Oklahoma City is the state capital, and located near the very heart of Tornado Alley. Those considering a move to the city may be wondering about the frequency of tornadoes in the city, and how common they are in general.
Oklahoma City is known for often having tornadoes, with a yearly average of five such events affecting the city. This figure can increase or decrease depending on several factors, especially changing weather variables.
If you are considering living in Oklahoma City and are interested in finding out more about the tornado frequency there, read on below to discover how this may affect you.
Oklahoma City can be found in Oklahoma County, the area with the most frequent tornadoes in the state. Along with Edmond, Oklahoma City sees the most tornadoes in the state, and has been swept by over 320 since the current statistics log started in 1950.
Oklahoma City averages around five tornadoes per year, with some seasons being worse than others. In 1999, the city saw its deadliest tornado, as well as the only F5 witnessed on record in the area.
Oklahoma City has experienced tornadoes from April to as late as November.
The town of Moore in Oklahoma County sees some of the most tornado activity in the state. This town can be found in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, right on Tornado Alley, which sees frequent tornadoes across the region.
Through the years, Moore has experienced significant damage from tornadoes, especially in October 1998, May 1999, May 2003, May 2010, and May 2013. The May 2013 tornado was one of the most violent in the country’s history, and the second deadliest, after the Joplin tornado in 2011, in Missouri.
Alongside Oklahoma City and Edmond, Moore sees some of the most frequent tornado activity in the country, thanks to its climate and its geography. Those living in the area should be prepared to face tornadoes on a regular basis, especially during the season.
Tornadoes are hugely common across the state of Oklahoma, especially Oklahoma City. Much of the state can be found along Tornado Alley. Oklahoma has an environment that creates ideal conditions for tornadoes to form.
Across Oklahoma, cold dry air blowing in from Canada collides with warm and humid air coming from the equator, as well as hot and dry air from the Gulf of Mexico. This is a perfect setting for thunderstorms and supercells, with tornadoes easily occurring within them. Tornadoes usually happen during late spring or sometimes early fall, both seasons that experience quick weather changes.
Oklahoma also has plenty of flat land that allows tornadoes to storm through the area uninterrupted, which explains the extent of the damage that these events usually cause across the state, especially in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
The average number of tornadoes per year in Oklahoma has been 67 since 1996, but that has soared in some years. In 2019, Oklahoma was hit by 146 tornadoes across the state, with 105 occurring in May of that year. This set a new record in the area, following the 145 recorded in 1999.
Oklahoma ranks third in most tornado-prone states, following closely after neighboring Texas and Kansas.
While tornadoes have been known to occur in Oklahoma from February to November, the high season for them is from April to June. May is the month that sees the most tornadoes in the state, with 24 occurring on average, followed by April with 12 and June with 7.
Despite these average statistics, the amount of tornadoes hitting every month can vary significantly depending on specific circumstances. In 2021, a record number of tornadoes happened in October, with 31 observed across the state. The previous record for October tornadoes in Oklahoma was 27, in 1998.
This shows that the effects of the changing climate around the world are intensifying the occurrence of extreme weather events such as tornadoes.
If you are a newcomer to the city, you may find the prospect of frequent tornadoes intimidating. Here are a few tips on how to be prepared for these extreme weather events at any time:
- Tornado-proof your home: if you live in the tornado-prone area of Oklahoma City, you should invest in high-grade materials, along with an impact-resistant roof and storm-proof windows. You should also keep tree limbs trimmed and the surrounding area free of debris.
- Have an emergency kit: You should always have a bag of essentials ready to go, especially during tornado season. Include bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, baby formula if necessary, and other basics.
- Find shelter: Many houses in Oklahoma don’t have basements, so you must make sure to be aware of the nearest tornado shelter. If there is no basement level, try and get to a windowless room on the lowest floor of your home.
Oklahoma City often sees tornadoes ravaging through its metropolitan area, especially from April to June. While this may seem daunting to newcomers, locals are used to these conditions, and with some safety precautions the season can be bearable.