WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

Friday the 13th severe weather outbreak history

By Jesse Ferrell
4/12/2018, 2:32:18 PM

A two-day severe weather outbreak is coming -- and it's starting on Friday the 13th. It could indeed be a very unlucky outbreak, as our story says: "between two and four dozen tornadoes may be reported with this multiple-day event." (SPC forecasts as of Thursday morning shown below may change, click on them for the latest versions).

Arkansas Day 2 SPC Risk 4/12

Alabama Day 3 SPC Risk 4/12 AM

That got me thinking: Has a severe weather outbreak happened before on Friday the 13th? These days usually occur two to three times per year, so the answer is a resounding "yes" -- it just depends on how you define a severe weather outbreak. Here's a list of significant (more than 30 severe weather reports on the 13th) outbreaks occurring just since 2010:

  • 8/13/2010: 183 reports (6 tornadoes)
  • 5/13/2011: 179 reports (1 tor)
  • 6/13/2014: 108 reports (3 tors)
  • 5/13/2016: 69 reports
  • 4/13/2012: 65 reports (13 tors)
  • 7/13/2012: 35 reports

August 13, 2010, was the worst Friday the 13th severe weather outbreak, with 183 severe reports, but there were only six tornado reports. That day was part of a six-day outbreak that brought over 1,000 severe weather reports (and 23 tornadoes).

2010 Storms Aug 11 - 16

April 13, 2012, (ironically six years ago) featured 13 tornado reports, the most on any Friday the 13th since 2010 -- a number which will likely be exceeded if our forecast comes true. The outbreak in 2012 was also part of a larger group of storms that spanned the 13th-15th, with the worst falling on the 14th, totaling 182 tornado reports with 591 severe weather reports! (April 14, 2012, also included eyewitness reports from Becky and Mike at AccuWeather).

Storms 2012 April 13-15

An honorable mention goes to May 13th, 2011, with 179 severe reports but only one tornado report. That Friday the 13th was part of a five-day severe weather outbreak that dropped 29 tornadoes as part of a whopping 1,516 severe reports.

Storms 2011 May 11-14

What about before 2010? There was no easy way for me to search that, but only one High Risk for storms was issued in SPC history on a Friday the 13th -- on April 13, 2007. That day, there were 143 severe weather reports in the southern Plains, but only four tornadoes.

Isn't there going to be a blizzard too? Yes, over 2 feet of snow is headed for the northern Plains, starting on Friday. For mid-April, that's scary!

Friday the 13th Blizzard (Altered Graphic)

There are a couple of precedents for a "Friday the 13th" snowstorm -- one in Seattle in 1950, and Lake Storm Aphid" on Oct. 13, 2011, in New York state.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)