Places at Risk of Tornadoes
Tornadoes are among the most violent and most powerful natural disasters. They appear as an incredibly fast, rotating column of air that assumes a funnel shape. What makes them dangerous and potentially destructive is the high-speed wind that travels with them. It can seamlessly knock down buildings, toss vehicles into the air, and sweep away trees.
Tornadoes can hit nearly anywhere in the country, but their sting is felt the most in the Midwest and southern states. In fact, some states have experienced so many tornadoes and severe weather that they have earned themselves an unfortunate nickname, Tornado Alley.
How Do Tornadoes Form?
Natural disasters have a unique way in-which they form. Tornadoes form when warm, humid air meets with cold, dry air. The cold air, which is denser, is pushed over the warm air, typically producing thunderstorms. The less-dense warm air, in return, cuts through the cold air, thereby causing an updraft. It’s this updraft that starts to rotate when winds fluctuate in direction or speed.
To put it simply, tornadoes form from really tall thunderstorm clouds named cumulonimbus clouds, and these are the steps:
- First, a great thunderstorm occurs in a cumulonimbus cloud.
- That will necessitate a change in the direction and speed of the wind, usually at high altitudes, which causes the updraft air to swirl horizontally.
- Air rises from the ground, pushing up on the swirling air and consequently tips it over.
- Then a funnel of swirling air takes up more warm air from below. This funnel stretches and tends towards the ground.
- It’s this funnel that becomes a tornado when it reaches the ground.
Often times more than one tornado can happen in a single area or time frame. If they happen within the a similar time frame and similar locations. These multi-tornado events are generally called series or outbreaks. These terms can be used interchangeable to talk about the multi-tornado events.
Top 10 States Affected by Tornadoes
Tornadoes and other catastrophes can leave people who weren't prepared stranded and desolate. As a prepper, the goal is to be prepared for any possible life-altering event like an EF5 tornado.
Knowing how likely your area is to be hit by a hurricane will help determine how prepared you should be. Below are the top 10 states regularly affected by tornadoes:
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 155
Texas is no stranger to tornadoes. The March 2022‘s outbreak in Austin is the latest of them. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Texas reportedly saw over 9,500 tornadoes between 1950 and 2021.
1953 Waco Tornado Outbreak
Between 9 and 11 of May in 1953, a deadly series of tornadoes greeted 10 U.S. states. The strongest one, which was also the deadliest of them, was an F5 tornado that swept through Waco, Texas on May 11. It caused 114 deaths and many more injuries. The 1953 Waco Tornado Outbreak was recorded as the deadliest in Texas history and the eleventh deadliest in the history of the United States.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 96
Tornadoes are not new to the state of Kansas. Just a few days ago, on April 29, 2022, at least one tornado left about 1,000 structures in ruins between Sedgwick County (one tornado formed here) and Butler County.
Tornado Outbreak of May 4-6, 2007
Some areas in the Central United States saw a major tornado outbreak for three days, from May 4 to 6 in 2007. The deadliest tornado in the outbreak, an EF5 tornado, landed in western Kansas on the evening of May 4. It destroyed at least 95 % of Greensburg, Kiowa County. 13 people died while 60 people suffered different degrees of injuries.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 66
While not necessarily a geographic member of Tornado Alley, Florida sees more tornadoes than most U.S states. Especially the coast between Tampa Bay and Fort Myers. Tornadoes in Florida can occur anytime, however, they mostly occur in the Spring and Summer months.
1998 Kissimmee Tornado Outbreak
In 1998, between February 21 and 23, a significant tornado outbreak swept through portions of the Southeastern United States. Florida was the primary target. It killed 42 people and injured 259. Otherwise known as the Night of the Tornadoes, the 1998 Kissimmee Tornado Outbreak was the deadliest one in Florida history.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 62
Tornadoes are commonplace in Oklahoma. In fact, it could even be argued that all four seasons in Oklahoma are tornado seasons. Between late March and August, however, sees the most tornadoes. Oklahoma City is among the cities with the highest rates of tornadoes in the United States.
