2018 was the first year in history without any violent tornadoes in the U.S.

January 8, 2019 0 Comments

2018 was another devastating year for natural disasters, however there was a noticeable lack of tornadoes, particularly strong tornadoes.

For the first time since modern record keeping began in 1950, there were no violent tornadoes in the United States. Violent tornadoes are those that are rated EF-4 or EF-5, packing winds of 166-200 mph or stronger. There was only one tornado in North America last year that reached violent strength, and that was an EF-4 twister that touched down in Manitoba in early August. There was also a record low number of EF-3 tornadoes (winds 136-165mph) in the U.S. Only 12 twisters of this magnitude touched down, breaking the old record of 15 from 1987.

Overall, 2018 was one of the most quiet years on record for tornadoes. The preliminary number for reported tornadoes was 1154, but adjusted numbers to account for multiple reports of the same tornado puts that number at 989.

Credit: SPC

Some more good news from the lack of tornadoes? There was a record low number of tornado deaths! On average, tornadoes cause 69 deaths per year. In 2018, there were only 10 fatalities. This was the fewest since 1912 when 12 people were killed. This shouldn’t be too surprising, though, considering over 80% of tornado related fatalities are caused by EF-3 – EF-5 twisters. A big factor was the lack of tornadoes during the two most active months: May and June. As I wrote about during the summer, there were no deaths during these two months for only the second time in history.

Credit: SPC

While you’d expect the biggest tornado outbreak of the year to occur during those months, that was not the case in 2018. The largest tornado outbreak actually occurred on Halloween when 61 twisters touched down across Louisiana and Mississippi. In Wisconsin, our largest outbreak was on August 28th when 19 tornadoes tore through east central Wisconsin. That accounted for the majority of our tornadoes for the year. We ended up with 33 tornadoes, 10 more than normal.

Credit: SPC

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