2018 was an active year for a lot of weather phenomena. There were two major landfalling hurricanes, devastating wildfires out west and major flooding. But one thing that we didn’t see this year was violent tornadoes.
Violent tornadoes are rated EF-4 or EF-5 on the enhanced Fujita scale and have wind speeds at or above 166 mph.
These tornadoes only makeup two percent of all tornadoes, but are responsible for 70 percent of all tornado deaths. 2018 is the first year on record where there were no violent tornadoes in the U.S. In an average year, there would have around 5.9 violent tornadoes.
The last couple of years have had below average numbers of violent tornadoes with only two recorded for both 2016 and 2017.
This past year we had none. In fact, the total amount of tornadoes were below average. In an average year, there would have around 1,200 tornadoes in total. 2018 saw 987 reported tornadoes.
There are a few factors that may have played a role in this unusual year for tornadoes.
The Central Plains region of the U.S. is typically a hotbed of tornado activity during the spring months.
This past year high pressure dominated the weather during this time period putting a damper on severe storm activity. The jet stream pattern was also not conducive to tornado formation during these months.
Cold air also lingered longer than usual, especially during the month of April.
These factors contributed to the U.S. seeing zero violent tornadoes and fewer tornadoes overall throughout the country.
That being said, Middle Tennessee actually saw more tornadoes than average. Typically there would be around eight tornadoes per year here, this past year we saw 17.
A lack of violent tornadoes in the U.S. also meant a lower than average number of fatalities. There were 10 fatalities this past year due to tornadoes, one of which was unfortunately here in Middle Tennessee.
In an average year, we would see 69 fatalities due to tornadoes. While 10 is the lowest number of tornado-caused fatalities in U.S. history, it’s still 10 too many.