COLUMBUS, Ohio — According to data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Buckeye State has already seen more than 30 tornadoes in 2024. 

What You Need To Know

  • The 2024 tornado season did start earlier with the first tornadoes starting at the end of February

  • Updated radar technology is a factor in why it seems we're seeing more tornadoes

  • Researchers can't conclude quite yet if the early tornado season is a result of warmer winters and overall change in climate 

On average, Ohio sees about 21 tornadoes in a year. The state has already documented 35, and it’s only the beginning of the official tornado season. The Buckeye State saw several toward the end of February and through the month of March. Some might think the uptick in tornadoes is due to warmer winters and changes in our climate, but experts say it's a combination of a few different factors. 

Tornadoes are often a result of retreating cool air and incoming warm air chasing each other with a combination of some sort of moisture. In Ohio's case this year, the moisture is coming from the Gulf of Mexico. On average, Ohio sees about five to six tornadoes by the start of the season in April, but with a warmer winter this year we did see quite a few tornadoes early in the year. State Climatologist for Ohio Aaron Wilson said while the weather may have something to do with why we’re seeing tornadoes earlier, they've always been part of Ohio's weather pattern. 

“Certainly there is a role to play with warmer winters, warmer springs, the ability for our jet stream to bring in weather patterns, to bring up more moisture from the gulf and mix and create these systems, but the weather pattern in and of itself, especially in March and April, this is not atypical for our region,” said Wilson.

Wilson said updated radar technology also plays a part. Switching from Doppler radar to dual polarization radar has allowed us to track small EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes that might not have been picked up in the past. 

“What that has allowed us to do is be able to detect a lot more tornadoes through radar and to detect EF1s and EF0s,” said Wilson. “These smaller, less intense tornadoes we're actually witnessing or observed, I should say, observing more of those than maybe we did in the past before 19, certainly before 1990.”

The worst year for tornadoes in the state was 1992 when we saw 62 touch down.

While there are some years like 2005 or 2015 when we did not see much activity, it’s important to always have a plan in place and have a way to access severe weather coverage during tornado season. The season usually wraps up by around mid to late June. Click here to learn about the history of tornadoes in Ohio.