Tornado Season 2024: What to Expect

Tornado Season 2024 | RainViewer Blog

There is a period with a higher frequency of tornadoes in the United States, often referred to as tornado season. When does tornado season start? In the United States, the peak months are typically March through June, with a concentration in Tornado Alley, a region stretching from Texas to Illinois. However, tornadoes can occur both off-season and outside of the Tornado Alley.

A Look at Tornado Alley 2024

According to Reed Timmer, a famous US storm chaser, Tornado Alley is expected to expand into 3 more states in 2024. Because of climate change and the consistently high temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, there’s often enough moisture for storm systems throughout the year, including winter. This could lead to an increase in tornadoes even beyond the typical season. Timmer thinks that these climate shifts are causing Tornado Alley to grow, moving it further south and east into Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.

Ohio Tornado 2024: A Stark Reminder

The series of strong thunderstorms and tornadoes struck Ohio on March 13-15, 2024, meaning that the Ohio tornado season has started quite early. This event serves as a reminder that tornadoes can occur anywhere, even in states not typically considered part of Tornado Alley. Interestingly, the annual number of tornadoes in Ohio as of March 15, 2024, is twice that of the entire Tornado Alley area.

Latest 2024 tornado count

The tornado in Ohio caused significant damage in areas like Lakeview and Winchester. These storms highlight the importance of staying vigilant and prepared throughout the year, not just during the traditional tornado season.

Ruins after a tornado outbreak in Ohio, 2024 Image source: The Columbus Dispatch

Not Only Ohio: Off-Season Activity Across the US

Ohio wasn’t alone in experiencing early tornado activity. The first two months of 2024 saw nearly 100 tornadoes touch down across the US. Some were linked to unusual winter storms like “Ember,” “Finn,” and “Gerri,” while others were associated with unseasonably warm temperatures. This uptick in early-season tornadoes underscores the need for continuous awareness and preparedness.

Tornado Outbreak of April 1-3

The outbreak of April has been another significant event related to tornadoes 2024. It affected 9 states, with West Virginia, Tennessee, and again, Ohio being the non-Tornado Alley states. On April 13, the severity of the tornado outbreak was assessed to be considerable, with a score of 28 points. Additionally, there were five non-direct fatalities.

Damage caused by tornadoes of 2024 in Illinois Image source: Wikipedia

What to Expect for the Rest of Tornado Season 2024

Meteorologists predict a total of 1,250 to 1,375 tornadoes in the US in 2024. This is above the historical average of 1,225 but lower than the record-breaking 1,423 tornadoes that took place in 2023. Here’s a comparative table of average annual and monthly numbers of tornadoes:


Source: AccuWeather

While the overall numbers might be lower, there’s still a chance for tornado outbreaks, especially in the traditional peak months. Areas within Tornado Alley and states bordering it should remain particularly vigilant. An increase in tornado activity is also predicted for California, which is not typically considered a high-risk zone.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Increased activity. The period from March through June is still statistically the most likely time for tornadoes to occur.
  • Unpredictability. The early season activity highlights the unpredictable nature of tornadoes. Be prepared year-round.
  • Regional variations. While some areas, like Tornado Alley, might see lower activity compared to 2023, others could experience more frequent tornadoes. Stay informed about local forecasts.

Beyond Tornado Alley: Staying Prepared Nationwide

While Tornado Alley experiences a concentrated zone of tornado activity, no region in the US is immune. Here are some essential steps to take to stay prepared for tornadoes, wherever you live:

  • Stay informed. Monitor weather forecasts closely, especially during severe weather. Activate severe weather alerts in the RainViewer app and keep an eye on tornado watch and warning alerts.
  • Know your tornado warning system. Familiarize yourself with your community’s tornado warning sirens and notification procedures.
  • Develop a tornado safety plan. Discuss a plan with your family that includes a designated tornado shelter location in your home. This could be a basement or interior room on the lowest level, away from windows and exterior walls. Conduct drills to ensure everyone knows what to do.
  • Assemble a tornado safety kit. This kit should include essentials like non-perishable food, bottled water, a first-aid kit, flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio, and a whistle (to signal for help after a storm).
  • Stay aware of your surroundings. During a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately. Do not attempt to drive or outrun a tornado.

Conclusion: Knowledge is Power

Tornado season 2024 looks to be an active one, with the possibility of increased activity in Tornado Alley. However, the early-season outbreak in Ohio serves as a reminder that tornadoes can strike anywhere, anytime.

By staying informed, developing a plan, and having a safety kit prepared, you and your family can be better equipped to weather the storm literally. Remember, knowledge is power. The more you understand tornado risks and how to prepare, the safer you will be.

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