2018 an all-time record quiet year for tor­na­does in USA

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - FRONT PAGE - Doyle Rice

Although 2018 was a deadly and dev­as­tat­ing year for wild­fires, floods and hur­ri­canes, one weather phe­nom­e­non was re­mark­ably ab­sent from the news: Tor­na­does.

Both the num­ber of Amer­i­cans killed by tor­na­does and the num­ber of vi­o­lent tor­na­does in the U.S. were record lows.

Tor­na­does killed only 10 Amer­i­cans in 2018, the fewest since un­of­fi­cial records be­gan in 1875 dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Ulysses S. Grant. The pre­vi­ous record low year for tor­nado deaths was 1910, when only 12 peo­ple died, ac­cord­ing to data from NOAA’s Na­tional Se­vere Storms Lab­o­ra­tory.

In an “av­er­age” year, 69 Amer­i­cans are killed by tor­na­does, the Weather Chan­nel said. Death tolls can fluc­tu­ate wildly year to year. Seven years ago, tor­na­does killed 553 Amer­i­cans, mostly in Alabama and Mis­souri.

And for the first time since of­fi­cial records be­gan in 1950, there were no “vi­o­lent” tor­na­does in 2018 in the United States, ac­cord­ing to NOAA. Vi­o­lent tor­na­does are those with es­ti­mated wind speeds of 166 mph or higher — EF4 or EF5 twisters on the En­hanced Fu­jita Scale of Tor­nado In­ten­sity.

Oddly, North Amer­ica’s strong­est tor­nado was in Canada, where an EF4 tor­nado hit Aug. 10, ac­cord­ing to the Weather Chan­nel.

“The causes for 2018’s lack of vi­o­lent tor­na­does are many, but one key fac­tor is high pres­sure tend­ing to be more dom­i­nant than nor­mal through­out peak sea­son this past spring,” Cap­i­tal Weather Gang fore­caster Ian Liv­ingston said.

Bet­ter warn­ings most likely also saved lives. “Ac­cu­rate and timely watches and warn­ings – in­clud­ing cell­phone alerts – sup­ported in part by im­proved radar tech­nol­ogy play a ma­jor role in sav­ing lives through­out the tor­nado sea­son,” NOAA spokesman Chris Vac­caro said in July.


Sev­eral tor­na­does hit Texas on Hal­loween.

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