The end of 2018 could mark a meteorological novelty: This year could be the first in the modern record in which not a single violent tornado — those ranked EF4 or EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale — touched down in the United States.
The Washington Post’s Ian Livingston noted that 2018 was a “quiet year for tornadoes overall,” with most months seeing lower-than-average twister activity.
March to May, which is typically peak tornado season, was notably quiet, with weather conditions unfavorable for tornado activity, Livingston said.
The U.S. is also on track this year to have the fewest tornado-related deaths since record keeping began in 1875. Twisters killed 10 people this year, according to The Weather Channel. The current record for the fewest twister-related deaths in a year is 12 fatalities, recorded in 1912.
Tornadoes of any rating can be deadly, but those rated EF3 to EF5 have historically been responsible for the vast majority of tornado-related deaths in the U.S., The Weather Channel said. The U.S. sees an average of about 30 EF3 or stronger tornadoes every year. As of early December, however, only about 10 EF3 tornadoes had been confirmed in 2018 by the National Weather Service.
Some of these figures could change by the end of the year, however, as severe thunderstorms threaten parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. AccuWeather.com said residents in the affected areas should brace for downpours, strong wind gusts and possible isolated tornadoes through Thursday.