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May-June 2016

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The 2015 Tornado Season: In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion

There were 1,152 tornadoes reported in the United States in 2015. While slightly below the 25-year annual mean of 1,220 tornadoes, the 2015 count reverses a trend of recent consecutive well-below normal years (2012, 2013, and 2014) and was closest to a normal year since 2010 when there were 1,284 tornadoes. There were 161 days in 2015 with at least one tornado reported somewhere in the United States, about 20 days shy of the 25-year average. Tornadoes made an appearance in 44 states in 2015 with well-above-normal state totals occurring in Texas and Oklahoma, and slightly below normal counts across southeastern states from North Carolina to Florida. The year began quietly with only 41 tornadoes counted through March. This is fewer than one-third the normal count of 147 tornadoes over the first three months of the year. The year ended with 163 tornadoes touching down in November and December, which is twice the normal amount based on November through December tornado counts back to 1990.

All tornado numbers for 2015 remain preliminary pending further review by SPC and the NOAA National Climatic Data Center. The tallies indicated here are the best estimates at the time of publication.

GREG CARBIN is Chief of Forecast Operations at the NOAA/National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

JARED GUYER is an Outlook/Mesoscale Forecaster at the NOAA/National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.       

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