June is pacing to be a more active month than usual for tornadoes in the United States due to an uptick in severe weather in recent weeks. The total preliminary tornado reports for the year fell below the average in late May to early June before beginning to rise again in the middle of the month.
The tally for tornado reports stood at 186 as of June 26, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center, with active severe weather threats persisting for parts of the country. Though the historical average for June is 213, last year’s preliminary total was just 123 in the same month.
Overall, there have been more preliminary tornadoes in 2023 to date compared to last year. The NWS has reported 986 tornadoes so far this year, while it only reported 863 through June in 2022.
Five of the top 10 most active days for severe weather in 2023 were in June, NWS reported. AccuWeather meteorologist and social media producer Jesse Ferrell said reports have been more common than usual.
“It has been an unusually stormy June in the United States, and warning statistics support that,” said Ferrell. “This June, so far, has already seen 4,677 severe thunderstorm warnings issued by the National Weather Service — more than any other June since 2011. Tornado warnings are also at a record pace, with 424 this June, the most since 2014.”
With the uptick in severe weather, this year has been the deadliest tornado year to date since 2011. As of June 27, there have been 23 tornado-related fatalities in 2023.
Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather lead long-range forecaster, said tornado activity was initially held back at the beginning of this month, a trend that carried over from May. Cooler, more stable air that was drawn into parts of the nation cut off the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, which is a critical ingredient for severe weather.
Other weather variables that often set the stage for severe weather this time of year were also late to appear: high pressure and a dome of heat across the southern plains. Even though it took time for high pressure to build across the region, once it did, waves of energy quickly began riding the northern rim of heat from the Rockies into the plains, triggering severe weather and tornado activity in the middle of the nation.
Illinois has had the most preliminary tornado reports so far this year, with 95, according to an AccuWeather data analysis. Alabama is the next highest, recording 91 preliminary reports.
The final week of June kicked off with a high risk of severe weather, including the threat of tornadoes in the East, especially across the mid-Atlantic and Southeast. A new round of severe weather is forecast to arrive in the plains and move east into the Midwest, with the potential for isolated tornadoes, through Thursday.
The potential for dangerous complexes of thunderstorms will persist across parts of the nation into the July Fourth holiday weekend, according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter. With that trend expected to continue, Pastelok said the preliminary tornado report count could exceed the average of 213 before the end of the month.
Produced in association with AccuWeather
Edited by Joseph Donald Gunderson and Alberto Arellano