The 2022 tornado season will be remembered as a brisk spring, but a quick glance at the entire year reveals that the final tally is lower than a typical year.
In 2022, two of the three major severe weather indices will be below average, tornado numbers will be about 5% lower than the current average, and hail reports will be nearly 30% less than what is considered normal.
Looking back at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records, the average start of the year saw a significant increase in spring, setting a record for tornado volume, but activity nearly ceased in late spring and into the summer.
The number of reported twisters was well below the moving averages for May, July and August.
By December 31, there were 1,330 preliminary reports of tornadoes, and more than 1,100 confirmed by meteorologists at the National Weather Service.
Tornado annual preliminary tally averages about 1,400 and has not exceeded this number since 2019.
It’s not your grandparents’ tornado alley anymore
Even in a quieter-than-usual year, the NWS office was able to issue a tornado warning.
Office in Jackson, Mississippi. Mobile, Alabama. Shreveport, Louisiana. Little Rock, Arkansas. Dallas-Fort Worth topped the list with the most warnings.
Much of the active area is in the south, and meteorologists and climatologists say there’s a definite trend away from seeing tornadoes in typical tornado alleys and toward more eastern hot zones.
Many of the tornadoes formed in 2022 were rated EF-0 to EF-4 on the Extended Fujita Scale, but none reached the rare state of EF-5 with wind speeds exceeding 200 mph.
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Strongest tornadoes of 2022
The strongest twister of the year occurred outside Savannah in April and was rated EF-4 with an estimated wind speed of 185 mph.
The tornado started in Texas and formed during several days of severe weather forecast as it swept through the East Coast.
The outbreak spawned at least 89 tornadoes, including a powerful tornado that hit Bryan County, Georgia.
NWS meteorologists said the tornado was three-quarters of a mile wide and was on the ground for about 14 miles.
With 1 dead and 12 injured, the tornado is one of the deadliest ever to affect Peach State.
Twister winds were estimated to be about 15 mph to reach EF-5 status.
EF-5 tornadoes have never been recorded in Georgia or nearby North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
These incredible tornadoes are continuing the continuum of missing sightings that began after EF-5 destroyed parts of the town of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013.
With an estimated wind speed of 210 mph, the tornado holds the record for being the last EF-5 tornado to affect the country.
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Largest Tornado Event of 2022
A storm system that moved across the country in late March generated 90 tornadoes from the Plains to the Northeast, making it the largest tornado of the year.
The combination of shear, massive humidity, and a deepening storm system on March 29 caused thousands of power outages and an estimated $1.3 billion in damage.
Three deaths and about 20 injuries were associated with the severe weather events.
An NWS investigation concluded that three of the tornadoes reached EF-3 status and had wind speeds exceeding 136 mph.
Busy tornado season sets record with nearly 250 Twister reports in March alone
Worst tornadoes of 2022
On March 5, 2022, the worst tornado of the year devastated a community southwest of Des Moines.
Forming near Winterset, Iowa, it remained on the ground for about 70 miles over Hawkeye before weakening and rising.
Six people were reported dead, making the Twister one of the deadliest attacks to hit the state in more than a decade.
The tornado was one of 32 tornadoes that formed during a multi-day severe weather outbreak that affected the Midwest and Southeast.
The Winterset event marked the 88th Twister rated EF-4 or better in Iowa since 1950.
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What awaits in 2023
The end of a rare triple La Niña could occur as early as spring, leading to weather shifts around the world, including whether the atmosphere is ready for tornadoes.
As the Pacific shifts from its current state and moves toward El Niño, weather factors tend to become less conducive to severe weather events.
The spring weather, which comprises March, April and May, is usually the busiest period of bad weather as the jet stream drives warm moisture northwards, fostering the instability needed for thunderstorms.
Some storms can take advantage of ripe conditions to become violent supercells with tornadoes.
Studies conducted by various private, government, and educational groups have shown that ENSO neutral conditions and El Niño events tend to produce tornadoes and hail, and that these events are consistent with average figures or over the long term. even below a reasonable number.
Experts warn that there are large variations in climate patterns and that not all neutral, La Niña, or El Niño events follow historical trends.