Is Michigan seeing more tornadoes than usual? - WNEM TV 5

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Is Michigan seeing more tornadoes than usual?

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Tornado numbers for the past 5 years + current year. Tornado numbers for the past 5 years + current year.
Michigan tornado statistics. Michigan tornado statistics.
Map showing average yearly tornadoes per state. (Source: NOAA) Map showing average yearly tornadoes per state. (Source: NOAA)
(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

It was a little more than a week ago that residents of southwestern Michigan saw 6 confirmed tornadoes disrupt their lives on a rainy Saturday afternoon. These storms brought our yearly total up to 15 tornadoes across the state, and had many wondering if this level of activity was normal for Michigan. 

Compared to the Past:

The average number of tornadoes across Michigan per year is usually 16. (When looking at the 20 year average from 1991 to 2010.) So with 15 tornadoes so far this year, we are just about on pace to hit that mark. 

The main reason I am not concerned about the seemingly high number at this stage of the year is that over the past 5 years the state of Michigan has only seen an average of 2.4 tornadoes after the month of August, with 2 of those years actually see no tornadoes past August. While we may still have a few days this year where tornadic weather may occur, it would not put us far above average, if at all.

Why Was This Year More Active Than Last:

The simple reason being that the weather has been warmer this year than last. With many days reaching into the 90s, especially in Flint, there has been plenty of energy to work with. However, that being said, we really weren't having an active year until August 20th, when those 6 tornadoes hit southwestern Michigan. Up until that point the state had only seen 9 tornadoes, putting us below where we usually are for this time of the year. In the past 5 years 78.94% of the tornadoes have occurred before September, so following August our weather tends to quiet down. 

It is also hard to call any one year active, as a single outbreak of storms, like the August 20th one for southwestern Michigan, or the September 1st outbreak in 2013, can take an average to below average year, and greatly raise the total count in a single afternoon.

No matter what time of year severe weather strikes, there is one thing you can count on. The First Warn 5 team will always be here to keep you informed, safe, and ahead of the storms. 

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