TempestTours®   Est. 2000

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Counting Tornadoes

We have kept a record of tornadoes intercepted since 2003 (we saw tornadoes in 2001 and 2002 but began documenting them in 2003), and individual intercepts indicating the date, location and number. Our count is listed on our home page.

How do we count tornadoes?  We count only tornadoes that we are 100 percent certain
are tornadoes.  We do not count every brief dust whirl or spin-up beneath an area of strong, persistent rotation.  By definition, a tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground that is associated with a thunderstorm.  It is easy to interpret that so that almost any ground swirl can be called a "tornado."  We believe there needs to be a distinctive pause in the ground rotation before we count a second tornado and we don't count things that simply "look like a tornado."  Sometimes, we see what we think "might" be a tornado, such as strong rotation within an area of precipitation, but we do not add it to our count unless we are absolutely sure.  This often requires a lengthy discussion among our team and a close revisit of video and photos.  It may require days for us to determine if what we saw was a tornado or not.  As scientists, we want to be absolutely sure and accurate in what we post.  And, as veteran storm chasers, we see no purpose in calling something a tornado that may not be a tornado.  With our conservative method, it's probable that we don't count every tornado we see, but the ones we do count have been verified.

The National Weather Service occasionally asks Tempest Tours to assist them with tornado event verification because they know our team is comprised of exceptionally well-trained spotters with a solid reputation.

Finally, the tornado intercept counts we post are ONLY tornadoes seen by Tempest Tours during our short 10-week annual operation period. 
We do not count tornadoes seen by our individual staff members while chasing independently.  If we did, our numbers would be substantially higher.

2013 TORNADO COUNT: 9  (April 20 - June 30)

5/15
, Millsap, Texas (1).
5/19, Clearwater, KS (2).
5/24, Floydada, Texas (2).
5/31, El Reno, Oklahoma* (1).
6/19, Elkwater, AB (1).
6/22, Wheatland, WY (1). Dix, NE (1).

2012: 14   2011: 14   2010: 28 

Verifiable tornado intercepts by Tempest Tours 2003-2013: 169

Counts are conservative and include only tornadoes intercepted by Tempest Tours, and seen by guests, during our period of operation and does not include tornadoes intercepted by individual staff members.  How do we count tornadoes?  Click here

*Largest tornado on record at 2.6 miles wide (EF5).

Tempest Tours is a corporate member of the American Meteorological Society, National Weather Association, National Tour Association and the National Safety Council.  Storm footage can be licensed through StormStock a division of Prairie Pictures.  We support and contribute to Autism Awareness and the Texas Severe Storms AssociationTrademark and Copyright © Tempest Tours, Inc.