The United States has had far fewer intense tornadoes – those with winds reaching 136 mph or stronger – so far this year than any other year in recent history. Yet even smaller tornadoes can cause extreme damage to people, property, and nature.
Though tornadoes have been documented across the globe, they are more common in the United States than anywhere else in the world, with Canada following in second. Of course, the likelihood of tornadoes forming also varies across the country, with some states rarely experiencing the windstorms, while others occasionally recording over 100 in a year.
To identify the states with the most tornadoes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed tornado data from the National Weather Service. We averaged the number of tornadoes to occur annually in each state from 1950 through 2017 and ranked the states by these averages.
As of April 2018, there were preliminary reports of 210 tornadoes, below to the average of 299 for the period. Though there is a relative decline in the number of recorded tornadoes, historical records show there is little trend in the frequency of stronger tornadoes over the past half century. Some strong trends have emerged: tornadoes are more likely to strike in the afternoons during the spring and summer months
Tornadoes have been documented in every state since 1950, yet by examining past records we can see which states are most at risk compared to other areas. Many states in the Midwest, Southwest, and South Central regions of the country, such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, have been bombarded with tornadoes since 1950. There were more than 3,000 tornadoes in total in each of those states in that time. This area is referred to as Tornado Alley due to its high frequency of tornadoes.
At the other end of the spectrum, the non-continental states of Alaska and Hawaii have experienced relatively few tornadoes. Alaska has experience exceptionally few, with only four recorded tornadoes over the past 68 years. The Northeast region of the United States, including Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, is also relatively safe from tornadoes, on average.