The Most Tornado-Prone US States

A tornado on the American plain.
A tornado on the American plain.

No other place on earth experiences tornadoes with more frequency than the US. Every year the country is hit by 1,200 tornadoes with some of them rated EF5, the highest rating for violent storms. However, there are specific states where tornadoes occur more frequently than others, and this is influenced by their locations as well as the seasons.

Tornado Categories

Tornadoes are measured using the Fujita scale and are classed from F0 to F5. F0 tornadoes are light with wind speeds reaching between 40 and 72 mph. F1 tornadoes are moderate having wind speeds reaching between 73 and 112 mph. The F2 category has tornadoes that are described as significant and have wind speeds reaching between 113 and 157 mph, while F3 tornadoes are severe with wind speeds of between 158 and 206 mph. F4 storms have tornadoes that are defined as devastating, and their wind speeds reach between 207and 260 mph, while the F5 category is referred to as incredible and their wind speeds range from 261 to 318 mph.


Tornadoes are a frequent occurrence in the state of Texas every year. The cold air originating from Canada collides with the humid and warm air arising from the Gulf of Mexico to give rise to violent storms that have rocked Texas for ages. The deadliest tornado to hit the area was the Waco tornado that was experienced in 1953. It was a massive F5 category storm that left 114 people dead and 597 injured. 600 buildings were destroyed and a trail of cars piled on the streets. Other violent tornadoes that have hit the state include the Goliad Tornado of 1902, the Rocksprings tornado of 1927 and the Glazier Higgins Tornado of 1947.


The state of Kansas is 8th on the list of states that receive the highest number of tornadoes in a year. The state is located at the heartlands of what scientists call Tornado Alley. The state averages 47 tornadoes in a year with most of them being category F3 and above. The worst storm to ever hit the state was the Udall tornado in 1955 that destroyed an entire town, killing 80 people and injuring 200. In 1966 in the span of 11 days, the state of Kansas was hit by 59 tornadoes that caused deaths and damages amounting to $104 million.


Oklahoma is the state with third highest frequency of tornadoes. On May 3rd, 1999 more than 70 tornadoes touched down in 12 hours, destroying infrastructure in Oklahoma City. Some of the tornadoes maxed out at F5 category with winds reaching 318 miles per hour causing damages in the region of $1 billion and claimed the lives of 47 people. In 1947 the state was hit by another F5 storm that resulted in 185 fatalities, the tornado spanned across three states from Kansas to Texas as it passed through Woodward, a small town in Oklahoma.


The proximity of the state of Florida to the ocean makes it a tornado prone area since the majority of the storms form over the sea then travel inland, passing through Florida. In the period between 2005 and 2016 Florida was hit by 443 tornadoes and they averaged about 12 tornadoes annually with most of them falling between categories F3 and F0. The deadliest tornado to touch down in Florida was experienced in 1998. It was an F3 category storm that killed 42 people, injured 260 others and destroyed buildings across the state.


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