This Easter Sunday, an onslaught of tornadoes tore across Southern states, resulting in at least 19 deaths. The extreme weather is a devastating reminder of nature’s power and the damage it can inflict.
Tornadoes rarely cross the minds of many Americans, but for residents of Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley, tornadoes are a common — and potentially life-altering — occurrence during certain parts of the year. Some years are far worse than others. These are Tornado Alley’s most devastating years.
Tornadoes do not typically result in injury or loss of life, though they all produce at least some level of damage. Approximately 1,200 tornadoes form in the United States each year. Approximately 75% are considered weak, classified as EF-0 to EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Damage Intensity Scale. About 24% are strong (EF-2 or EF-3) and only 1% are considered violent, being classified as EF-4 or EF-5. The maximum level on the scale, EF-5, is characterized by wind speed of 200 mph or higher and severe destruction.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the total number of unique tornadoes recorded in every state between 1950 and 2018 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. Total crop and property damage, as well as the total injuries and fatalities incurred each year since 1950 also came from NOAA. Property damage figures are not available for years prior to 1996, and crop damage figures are not available before 2006.
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