Tornado Alley Map, Stats (Infographic)

Infographic: stats on the tornadoes that strike the United States every year
More than a thousand tornadoes strike the U.S. annually. (Image credit: Ross Toro, Livescience contributor)

Tornadoes, nature’s most violent storms, are spawned from powerful thunderstorms. With whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate neighborhoods in seconds.

The greatest number of tornadoes in one calendar month is 543, in May 2003.

The highest recorded tornadic wind speed is 302 miles per hour, on May 3, 1999 in Bridge Creek, Oklahoma.

The largest tornado outbreak in a 24 hour period occurred on April 3-4, 1974. 148 tornadoes were spawned, affecting 13 central U.S. states.

In 2011, a total of 1,894 tornadoes caused 551 fatalities. The deadliest tornado struck on May 22nd, killing 158 people in Jasper County, Missouri.

In terms of absolute tornado counts, the United States leads the list globally, with an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year. A distant second is Canada, with around 100 per year. A particularly active area for tornadoes located in the Midwest is called Tornado Alley.

The average number of tornadoes for the month of May during the past decade is 298. The average tornado has maximum wind speeds of about 112 mph or less, measures around 250 feet in width and travels approximately one mile before falling apart.

Ross Toro
Infographics Artist
Ross Toro is a contributing infographic artist for Live Science. He specializes in explanatory graphics that deal with science topics. Ross is a former art director of the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and United Press International. He teaches Filipino martial arts when not dabbling in cartoons and animation.