According to data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, during 2023, there were 1,197 confirmed tornado reports, with an additional 97 preliminary tornadoes yet to be verified, for the October 1-December 31 period. This was above the 1991-2010 U.S. annual average of 1,251 tornadoes. The most prolific months during 2023 for tornadoes were January, March, April, May, June, July and August, as each of these months reported 100 or more tornadoes. March 31 was the most prolific day of tornadoes in 2023 with 163 tornadoes. Specific event days that had the highest tornado frequency and impacts are summarized below.

According to data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, during January, there were 128 confirmed tornadoes. This was more than 350 percent of the 1991-2010 average of 35 tornadoes for the month of January. This was the first time since 2017 and only the third time since 1950 that January had more than 100 tornadoes during the month. January had several notable weather systems that brought severe weather and an unusually high number of tornadoes to portions of the United States. On January 2-4, a tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the southern Plains, Southeast and Illinois. A total of 61 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service. Nine of these confirmed tornadoes occurred in Illinois on January 3, the highest number of tornadoes in January for the state since 1989. On January 12, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest and Southeast. The National Weather Service confirmed 69 tornadoes during this outbreak including two EF-3 tornadoes. On January 16, two tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in Iowa - the state's first January tornadoes since 1967. On January 24, a tornado outbreak occurred from coastal Texas to the Florida Panhandle causing significant damage to the region. A total of 23 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service including an EF-3 tornado that carved an 18.7-mile long path across parts of Harris County and the Houston metro area - the first EF-3 tornado in the county in nearly 21 years.

During the month of March, there were 206 confirmed tornado reports. This was 250 percent of the 1991-2010 average of 80 tornadoes for the month of March. The high count of tornadoes during March 2023 is comparable to March 2022, March 2017 and March 2021. A majority of the March 2023 tornadoes occurred during three separate tornado outbreaks at the beginning and at the end of the month. There were at least two significant tornado outbreaks that occurred during the month. The first occurred during March 24-26 across the Southeast and caused severe damage in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. There were a total of 41 tornadoes. The surveyed tornado rating includes: four EF-0, 18 EF-1, five EF-2, three EF-3, and one EF-4 tornado. On March 24th an EF-4 tornado led to 16 fatalities in Rolling Fork, Mississippi causing heavy damage to many homes and businesses. There was also an EF-3 that touched down along the Alabama-Georgia border near the towns of Lanett, Alabama and West Point, Georgia on the morning of the 26th. The most significant damage occurred along Highway 29 just north of West Point, where several homes were destroyed. Estimated peak winds in this area were around 150 mph (67 m/s). These tornadoes caused significant damage to homes, vehicles, businesses, infrastructure and human impacts as well. In total, for this multiday outbreak, there were at least 21 fatalities reported and dozens of injuries.

The most prolific tornado outbreak of 2023 occurred on March 31, with more than 160 tornadoes that tore across many southern and central states. The surveyed tornado rating included: 41 EF-0, 41 EF-1, 33 EF-2, 11 EF-3, and one EF-4 tornado. This was the largest outbreak in a 24-hour period for the month of March. A strong cold front moved across the Midwest on March 31 igniting a severe weather outbreak from Iowa and Missouri eastward through Ohio. The strongest tornado from this event occurred in Keota in southeast Iowa and was rated an EF-4 with maximum wind speeds of 170 mph (274 kph). Damage surveys pinpointed that significant damage occurred in parts of western Little Rock, Arkansas. There were also injuries and fatalities, as an EF-3 near Pulaski, Arkansas injured 54 and led to one fatality. Another EF-3 tornado injured 26 near Wayne, Tennessee while an EF-3 tornado near Covington, Tennessee injured 28 and led to four fatalities. In total, there were more than 20 fatalities and more than 200 injuries reported across the states affected by the March 31 tornado outbreak. Of note, with two EF-4s reported in March, 2023 is now the 5th consecutive year with at least one violent tornado reported during March. This ties the record streak (five) that occurred from 1963 to 1967 (period of record dating back to 1950).

The month of March did not go quietly, as the significant April tornado outbreak continued on April 1, with 13 tornadoes impacting portions of New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The strongest of the tornadoes was an EF-3, with estimated peak wind speeds of up to 140 mph, that traveled over 14 miles across Sussex County, Delaware. A few homes were swept off their foundations and collapsed, while multiple other houses and buildings, such as garages and barns, were damaged, some substantially. The tornado also caused significant tree damage and downed power poles including a couple of steel high-tension poles. There was one fatality associated with this event - Delaware's third tornado-related death since 1950. There were also seven tornadoes (i.e., three EF-2s and four EF-1s) that touched down in New Jersey, making it one of the state's largest tornado outbreaks since 1950. It was also likely the greatest number of tornadoes in a single day since 1950 for both Burlington and Monmouth counties in New Jersey, with an EF-2 tornado in Monmouth County among the county's strongest tornadoes on record. Pennsylvania and Maryland each saw an EF-1 tornado. There was one reported fatality associated with the EF-3 tornado in Delaware and an unknown number of injuries. The month also ended with a rare and dangerous tornado on April 30, as a state of emergency was declared after a rare EF-3 tornado touched down in Virginia Beach, Virginia destroying more than 100 structures. There were several injuries reported but no fatalities.

