One of the deadliest and most destructive tornado outbreaks impacted eight states on the night of Dec. 10, 2021. At least 90 people have been confirmed dead after more than 50 tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Kentucky appears to be the hardest hit state. At least 64 people were confirmed dead and over 100 more were unaccounted for as of Dec. 13. The tornadoes also destroyed more than 1,000 homes in the state. With the most recent outbreak, 2021 will go down as one of the deadliest and destructive years due to tornadoes in recent U.S. history.
To determine the number of tornadoes that hit the U.S. each year, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center on the number of recorded tornadoes and resulting fatalities each year beginning in 1950.
The five years with the most tornadoes since 1950 were all in the last two decades. There have only been 13 recorded years with over 1,200 tornadoes, all of which in the last 30 years.
These increasing figures may be the result of advancing detection technology and more people spotting tornadoes and reporting them than in earlier decades. Unlike with hurricane seasons, there is no effective way to forecast the severity of a tornado season ahead of time.
Though tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, they occur more frequently during the spring and summer, and most often in the area between North Texas and South Dakota known as Tornado Alley. These are the states with the most tornadoes.