In 2022, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded 1,341 tornadoes in the US, but over half caused no recorded property damage. And nearly 95% — 1,265 of the 1,341 — caused no injuries and fatalities.
However, powerful tornadoes can be incredibly dangerous. Fifteen tornadoes were responsible for all tornado deaths in 2022.
In 2022, NOAA recorded 25 deaths from tornadoes and 315 injuries. Iowa sustained the most tornado deaths from in 2022, with seven resulting from a string of devastating tornadoes on March 5.
Nine states suffered fatalities from tornadoes, and 22 recorded injuries.
NOAA reported around $700 million of property and crop damage caused by tornadoes. Nearly all the reported crop damage occurred in Nebraska during one June tornado near the village of Lushton that destroyed thousands of acres of crops and many grain bins.
On average, each 2022 tornado caused an average of $684,492 of property damage.
Iowa and Louisiana sustained the most property damage in 2022 from tornadoes. The March 5 series of tornadoes in Iowa alone caused $223 million in property destruction. On December 14, a series of five tornadoes in Southeast Louisiana caused $150 million in property damage.
Most tornadoes are weak or moderate: although 44 states recorded tornadoes in 2022, just 35 sustained damage.
NOAA uses the Enhanced Fujita scale to measure tornado severity. It ranges from EF0 (weak damage) to EF5 (incredible damage). The scale looks at the tornado’s estimated wind speeds, as well its damage to structures and vegetation. In 2022, 86% of tornadoes were classified as EF0 or EF1. Just five were EF4 (severe damage), and none were EF5. The last EF5 tornado in the US was in 2013 in Oklahoma.
While the overall number of tornadoes has not significantly increased over the past decade, government scientists theorize that recent changes in tornado activity may be linked to climate change.
Tornadoes form when warm moist air near the ground meets cooler dry air in the sky in an unstable updraft. Scientists noted that warmer winter temperatures than normal contributed to a series of dangerous tornadoes in December 2021, much later in the year than usual.
Scientists have also detected an increase in tornadoes in the South and Midwest over the past 40 years, including parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
However, it is difficult to attribute specific tornadoes to climate change, and there is no scientific consensus for the impact climate change has had on tornadoes.
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