Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 Tornadoes in Review

The preliminary quality control work is now complete and the "final" 2012 tornado statistics are in.  While its wasn't the "record low" year that some were predicting in the fall, it was a below normal year indeed.  A total of 936 tornadoes took place throughout the year, which is about 80% of the "normal" of 1148.  The last time we had fewer tornadoes in a year was back in 2002, when 934 were reported.

The first tornado of 2012 took place at 8:45 a.m. CST on January 9th (EF-0 intensity near Mission Bend, Texas) and the last took place at 5pm EST on the day after Christmas (EF-1 intensity near Beaufort, North Carolina).

In total, the tornadoes were spread out over 170 days with the top 5 events being:

1.  April 14-15th:  98 tornadoes (view the Tornado Chronicles post)
2.  March 2-3rd:  75 tornadoes (view the Tornado Chronicles post)
3.  February 29:  44 tornadoes
4.  December 25th:  28 tornadoes (preliminary)
5.  January 22-23:  25 tornadoes

I've never seen a Christmas Day show up on the top 5 tornado event list for any year, which should give you an idea as to how unusual the trends were overall.  As the 2012 actual vs. normal chart shows below, the first quarter of the year started out abnormally active, which continued into April.  From May and beyond, the trend then reversed with below normal activity throughout the remainder of the year, with the exception of December (thanks in large part to the Christmas Day event):

There were 68 people killed by tornadoes in 2012 and while 68 deaths are 68 deaths too many, the fatality rate was below the 91 that we see in an average year.  The deadliest single tornado of 2012 was the Henryville, Indiana event of March 2nd, where 11 people were killed.

Henryville, IN Tornado - via Evan Bentley

While it is impossible to be sure what 2013 will bring as a whole, preliminary signs point toward an active start to the spring severe weather season.  I would encourage everyone to review severe weather safety, preparedness and sheltering tips ahead of time so that you're sure to be ready when the "regular" severe weather gets underway.  Watch for an update to the severe weather preparedness post next month.  While there won't be any significant changes made to the safety and sheltering tips, I will be making some new recommendations with regard to being prepared and receiving severe weather warnings and updates.

Also, stay tuned for an exciting new program coming this spring.  The popular "Tornado Chronicles" series here on the blog will be spinning-off (no pun intended), to its own website, including a searchable tornado database!  Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the site should be live on March 1.

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