STATE COLLEGE, Penn.  – AccuWeather, a digital media weather forecaster, predicts a normal to slightly above normal number of tornadoes in 2020, but says an early onset to the season could elevate numbers in March through May.

The National Centers for Environmental Information and the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center say the United States has an average range of tornadoes between 1,200 and 1,300 each year.

There were 1,422 tornadoes in 2019 and AccuWeather forecasts a similar number in 2020.

The number of tornadoes recorded has increased recently because of a higher population and more people with access to mobile phones and cameras.

AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok says many tornadoes of the past were not seen or recorded.

Pastelok: "This change may amount to an increase of reported tornadoes of up to 20 percent over the last 40 years and 10 percent over the past 20 years.”

He expects a normal transition for the tornado season with an increasing concentration of severe weather over the central Plains into the lower Midwest in March.

Pastelok: “It’ll be very important to see what happens in March. Once the cold snap lifts out in the central Plains and lower Midwest by mid-March, things could get unstable quickly and we could have another active area there.” 

AccuWeather is calling for more than double the average of tornadoes in March and an average number of tornadoes in April and up to 30 percent more tornadoes in May.

There are an average of 75 tornadoes in March, 178 in April and 269 in May, according to the Storm Prediction Center records from 1991 to 2015.

Click here for AccuWeather story