Tornadoes - October 2018

This analysis is based on preliminary data available from the Storm Prediction Center. Final tornado counts published by the Storm Prediction Center and NCEI's Storm Events Database might differ from this report. For a more detailed climatology, please visit our tornado climatology page.

According to data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, during October, there were 139 preliminary tornado reports. This is above the 1991-2010 average of 61 for the month. Depending on the final confirmation rate, this could be one of the highest October tornado counts on record. There were 119 confirmed tornadoes in October 2001, 108 in 2010, and 102 in 1997. Tornadoes occurred throughout the month and across large parts of the country with tornadoes reported in unusual places for October including, Oregon, Arizona, and parts of New England. Most of the tornado activity was confined to the Southern Plains, Lower Mississippi valley, and the Midwest. There were no tornado-related fatalities reported during the month. For the year-to-date, there have been 1,035 preliminary tornado reports, below the average of 1,167.

An unusual tornado outbreak impacted the Northeast on October 2nd as a storm system moved through the region. There were 13 confirmed tornadoes in Pennsylvania, including three EF-2 tornadoes. This was the single largest day tornado outbreak for Pennsylvania since June 2, 1998. The state only averages 16 tornadoes per year with only 13 total tornadoes observed in the state during October in the 1950-2017 record. The largest impacts of the outbreak were downed trees and damage to buildings. The storm system also produced three tornadoes in New York and two in Connecticut, with each state having only observed 10 and four October tornadoes on record, respectively. A second round of tornadoes impacted the Northeast on October 23rd when three tornadoes were confirmed in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, there have only been 11 total tornadoes to impact the state since records began in 1950 with only one during the month of October. This was also the latest calendar date for a tornado in Rhode Island. For Massachusetts, there have only been seven other October tornadoes to hit the state, the most recent in 1970. Another round of severe weather on the 29th brought another weak tornado to Connecticut and an EF-1 in southeastern New York.

On October 10th and 11th as Hurricane Michael moved through the Southeast, there were 14 confirmed tornadoes including three in Georgia, four in South Carolina, and seven in Virginia. The Southeast region on a whole typically experiences 11 tornadoes during October. The most damaging tornado of the outbreak was an EF-1 in Norge, Virginia that damaged or destroyed 32 homes.

On October 7th through 9th, a slow moving weather system spawned severe weather across the Great Plains and Midwest. There were 35 preliminary tornado reports from Texas to Iowa. The most active tornado day was the 9th when there were 27 preliminary reports of tornadoes, mostly in Iowa and Oklahoma. The strongest tornado in Iowa was an EF-2 that hit near Creston in Union County.

[ top ]

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Tornadoes for October 2018, published online November 2018, retrieved on December 12, 2018 from