Tornadoes in California a Rarity? Not so!
If you were to ask the average Californian whether tornadoes were a common event in California, you’d likely receive an odd stare before a definite answer of “no.” However, this answer is completely incorrect, as tornadoes are much more a common phenomenon than many would think, with about six to seven being reported each year. Although California tornadoes are not quite to the scale and intensity that much of those in the midwest are recorded to be, they are still tornadoes nonetheless and pose just as much a danger, capable of uprooting trees, ripping off roof tiles, and knocking down power lines.
So, how often do tornadoes in California occur, and when? California receives the majority of its severe thunderstorms and tornado warned or watched storms throughout March and April. As the springtime seasons begin, temperatures begin to warm, though the wintertime low pressure systems that bring California’s rain have not quite subsided. These conditions create a favorable environment for convective storms from which severe weather such as lightning, hail, heavy rain, and even tornadoes may form. The vast majority of these tornadoes form throughout the California valley, with the exception of the Los Angeles area along the coast.
For the tornadoes that do form within the California valley, a significant amount of these occur in the northern Sacramento valley area in Butte County, California. From 1970-2014, Butte county had a recorded total of 16 tornadoes, though this number is outdated as Butte county has since experienced a few more tornadoes in the past few years. None of these tornadoes have ever exceeded an EF2 rating, but have nonetheless produced significant damage with one producing millions of dollars in damage to crops throughout the area.
Tornadoes throughout California, although few, are nothing new nor rare. Weak and short-lived, they often do not cause much damage, but nonetheless can still pose a great danger to those living within the affected areas.
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© 2018 Weather Forecaster Alexis Clouser