AccuWeather Global Weather Center – February 21, 2020 – An early start in a particular area of the United States for tornado-related weather could signal what’s ahead for the 2020 tornado season in the U.S.
AccuWeather forecasts a normal to slightly above-normal number of tornadoes in 2020 with a range of 1,350 to 1,450. That range is close to what occurred in 2019 and 5 to 15 percent more than the U.S. annual average.
There were 1,422 tornadoes in 2019 and between 1,253 and 1,297 tornadoes occur annually in the U.S., according to the National Centers for Environmental Information and the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
The current average number of U.S. tornadoes per year based on long-term data is lower than what actually occurs each year. That’s because the number of tornadoes reported annually has been rising over the past few decades mainly because more are reported as the U.S. population has risen and more people have access to mobile devices and cameras. Many tornadoes of the past were not seen or recorded; this change may amount to an increase of reported tornadoes of up to 20 percent over the last 40 years and 10 percent over the past 20 years.
“For the most part, it will be a normal transition for the tornado season – with a lot more active weather across the South in late February, March and early April – but there will also be a lot more concentration of severe weather over the central Plains into the lower Midwest in March,” said AccuWeather lead long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
“It’ll be very important to see what happens in March,” Pastelok said. “Once the cold snap lifts out in the central Plains and lower Midwest by mid-March, things could get unstable quickly and we could have another active area there.”
AccuWeather is calling for more than double the average number of tornadoes in March, a typical total in April and roughly 10 to 30 percent more tornadoes than average in May. There are an average of 75 tornadoes in March, 178 in April and 269 in May, according to Storm Prediction Center records from 1991-2015.