Apr 25, 2017

2017 U.S. tornado season off to a whirlwind start

United States
Tom Di Liberto
NOAA Climate.gov
Image: NOAA Climate.gov Patrick Marsh NOAA Photo Library
Image: NOAA Climate.gov Patrick Marsh NOAA Photo Library

The 2017 tornado season across the United States has gotten off to an active start. As of April 17, 570 tornadoes have been reported (preliminarily), which is almost a hundred more than average. The season jumped out of the gate with an incredibly active January: 134 tornadoes in total—more than triple the long-term average—and an especially radical departure from the past three years, during which the average number of January tornados was just 16.

The image [above] shows the running tally of preliminary tornado counts in 2017 (gold line, through April 22) compared to the 2005-2015 average (beige bars). The data were provided by Patrick Marsh of NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center. As the daily numbers add up, the line rises like an irregular staircase, with this year far steeper than normal.  The graph is overlaid on a picture of a tornado looming over a farm in Benton County, Minnesota, on August 24, 2014.