U.S. tornado activity in March expected to set record


There appear to have been more tornadoes across the United States this year in March than ever before – perhaps by a wide margin.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, more than 250 tornadoes were reported in March in the United States, but mostly in the states of Mississippi, Texas, Iowa, Alabama and Florida. Louisiana also experienced strong tornadoes.

Some work needs to be done to confirm reported tornadoes and rule out duplicate reports, but experts say the March 2017 record of 192 tornadoes will likely be broken. There were 191 tornadoes in March 2021, although this number remains preliminary. Tornado record keeping began in 1950.

Severe convective thunderstorms – which include tornadoes, straight-line winds, lightning and hail – can be a major contributor to losses for insurers. According to disaster modeler RMS, the combined average annual loss is over $18 billion in the United States and Canada.

Severe convective storms caused $26.7 billion in losses in 2021, according to Aon. There were 1,376 tornadoes in the United States in 2021 compared to 1,075 in 2020, according to preliminary data from NOAA.

Although tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, spring usually spawns the most tornadoes because atmospheric conditions are ripe. Like hurricanes, warm seawater favors the formation of tornadoes and convective thunderstorms, even far from the ocean. AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said above-normal water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico contributed to the number of tornadoes in March.


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