Tennessee saw 35 tornadoes touch down in 2020, according to a preliminary report from the National Weather Service released Tuesday.
“2020 has been a very active and devastating year for tornadoes throughout Tennessee,” the report said. “These tornadoes combined have killed 28 people, injured hundreds more, and caused billions of dollars in damage.”
The two deadliest tornadoes came on March 3 when an EF-4 struck Putnam County, resulting in 19 deaths, and an EF-3 struck Davidson, Wilson and Smith Counties, resulting in five deaths.
West Tennessee saw a total of nine tornadoes, Middle Tennessee had 21 and East Tennessee had six. The NWS noted that one tornado on March 2 crossed from West Tennessee into Middle Tennessee and was counted twice.
How severe were the tornadoes in Tennessee in 2020?
The March 3 tornado in Putnam County that killed 19 people was the lone EF-4 to strike the state.
Two EF-3 tornadoes touched down. One traveled through Davidson, Wilson and Smith counties and killed five people on March 3. The second traveled through Hamilton and Bradley counties in April and killed three.
There were four EF-2 tornadoes, including one on March 2 that killed one person as it moved through Benton and Humphreys counties.
There were 10 EF-1 tornadoes and 18 EF-0 tornadoes, none of which were deadly.
The NWS reported that the most active tornado day in 2020 was April 12, when a rash of tornadoes broke out across the south. A total of 159 tornadoes were reported that day, including four in Tennessee. That outbreak yielded the EF-3 that killed three people in Hamilton and Bradley counties.
How do Tennessee’s tornadoes compare with past years, other states?
Tennessee had 20 tornadoes in 2019 and 25 in 2018, according to the NWS. The data did not include the severity or death tolls of the tornadoes.
Here is how the last 10 years looked for total tornadoes in Tennessee:
*2020 data reflects the total as of Sept. 29.
The NWS also collects data on reported tornadoes in each state, which differs from the actual total since some tornadoes may have been counted more than once as they moved across different regions.
“The true number of tornadoes in each state will be a lower number,” lead forecaster for NWS in Nashville Sam Shamburger said in an email. “For example, Tennessee has had 38 reported tornadoes so far this year, but the actual number is 35.”
Still, the data gives a sense of tornado activity by state in 2020. Mississippi reported the most tornadoes at 109, as of Sept. 29. Texas totaled the second-most tornadoes at 97, and Alabama totaled the third-most at 75.
Tennessee ranked 12th on the list.