St. Louis Region Records Fourth Highest Tornado Count

Estimated read time 4 min read

The St. Louis region faced severe weather throughout the year that resulted in a record number of tornadoes. Confirmed footage of five tornadoes from Sunday evening’s storms increased the 2024 total to 33, promoting it to the fourth highest year for tornado touchdowns in the area.


Tornado Clusters and Historical Analysis

Since March, several severe storm systems have passed through the region, often causing numerous tornado outbreaks. Sunday was no different with five confirmed tornadoes significantly adding to this year’s tally.

Data from Mississippi State University’s Midsouth Tornado Database reveals that 2024 isn’t St. Louis’ most tornado prone year, despite its high ranking. The years with higher counts are,

  • 2006, 75 tornadoes
  • 2011, 47 tornadoes
  • 2004, 38 tornadoes
  • 2010, 29 tornadoes
  • 1998, 28 tornadoes
  • 2024, 33 tornadoes (So far)

A majority of these occurred in May, followed by April and June, as per university researcher findings.


Rising Commonality of Tornadoes?

The increased reports of recent year tornados are partly due to improved detection technology. Data collection before National Geographic’s first comprehensive Doppler radar network launched for US wide coverage was reliant on individual sightings. Luckily, many unwatched occurrences have since been noticed.

If minor twisters aren’t considered, records show no specific growth pattern in terms of frequency over many years. But some studies indicate an increase in their power and frequency within clusters. About three out of every ten happen during days when twenty or more tornadoes occur since 2000, as compared to just about one in ten between 1950 and 1970.


Sunday’s Tornado Outbreak

Storm survey crews from the NWS confirmed the following tornadoes from Sunday’s severe weather,

  • Oakville, Missouri (St. Louis County)
  • New Baden, Illinois (Clinton County)
  • North of Carlyle, Illinois (Clinton County)
  • North of Iuka, Illinois (Marion County)
  • North of Forbes Lake, Illinois (Marion County)

Four of these were rated as EF1 while an EF2 tornado north of Iuka had a peak speed of 132 miles per hour and a pathlength of nine miles. Crossing from Missouri to Illinois before disappearing was the Oakville twister that hit speeds up to 97 mph over an approximate distance of nine miles. The Carlyle based event too reached this top speed but covered around thirteen miles.


Destruction and Precautionary Measures

No injuries or deaths were caused by Sunday’s events though significant damage to rural homes and trees in the Metro East area was witnessed. With residents frequently hearing tornado sirens sounding off, it drums in a grim reminder about the ongoing hazard.


Returns on St. Louis Tornado Activity Over Time

The St. Louis metropolitan area is no stranger to damaging twisters having endured them for a long while including the infamous 1896 St. Louis East and St. Louis whirlwind. It ranks third overall and topmost expensive single event with over two hundred deaths and thousands more injured. Other significantly impacting happenings were,

April 2011, A powerful EF4 touched down across northern areas causing extensive damage including a battered Lambert International Airport.

  • January 1967, A northern metro F4 strike resulted in three recorded deaths.
  • April 1981, an F4 twister impacted Granite City and Edwardsville, Illinois.
  • December 2021, two metro area bound occurrences claimed seven lives during a major outbreak.


Analyzing Tornado Confirmations

Damages are surveyed by NWS meteorologists to confirm tornado activity. They present as messy with large, uprooted trees often overlapping on the ground, unlike microburst caused damages that look relatively uniform. Taking regular surveys helps improve future warning systems and keeps historical records accurate. For instance, despite initial claims of a Maeystown, based tornado in March, no evidence was found upon reinspection


The Final Word

As the year progresses, frequent severe weather occurrence in the St. Louis region has seen an alarming number of tornadoes. While detection improvement has increased counts significantly, more powerful and frequently clustered events pose real challenges. Community resilience and NWS performance in identifying and responding to these events will play a major role in preventing possible disasters.

Celina Brooks

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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