Regional characterization of Tornado activity

Robert J. Trapp, Harold E. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the United States, tornado activity of a given year is usually assessed in terms of the total number of human-reported tornadoes. Such assessments fail to account for the seldom-acknowledged fact that an active (or inactive) tornado year for the United States does not necessarily equate with activity (or inactivity) everywhere in the country. The authors illustrate this by comparing the geospatial tornado distributions from 1987, 2004, and 2011. Quantified in terms of the frequency of daily tornado occurrence (or ''tornado days''), the high activity in the South Atlantic and upper Midwest regions was a major contributor to the recordsetting number of tornadoes in 2004. The high activity in 2011 arose from significant tornado occurrences in the Southeast and lower Midwest. The authors also show that the uniqueness of the activity during these years can be determined by modeling the local statistical behavior of tornado days by a gamma distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-659
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate classification/regimes
  • Tornadoes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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