Mississippi ranks first for number of tornadoes in 2022

Published 6:30 am Saturday, February 25, 2023

Mississippi had more tornadoes in 2022 than any other state — 184 total. Texas was next, with 160, and Alabama had 117.

In 2022, most of the tornadoes that occurred in Mississippi were EF0 and EF1, the weakest according to the Enhanced Fujita scale. On March 22, there was one that was classified as EF3 and along with the hundreds of trees it damaged and uprooted in Kemper County, it managed to shift a house off its foundation, destroy a manufactured home, and then decimate a massive family home when it peaked with 145mph winds. The property damage was estimated to be around $400,000, along with $75,000 in crop damage. Another EF3 tornado was confirmed on November 30 but did not cause any severe destruction.

In 2022, the number of tornadoes to hit the United States was relatively consistent with numbers over the past decade — 1,331 events were reported, compared to 1,313 in 2021; 1,086 in 2020; and 1,529 in 2019.

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Millions of people across 44 states were affected by the 2022 tornadoes, and damages were estimated at more than $1 billion. Though official estimates are released later this year, that figure is expected to increase dramatically.

These violent twisters, which sometimes last only minutes, claimed 23 lives and injured a huge number of people. Thousands lost their homes with entire neighborhoods being flattened in some cases.  Iowa suffered the greatest financial loss in 2022 from these tornadoes, roughly $225 million in damages from a total of 53 tornadoes.

More than 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States each year, incurring millions of dollars’ worth of damage, destroying towns, roads, and critical infrastructure, injuring and killing hundreds of people. Their winds, often reaching speeds of up to 200 mph, hold a devastating power that can lift people and vehicles in the air, rip buildings off their foundations and even deform massive skyscrapers.

Nearly 80 percent of tornadoes in the U.S. are relatively weak, but the remaining 20 percent are extremely intense and could be deadly.

How Dangerous Are Tornadoes?

The severity of tornadoes varies widely and is typically measured with the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which rates them by the damage they cause. Tornadoes classified as EF0 are considered weak and can damage trees, chimneys, and road signs, whereas tornadoes that are graded EF5 are extremely violent and can rip massive houses off their foundations. The damage caused by such tornadoes can be compared to that of a bomb.

On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, a violent tornado formed and touched down in northwestern McClain County, Oklahoma, quickly intensifying and reaching EF4 as it entered the town of Moore in Cleveland County. It ravaged the town, leaving massive devastation and killing 25 people. Large parts of the city were totally obliterated, homes were flattened, and vehicles were torn into pieces by the storm, that eventually reached EF5. Roughly 1,150 houses were destroyed, while the damage was estimated at around $2 billion. In less than 1 hour, the Moore tornado released energy that was between 8 and 600 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb.

  • EF0 – Light Damage (Wind speed 40 – 72 mph) EF1 – Moderate Damage (Wind speed 73 – 112 mph)
  • EF2 – Significant damage (Wind speed 113 – 157 mph)
  • EF3 – Severe Damage (Wind speed 158 – 206 mph)
  • EF4 – Devastating Damage (Wind speed 207 – 260 mph)
  • EF5 – Incredible Damage (Wind speed 261 – 318 mph)

The Most Expensive Tornadoes of 2022

Damage totals have not yet been published for all tornadoes that struck the United States in 2022. From the available data, however, one can clearly see that the March 5 tornado in Iowa was the costliest one.

Experts describe it as a violent multiple-vortex wedge tornado and its severity was assessed as EF4. The total damage it incurred over a 33-minute span was estimated at $220 million.

It touched down near Macksburg and moved to the city of Winterset in Madison County where it caused serious damage to multiple houses and other structures. Vehicles were flipped and tossed, several homes were completely leveled, and four of the fatalities occurred when one of the houses was obliterated by wind that reached 170 mph. Before the tornado dissipated, it went close to the Des Moines metropolitan area, moving through the outskirts of Norwalk, Avon, and Pleasant Hill, eventually reaching Newton.