No Explanation for Rarity of Northeast Missouri Tornadoes

June 8, 2015

Tornadoes have ravaged parts of Texas, Oklahoma and other states this spring, but northeast Missouri, once again, has been virtually unscathed.

Is there a reason beyond sheer luck? Not according to the National Weather Service.tornado

The Hannibal Courier-Post reports that Marion County, which includes Hannibal, has not had a tornado touch down since May 20, 2013. In fact, over the past 65 years, the weather service has confirmed just 13 twisters in Marion County, none involving a fatality. Neighboring Ralls County has had even fewer – between nine and 11, depending on the reporting agency.

National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist Jim Kramper said there is no particular reason why northeast Missouri counties tend to be among those with the lowest twister counts in Missouri.

“Is northeast Missouri a safe place (from tornadoes)?” Kramper asked. “I wouldn’t say that.”

National Weather Service data shows that Newton County, in southwest Missouri, has had 45 tornado strikes since 1950. Data from the National Climatic Data Center put that total at 44. Either way, it is the most in Missouri and a far cry from the total seen in the Hannibal area.

Other northeast Missouri counties have mostly been immune, too. Data shows that Knox, Schuyler, Scotland, Putnam, Sullivan, Adair and Randolph counties also rank low in the number of twisters over the past 65 years.

Kramper said there is no meteorological reason why places like southwest Missouri and the Missouri Bootheel region in southeast Missouri typically see more tornadoes, though he noted that weather patterns tend to repeat themselves.

Does where you live in Missouri dictate how you should prepare for tornadoes?

“We don’t think so,” Kramper said. “Just because I’m in an area where the numbers are low, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worry about it.”

Kramper said people should also ignore myths about tornadoes – that they avoid water, or hills.

“Rivers aren’t a magic barrier,” he said. “Countless tornadoes each year cross rivers.”

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