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AccuWeather’s US tornado forecast shows 4 states face the highest risk this year

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
February 27, 2019, 2:52:04 PM EST

AccuWeather predicts there will be 1,075 tornadoes in 2019, which is nine percent more than the 987 tornadoes in 2018. However, the figure is six percent fewer than the U.S. annual average of 1,141.

The 525 tornadoes expected from March through May is almost exactly the normal average of 526 from March through May. In 2018, just 345 occurred from March through May.

AccuWeather projects a higher frequency of severe weather risks in the traditional Tornado Alley. The states to be impacted the most will include Oklahoma, Kansas, and parts of Texas and Nebraska.

spring 2019 severe weather risk areas

“We believe that the more traditional severe weather region of the central and southern Plains will have a higher potential for tornadoes and severe weather more frequently than they have experienced on average the past three years,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

This forecast was shared with AccuWeather’s subscription clients last week and now is made available to the public free of charge as a public service.

“We believe warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures over the Gulf of Mexico will lead to increased moisture transport from the Gulf over the region and ultimately a higher frequency of severe weather in these areas,” Pastelok said.

Last year, the U.S. set record lows for the number of fatalities and the number of “violent” tornadoes, those with estimated wind speeds of 166 mph or higher. Tornadoes killed just 10 Americans last year, the lowest number since record-keeping began in 1875. The previous record low total was 12 in 1910. Tornadoes cause an average of 80 U.S. fatalities annually.

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Tornado deaths graphic

Tornadoes are ranked on the Enhanced Fujita Scale– from EF0 (the weakest) to EF5 – and 2018 was the first year since these records began in 1950 that there was not at least one EF4 or EF5 tornado in the U.S.

The number of tornadoes reported annually has been rising over the past few decades mainly because more are reported as the U.S. population has risen and more people have access to mobile devices and cameras. Many tornadoes of the past were not seen or recorded; this change may amount to an increase of reported tornadoes of up to 20 percent over the last 40 years and 10 percent over the past 20 years.

However, tornado-related fatalities have been trending downward despite more people living in tornado-prone areas. The reasons for this trend include advances in weather science and technology, the increasing accuracy of warnings and the effectiveness of warning methods such as through mobile apps, and better cooperation between government weather services and the American weather industry that includes AccuWeather.

The AccuWeather Ready site includes educational weather news and videos, facts about the potential health impacts of different weather events, safety tips and resources, personalized weather preparedness plans, detailed checklists, and more. Users also can receive severe weather push notifications in the AccuWeather app on iOS and Android.

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