Well, the numbers are in for 2011 and in terms of severe weather, it was an exceptionally active year! In many respects, 2011 was record breaking!
The first record we broke was the earliest tornado on record for a calendar year. This EF-3 tornado was recorded in Mississippi at 12:03 AM on January 1st. (The last tornado recorded in 2011 was actually in Georgia on December 22. The Gilmer County tornado was rated an EF-0.)
2011 is also now ranked 1st for the greatest tornadoes in one month. In April there were 758 tornadoes, breaking the previous record of 542 tornadoes in May 2004.
Mother Nature continued to break records throughout the month of April. April 27 saw the greatest daily total of tornadoes at 200! The previous record was 128 tornadoes on April 3, 1974.
Estimated property and crop losses due to last year's tornadoes were also staggering, at approximately 10 billion dollars. The greatest total losses from a single tornado added up to 2.8 billion dollars, and that was in Joplin, Missouri.
There's an old myth that claims tornadoes don't occur in big cities, in mountainous areas, or near bodies of water, but that's completely untrue. Tornadoes can occur anywhere, and at any time. In fact, 48 states reported tornadoes in 2011! (The 50-year annual average number of states that report tornadoes is 43.)
Here are some other interesting statistics for 2011:
- 2011 is now ranked 2nd for the total number of tornadoes in one year, at 1,690. (The year with the greatest number of tornadoes was 2004: 1817!)
- 2011 is also ranked 2nd for total tornado injuries, with 5,400. (The year with the greatest number of tornado injuries in a year was in 1974, with 6,000 injuries.)
- Tornadoes are ranked in terms of the damage that they leave behind. This is called the "Enhanced Fujita Scale," an EF-0 being a fairly weak tornado, and an EF-5 packing devastating winds in excess of 200 mph. In 2011 we saw 6 EF-5 tornadoes! The record annual number of EF-5 tornadoes is 7 in 1974.
- 22 tornadoes in 2011 were rated EF4-5! The record annual number of EF-4-5 tornadoes is 36 in 1974.
- Sadly, 2011 was also a deadly year for tornadoes. Last year is now ranked 4th for the most tornado deaths, at 550. (The year with the most tornado deaths was 1925. That year the Tri-State tornado killed approximately 700 people. According to the Storm Prediction Center, the most recent year with greater than 500 tornado deaths was 1953, with 519 casualties.)
- There were 179 days in 2011 with recorded tornadoes. The 50-year annual average is 177 (1961-2010). (The record tornado days in any year is 211 tornadoes in 2000.)
- The longest tornado track in 2011 was an incredibe 132 miles! This tornado on April 27 was on the ground from Alabama into Tennessee. (The record for longest track was 235 miles on March 22, 1953. This tornado was recorded in Louisiana and Mississippi.)
2011 will forever stick out in my mind, and going through these numbers, I am again amazing at just how active last year was!
So far 2012 has also been very active. Across Georgia we've seen three Tornado Watches and in Middle Georgia there have been two confirmed tornadoes!