During the busy weather year of 2020, the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued a total of 147 watches across the country. While states Kansas and Nebraska are generally considered prime “tornado alley” states, places like New Jersey and Pennsylvania ended up with more Tornado Watches.
Tropical Storm Isaias alone generated several tornadoes in the Mid Atlantic in 2020. The Mount Holly, New Jersey office of the National Weather Service, recorded a total of 8 tornado touch-downs with Isaias within its forecast area of responsibility which includes much of New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, all of Delaware, and portions of northeastern Maryland.
While tornado season was a busy one in the east, it was a quiet one in parts of the country that usually see them. Most tornadoes happen in spring across “Tornado Alley”, an area that stretches from west central Texas north into South Dakota, including Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. However, a very unfavorable weather pattern kept conditions quiet there. While tornado season usually runs from March through June there, it was unusually quiet: through the end of June, there were only 108 tornadoes recorded, which made it the fewest recorded since 2016 and the third fewest since 1988. The combined total number of tornadoes for May and June was 232, making it the lowest ever –and remarkably so, in contrast to the 513 that developed in the same period in 2019.
Even as the East headed into meteorological winter, they were still dealing with tornadoes. On December 2, the National Weather Service confirmed that a second tornado had touched down earlier that week in Maryland. On Christmas Eve, a severe storm system prompted new Tornado Watches and Warnings in portions of the Carolinas too.
2021 also got a jump start into tornado season with the first Tornado Watch of the year issued for portions of central Georgia and western South Carolina. While a tornado did touch down in California yesterday, prompting a Tornado Warning there, there have been no other Tornado Watches issued across the United States since January 1.