Finger on the Weather

Tornado season off to another sluggish start

Even with the predictable uptick that comes every May — the busiest month for tornadoes in the United States — the total number of twisters so far this year is once again lagging well below normal.

Through Wednesday, there had been 449 tornadoes across the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. That’s 27 percent below the 10-year average of 613.

At least two people died as a result of tornadoes that destroyed homes and overturned vehicles in Oklahoma on May 9, 2016. A strong series of storms hit across the Plains. The National Weather Service said a tornado briefly touched down on the so

If the sluggish trend persists, this would be the fifth consecutive year with tornado totals well below normal.

Kansas has logged 13 tornadoes so far this year, according to the SPC. Three have touched down in the 26 counties of southeast Kansas covered by the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

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All three have been weak and short-lived, said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the agency.

The strongest tornado of the year in Kansas occurred May 8 in Ellis County, northeast of Hays. It destroyed outbuildings and knocked down utility poles, according to the National Weather Service, and was rated an EF-2 with maximum wind speeds of 125 miles an hour.

The tornado was a quarter-mile wide and was on the ground for more than six miles.

A tornado that struck Republic County in northern Kansas on the night of April 24 injured two people. The tornado touched down north of Belleville and moved northeast, striking the tiny town of Munden, according to the Topeka branch of the weather service.

Ten houses were damaged or destroyed along the tornado’s path of nearly 13 miles. That tornado earned an EF-1 rating, with maximum winds of 110 miles an hour.