2024 tornado season has been extremely active so far (Credit: NOAA via Accuweather.com/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Tornadoes can strike the United States year-round, but they are most active from March to July. While they occur nationwide, a region known as "Tornado Alley" is the most susceptible to the twisters. This includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio.

The activity typically ramps up in April, with an average of about 182 tornadoes. However, this April, over 300 tornadoes were reported across the nation. About 100 of the twisters occurred within just three days — from April 25 to 28, 2024. They include 30 in Oklahoma, at least two dozen in Iowa, 20 in Texas, 16 in Missouri, 15 in Kansas, and 13 in Nebraska. The worst tornado outbreak of the year so far has caused significant damage.

Among the hardest hit was Marietta, Oklahoma. The town of about 2,900 residents was struck by an EF-4 twister — a tornado with winds between 166 mph (267 km/h) and 200 mph (320 km/h) — on April 27, 2024. The powerful storm killed one person and leveled several structures, including a hospital and a nursing home.

Minden, Iowa, also suffered substantial damage after a powerful storm ripped through the small town of 600 people on April 26, 2024. The tornado destroyed 48 homes and damaged more than 300 structures.

Photo of the Minden, Iowa, tornado around the time it impacted the city on April 26, 2024 (Credit: Wxtrackercody/ CC-BY-4.0/ Wikimedia Commons)

Tornado activity remains robust in May. As of May 12, 2024, at least 133 tornadoes have been reported across the country. Most of them have been clustered around Oklahoma, Michigan, and Tennessee. However, the twisters have also surfaced as far south as Florida. On May 10, 2024, the state's capital, Tallahassee, was struck by three different tornadoes. The storms damaged several buildings and downed trees and utility poles. As of May 13, 2024, thousands of residents remain without power.

While the number of tornadoes is above average for this time of year, it is still far from the record set in 2011. That year, 1,287 tornadoes had struck the US by May 7. But with over two months still remaining in the peak season, there is ample time to post a record tornado season.


A tornado is a very powerful rotating column of air. It starts at the base of a thunderstorm cloud and extends all the way to the ground. Tornadoes form only during very severe rotating storms. Called supercells, they occur when cold, dry polar air comes in contact with warm, moist tropical air.

As the warm air rises, winds around the storm cause it to rotate and form a funnel. As the air in the funnel spins faster, it creates a low-pressure area. This sucks in even more air and, sometimes, even objects. While ordinary thunderstorms last between 30 to 60 minutes, supercells can linger on for hours.

Tornadoes can occur anywhere in the world, but the US experiences the most, with about 1,200 twisters touching down annually. "Tornado Alley" is especially prone to these storms due to its unique geography. Here, the dry air from the Rocky Mountains intersects with the warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and the chilly Arctic air from the north. The combination provides perfect conditions to spawn powerful storms that frequently turn into deadly tornadoes.

Resources: foxweather.com, Washingtonpost.com, weather.com, Noaa.gov