There are few natural disasters more terrifying to experience and more devastating to a local economy than a tornado. The largest outbreak in U.S. history took place April 25-27, 2011. During that week, 305 twisters took their toll on the Southeast. The previous record was 267 tornadoes in 1974. It is believed the outbreak caused upwards of $5 billion in damage.

Top Ten

In a few articles on weather.com, Tornado Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes identified the top ten tornado prone cities in the U.S. He then identified the top five cities by region. The top ten cities are listed below, followed by regional highlights:

Metro Tornadoes based on records from 1950-2010:

Rank by

Density

Metro

Tornadoes

Density

% above/below

per yr per 1000 sq mi

state avg. 1950-2007

1

Clearwater, FL

122

7.142857

621

2

Oklahoma City, OK

101

2.335314

187

3

Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL

134

2.090125

111

4

New Orleans, LA

62

2.08705

232

5

Tulsa, OK

72

2.070751

154

6

Houston, TX

214

2.029032

287

7

Melbourne, FL

116

1.866182

88

8

Indianapolis, IN

41

1.697301

187

9

Lubbock, TX

91

1.657559

216

10

Fort Worth, TX

84

1.593807

204

Breaking the U.S. into five regions, Forbes highlights the following cites among the most prone and given some fascinating statistical information:

 

Midwest Region- Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis averages 1.7 tornadoes every year per 1,000 miles. They have been averaging 11 tornadoes in the month of May since 1950. Fortunately, there have been no tornado related deaths reported since 1950.

Central Plains Region- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Of the 78 metropolitan areas that Dr. Forbes studied, Oklahoma City ranked number two on the list of most tornado prone cities. Amazingly, they get hit with tornado virtually every year. They average 2.3 tornadoes every year per 1,000 square miles.  Perhaps one of the most memorable tornado outbreaks in recent history took place in 1999. Amazingly it lasted 3 days and also affected Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee.

Gulf Coast/Mid-South Region- New Orleans, Louisiana
Although people usually associate New Orleans with hurricanes, it also averages 2.1 tornadoes each year, per 1,000 miles. New Orleans and Jefferson Parish have been directly affected 62 times since 1950 with 5 deaths blamed on tornadoes since 1950.

Southeast of Appalachians Regions- Atlanta, Georgia
on March 14, 2008 Atlanta had an EF 2 twister rip through the downtown area shattering hundreds of windows in the Omni hotel and damaging the CNN Center. It was responsible for one death. With a peak month of April, 71 tornados have been reported since 1950.

“Other” Region- Clearwater, Florida
Florida’s twister history is a long and storied one. Clearwater averages 7.1 tornadoes annually, per 1,000 square miles.

 

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