Dixie Alley. However, Arkansas is fairly safe from a weather standpoint; for instance, the state has never had an F5 tornado. In fact, it is the only central US state which has never experienced a tornado of that magnitude.

Tornado Fatality Statistics 

16. Daulatpur-Saturia is known as the world’s deadliest tornado, occurring in 1989 and causing approximately 1,300 fatalities

(Source: Bangladesh Tornadoes)

This specific storm took place on April 26, 1989, in Bangladesh, destroying everything in its path and causing absolute chaos. Also, apart from a large number of fatalities, another 12,000 people were also injured.

17. When it comes to tornadoes and deaths in the US, 2011 was the year with the highest number of recorded fatalities — 553

(Source: Statista)

No other year compares to 2011, which was especially hard for the US, from a natural disaster standpoint. 2008 takes second place in terms of the number of fatalities as 126 people perished in the US due to tornado

18. 2018 is the year with the lowest number of tornado-related deaths in the US, as only 10 people perished due to this phenomenon, as reported by statistics on tornadoes 

(Source: Statista)

For the sake of comparison, in recent years, 2016 saw 18 fatalities, followed by 2017 with 35 deaths, 2015 with 36 deaths, and 2014 with 47 deaths.

19. The deadliest tornado to ever occur on US soil was the Tri-State in 1925, claiming 695 lives

(Source: History)

An interesting fact about this specific storm is that it was a single tornado, rather than a family of tornadoes. Historical tornado statistics show that 2027 people were injured as the storm destroyed over 10 towns, on a 352km path.

20. The Great Natchez (1840), the St. Louis-East (1896), and the Tupelo (1936) tornadoes are the 3rd, 4th, and 5th deadliest storms of this type to ever occur on the planet’s surface

(Source: ThoughtCo)

The Great Natchez event took place in Mississippi back in 1840 according to tornado statistics, ending with a death toll of approximately 317 people. Surprisingly, it caused more fatalities than injuries.

Nevertheless, many historians believe that the death toll was much larger, seeing how slave deaths were unaccounted for.

On the other hand, the St Louis storm hit Missouri and Illinois, leading to a death toll of at least 255.

Lastly, the Tupelo tornado in Mississippi led to some 233 fatalities and the destruction of 48 city blocks, as reported by tornado death statistics of the area.

21. Most death-causing tornadoes are part of the F3, F4, and F5 Fujita scale categories

(Source: III)

Likewise, F0 tornadoes cause light damage and have an average wind speed between 40–72mph. F1 are moderate storms and feature 73–112mph wind speeds, followed by F2 storms causing considerable damage with 113–157mph wind speeds.

In addition, F3 storms are regarded as severe (158–207mph), F4 storms are devastating (208–260mph), and F5 tornadoes are the most deadly with wind speeds ranging between an incredible 261–318mph!

Tornado Watch Statistics and Facts

22. The tornado watch concept is generally used to describe favorable conditions for the occurrence of a tornado; warnings entail that meteorologists have already picked up a tornado by radar

(Source: TripSavvy)

In other words, if a tornado watch is issued, people must take the necessary precautions, these include taking shelter and preparing for all the possible consequences associated with these storms.

Tornado Statistics and the Insurance Industry 

23. According to the Insurance Information Institute, severe thunderstorms caused $18.8 billion in estimated losses in the US during 2018

(Source: III)

This sum was caused by a total of 56 severe thunderstorms that took place throughout 2018. 66 fatalities were caused by these events as well.

24. Tropical cyclones that occurred in the US during 2018 caused $30.4 billion in estimated overall losses, according to annual tornado statistics

(Source: III)

To put things into perspective, only 5 tropical cyclones took place, yet their impact was indeed noticed — 107 people perished as a result of these natural phenomenons.

25. Insurance companies report huge losses due to severe thunderstorms and tropical cyclones

(Source: III)

The estimated insurance losses caused by severe thunderstorms during 2018 in the US amount to $14.1 billion, as reported by live tornado statistics. In the case of tropical cyclones, the number is estimated at $18 billion.

Bottom Line

Tornadoes remain largely unpredictable and difficult to deal with. Occurrence rates are volatile from a year-to-year standpoint, meaning that people often find it difficult to prepare. Luckily, the number of deaths worldwide is decreasing thanks to public institutions having improved their disaster relief protocols. Despite this, a few dozen people still perish on a yearly basis.

FAQs

Where do tornadoes occur?

Tornadoes are not exclusive to specific locations; therefore, they can occur practically anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, studies and statistics on the matter suggest that some areas are more prone to being struck by tornadoes than others. Such is the case with the US (more specifically, the Great Plains in the central region of the country, an area commonly referred to as Tornado Alley), or the case with Bangladesh and Argentina, as reported by various tornadoes statistics by state and country.

Is the number of tornadoes increasing?

There is no clear trend highlighting an actual increase in the number of tornadoes from a long-term perspective. However, it is important to keep in mind that occurrence rates are volatile, thereby, they vary from year to year. Recently, the US has seen a rising number of tornadoes, yet current occurrence rates are not close to reaching their all-time highs.

How many tornadoes occurred in 2019?

Statistics concerning the number of tornadoes that have occurred in the US indicate that during 2019 1,520 such storms were recorded. Hence, 2019 had a fairly-high occurrence rate, judging how it ranks as one of the top 5 years in terms of tornado numbers, during the last two decades.

What state has never had a tornado?

Approximately 1,253 storms of this type take place every year in the US. Of course, the actual numbers may vary given the volatility of occurrence rates. From a worldwide perspective, over 2,000 tornadoes happen annually. Hence, we can see that the US takes a huge chunk of the overall number of tornadoes occurring annually around the world, as numerous tornado statistics indicate.

List of Sources: