Are tornadoes unique to the United States?

The weather pattern has been active again this year with tornadoes across the United States this spring of 2012. But do other counties have as many twisters as we do? Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick has the answer.

I got a great question from Martha in Charleston who asks: "Do tornadoes happen in other countries?"

This answer is yes, tornadoes occur in many countries around the world, although three out of four twisters do touch down in the U.S. of A. They tend to occur at mid-latitudes in regions experiencing strong surface fronts and jet streams aloft. Tornadoes are rare in the tropics. Australia may be the closest to the U.S. in terms of tornado potential, but the sparse population makes it difficult to know how many may touch down. Other countries experiencing a significant number of twisters include New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, and in the northern hemisphere, much of middle Europe from Italy north into England and Russia. Jolly Ole England actually can get some jolly severe weather. While nowhere near as frequent as in the U.S., at least 50 tornadoes were reported in an 82 year period ending in 1999. October is the peak month for British twisters. Japan, eastern China, northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Twisters have even spun up over Bermuda and the Fiji Islands are also at risk.

Though the frequencies of touchdowns are much less than in the U.S. other countries suffer fatalities from tornadoes. On 24 June 1904 a killer tornado swept through portions of Moscow, Russia taking at least 24 lives. On 19 march 1978, a tornado struck New Delhi, India. Seventeen people perished and 700 were injured. In 1995 hundreds were reported killed in a tornado in Pakistan.

On average the U.S. has more than 1,000 tornado reports.  We've already seen more than that this year and it's only May!

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