May 20, 2020, marked the seven-year anniversary of the deadliest and most destructive tornado to hit the U.S.—the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado. As an EF5 twister, it cut a path 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide at its widest point, wreaking havoc all around. The damage was estimated at nearly $2 billion dollars, and sadly, 24 innocent victims lost their lives, including seven children who were trying to take shelter inside Plaza Towers Elementary. Images from that frightful Monday afternoon remind us of Mother Nature’s fury and the risk of potentially deadly tornadoes. So do the statistics. 

– An average of 1,253 tornadoes occurs in the U.S. each year. 

– According to data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, during 2019, there were 1,520 preliminary tornado reports (well above the national average). In fact, 2019 was a top-5 year across the contiguous U.S. with over 1,500 tornadoes reported.

– The Easter outbreak of tornadoes on April 12-13, 2020, consisted of 137 twisters touching down in ten different states: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, and Florida. It is reported that the outbreak caused over $450 million in damage and 32 fatalities.

– On average, 70 people are killed by tornadoes (primarily from flying debris) every year in the U.S.

– Tornado wind speeds can top 250 mph, and twisters can move across land at up to 70mph.  

– The widest tornado on record occurred in May 2013; the twister, as reported by the National Weather Service, spanned 2.6 miles.

– Tornadoes cause approximately 400 million dollars in damage in the U.S. alone each year. 

– The current average lead-time for tornado warnings is 13 minutes.

And remember, unlike hurricanes, tornadoes are unpredictable. They can easily spin up during strong thunderstorms and quickly turn into monsters like the one that nearly obliterated Moore, Oklahoma seven years ago. May their recovery, resilience, and ongoing community preparedness efforts be a model to us all. 

The City of Moore posted a tribute on Facebook on the anniversary of the tornado, saying, “May 20, 2013- We remember the precious lives lost, the heartache and the hurt, the helpers and the heroes. We are grateful for hopefulness and healing. We remain Moore Strong.”