The Woodward Tornado of 1947
On Wednesday, April 9 in 1947, the state of Oklahoma would suffer its deadliest tornado yet. It struck the city of Woodward and would continue into Woods County. In all, 9 people were killed and 42 suffered various injuries.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 57
Everyone in the state, especially the inhabitants of Omaha, knows that Nebraska is a tornado state. But things have fared well in the last few years. In 2021, Nebraska saw 21 tornadoes, way below the annual average of 57.
Tornado Outbreak Sequence of March 1913
From March 21 to 23, 1913, a series of tornado outbreaks swept through the northern Great Plains, the Southern United States, and parts of the upper Midwest. The last day was the most devastating as four F4 tornadoes tore through parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. At least, 94 people lost their lives in Omaha that day. To date, the Tornado Outbreak Sequence of March 1913 remains one of the deadliest tornadoes ever to hit Nebraska.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 54
Besides the southeast area of the state, tornadoes are a common occurrence in Illinois. A tornado is currently ongoing in the state even at the time of writing this article.
Tri-State Tornado of 1925
The tornado outbreak of March 18, 1925, remains one of the deadliest ones in the United States. It resulted in 12 major tornadoes that caused damage in many parts of the Midwestern and Southern United States. One of the 12 tornadoes was the Tri-State tornado, which is still the deadliest tornado event in the country’s history. The tornado went from southeastern Missouri to southern Illinois before entering southwestern Indiana.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 53
Colorado is home to Weld County, an area that is arguably the most tornado-prone in the country. Colorado is number 9 on the list of states with the highest annual number of tornado landings in the nation.
1924 Thurman Tornado
Around 1 pm on August 10, 1924, a major tornado formed southwest of Thurman in Colorado. It tracked northeast before hitting Thurman Town, where it killed 10 people, including children. Traveling more than 8 miles, the EF-4 1924 Thurman Tornado was ½ mile wide. It remains the deadliest tornado ever to hit Colorado.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 51
Iowa has seen some tornadoes in the past. Just a few weeks ago on April 12, early storms generated several tornadoes specifically in parts of western Iowa. Pocahontas, Humboldt, and southern Hancock counties reported damage.
The Tornado Outbreak of May 1968
Most portions of central and southern United States suffered a tornado outbreak on May 15 and 16, 1968. A total of 46 tornadoes were produced as a result, two of which were two F5 in Iowa. Killing over 72 people, the Tornado Outbreak of May 1968 is among the deadliest in Iowa history.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 45
Minnesota is along the north edge of the Tornado Alley. Expect tornadoes in Minnesota anytime from March through November. Peak tornado months, however, are June, July, May, and August, in the order.
1886 St. Cloud-Sauk Rapids Tornado Outbreak
A two-day (April 14 and 15, 1886) tornado outbreak struck areas in the Midwestern and Southern United States. It resulted in 18 tornadoes, 4 of which were violent. The F4 St. Cloud–Sauk Rapids tornado was one of that violent 4. It swept destructively through the cities of St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, and Rice, all in Minnesota. It killed 72 people and it’s Minnesota’s deadliest tornado on record.
Average Annual Number of Tornadoes: 45
Half of the tornadoes recorded in Missouri occur during April and May. And nearly all of them occur between the hours of 12 pm and 12 am.
2011 Joplin Tornado
On the evening of March 22, 2011, an EF5-rated tornado hit Joplin in Missouri. It caused the death of 166 people and injured more than 1,000 others. Causing $2.8 billion in damages, it’s the most expensive single tornado in the country’s history.
Tornadoes are natural disasters that can appear and disappear within minutes. But within those minutes they can destroy communities. The quick pace and amount of land they can cover makes them all the more dangerous. As preppers we should be sure we have a secure place to hunker down, plenty of shelf stable food and clean drinking water. If you live in a mobile home always have a plan B, like an evacuation route and a place you plan to evacuate to. Having portable chargers, a generator, charcoal grill, and other comfort supplies can help make the whole ordeal just a little bit more bearable.