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May 2020 had fewest tornadoes in the last 50 years

Zonal flow across the United States limited tornadic outbreaks

David Maynard sifts through the rubble searching for his wallet, Thursday, April 23, 2020,  in Onalaska, Texas, after a tornado destroyed his home the night before. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
David Maynard sifts through the rubble searching for his wallet, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Onalaska, Texas, after a tornado destroyed his home the night before. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP) (© 2020 Houston Chronicle)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – May is typically the most active month across the US for tornadoes, but this year we saw the fewest tornadoes during the month of May over the last 50 years.

If you look at the preliminary tornado reports from the Storm Prediction Center, the number of reports is high, with 112 reports for May, but there are duplicate reports of the same tornado from different National Weather Service offices included, so the number is elevated.

For a more accurate number, Evan Bentley who is a severe weather meteorologist for the NWS/SPC, estimates there were around 50 confirmed tornadoes this May.

According to Bentley, we have not had less than 100 tornadoes reported in the month of May since 1970, so this is the quietest month of May in 50 years.

In Bentley’s twitter feed he also looks into the last time no moderate or high-risk outlooks were issued for the month of May. The data is only available to query back to 1995, but from that point forward this month is the only one.

He notes that only 10 tornado watches were issued for the month, and compares the years with the lowest number of watches issued.


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