During May, there were 169 confirmed tornado reports. A multi-day tornado outbreak occurred on May 10-13 across areas of the southern and central Plains. In total, there were 113 tornadoes that impacted eastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern Nebraska, central Oklahoma and western Iowa. May 12 was the peak day producing the highest count of tornadoes during the month, with 50 tornadoes reported, many of which were concentrated in eastern Nebraska. These tornadoes included (five EF-2s, 25 EF-1s, 15 EF-0s and at least 33 EF-U [unknown intensity] tornadoes). Among the impacts was one confirmed fatality, several injuries and considerable property damage in Laguna Heights, Texas. One of the EF-2 tornadoes that impacted Nebraska on the 12th was estimated at nearly a mile wide. These tornadoes included two rated as EF-3s in Oklahoma that caused substantial damage to numerous homes, businesses, vehicles, farms and other infrastructure. Across these four days, there was at least one reported fatality and several injuries.

The month of June produced 234 confirmed tornadoes, the highest count of any month of 2023. Three notable tornado events occurred through the month. On June 14-19, a tornado outbreak, including two EF-3 tornadoes, occurred across parts of the southern U.S. and Ohio Valley. This multi-day period produced over 70 tornadoes (i.e., 25 EF-0, 32 EF-1, 12 EF-2 and two EF-3 tornadoes) and widespread damage across portions of Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Ohio. On June 18th, an EF-3 tornado in Louin, Mississippi resulted in 25 injuries and one fatality. These tornadoes caused scattered damage to homes, businesses, vehicles, agriculture and other infrastructure. Overall, there were five reported fatalities and several injuries reported. On June 21, there were one dozen tornadoes that impacted eastern Colorado and north-central Texas. An EF-3 tornado in Matador, TX resulted in four fatalities. Significant damage occurred on the west side of Matador causing significant damage to homes, businesses and vehicles. For Texas, this was the most tornado fatalities in one month since December 2015. There were at least nine injuries also from these tornadoes. On June 23-26, over 60 tornadoes including two EF-3 tornadoes resulted in loss of life and widespread damage across portions of Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky and Arkansas. These tornadoes caused scattered damage to homes, businesses, vehicles, agriculture and other infrastructure. There were four reported fatalities and multiple injuries.

During July, there were 111 confirmed tornado reports. The strongest tornado identified during July was rated EF-3 and tracked 16 miles across Nash and Edgecombe counties in eastern North Carolina on the 19th. This tornado destroyed several manufactured homes in the community of Dortches. Other homes sustained major structural damage, including the collapse of exterior walls. Of note, the tornado produced significant damage to a large Pfizer manufacturing plant, which supplies about 25 percent of all sterile injectable medications used by hospitals nationwide, with at least 50,000 pallets of medication damaged and deemed unusable. This was the first EF-3 tornado recorded in North Carolina in the month of July and only the third tornado of EF-3 and greater strength recorded in the state during meteorological summer (since 1950). There were at least 16 injuries and no fatalities from this destructive tornado.

In August, there were 123 confirmed tornado reports, well above the 1991-2010 average of 83 tornadoes for the month of August. On August 5-8 there were 53 tornadoes that were scattered across numerous states, with two or more tornadoes impacting Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. These tornadoes included two EF-3, three EF-2, eighteen EF-1 and one dozen EF-0 tornadoes with many more as EF-U (unknown rating) due to lack of visible damage. Within this outbreak, a regional severe weather event unfolded, with 14 tornadoes - six in New York (including one that traveled into New York from Pennsylvania), five in Pennsylvania, two in Massachusetts, and one each in New Jersey and West Virginia. All tornadoes were rated EF-0 or EF-1 except one. An EF-3 caused significant damage to buildings, trees, and a ski resort along a 16-mile path in Lewis County, New York, the county's strongest tornado since records began in 1950.

The year ended with a potent tornado outbreak across the Southeast. On December 9 there was an outbreak of 39 preliminary tornadoes across central Tennessee, southern Kentucky, central Mississippi, southeastern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. The damage produced from these tornadoes were rated as: two EF-0, five EF-1, four EF-2, one EF-3 and numerous as EF-U (unrated). One of the EF-2 tornadoes impacted Madison, Tennessee destroying numerous homes, businesses, vehicles and other infrastructure. This tornado also injured 22 and resulted in three fatalities. Another impactful tornado was an EF-3 that hit Clarksville, Tennessee, damaging or destroying numerous homes, outbuildings, vehicles and businesses. This tornado injured 62 and resulted in four fatalities. In total, the tornadoes of December 9th caused more than 90 injuries and seven fatalities.

Did You Know?

Tornado Count

Final monthly tornado counts are typically less than the preliminary count. This can be due to some phenomena being inaccurately reported as tornadic activity or a single tornado being reported multiple times. Tornado accounts are reported to the local National Weather Service forecast offices who are responsible for going into the field and verifying each tornado reported. This process often takes several months to complete. Once all reports have been investigated, the final count is published by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

The Tornado Monthly Climate Reports are written using the preliminary numbers because the final data is not available at the time of production. Historically, for every 100 preliminary tornado reports, at least 65 tornadoes are confirmed. An error bar is depicted on the tornado count graphic representing this uncertainty in the preliminary tornado count.

The following U.S. studies performed by SPC meteorologists offer deeper context and discussion regarding the frequency and distribution of tornado intensity climatologies:


Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly Tornadoes Report for Annual 2023, published online January 2024, retrieved on July 15, 2024 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/tornadoes/202313.