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U.S. tornado alley goes quiet, Canada's season had roaring start

Sunday, August 23rd 2020, 1:15 pm - A single U.S. outbreak in April produced more tornadoes than May and June combined.

Tornado sirens are a fact of life for people in the United States' traditional 'tornado alley' in the country's midsection.

But it looks like the region had something of a reprieve this season, boasting May and June tornado numbers lower than they've been for half a century or more, with the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) going so far as to call it a tornado drought.

May's preliminary tornado count of 59, for example, is the lowest in 50 years, while June mustered no more than 50 twisters, the fewest since 1952. The drought is enough to bring 2020 in below average so far, though some parts of the country have had higher than normal tornado activity.

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The 2020 season didn't start out this slow. May and June's combined count is less than a single outbreak over the Easter weekend in April that produced 114 confirmed tornadoes and killed more than 30 people. That month as a whole produced 351 tornadoes, the second most of any April on record.

The count of tornadoes at EF2 level or higher is also down, with the U.S. only seeing a single twister at that strength for the entire month of June.

Tornado findings

That's in contrast to Canada, which actually had three that month: two in Ontario and one in Manitoba.

In fact, though it's a bit uneven, Canada's tornado season has been off to a roaring start in some parts of the country.

Ontario has seen more than half of this year's Canadian twisters so far, at 10 -- seven of which were generated by a single storm on June 10th. In all, the province is not far off from its entire annual average of 12 or so.

Tornado totals Canada

As for the rest of the country, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Quebec has had a couple of confirmed tornadoes, but the Prairies, normally home to the most tornadoes on average, has had a slow start. The region has had only five confirmed tornadoes so far, with Saskatchewan -- Canada's most tornado-prone province -- seeing none at all over the same period.

Despite being Canada's least tornado-prone province historically, British Columbia actually hosted the country's first twister of 2020: a weak EF0 tornado caught on camera on Vancouver Island as it sent a trampoline flying.


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