Tornado Season 2014: No Deaths So Far, Safest Period Since 1915

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 07:09 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Tornado season 2014 has been the safest on record for nearly a century, with no tornado-related deaths reported so far this year. The last time there were no recorded deaths at this point in tornado season was 1915.

"This is likely the slowest start to a tornado season since 1915," Harold Brooks, a senior researcher at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., told NBC News. "1900 is possibly slower and, prior to that, we're looking at the late 1870s and early 1880s for challengers."

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The reason for the uncertainty is because the most detailed tornado database kept by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) dates back to 1953. Less reliable tornado research dates back to the latter part of the 19th century.

In addition to the lack of fatalities, there have also been fewer, less severe tornados overall.

Since the start of 2014, there has not been a tornado of 3 or greater strength on the Fujita scale, which measures the intensity of tornadoes as they hit the ground. The Fujita scale ranges from 0 to 5, with 5 being the strongest.

While the average number of tornadoes each year is 157, there have been just 20 F1 or F2-strength tornados so far in 2014.

There was a record 465 tornadoes just three years ago, The Washington Post reported.

One of the reasons for the slow start to this year's tornado season is the colder than usual winter.

"We have seen well below-normal temperatures continue in some areas of the country ... a continuation of the below-normal temperatures over the winter," Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., told USA Today. "Winter cold is loosely correlated with below-normal tornado numbers."

Unfortunately, 2014 will likely see at least one death from an upcoming tornado. There have been no years to date in which tornados were not responsible for at least one death. On average, 60 people are killed each year by tornados in the U.S., NBC News noted.

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