Todd W Moore, Tiffany A DeBoer

Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment

Published date February 25, 2019

A review and analysis of possible changes to the climatology of tornadoes in the United States

  • The spatial distribution and temporal clustering of tornadoes in the United States are changing.
  • Tornado activity is increasing throughout the Southeast and in the southern portion of the Midwest and is decreasing throughout the southern and northwestern portions of the Great Plains and in the northern Midwest.
  • This eastward shift is seen in tornado density maps, regional and gridded trends, and in an eastward shift of the mean center of tornadoes at the annual scale and in summer.
  • The mean centers of tornado activity in other seasons are rather insensitive to these changes
  • Tornadoes are also clustering on fewer days in the year, and days with few tornadoes are becoming less common whereas days with many tornadoes are becoming more common.
    • These concurrent and opposing trends are subsequently altering the frequency distribution of tornado days.
  • The seasonality of these big tornado days also appears to be changing, as their increase in frequency is greatest in the fall and winter.
  • The increasing frequency of these big tornado days, which are most common in the Southeast and southern Midwest, contributes to the documented eastward shift in tornado activity.