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U.S. Weather Phenomena

Where and When do Tornadoes occur


Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, these destructive forces of nature are found most frequently in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. 
In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. 
Remind this:
  • Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year. 
  • In the southern states, peak tornado occurrence is in March through May, while peak months in the northern states are during the summer. 
    Note, in some states, a secondary tornado maximum occurs in the fall. 
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all hours of the day or night. 
  • The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph. 
  • The total number of tornadoes is probably higher than indicated in the western states. Spare population reduces the number reported.



Environmental Clues
Look out for: 
  • Dark, often greenish sky
  • Wall cloud 
  • Large hail 
  • Loud roar; similar to a freight train 

Caution:
Some tornadoes appear as a visible funnel extending only partially to the ground. Look for signs of debris below the visible funnel.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible while others are obscured by rain or nearby low-hanging clouds. 


 
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Document Information
Source: National Weather Service - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Last modified: 20100308
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