StormReady: Tornadoes

When most of us think of severe weather, we think of tornadoes. Small tornadoes can destroy a home, while large tornadoes can destroy large sections of cities.

While large tornadoes get a lot of media coverage, they are actually quite rare. In fact, approximately 96% of the tornadoes that occur across the United States are considered “weak” to “moderate.”

This means they are classified as EF0 to EF3. Approximately 1% of all tornadoes that occur in the United States are considered “strong” or “violent.” This means they are classified as EF4 or EF5. (The other 3% are tornadoes of undetermined strength that occurred before accurate records were kept.) Despite their rarity, that 1% of strong or violent tornadoes account for nearly 70% of all fatalities.

The state of Wisconsin experiences about 21 tornadoes per year. Most of these tornadoes are short-lived and weak. However, several strong tornadoes (EF3 or above) occur across the state each year. All tornadoes are life-threatening events and should be taken seriously. They can develop very rapidly and can be very unpredictable in their behavior. Many times, they can occur at night or are wrapped in curtains of very heavy rain which makes them nearly impossible to see.

For more information about tornadoes, tornado myths and how you can prepare you and your family for a tornado, click the following links: