The classic tornado alley, which is mostly made up of midwestern states, does not include Florida. Despite this, it continues to have a reputation for frequently having high-strength tornadoes. In Florida, tornadoes may develop in several ways and at any time.
At 12.2 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles on average, Florida has more tornadoes than any other state in the US. With an average of 11.7 tornadoes, Kansas comes in second and places it above the Tornado Alley regions. Florida experienced 57 tornadoes in 2017 as well as 46 in 2018. Then, we saw how 29 tornadoes occurred in Florida in 2019. Without including the two tornadoes that struck close to Tampa in December, Florida had 54 tornadoes in 2020 throughout the month of September.
Keep reading below as we take you through the reasons why Florida gets so many tornadoes.
Why Do So Many Tornadoes Occur in Florida?
In Florida, the general weather conditions support the production of huge storms throughout the warmer months because there is enough heat and humidity to produce significant amounts of warm, rising air. The explosive mixture can swiftly transform into a thunderstorm if such air masses collide with colder air masses.
Annual statistics will show that if the thunderstorm intensifies, it may produce a tornado.
Where in Florida Do Tornadoes Occur?
There are two basic reasons why tornadoes might occasionally occur anywhere in Florida. Firstly, whether you’re located in Key West, Jacksonville, or Panama City, the aforementioned thunderstorms could hit any location in the state.
Secondly, Florida frequently is on the route of hurricanes and tropical thunderstorms, which frequently produce belts of extreme storms that also include tornadoes and thunderstorms.
Nevertheless, certain regions are more frequently hit by tornadoes than others. One part of the state that has regular storms and thus more tornadoes than others is the region surrounding the Tampa Bay area and Fort Myers.
In the same vein, tornadoes seem to occur more frequently in the state’s western panhandle. Additionally, storms often occur in some sections of the Atlantic coast.
Tampa Bay’s Tornado History
Since 1950, there have been 349 tornadoes in Tampa, of which the most severe one occurred in December 2020. Despite the substantial damage the enormous tornado caused to houses and businesses, nobody was hurt or killed.
The local weather reporters were on high alert as a warm front moving across the south and a cold front moving across the north combined. The tornado developed close to the Gulf Loop region, quickly made landfall, and increased gradually in magnitude.
The tornado’s destructive path affected three municipalities in the Tampa region. These counties consisted of Polk, Pinellas, and Hillsborough.
The tornado also gave birth to other tornadoes that did considerably more harm and knocked out electricity for nearly a day in certain regions. This tornado outbreak is among the biggest in Florida’s recorded history due to the multiplicity of tornadoes and the severe damage it produced. Thankfully, nobody was hurt or killed in the incident.
Why Are There So Many Tornadoes in Tampa, Florida?
The tropical environment and regularity of large storms are the key causes of Tampa, Florida, getting this many tornadoes. It experiences more hurricanes than the remainder of Florida since it has a geographical port that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.
The frequency of thunderstorms in Tampa, Florida, has earned it considerable notoriety. They come along often and come in different sizes. They are prevalent since the region is approximately 500 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Due to the Gulf of Mexico’s predominately tropical environment, tropical storms frequently occur there. The storms then move in the direction of Tampa, Florida.
Due to the high wind velocities and whirling wind, such storms frequently trigger a tornado. As the storm cloud grows stronger, more warm air is drawn upward. Then the chilly air in the sky collides with the warm, moist air from the earth. A cone finally forms as a result of the different wind temperatures, and when it touches the ground, it transforms into a tornado.
Does Florida Have a Tornado Season?
Florida’s tornado season coincides with the storm season. In this state, thunderstorm development often starts in the late spring and lasts into hurricane season. Hurricane season runs from May to November, whereas tornado season is from June through September.
Nevertheless, Florida occasionally receives colder air from the jet stream during springtime. When combined with regular weather, this colder air can foster the development of stronger storms and larger tornadoes.
On April 4, 1966, a powerful tornado that reached F4 intensity tore over the state as a result of a severe storm. There is good evidence that the storm crossed Florida en route from the Gulf to the Atlantic.
What Sets an EF Storm Apart From an F Storm?
A meteorologist called Ted Fujita created the Fujita scale for grading tornadoes in 1971 at the University of Chicago. His classification approach for tornadoes was based on a post-storm analysis of the damage, which was later contrasted with damages brought on by recognized wind patterns.
On the Fujita scale, tornadoes with stronger winds are given a higher rating. These storms would then be classified as “F” storms, such as F1, F2, F3, and so on.
The Fujita scale, though, relied a lot on educated judgments to determine the extent of harm. Scientists and engineers conducted an extensive study over the ensuing decades and eventually unveiled a new tornado rating system, the Enhanced Fujita scale. Better evaluation techniques are included in the Enhanced Fujita scale to assist scientists in determining the storm’s intensity.
Many older storms will still be referred to as “F” storms since the Fujita scale was around for a long time before the Enhanced Fujita scale was published; new storms are nearly always graded with an “EF” classification.
Do EF5 Tornadoes Ever Occur in Florida?
Does Florida ever see large storms, such as an EF-5 storm, even though most tornadoes there are minor? Since accurate record-keeping started, Florida has been fortunate enough to avoid creating a significant number of tornadoes. The most impactful tornadoes in Florida history were F4 storms, one on April 15, 1958, and the other on April 4, 1966.
Florida may be referred to as the Sunshine State, but if current patterns continue, we may also refer to it as the Twister State. It is better for us if we continue to exercise caution as tornado alley moves from the middle of America to the southeast. These tornadoes have greater destructive power than Florida hurricanes.