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2013 Tornadoes: Numbers Low, Destruction High
28 May 2014
Taylor & Francis
Despite some high profile tornadoes in 2013, the new article, "The 2013 Tornado Season: Local Devastation Defies Below-Normal Numbers", in Weatherwise magazine is reporting below average numbers of tornados. There were 903 tornadoes in the United States, which is below the 10-year annual average of 1,350. Furthermore, it has been 25 years since a year with fewer tornadoes, which was in 1989 with 856.
The first tornado hit Saint Martin Parish, Louisiana on January 10. There were no fatalities or injuries reported for this EF1 but the 100 mph winds damaged rooftops along a two-mile path.
The last tornado that hit in 2013 was in Bourbon County, Kentucky on December 21. This was also a EF1 tornado that was part of an outbreak of 13 tornados inflicting damage to many outbuildings. Overall a total of 43 states had tornadoes in 152 days during 2013.
The most famous tornado outbreak of the year was in May. Although the first half of May was relatively inactive, the last half of the month was devastating, especially for Oklahoma. It started on May 15 with supercell thunderstorms that brought large hail and tornadoes to the north-central Texas. Between May 18 and May 20 there was severe weather across the Plains and the Midwest. A total of 73 tornadoes hit. The first tornado of the outbreak was recorded as an EF4 touching down near Rozel, Kansas. Another EF4 tornado touched down near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with two fatalities. May 20 saw the most destructive tornado, which was categorized as EF4/EF5. The area most affected was Moore, Oklahoma with over 300 homes in the tornado path. In less than two weeks, a third tornado with EF5 level winds had hit El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31. This tornado would gain notoriety by claiming the lives of three well-known severe storm researchers along with five others.
Although 2013 clocked in with some extremely devastating tornadoes, it was the second year in a row with a total less than 1,000. The three most active days of the year, November 17 (74 tornadoes), January 30 (44 tornadoes), and May 20 (36 tornadoes), accounts for nearly 90% of estimated property losses and over half of the 55 total fatalities. In conclusion, this articles states that the numbers do not always tell the whole story.
To view the full 2013 tornado breakdown and access the whole article, visit http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00431672.2014.899803#.U4Nho_ldUmU