Wisconsin Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness

Part 2 - Tornado Statistics
 

In 2013, Wisconsin experienced 16 documented tornadoes.  There were no fatalities and 2 injuries associated with these tornadoes. There have been 1515 documented tornadoes in Wisconsin since 1844, causing 511 directly related deaths and at least 3051 directly related injuries. 

Data prior to 1950 is incomplete because in many cases, only large tornadoes were reported and many rural tornadoes went unreported.  

Wisconsin Tornado Occurrence by Month
 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Total

1844-2013

3

0

18

117

239

431

331

204

126

31

9

6

1515

Only 2013

0

0

0

0

1

1

6

7

0

1

0

0

16

30 Year Normal (1981-2010) is 23 tornadoes per year in Wisconsin.  

  • Year with greatest number of tornadoes - 2005 (62)
  • Year with least number of tornadoes - 1952 (1)

Recent Yearly Wisconsin Tornado Totals

1980 - 43 1981 - 21 1982 - 16 1983 - 31 1984 - 34
1985 - 16 1986 - 14 1987 - 16 1988 - 35 1989 - 17
1990 - 9 1991 - 10 1992 - 26 1993 - 37 1994 - 35
1995 - 7 1996 - 21 1997 - 14 1998 - 11  1999 - 11
2000 - 18  2001 - 12  2002 -  26 2003 - 14 2004 - 36
2005 - 62 2006 - 13 2007 - 18 2008 - 38 2009 - 16
2010 - 46 2011 - 38 2012 - 4 2013 - 16 2014 -

The Average Wisconsin Tornado has a:

From 1950 through January 2008 From 1982 through January 2008
Duration - 9.8 minutes Duration - 7.1 minutes
Path Length - 5.5 miles Path Length - 3.7 miles
Maximum Width - 121 yards Width - 118 yards
Intensity - 1.1 on EF Scale  
 

Wisconsin's Worst Tornado occurred on June 12, 1899 in New Richmond in St. Croix County.  This tornado killed 117 and injured 125, and destroyed over 300 buildings.

Other Costly Wisconsin Tornadoes include:

  • July 18, 1996 - Oakfield (Fond du Lac County): injured 12 with damage at 40.4 million in 1996 dollars.  Tornado rated F5 east of Oakfield
  • June 8, 1984 - Barneveld (IowaCounty): killed 9 and injured 200 with damage at 40 million in 1984 dollars. Rated F5.

Other Statistics:

  • On average the number of days per year with thunderstorms in Wisconsin ranges from around 30 along the Lake Michigan shore to around 40 over the southwest third of the state. 
  • Southwest Wisconsin near the Mississippi River averages about 1 day per year with a tornado.  This average decreases to 0.7 days per year for the Madison area, 0.6 days per year for the Milwaukee area, 0.4 days per year for the Green Bay area, and 0.2 days per year for northern Wisconsin.
  • National Weather Service offices servicing Wisconsin issue on average 1 to 2 Tornado Warnings and 5 to 10 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings per county per year in the southern counties.  The averages are less for the northern counties.
  • The National Weather Service in Wisconsin issues on average about 29 Severe Thunderstorm Watches per year that cover at least a part of Wisconsin.  About 11 Tornado Watches are issued per year that cover at least a part of Wisconsin.

 U.S. Tornado Statistics for the period 1982-2012:

  • 1132 tornadoes per year
  • 73 deaths per year
  • 22 killer tornadoes per year

Yearly Breakdown for U.S. for 1982-2013

Year Tornadoes Deaths Killer Tornadoes
1982 1047 64 31
1983 812 34 26
1984 907 122 33
1985 684 94 20
1986 713 15 11
1987 656 59 14
1988 698 32 19
1989 856 50 13
1990 1133 53 17
1991 1127 39 15
1992 1297 39 16
1993 1173 33 16
1994 1085 68 23
1995 1234 29 14
1996 1173 25 13
1997 1148 67 22
1998 1417 130 33
1999 1300 95 29
2000 1071 40 14
2001 1216 40 23
2002 941 55 28
2003 1376 54 23
2004 1817     (record) 36 20
2005 1264 38 13
2006 1103 67 25
2007 1098 81 26
2008 1692 126 37
2009 1156 21 9
2010 1282 45 21
2011 1691 553 59
2012 939 70 22
2013 908 55 14

For more information about tornadoes, check out the Storm Prediction Center Online Tornado FAQ.



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