Number of Tornadoes to Hit the US in May Highest in Years

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Tornadoes and related severe weather events across many regions of the U.S. in May will cost insurers billions of dollars, according to the Global Catastrophe Report for May 2019, issued by Aon, a professional services company that has been ranked as the world’s largest insurance broker.

Seven severe consecutive storms swept across the central and eastern U.S., bringing punishing rainfall, baseball-sized hail, strait-line winds sometimes exceeding 90 miles per hour, and more than 360 tornadoes in May alone, the highest May tally since 2015. A number of them were rated between EF-2 (wind speeds of 111 to 135 miles per hour) and EF-4 (wind speeds of 166 to 200 miles per hour) on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The storms devastated portions of the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Rocky Mountain and Plains states between May 4 and 31.

Losses were estimated at more than $875 million in the Midwest, Southeast, and Plains states in between May 4 and 10 alone. A severe weather outbreak marked by six EF-3 (severe) tornadoes and dozens more rated EF-0 (light) through EF-2 (considerable) ravaged a large section of the country between May 20 and 23 leaving at least nine dead and more than a hundred others injured. Missouri, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma were particularly hard-hit. They are always among the states with the most tornadoes.

At least six people were killed in other May storms, and record-breaking rains brought life-threatening flooding of historic levels to the Arkansas River Basin in Oklahoma and Kansas, along with additional flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

May is traditionally the worst month for tornadoes in America, according to Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist for Aon’s Impact Forecasting team, but this was the worst year for the storms since 2015 — remembered as one of the most devastating years in Tornado Alley, as the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota are collectively known.