Characteristics of tornado events and warnings in the southeastern United States

Alexandra K. Anderson-Frey, Yvette P. Richardson, Andrew R. Dean, Richard L. Thompson, Bryan T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The southeastern United States has become a prime area of focus in tornado-related literature due, in part, to the abundance of tornadoes occurring in high-shear low-CAPE (HSLC) environments. Through this analysis of 4133 tornado events and 16 429 tornado warnings in the southeastern United States, we find that tornadoes in the Southeast do indeed have, on average, higher shear and lower CAPE than tornadoes elsewhere in the contiguous United States (CONUS). We also examine tornado warning skill in the form of probability of detection (POD; percent of tornadoes receiving warning prior to tornado occurrence) and false alarm ratio (FAR; percent of tornado warnings for which no corresponding tornado is detected), and find that, on average, POD is better and FAR is worse for tornadoes in the Southeast than for the CONUS as a whole. These measures of warning skill remain consistent even when we consider only HSLC tornadoes. The Southeast also has nearly double the CONUS percentage of deadly tornadoes, with the highest percentage of these deadly tornadoes occurring during the spring, the winter, and around local sunset. On average, however, the tornadoes with the lowest POD also tend to be those that are weakest and least likely to be deadly; for the most part, the most dangerous storms are indeed being successfully warned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1017-1034
Number of pages18
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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