2011 tornado information

Preliminary tornado statistics including records set in 2011

 More deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas claimed 13 additional lives on May 24, 2011.

  • During the severe weather outbreak, two separate tornadic supercells approached Norman, Oklahoma and the National Weather Center building where NOAA National Weather Service facilities are located.
  • The Weather Forecast Office, which is responsible for critical minute by minute warnings, continued critical life-saving operations throughout the tornado outbreak. Back-up plans could have been implemented had the staff felt an imminent threat.
  • On Sunday, May 22, 2011, a devastating tornado hit the city of Joplin, Mo., leaving an estimated 123 people dead and 750 others injured, about 1,500 people remain unaccounted for in Joplin.
      • The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern recordkeeping began in 1950 and is ranked 8th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.
        • NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

          NOAA satellite shows storm system moments before spawning tornado in Joplin, Mo.

          (Credit: NOAA)

          The deadliest tornado on record in the U.S. was on March 18, 1925.  The “Tri-State Tornado” (MO, IL, IN) had a 291-mile path, was rated F5 based on a historical assessment, and caused 695 fatalities.

      • Final EF rating determined:  The NWS has increased the EF rating for the May 22, 2011, Joplin, Missouri tornado from EF-4 to EF-5.  The Storm Survey team in Joplin continued their assessment today and identified damage consistent with what would be expected from an EF-5 tornado, with winds in excess of 200 mph.  The tornado was ¾ of a mile wide.
      • NWS responded to the increased need for staffing by sending additional forecasters to the Springfield, Missouri Weather Forecast Office.  The larger team is now able to support the ongoing severe weather operations as well as the first responder response and recovery efforts in Joplin.  An Incident Meteorologist has been deployed to the Incident Command Post.
      • The Marion County long-track EF5 of 27 April 2011 claimed 78 lives.

        • NWS’s preliminary estimate is more than 100 tornadoes have occurred during the month of May 2011.
          • The record number of tornadoes during the month of May was 542 tornadoes set in May 2003.
          • The average number of tornadoes for the month of May during the past decade is 298.
          • May is historically the most active month for tornadoes.

        2011 Year-to-Date (and record annual) Statistics

        • NWS’s preliminary estimate is that there have been approximately 1,000 tornadoes so far this year.
          • The previous yearly record number of tornadoes was set in 2004 with 1,817.
          • The overall yearly average number of tornadoes for the past decade is 1,274.
        • The preliminary estimated number of tornado fatalities so far this year is 501.  NWS records indicate that there were 365 tornado fatalities before the Joplin tornado.  Media reports currently indicate 123 fatalities in the Joplin event.  An additional 13 fatalities were reported in KS, OK, and AR from a tornado outbreak on May 24, 2011.
          • The US tornado death toll is the highest ever through the month of May in the NOAA-NWS official record (1950-present).
          • The highest recorded annual death toll from tornadoes in the NOAA-NWS official record (1950-present) was set in 1953 with 519 fatalities.



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