2006 set state record for tornadoes

An expert says the year was an anomaly.
Friday, January 5, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:18 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Missouri had a record-breaking 102 documented tornadoes in 2006, according to the National Weather Service.

The twisters caused 13 deaths and 273 injuries. Among those injured were 13 Columbia College students whose bus overturned during a March 12 tornado in Randolph County.

The previous record for a single year in Missouri was 84 tornadoes in 2003. The state averages 28 tornadoes a year.

“2006 was quite the unusual year for tornadoes,” said Anthony Lupo, professor of atmospheric sciences at MU. “While nationally the number of tornadoes was down, it was a record year for Missouri and Illinois.”

Lupo attributed the high number of tornadoes to unusually dry conditions in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

“Typically, tornado alley is further west, near Kansas, because they have a strong north-and-south temperature contrast, which mixes with an east-to-west dryness,” he said. “This year ... the dryness contrast was located farther east over Missouri and Illinois, which produced the tornado conditions,” Lupo said.

Lupo said 2006 was an anomaly compared to past years and should not be seen as an indicator of things to come this year. The number of strong storms in Missouri has actually decreased over the past 30 years, Lupo said, so last year’s tornado season was unusual.

“We had sensed it would be a bad year last January and February, but we didn’t predict that there would be such a high number of tornadoes,” Lupo said.

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