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According to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM), Oklahoma has averaged approximately 54 tornadoes per year from 1950 through 2010. During this time there were around 3,466 tornadoes causing 281 deaths and injuring 4,353 people.
Tornado activity peaks in May, with an average of 20 per year, and about three-fourths of tornado activity each year occurs from April to June. When looking at trend analysis over time, more tornados have been recorded in recent years than in the past. However, a significant factor affecting this statistic is that improvements in weather tracking technology have increased over time to allow for the recording of smaller tornadoes. Significant tornadoes, which can be called those with a wind speed of 113 mph (F2) or higher, have declined over the years. Historically tornadoes have been measured on the Fujita Scale, but as of 2007 the Enhanced Fujita Scale has taken its place to measure modern tornadoes. OEM has ranked tornadoes as Oklahoma’s number one Critical Priority Risk due to their high probability, severity, and short warning time. The United States has the highest incidence of tornadoes worldwide, with more than 1,000 every year, due to its continental geography. Oklahoma is in the nation’s “Tornado Alley” and experiences more tornadoes per square mile than any other state in the plains. These tornadoes primarily occur between the hours of 3PM and 9PM.
Major tornadoes in Oklahoma’s history include:
• April 23, 1993 – Tulsa suffered $500,000+ in damage, 7 deaths, and 100 injuries.
• May 30, 1993 – The Delaware County area suffered $500,000+ in damage.
• May 9, 1995 – The Seminole area suffered $5M+ in damage.
• May 24, 1998 – The Grant County area suffered $2M+ in damage and 1 injury.
• October 4, 1998 – The Moore area suffered $6M+ in damage and 11 injuries.
• May 3-4, 1999 – The South Oklahoma City area suffered $1.5Billion+ in damage, 40 deaths, and 675 injuries, with a recorded F5 tornado on the ground.
• June 1, 1999 – The McIntosh County area suffered $5.75M+ in damage, 2 deaths, and 5 injuries.
• April 11, 2001 – The Coal County area suffered $75,000+ in damage, 1 death, and 1 injury.
• May 8, 2003 – The Oklahoma County area suffered $410M+ in damage and 45 injuries.
• May 9, 2003 – The Oklahoma City area suffered $10M+ in damage and 8 injuries.
• May 10, 2010 – Central, South Central, and Eastern Oklahoma suffered 3 deaths and 120 injuries.
View a map of tornado paths from 1950 - 2010 (Oklahoma Tornado History Project)