Tornado Outbreaks Across South Lead to Record Reports for March

A new record for the most reported tornados in March was announced on Friday after severe weather outbreaks over the past two weeks increased the number of twisters spotted.

A Newsweek analysis of the month's preliminary daily totals found there were 315 tornados reported in the U.S. in March, breaking the previous record set in 2012 when 223 tornados were reported, according to data from the National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center.

There were especially strong tornados during severe weather outbreaks throughout the second half of March. A series of storms over the past few days resulted in at least two deaths, both in Washington County, Florida, as well as several injuries and extensive damage.

At least 30 tornadoes were reported in seven states across the South and Midwest this week, ABC News reported. NWS survey teams confirmed at least six tornadoes on Wednesday and Thursday in Alabama and another two in Mississippi, with one rated an EF-2 with top wind speeds of 115 mph.

A massive tornado touched down early Wednesday morning in Springdale, Arkansas, about 145 miles northwest of Little Rock, causing seven injuries and extensive structural damage. The 350-yard wide tornado was initially categorized as an EF-2 but was upgraded to an EF-3 after the estimated wind speeds reached 145 mph.

At least 60 tornadoes were reported during a storm outbreak that began on March 21 and lasted for two days. Police in Jacksboro, Texas, confirmed that a tornado hit the ground on March 21, with social media posts indicating damage to several homes, a local animal shelter and Jacksboro High School.

A tornado near New Orleans on March 23 killed at least one person and injured another two. The tornado was classified as an EF-3 with estimated wind speeds of about 160 mph. Several houses were damaged or destroyed in the weather system.

The NWS is investigating 19 potential tornadoes from the most recent outbreak after receiving over 485 storm reports from Tuesday evening into Thursday. The agency issued 81 tornado warnings and 190 thunderstorm warnings throughout the storm, according to Fox News.

A reported tornado must be verified by the NWS teams on the ground before being logged as a tornado. These teams survey damage patterns to confirm a tornado touched down and rule out other possibilities. Some reported tornadoes are instead funnel clouds that never fully touch the ground. A funnel cloud only becomes a tornado after it touches the ground, according to the NWS.

Update 3/31/22, 12:00 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

New Record for Tornado Reports
A new record for the most reported tornados in March was announced on Friday after severe weather outbreaks over the past two weeks increased the number of twisters spotted. Above, the Mississippi Department of Transportation digital message board warns drivers along I-55 southbound in Jackson, Mississippi, of a tornado warning during a rainstorm during the outbreak of severe weather in the state on Wednesday, March 30. Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo