Smith's Severe Weather Science: Top Rated Tornadoes

Texas tops the list of average annual tornadoes in a year. Dating back to 1985, Texas sees an average of 140 tornadoes per year. The most tornadoes in Western North Texas occur in the month of May.

The National Weather Service archives tornadoes for Western North Texas by county. This includes, Wichita, Clay, Archer, Baylor, Wilbarger, Hardeman, Foard, and Knox Counties.

I picked two Facebook Question to focus on. The first one comes from Chelsy Tappan: What are the most common rated tornadoes?

Tornadoes are ranked on the Fujita Scale. Texas Tech worked with Dr. Ted Fujita to improve the F-scale. In 2007 the Enhanced Fujita Scale became the primary ranking to better associate damage with the wind speed of the tornado and eliminate limitations.
Storm surveyors determine the strength of the winds based on the damage observed after a storm.
  • EF-0: 65-85 MPH: MINOR: You may see broken tree branches and a few shingles blown off a roof.
  • EF-1: 86-110 MPH: MODERATE: You may see significant roof damage, windows may be broken and overturned mobile homes.
  • EF-2: 111-135 MPH: CONSIDERABLE: You may see roofs torn off, trees uprooted, cars tossed, and mobile homes destroyed.
  • EF-3: 136-165 MPH: SEVERE: You may see upper stories of homes destroyed and homes on weak foundations blown away.
  • EF-4: 166-200 MPH: EXTREME: You may start to see homes leveled and cars thrown much further away.
  • EF-5: > 200 MPH: MASSIVE or INCREDIBLE: Well constructed homes are gone and even steel reinforced buildings are damaged.
To answer Chelsy’s question, I looked at tornado climatology across the united states since 1950. Remember the EF scale wasn’t used until 2007 so we must look at tornadoes rated on both scales. The data only went up to 2016.
EF/F-0 tornadoes are the most common and the numbers drop all the way to EF/F-5.
  • 28400 EF/F-0,
  • 20874 EF/F-1,
  • 9570 EF/F-2,
  • 2540 EF/F-3,
  • 605 EF/F-4
  • 62 EF/F-5
  • 122 EF/F-0,
  • 70 EF/F-1,
  • 29 EF/F-2,
  • 11 EF/F-3,
  • 6 EF/F-4
  • 1 EF/F-5
After analyzing the tornado paths, I can answer another Facebook Question. This one is from Pancho Luis Rosales: Which direction do tornadoes usually travel and come from?
The majority travel from the southwest and move northeast. That means if the storm is southwest of you, watch it closely. For example, if a storm has formed in Seymour, Wichita Falls should be very cautions.
The 1979 tornado followed this path, but this is not a rule. In 2005 a tornado just east of Benjamin moved southeast.
If you have a question be sure to like my Facebook page Carly Smith WX Newschannel 6 and post or private message your questions. I will do my best to answer it on TV in the coming weeks.
- Carly Smith. First Alert Meteorologist