Kentucky Tornado Average Facts

Learn More About Tornado Occurrence in Kentucky

Tornado drawing

It's never fun to think about a damaging storm hitting near your home. However, Kentucky residents should be prepared for the reality of a tornado touching down in their area. While preparation can be complex, it's necessary for keeping your family safe. One of the first steps to tornado readiness is education. Once you understand how tornadoes are formed and how common they are in your area, you'll be better equipped for a severe storm. At Ground Zero Shelters, we're dedicated to helping people throughout Tornado Alley and similar areas feel safe during a tornado. Learn more about the history of tornadoes in Kentucky and what you can do to protect yourself.

Historic Data on Kentucky Tornadoes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is responsible for tracking storms, and their records on Kentucky tornadoes go back to 1950. Over the last 70 years, the state has seen more than 1,300 storms causing over a billion dollars in property damage and an additional two million in crop damage—and that's before factoring in the human cost of these dangerous storms. Tornado touchdowns are on the rise, spiking in the last two decades. The most recent disastrous tornado hit Kentucky in 2021 and destroyed over 15,000 buildings in the state.

When Is Kentucky Tornado Season?

Kentucky is a part of Hoosier Alley, an offshoot of what we traditionally think of as Tornado Alley. Peak storm season in Kentucky and all of Hoosier Alley occurs during April and May. However, that doesn't mean that tornadoes are limited to these months, and sometimes they hit as early as January and as late as November. It's crucial to be prepared all year, but especially during the height of tornado season.

How Common Are Tornadoes in Kentucky?

On average, about 21 tornadoes touch down in Kentucky each year. In a three-month tornado season, that comes out to an average of seven tornados each month. While some of these storms may be more severe than others, there's no question that tornadoes are common in Kentucky, and residents should make every effort to be prepared for the damages. That said, tornadoes have been reported far more in recent years than before 2000. Take a look at the yearly total tornadoes for the past decade:

  • 2022—34
  • 2021—63
  • 2020—26
  • 2019—30
  • 2018—39
  • 2017—29
  • 2016—28
  • 2015—17
  • 2014—29
  • 2013—44

Top Cities and Areas Affected

Whether you're making a move to Kentucky or simply want to be educated about your current community, it's a good idea to find information about tornadoes in your area. Thankfully, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calculates a Tornado Risk Index score and rating. These values show a community's relative risk for tornadoes in comparison to other parts of the United States. Kentucky as a whole has a low to moderate risk of tornadoes, but some parts of the state are more susceptible than others. Here are the cities (with a population over 1,000) with the highest Tornado Risk Index:

  • Louisville
  • Jeffersontown
  • Bowling Green
  • Glasgow
  • Hopkinsville
  • Owensboro
  • Madisonville
  • Paducah
  • Lexington
  • Frankfort
  • Florence

Know the Prime Conditions for Tornadoes

Now that you know some facts and averages about Kentucky tornadoes, it's time to recognize the prime conditions for tornado formation. Hoosier Alley and Kentucky have the perfect storm, so to speak, of tornado-friendly conditions. The area experiences lots of atmospheric instability, conflicting temperatures, and shifting wind directions, all of which increase the chances of a tornado touching down. Other signs that a tornado may be brewing include:

  • Flying debris
  • Changes in the color of the sky (usually green or yellow indicate a severe storm)
  • Loud roaring sound
  • Large hail

Protect Yourself and Your Family

Tornadoes in Kentucky may not be as common as in other Midwestern states, but it's still vital to be prepared in the event of an emergency. At Ground Zero Shelters, we make every effort to help our customers prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We offer above-ground tornado shelters where you and your family can stockpile essentials and stay safe during the worst of it. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you weather a storm.

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