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By Meteorologist Randy Mann
Article published on March 27, 2021

Most of the rain and thunderstorm activity has been over the eastern third of the country, especially in the Deep South. Since the middle of the month, there have been two outbreaks of tornadoes with Alabama being hit the hardest.

The first outbreak was from March 16-18 as 48 twisters were reported. The strongest was an EF2 as most of them were in Alabama. The second outbreak occurred on March 24-26 as there were 12 confirmed tornadoes in the Deep South. The strongest was an EF4 which hit Newnan, Georgia.

January and February had a below average number of twisters in the U.S. In March, there are an average of 80 tornadoes each year. For the first three months of 2021, there have been 101 confirmed tornadoes in the U.S., but the National Weather Service states there are 162 preliminary reports of tornadoes, so the confirmed total may go up.

In an average year, there are about 1,250 tornadoes sighted in the U.S., more than any other place in the world. In 2020, there were a below normal 1,022 twisters that resulted in about $4.4 billion in damage. More than 60 percent of all U.S. tornadoes each year occur in what is called, "Tornado Alley," which stretches from Texas and Oklahoma northward through Kansas and eastern Colorado into Nebraska and Iowa.

April of 2020 was a very active and destructive month for tornadoes. On April 12-13, there were 140 tornadoes that formed from Texas to Maryland. EF4 twisters, the second highest on the Fujita scale, were seen in Mississippi and South Carolina. It was the deadliest outbreak since late April in 2014. The following week, April 19-20, more violent tornadoes were reported in the southern U.S. The next outbreak occurred on April 22-23 as 45 confirmed tornadoes were seen across the South.

On average, May is the most active month for tornadoes in the U.S. with an average 276. Texas has the highest total with 43. In Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California, the average number of twisters in May is one.

Fortunately, in the calmer Inland Empire, the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Rockies to the east usually protect us from the extremely powerful thunderstorm activity. But, every spring season, and sometimes during the hot summer months, we do see an occasional period of extreme weather conditions, even during drought patterns.