Year is already higher than average with 152 tornadoes by 1 March

After a relatively benign February, the 2012 severe convective storm season in the US has brought damage and possible significant losses with eight tornadoes reported on 1 March.

The states of Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia and Alabama were all hit by deadly twisters which destroyed properties, damaged infrastructure and left 39 people dead.

The total number of tornadoes through to 1 March is already at 152, higher than the average of 117 over the past six years, according to EQECAT.

Tornado activity in 2012 is beginning earlier than in 2011, but the 1 March totals for 2007 and 2008 are significantly higher than the total for 2012.

On 29 February, an EF-4 tornado that was part of a larger extra-tropical cyclone, struck the town of Harrisburg, Illinois (population: 9000). Initial surveys indicate the tornado was accompanied by estimated winds of 180 mph (300 kph).

Preliminary reports indicate that the tornado killed six people and injured nearly 100 in the city of Harrisburg. According to the Harrisburg sheriff’s office, 250-300 houses were damaged or destroyed.

This week’s EF-4 tornado was part of a larger system which produced a line of severe convective storms across large parts of the Midwest and South.