April 23, 2014

2012 a below average year in Missouri for tornadoes, not for tornado fatalities

The number of tornadoes in Missouri in 2012 was below average, but the number of people killed by them was not.

The strongest tornado to hit Missouri in 2012 occurred the morning of February 29 and killed one person in Stoddard County.  It registered an EF-3 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with winds estimated between 136 and 165 miles per hour.  (Image courtesy; National Weather Service.)

The strongest tornado to hit Missouri in 2012 occurred the morning of February 29 and killed one person in Stoddard County. It registered an EF-3 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with winds estimated between 136 and 165 miles per hour. (Image courtesy; National Weather Service.)

Preliminary data say Missouri had 28 tornadoes in 2012 that killed 6 people and injured 70. That’s below the average of 32 tornadoes a year going back to 1950, but nearly right on average for casualties.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Kramper says the unusually warm and dry weather last year had a lot to do with the number of tornadoes being down.

“2012 was a record-setting year in terms of warmth.  We had a very warm spring and as such … late winter and spring was our most active time of the year. February lead the way, believe it or not, with 13 tornadoes in February followed by March with 2 and then April had 5. Then after that it really slacked off. Very slow numbers in May, virtually nothing in June as well … (in 2012) everything was very early in the year.”

Kramper says it’s disappointing that tornado deaths were not down, especially in a below-average year for the number of twisters. He suspects too many people still think it won’t happen to them.

“It’s really their own level of protection. What do they feel safe with? Do they have adequate protection in case they’re threatened? One of the big problems we’re finding is a lot of people simply don’t have adequate protection and that’s something that needs to be worked on.”

Of the 28 tornadoes in the state, most were relatively weak in terms of wind speed. The strongest was a single EF-3 tornado in southeast Missouri’s Stoddard County that killed one person.