Difficult Year Could Set Unexpected Record

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Sights like the one above have been few and far between here in Iowa this year.  While that is a welcomed sign when it comes to public safety, it is still very unusual not only for Iowa but the rest of the country.  You might be surprised to know that despite the killer tornado events this year, the number of tornado touchdowns in the U.S. is low.  So low, in fact, that 2013 could go down as an all-time quiet year for tornado activity.

Iowa has not been immune to the relatively silent year.  The National Weather Service has confirmed just 15 tornadoes in Iowa so far this year.  Of course there are a number of months left in 2013, but the peak months are well behind Iowa.  To put that number in perspective, Iowa has historically seen an average of about 47 tornadoes each year, and in peak years, has topped the 100 mark.

Since the terrible events of 2011, this has been kind of a pattern in recent months.  What 2012 and 2013 have in common is drought.  A widespread and catastrophic drought likely aided in keeping the tornado count low in 2012.  2013 is shaping up to be more of the same if not worse when it comes to severe thunderstorm development.

While the number of tornadoes nationwide is hundreds below what it normally is, that’s not to say the ones we’ve seen haven’t gone quietly.  We seen countless fatalities, horrific damage as well as the terrible loss of our colleagues in the field, Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young.

There really is no rhyme or reason to all of this.  Large scale weather patterns often times seem to be cyclical and things can always turn around.  An outbreak or two of tornadoes to our south this fall could change the way we look at this year.  But for now, 2013 is going down as a relatively quiet year, but still one that unfortunately left its mark.

For more on the tornadoes reported in Iowa in 2013, click here.

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