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March 11, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Tornado Season Underway

Based on the latest tornado statistics from the National Weather Service, there have been 49 tornadoes reported in the U.S. so far in 2010.  Forty-one of the reports came from local storm reports in January. On Monday, a tornado ripped through the western Oklahoma town of Hammon destroying at least five homes and leaving many others damaged. Mostly recently, five tornadoes were reported yesterday with four of the reports in Arkansas and one in Louisiana.

Tornado touching down in Hammon, Oklahoma. Photo: KWTV News 9

Statistically the U.S. is off to a slow start when comparing the 49 reported tornadoes so far in 2010 to the 70-100 tornadoes the nation as a whole typically sees by early March. However, even though we haven’t seen as many tornadoes on average this year, this information alone doesn’t give a good representation of what’s to come.

The strong low pressure system responsible for the tornadoes reported yesterday will continue to move slowly eastward today. Showers and thunderstorms will continue moving eastward across the southeastern U.S. today. Conditions will remain favorable for the development of isolated severe storms capable of producing damaging wind gusts, hail and isolated tornadoes. Locally heavy rainfall with 1-3 inches expected across parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida today.

Even though the 2010 Tornado Season may have gotten off to a slow start, it’s really only just beginning. Typically the peak activity isn’t until April and May, so we still have a ways to go.

Tornado Alley. Image: NOAA Research

Lastly, which city do you think holds the record for the most tornadoes? The answer is Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It’s also interesting to note the tornado of May 3, 1999 that hit Moore, which is a suburb of Oklahoma City, and cost $1.1 billon dollars in damage. According to the National Weather Service, NSSL mobile radar (or Doppler on Wheels) measured winds speeds of 318 mph within the tornado, which makes it the fastest winds ever recorded. However, those winds were measured several hundred feet above the ground and therefore, speeds at the surface were probably lower due to friction.

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