Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities
Note: Post updated to included latest NOAA stats.
With the rash of deadly tornadoes this spring, one of the questions that I’ve been asked most lately is “How many tornadoes have there been this year?”
The official number of tornadoes is not yet known, but the Storm Prediction Center (the forecast experts of tornadoes) keeps a running total of tornado reports, and as of Thursday evening, there number of tornado reports stands at 1,228 for 2011 to date.
Tornado reports are different than the number of official tornadoes since the number fluctuates based on a number of factors, such as official verification and duplicative reports. It can be months until an exact number is determined.
Don’t be confused by the two (Tornadoes and Tornado Reports), and don’t be surprised if the media confuses them as well.
The 1,128 reports of tornadoes total includes a very active April, which will likely be the most active month for tornadoes on record once the verification process has been completed. May had been relatively quiet–below the running three-year average–until the prolific outbreaks during the past week, including the devastating Joplin tornado.
The season started on January 1, with at least seven tornadoes during the early-morning hours.