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March Begins Escalation of Spring Tornado Season: What You Need to Know

March kicks off the escalating spring tornado season and is the fifth most active month of the year for severe weather. Here’s what you need to know about where the highest risks are and where you might not expect them.

Tornadoes can turn deadly in March

After capturing twenty years of data, weather scientists from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have recorded that March is the fifth most active month of the year for tornadoes, just slightly above August and September. But concerning is the fact that, over the last five years, the month of March has seen an increase in tornado extremes. In 2017, March was the most active on record with 192 tornadoes. In 2019, tornadoes in March caused 23 deaths, and the number increased in 2020 when tornadoes on March 2 and March 3 in Tennessee claimed 25 lives, the Weather Channel reported.

The worst tornado in US history struck on March 18, 1925. Dubbed the “Tri-State Tornado,” the twister ripped through three states, Missouri to Illinois to Indiana, killing 694 people.

The average number of tornadoes during spring 2000-2019

When March arrives, it kicks off the time of year when severe weather and tornadoes escalate. March is the fifth most active month of the year, with March through September being the most active months.

Here is the list of the average tornadoes by month from spring into early fall, for the years 2000-2019, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

March: 83

April: 194

May: 281

June: 196

July: 103

August: 76

September: 62

The highest average tornado risk areas in March

During March, parts of the southern Midwest, Mid-South, and South are the areas at the greatest risk of experiencing tornadoes. This includes the northeastern corner of Texas, Eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, central and northern Mississippi, southwestern Tennessee, and Alabama.

Other areas at risk during March

Greater risk: Northeastern Texas, Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, southern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, Western Kentucky, central and western Tennessee, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, central and northern Georgia, central and southern Florida.

Possible risk: Eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, central and southern Texas, southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, western Oklahoma, Kansas, southeastern Nebraska, central and southern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois, southern Michigan, Indiana, central and western Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, southern Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida.

Tornadoes in Los Angeles?

In the extreme west, you wouldn’t necessarily think about a tornado risk, but there’s still a chance. Southern California, including the Los Angeles area, and even parts of central and the southern end of northern California are at risk. During March, at least 50 percent of the state has the potential for tornadoes.

Are you prepared for severe weather?

The most important thing for anyone living in areas that can be affected by severe weather is to begin getting prepared now.

When it comes to tornadoes, it’s important to develop a family emergency plan that includes an evacuation plan and a designated safe space. Preferably, a basement or underground shelter, or the next best thing is an interior room with no windows. This is often a bathroom.

If everyone could possibly be separated when severe weather strikes, also have a family communications strategy. Make sure that every member of your family has a cell phone. If every member of your family does not have a cell phone, look for the best cellular phone deals by doing an online search for cell phone deals near me.

It’s also vital to have a weather radio that is battery-powered or can be charged by a hand crank in case the power goes out.

The next crucial thing to have on hand is a 3-day supply of fresh water and food.

It’s also a good idea to have a flashlight, a spare battery backup charger for your cell phone, and extra batteries for your weather radio and flashlight.

In addition, prepare an emergency kit that contains the aforementioned items, as well as, vital medications, a first aid kit. Be sure to include food and water for your pets if you have any.

To get additional information about how to be prepared for severe weather, visit these US government websites for articles on preparedness at:

ready.gov/severe-weather

weather.gov/safety/thunderstorm-prepare

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