AccuWeather Forecasts ‘A Big Drop’ in June and July Tornadoes After a Near-Record May

AccuWeather Photo

The El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado in late May was rated as an EF3 tornado by the National Weather Service. EF3 tornadoes are severe tornadoes with wind speeds between 136-165 miles per hour.

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer

The El Reno, Oklahoma, tornado in late May was rated as an EF3 tornado by the National Weather Service. EF3 tornadoes are severe tornadoes with wind speeds between 136-165 miles per hour.

AccuWeather predicts that the number of tornadoes in June and July will be below normal and dramatically lower than the near-record-setting total that occurred in May.

AccuWeather’s forecast of 175 tornadoes in June is 23.5% lower than normal for the month; the 25-year average for U.S. tornadoes in June is 229. For July, AccuWeather predicts 90 tornadoes will touch down, which is 26.8% fewer than the 25-year average for July tornadoes of 123.

AccuWeather now predicts the total number of tornadoes for 2019 will be between 1,275 and 1,300.

So far this year, 1,113 tornadoes have been reported in the U.S., though those are just preliminary numbers and not confirmed. There were 1,169 tornadoes in 2018 and the U.S. annual average is 1,141. Tornado season typically eases up later in the summer and into the fall.

“Because of the pace of tornadoes in April and May, we’re in the higher percentile of tornadoes for the year, but now that percentile is going to go down a good bit faster,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok. “On average, the frequency of tornadoes goes down in June and July, but we think it’s going to be a big drop down.”

In May, 555 tornadoes were reported in the U.S. — though those figures are preliminary and not confirmed reports. The previous recorded high confirmed for May was 542 in 2003, while the 25-year average for May is 269.

The number of tornadoes reported annually has been rising over the past few decades, mainly because more are reported as the U.S. population has risen and more people have access to mobile devices and cameras. Many tornadoes of the past were not seen or recorded; this change may amount to an increase of reported tornadoes of up to 20 percent over the last 40 years and 10 percent over the past 20 years, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

“We eased back on our early predictions for June,” Pastelok said. “The pattern looks different from May with weaker, but still upper-level systems moving west to east and plenty of moisture that can produce showers and thunderstorms with heavy rainfall and occasional severe weather.

“We thought June would slacken off significantly from May, but now we think it will go even farther,” he added.