There Were No EF3 Or Stronger Tornadoes In May For The First Time Ever

By Bill Galluccio

June 11, 2021

Tornado rips across Oklahoma
Photo: Getty Images

A preliminary report of severe weather in the month of May from the Storm Prediction Center found that while there were slightly above an average number of tornadoes, they were not nearly as strong as they have been in years past.

From 2011 to 2020 there was an average of 272 tornadoes during the month of May across the country. In May 2021, there were 289 preliminary reports of tornadoes.

But, for the first time in history, there were no reports of a tornado rated EF3 or higher on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. An EF3 tornado has wind speeds between 136 and165 mph and can cause severe damage. There were eight tornados rated EF2, which is the fifth-fewest since officials began keeping records in 1950.

May also marked the first time in seven years that there zero fatalities from tornadoes.

"So even though we're slightly above average in terms of the number of tornadoes, it's still zero fatalities which is obviously a good thing," Matthew Elliott, the Storm Prediction Center’s warning coordination meteorologist, told weather.com.

AccuWeather Senior Storm Warning Meteorologist Rich Putnam said that the lack of powerful tornadoes is likely due to recent heatwaves across the midwest.

"A summertime pattern has taken hold of the Central states earlier than usual, Putnam explained, citing the recent 100-degree temperatures in the Dakotas. Tornado numbers typically dip in July or August and tornadoes that do form during that time tend to be less strong than compared to earlier in spring."

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