If you think you’ve been hearing more about tornadoes lately, you’re not imagining things.
An unusually busy stretch of tornado activity has caused deaths and destruction in a number of states over the last month. According to the New York Times, we’ve just seen a record 12 consecutive days with at least eight tornado reports. Tornadoes have been linked to 38 deaths this year, and just this morning, Kansas declared a state of emergency after a tornado tore through the outskirts of Lawrence, injuring 12 people.
The Storm Prediction Center from NOAA’s National Weather Service has been keeping a tally on the activity. It shows 935 preliminary tornado reports for 2019 so far, compared to 1,169 for all of last year. May has been the busiest month, with 442 reports so far, and Texas has seen the highest number with 131 reports. Other states with high activity include Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma, all of which have seen more than 70 reports this year.
The data is preliminary and subject to change. You can check out NOAA’s interactive map here.
What’s going on? The rash of tornadoes hasn’t been pinned down to a single cause, but according to the Weather Channel, a stagnant jet-stream pattern has led to a barrage of severe weather, including torrential rain and flooding, storms in the plains, record heat in the south, and chilly wet weather in the West.
As for climate change, that could be a factor, but a link between tornadoes and climate change is unclear because of the difficulty establishing long-term trends in tornado records, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.