Ranking the Easter 2020 tornado outbreak versus the worst outbreaks in history

Published: Apr. 22, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The Easter 2020 tornado outbreak in the Deep South will go down in history as one of the country's worst ever.

On April 12th and 13th 2020, 137 tornadoes touched down in 10 different states: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, and Florida. Three states recorded 20 or more tornadoes, and three others recorded at least 10.

The tornado outbreak caused over 450 million dollars in damage and 32 fatalities.

On top of the Easter 2020 outbreak, at least 16 tornadoes have been confirmed in the same region. Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida saw tornadoes again exactly one week later.

In these two weekends, southern Mississippi saw 3 EF-4 tornadoes touch down within 40 miles of each other! EF-4 tornadoes have winds speeds of 166-200 mph!

So how does the Easter 2020 tornado outbreak rank compared to some of the United States' worst. Here are some of the top 5 tornado outbreaks in US history.


This tornado outbreak recorded 87 tornadoes in 9 states. It is known as the Super Tuesday outbreak because it occurred on a night where 24 states were holding primary elections. The storm system impacted several polling states including Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee.

In total, there were 57 fatalities, 425 injured, and $1.2 billion in damages. Included in this outbreak were 5 EF-3 and 5 EF-4 tornadoes. Tornadoes touched down in both the Memphis and Nashville metropolitan areas.

#4 1992 NOVEMBER OUTBREAK (NOVEMBER 21-23, 1992)

There is a variance in how many tornadoes were recorded with this outbreak but one estimate is that a total of 103 tornadoes touched down over 3 days across 12 states, including Virginia.

In total, 26 people died during this outbreak with 641 injuries. Estimated damage was around $300 million. Tornadoes touched down in Houston and Atlanta metropolitan areas. An EF-4 tornado in Mississippi caused 10 deaths alone.

#3 (MAY 22, 2011)

2011 was a brutal year for tornadoes. In fact, this outbreak ranked at #3 is not even the worst of the year 2011. On May 22, 2011, 48 tornadoes touched down across 11 states.

This outbreak included one of the worst tornadoes on record. An EF-5 tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri and caused more devastation alone than any of the previous outbreaks mentioned.

An EF-5 tornado has speeds of over 200 mph. This tornado alone caused 158 fatalities, 1150 injuries, and $2.8 billion dollars in damage. The Joplin, Missouri tornado is currently the most costly on record.

#2 1974 SUPER OUTBREAK (APRIL 3-4, 1974)

The April 1974 Super Outbreak had 148 tornadoes in 13 different states. 30 of those tornadoes were rated either a F4 or F5 which means estimated winds were at least 207 mph or greater.

This outbreak caused 315 fatalities, and 5484 injuries. It caused $4.58 billion in damages when translating to 2019 USD values. This tornado outbreak caused a few tornadoes to touch down in West Virginia and Virginia, including one in Augusta County.

#1 2011 SUPER OUTBREAK (APRIL 25-28 2011)

As I mentioned before, 2011 was a brutal year for tornadoes. The 2011 Super Outbreak was a savage one and easily in my books takes the top spot.

In this tornado outbreak, 360 tornadoes were confirmed. That's more than double any of the outbreaks mentioned above! 21 states saw tornadoes in this outbreak, including Virginia.

Alabama was hit especially hard. 62 tornadoes touched down in this outbreak across Alabama with 3 EF-5 tornadoes touching down in the state. 14 tornadoes touched down in Marshall County, Alabama which is in the northeastern part of the state.

324 deaths occurred with this outbreak, including 238 in Alabama alone. 3100+ injuries occurred and $11 billion in damage.

Virginia saw 19 tornadoes in this incredible outbreak with an EF-3 tornado touching down in Glade Spring, Virginia. Saltville, in Smyth County Virginia, recorded hail of 4.5 inches in diameter!

When examining the Easter 2020 tornado outbreak, it easily should be placed in the top 10. However, I do not believe it ranks in the top 5.

It's important to note that impacts are the greatest variable in this and not just tornado numbers.