Dear Tom,
Where do most tornadoes occur, worldwide?
Ron Smithson, Peoria, Ill.

Dear Ron,

Sad to say, the United States leads the world in tornado occurrences. Weather conditions support tornadoes elsewhere, but due largely to the topography of North America, the greatest frequency of twisters occurs on the Great Plains and Midwest. Poor documentation and confusing terminology make worldwide tornado tallies difficult, but without a doubt the great majority of tornadoes happen in the United States. Best estimate is that about three-quarters of tornadoes worldwide occur in the United States, followed by Canada and then Bangladesh. However, more than 40 countries have recorded significant tornadoes. The United States averaged 1,233 tornadoes per year in the period 1996-2020.

Bangladesh has experienced the world’s deadliest tornadoes due in part to population density and limited warning. The peak of the tornado season there is April and May, and about 60 tornadoes occur per year. The deadliest tornado of all was the Saturia-Manikganj Sadar tornado of April 26, 1989, when about 1,300 deaths occurred. About a dozen tornadoes in Bangladesh have killed more people than the worst tornado event in the United States.
The worst tornado occurrence in the United States, in terms of deaths, was the Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925. The death toll from that storm was 695. The tornado moved from Missouri across southern Illinois and into southwest Indiana.