Tornadoes are one of the most destructive natural phenomena on the planet. In the United States, they are also one of the most common. There were more than 72,000 tornadoes recorded in the United States from 1950 through 2020, resulting in nearly 6,000 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries, and property and crop damage in the billions of dollars.
Of course, parts of the United States are far more susceptible to tornadoes than others. Some states have reported fewer than a few dozen tornadoes since 1950, and tornadoes in those states were mostly relatively weak, resulting in limited destruction. Meanwhile, other states have reported thousands of tornadoes over that period — and many of those tornadoes were devastating.
Using historical data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the most tornadoes. States are ranked on the number of tornadoes reported from 1950 through 2020. Supplemental information on fatalities, injured persons, and destruction, also came from NOAA. The dollar value assigned to damages are rough estimates, and for many decades, are rounded figures beginning with “25.”
Tornadoes vary considerably in power and wind speed. The National Weather Service groups tornadoes into six categories of severity using the Enhanced Fujita Scale: EF0 – a light damage tornado, having wind speeds of 65-85 mph; EF1 – a moderate damage rating, with winds from 86-110 mph; EF2 – a tornado causing considerable damage, with wind speeds ranging from 111-135 mph; EF3 – a tornado resulting in severe damage, ranging in speed from 136-165 mph; EF4 – a tornado that causes devastating damage, with winds between 166-200 mph; and finally, EF5 – a tornado that results in incredible damage, with wind blowing at speeds over 200 mph. The vast majority of tornadoes in the United States are either EF0 or EF1, though there have been nearly 140 F5 tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950. Here is a look at the worst natural disaster in every state.
The parts of the country hit hardest by tornadoes are nicknamed “Tornado Alley,” a region that spreads from northern Texas into the southern plains of the central U.S., and “Dixie Alley,” a region in the southeast around the Gulf Coast. Still, though tornadoes are rare in much of the rest of the country, no state has been completely spared. Here is a look at the rarest types of weather on Earth.