WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | Weather

This year showing a big drop off in tornado touchdowns across the state

The warm and dry conditions this past spring along with the blazing heat and drought this summer have one positive we need to look at...a lack of tornadoes.

So far in 2012, we have seen only three tornadoes. The third actually occured just this past Thursday on August 9th. The tornado actually began as a waterspout on Lake Superior and came ashore as a weak EF-0 tornado on Barker's Island up in Douglast County.

The other two tornadoes this year were also EF-0 twisters. One was in Polk County near Luck on May 27th and the other was in Marathon County on May 24th. That was the only twister that produced any damage, and the only damage was to trees.

Below is a map looking at the locations and track of all three tornadoes in 2012:

Complete record keeping of tornadoes goes back in Wisconsin to about 1950. Before the '50s, back into the 1800s, record keeping was poor for tornadoes. There was also a lack of awareness and training for individuals to spot tornadoes, along with a lack of individuals to spot tornadoes as there was no modern spotter network. That's why those year before 1950 are not included.

If we go through the rest of this month with only 3 tornadoes, that would mean this year is tied with 1961 for 3rd fewest number of tornadoes in the first 8 months of the year. If we don't see any more tornadoes the rest of the year, this would be the second least number of tornadoes ever in recorded history for Wisconsin (going back to 1950). It is believed there were a few years with zero tornadoes in the late 1800s.

The 30 year average for tornadoes in the state shows the number of tornadoes drops off quite a bit from August into Septemeber. We average 3.1 tornadoes in August and 1.8 tornadoes in September. October through December are well less than 1 and even 0 in December. The least amount of tornadoes in a year was back in 1952 when only 1 twister touched down in the state. So while there is still time to see some more tornadoes, time is running out.

What's really fascinating about this is how busy the past couple years have been for tornadoes...in the top 5! Last year in 2011, 38 tornadoes hit the state. That's the fourth most since record keeping began in 1950. In 2010, it was an incredible year for tornadoes with a staggering 46 tornadoes touching down. That's the second most in record keeping!

So really this is quite a shift in tornado occurences. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out, but this is some great news after two very busy years in the state for tornadoes.


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