We’ve seen a near-record low number of tornadoes so far this year. Here’s why.


June is typically the most tornado-active month across the state of Ohio.

Severe weather season got off to a quick start this year, with the first tornado touching down on Feb. 25th in Brown County. But despite the stormy weather in February and March, severe weather mostly disappeared in April, thanks to the return of a winter-like pattern across the eastern half of the country.

Even more unusual this year was the near total lack of severe weather across an area of the United States known as “Tornado Alley.” Not a single tornado touched down until early May in the Central and Northern Plains. In fact, Oklahoma set a record for the longest streak without a tornado.

MORE FROM ERIC ELWELL

New research show more advance forecast for tornadoes possible

After a devastating 2017, this year’s hurricane forecast has a mix of good and bad news

Mark your calendar now; more eclipses are on the way

The tornado count began ticking up with the return of much warmer weather in May and June, but the number of tornadoes nationwide in 2018 is running well below average, nearing a record low count.

So far in 2018, there have been 382 tornado touchdowns. Typically, by this time of year, that count is nearly doubled.

So, why the lack of tornadoes this year? Simply put, the atmospheric set-up across much of the country in early spring was not great for the formation of the severe thunderstorms needed for tornadoes.

These thunderstorms generally need an unstable atmosphere to allow air to rise easily. Also, a sufficient amount of moisture to provide energy for the developing storms is necessary. And finally, they need something to force the air to rise in the first place, like a cold or warm front.

These ingredients were hard to find in April as below-average temperatures hung over much of the central and eastern United States, decreasing any chance for severe weather. The one area where warm, moisture-filled air was plentiful was the Gulf Coast, tapping into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Subsequently, the focus of severe weather shifted east, leaving the normally increasingly active tornado season across Great Plains dormant until May.

Interestingly, while Ohio did get a lull in severe storms through April, the tornado count for the state is actually running close to average for this time of year.

Typically, Ohio sees an average of 19 tornadoes annually. So far in 2018, Ohio has had 11 reported tornado touchdowns as of June 10. If the trend holds, Ohio may still wind up with an above-average severe weather season even despite the relative calm weather across the nation.

An unknown factor right now for the rest of the year is how tropical weather will impact the nation as a whole.

Tropical storms and hurricanes, while devastating in their own way, can also produce numerous tornadoes. Depending on how this hurricane season shapes up, we could see a dramatic jump in the national tornado count over the coming months.

Time will tell, but for now, many people are enjoying not dealing with the typical number of days each year under a threat of tornadoes. But now is certainly not the time to let your guard down for severe weather with the long-range outlook calling for an active summer.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Two reportedly taken by CareFlight after motorcycle crash in Darke Co.
Two reportedly taken by CareFlight after motorcycle crash in Darke Co.

Two people were reportedly taken by CareFlight to a local hospital. Injuries are unknown at this time. A motorcycle accident occurred Saturday night on State Route 127, south of Route 705, in North Star village, according to Darke County dispatch. Two people were reportedly ejected from the motorcycle and CareFlight was requested. Crews were dispatched...
Vehicle crash into a tree in Fairborn, crews on scene
Vehicle crash into a tree in Fairborn, crews on scene

Crews are on scene for a vehicle that crashed into a tree in Fairborn Saturday evening. The vehicle crashed in the 3400 block of Spangler Road, according to scanner traffic. The vehicle is smoking and suffered moderate damage, initial reports say. Injuries are unknown. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
MedFlight transports one from motorcycle crash in Springfield
MedFlight transports one from motorcycle crash in Springfield

UPDATE @ 8:11 p.m.: The male motorcycle driver was transported via MedFlight to a local hospital, police say. He sustained non-life threatening injuries. Reports say passengers in the other vehicle are uninjured. INITIAL STORY: MedFlight is reportedly on standby for a man who crashed his motorcycle in a two-vehicle crash in Springfield Saturday evening...
Seven animals adopted from Greene Co. for ‘Clear the Shelters’ event
Seven animals adopted from Greene Co. for ‘Clear the Shelters’ event

Many Animal Control Centers across the county are looking to ‘Clear the Shelters’ Saturday by offering free or reduced adoption fees. Animal Control in Greene County stated pit bulls take up a lot of their shelter due to over-breeding and pit bull mixes have a harder time getting adopted than other breeds due to the stigmas that come with...
Cell phones make ‘upskirting’ easier for voyeurs. Here’s how police say you can protect yourself.
Cell phones make ‘upskirting’ easier for voyeurs. Here’s how police say you can protect yourself.

Voyeurism of the “peeping Tom” variety or a hidden camera has been around for years, but the boom of cell phones has made it easier than ever for unsuspecting people to become victims of “upskirting,” law enforcement and legal professionals said. MORE: Report: Voyeur taking pictures up shoppers’ skirts at Target in West...
More Stories