U.S. tornado activity below average in 2012, but not in Md.

  • A reader-shared photo of the waterspout spotted on the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland on Tuesday.
A reader-shared photo of the waterspout spotted on the Patuxent… (Courtesy of Megan Frohlich )
September 26, 2012|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Tornado activity across the country is running well below normal so far this year, with the spring and summer severe weather seasons behind us. But in Maryland -- a "top tornado state" according to one list -- the year has been normal, if not above-average.

There have been 757 tornadoes across the country, according to a preliminary tally by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. That is about 400 tornadoes behind what would be expected at this point in a normal year.

The annual average number of tornadoes across the country is about 1,300, though there were about 1,700 in 2011.

Maryland has seen only a tiny fraction of those -- 14, according to a preliminary count by the National Weather Service Baltimore/Washington office. That doesn't include any tornadoes that may have been confirmed on the Eastern Shore, whose weather statistics are compiled by two other weather service offices in New Jersey and Virginia.

However small that tally is relative to Tornado Alley and other parts of the country, it is slightly above average based on statistics from 1950 through 2010.

Through that period, Maryland has seen an average 9.9 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles per year (the statistic ranked the state third on a list the Weather Channel compiled earlier ths year of top tornado states.)

Given that Maryland is about 9,700 square miles in area, that means about 9.6 tornadoes per year in the state are normal.

There were a handful of tornado-producing storms that helped add to Maryland's annual total this year, most notably an outbreak June 1 that caused nine tornadoes in the state. Others included the relatively isolated waterspout that was spotted on the Patuxent River last month.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

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