In 2019 so far, there have been more than 1,000 tornado reports, which is almost 200 more than the yearly average. But scientists are finding that the yearly number of tornadoes aren’t going up.
“We generally hit about 1,200 to 1,500 tornadoes in the United States every year. And that number doesn’t seem to be going up,” Florida State University Geography Department chair Dr. Jim Elsner explained. “But what we are seeing is that they tend to come in bigger bunches.”
The National Weather Service reported receiving 500 tornado reports over a 30-day span in May. It’s the 5th time this decade reports have surpassed 500 in such a short period since records started around the 1950s.
Weather scientists have been quick to point out climate change is not technically the cause of the current tornado activity, but it could be creating conditions that accommodate clusters.
“This is some of the research that we’re working on, it’s still unclear why this is occurring,” Elsner said. “I think in some ways we have more days with conditions that make it difficult for tornadoes to form and then when we get the conditions right for tornadoes, it’s almost like the atmosphere explodes with many of them.”
At least 38 deaths this year have been tornado-related.