First, let me start by saying our area consists of:
Augusta, Highland, Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Pendleton, Hardy, and Grant counties.
While it was a busy year with thunderstorms, and a derecho in June, there were NO TORNADOES in our area.
We did have, I believe, 5 or 6 thunderstorms that prompted tornado warnings.
Meaning, a thunderstorm was capable of producing a tornado, but there was never even an funnel cloud reported from any tornado warning
That's a good thing.
Compared to the previous year, 2011, we had 6 tornadoes in our area. All were in the month of April. 5 out of the 6 were during the April outbreak at the end of the month. That was actually the last time a tornado was confirmed in our area, April of 2011.
Back to 2012: In the rest of the state of Virginia, only 11 tornadoes were confirmed, which is about 20% less than the state average.
Here is a look at the U.S. tornado statistics for 2012, there were a total of 936 confirmed tornadoes.
That's way down from the nearly 1800 tornadoes in 2011.
2012 was also below the 10 year tornado yearly average, which is about 1300 tornadoes a year.
Also some good news, in 2012, there were not any EF-5 tornadoes.
The moral of the story is, tornadoes do happen in our area.
The mountains don't really protect us, they can limit the ingredients and intensity of storms for tornadoes to form, but sometimes they do happen.
Another side to that coin is that strong thunderstorms can be just as dangerous.
Look at the images above, they are damage from a Derecho, EF-2 Tornado, and a Microburst.
Does one look safer than the other? No, they are equally as damaging.
All three of those weather phenomenon have extremely strong, damaging winds. It's just that with a tornado, that wind is rotating, and with a microburst or derecho the wind is straight-line.
Let me also say that during a tornado warning, our station, like pretty much every other news station in the country, will cut into programming to warn of the possibility of a tornado.
We will stay on air until the tornado warning is canceled, or expired. People's lives are potentially in danger during a tornado warning, and it is our responsibility as meteorologists to warn the people in that area. It may interrupt your favorite show or football game, but lives are in danger. We will get off the air as soon as we can, when the threat is over. This is the only kind of weather warning where we will continuously stay on air until the warning comes down.
There is no way to predict what 2013 will bring as far as severe storms or tornadoes. So it's important to stay alert, because tornadoes can happen any time of the year.