Isabella Redjai, USA TODAY
Published 2:45 a.m. ET July 10, 2020
A USA TODAY motion graphic explaining how supercell storm clouds and the right weather conditions can lead to a tornado.
After a tumultuous early spring, highlighted by a deadly Easter weekend across the South, May and June were unusually quiet for tornadoes.
There was a preliminary total of 248 twisters, according to Accuweather — a combined count less than April’s total of 256 and among the lowest numbers in recorded history for two of the typically most active months of the year.
June was remarkably tame. The National Weather Service issued just six tornado watches in the U.S., the lowest number for any June in recorded history.
Why? Alan Reppert, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, credited other weather patterns and dry conditions.
“There was high pressure over the East Coast, which kept cold fronts to the north, keeping the warm air in the Plains through the East,” Reppert said.
April was an especially devastating month, including at least 30 fatalities over an Easter weekend that included 140 tornadoes in the southeastern U.S., before May and June brought surprising relief.
There were just 140 preliminary tornadoes in May, Reppert said, a stark contrast to the previous year, which produced more than 500 twisters. The May average is 269, according to the NWS.
There were ever fewer in June: The preliminary count is 108, about half as many as the average, said Bill Bunting, chief of forecast operations at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
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Although the number of tornadoes has decreased, their strength has remained much the same, within the EF0 to EF2 range, though tending to fall into the EF1 category, Reppert said. EF1 cyclones bring winds from 86 to 110 mph.
While tornado activity typically tails off into July and August, Bunting urged caution.
“We cannot state with confidence, though, what the remainder of the year will look like,” he said. “We might expect to see more extreme weather in the fall, but we can only make a 10- to 14-day prediction, so we usually look at history.”
Bunting added, “People should be monitoring forecasts, especially when going to golf courses or lakes where they’re vulnerable. There are multiple ways to get reports, through social media and your phone. And, make sure to have a plan for you and your family to stay safe.”
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